Friday, September 28, 2007

Bollinger, Coatsworth and Mahmoud (goodbye testicles)

Jogo sent this e-mail to Norm, in response to this post:

I agree with you on Columbia/Ahmedinijad. But you left something out.

There is quite a bit of BAD FAITH in Columbia's invoking freedom of speech and "reasoned discourse" to justify the invitation to Mahmoud. Dean Coatsworth said that even Hitler would have been invited to Columbia to speak. Well, maybe Hitler could have spoken at Columbia ... but ... this is what happened when Jim Gilchrist (a purveyor of "odious ideas?") spoke at Columbia:

As for Bollinger, how stupid does he think we are? He invites a man to engage in "reasoned discourse" and then insults him to his face in public. Everyone knows that such behavior is reprehensible, especially so in Iran, whose traditions of hospitality forbid insulting your guest, no matter who he is. Could Mahmoud, at that moment, have had less than absolute contempt for his host? I do not think so. Mahmoud knows his adversary is a worm, and I know it, too.

Thankfully, Columbia may be exceptional. Not all universities invite monsters to speak; for example, UC Davis, which rescinded Larry Summers' invitation.

I realize I'm sounding like Victor Davis Hanson, but sometimes, Norm, it does seem that a big part of the problem is this:

Thank you for your work,

Bob adds: I have added some links to my last post on this.


Anonymous said...

If Larry Summers is a monster for stating an opinion that there is a biological basis for gender preferences in academic and vocational pursuits, what about the supposed feminists who are apologists for myscogeny when practiced by Islamists out of "respect" for another "culture"?

Noga said...

"Could Mahmoud, at that moment, have had less than absolute contempt for his host?"

Do we know with what amount of contempt he was already filled with, before he even set foot on that stage?

Do we care?

The term Iranians use for a type of exaggerated respect and politeness in interpersonal relationship is "Taarof". "Taarof" refers to a social principle which is to indicate lower status for oneself while elevating the status of the person being addressed.

I've spoken to Iranians who are thoroughly fed up with this concept, which is often more of a camouflage for not-so-hidden hostilities or confrontation. It is a custom which perpetuates hypocrisy and prevents disagreement to be expressed in explicit and clear terms. Thus, it so happens that you declare respect to someone you hold in utter contempt. In other words, when someone expresses hypebolic respect to you, you simply brush it aside as "taarof" and wait for the end of the ceremony to get down to business. Bollinger, unwittingly I suspect, took this principle and stood it on its head. Which is why I thoroughly enjoyed his introduction. He did not pretend to have any respect for this person, who deserves no respect.