I feel like it is time for one of those unpopular libertarian rants that piss everyone off. As with the last time this issue came up, I just don't understand what we fear so much letting Iranian dictator Amadinejad speak on American soil. I am absolutely all for letting people put themselves on the record in the clearest possible way. McQ over at Q&O is a smart guy I often agree with, but his core assumption seems to be that an invitation from Columbia University somehow confers some legitimacy on an otherwise egregious world leader. How? I am not sure the Columbia name even confers much legitimacy on its faculty. The only thing the decision communicates to me is that Columbia, the university that didn't allow presentation of the Mohammad cartoons and that allows speakers to be manhandled off the stage, is deeply confused about speech issues on campus.
Information is always useful. Would I have allowed Hitler to speak in the US in the 1930's? Hell yes! I wish he had gone on a 20-city speaking tour. Hitler couldn't help but telegraph his true intentions every time he spoke. Hell, he wrote it all down in a book if people would have paid attention. But what if he didn't? What if he convinced all America he was peaceful? Even then it would have been useful. Intelligent media (if there are any left) could then compare and contrast what he said at home vs. what he said in the US, much like a few folks do with Muslim clerics, comparing their English and Arabic speeches. Further, folks would have immediately seen Hitler was lying in September of 1939, and, knowing Americans, they would have been more pissed off at him for being lied to. Further, it would be fabulous to have quotes form Mussolini, touring eastern US cities, praising the New Deal and the NRA, much of which was modeled on his program in Italy.
I have a question for the Columbia crowd, since Holocaust deniers are
welcome, would you allow a speaker in favor of a return to black
slavery? I hope not. Well, that's how I feel about Holocaust deniers.
Absolutely I would. If there was a prominent person who advocated the return to black slavery, I would want that person on the record in public. I would love to listen to see what kind of supporters he thought he had, and, perhaps more importantly, to see who reacted favorably to him. You have to pull these guys up into the sunlight and show the world how distasteful they are.
During the 1930s, "one of the things we really lacked in this country
was sufficient contact with Nazis to realize what they are up to," said
Harvey Silverglate, a prominent civil rights attorney who has sharply
criticized higher education for failing to support free speech on
campus. The notion "that you're going to take really awful people and
not listen to them is really suicidal for any society."