Columbia alumnus Dennis Prager on the decision to invite Ahmadinejad to the campus to speak.
HH: Joined now by my colleague on many of these stations, Dennis Prager, distinguished alumni of Columbia. Dennis Prager, what is wrong with your school?
DP: (laughing) Hugh, first, I want to tell you I was listening, as I so often do, to your show, and I actually tried to call in, and it was busy, so I just gave up and kept listening. But then I’m lucky enough you guys actually called me.
HH: Well, we found you before you found us. I thought of you right away.
DP: Well, you know, you said you want Columbia alumni to call up, so I figured I’d call up. The irony is not only did I go to Columbia, I went to the School of International Affairs, which is now School of Public and International Affairs. By the way, you know why I think they changed the name?
DP: The initials of the School of International Affairs were SIA, and there were a number of us who went to the CIA, and the left would always say SIA is the CIA.
HH: I see. So they’re…
DP: And so I think they added the word public so that now it’s SPIA. I think that’s the reason, I don’t know.
HH: Still, it must have gone considerably left since then, then.
DP: Well, among the students, I don’t know, but there were always some conservative students. In fact, I applied to the CIA. But anyway, that’s just a funny story. That’s the school I went to. You know what, Hugh? The truth is, there’s nothing that surprises me about Columbia, or other elite schools. Columbia is a little worse, although I only for the sake of intellectual honesty, Bollinger did in fact at least come out and say he was not joining any boycott of Israeli universities as the British universities decided to do. But beyond that, there is nothing good to report about the world that I attended then. But I thought then, Hugh, that students took over the classes during the Vietnam War, and the professors and the faculty administration did nothing, nothing. These fascist leftists took over the university, shut down classes, screamed down professors, and they were never disciplined, nothing. So this is not new.
HH: But you know, they had a president of Columbia University once, Dwight D. Eisenhower, who confronted with Buchenwald and other camps, marched the local German citizens through so they would see what anti-Semitism and the Nazis have done. Here’s his successor in the same office inviting the world’s preeminent anti-Semite Holocaust denier, and genocide inciter to come to the podium and speak to the world. It’s mind-boggling.
DP: It is mind-boggling. I love your anger. I’ve almost snapped on my ability…I expect nothing from academia, nothing intelligent, nothing moral, nothing mature, nothing pro-American, nothing. And so I feel that I’m burying the dead when I speak about the American university or Columbia.
HH: Well, I know that, but Holocaust denial and genocide…these are new lows.
DP: Yes, it does, but it means nothing to them. The average faculty member there hates George Bush fifty times more than he hates, or she hates, Ahmadinejad. There’s no question.
HH: Now do you expect that there will be, because I think there’s such a disconnect, they have no idea the anger that they are stirring among Americans, generally, and Jewish Americans, specifically. Do you think they have a clue?
DP: No, they live in a hermetically sealed universe at the university. It’s called the bubble. That’s when I spoke at Stanford, the students told me it’s called the bubble. And there’s the outside world, and then there’s the inner world. That’s why I called colleges kindergartens, because they are kindergarten…they are gardens for children. Many of those children have faculty positions. And they live, they talk to each other. It’s a form of intellectual onanism. They only talk to each other, they write their books for each other, they blurb each other, they socialize with each other overwhelmingly. I know this from the UJA, the least giving group of American Jews to any Jewish charity are Jewish professors. So this is all old stuff. And the anger will only reaffirm to them their moral elevation above the rest of us.
HH: You know, Dennis, I just pointed out to Victor Davis Hanson, it’s obvious that you should not invite the killer of American soldiers and Marines to your campus. But if you’re even going to hide your head in the sand, it’s impossible to not note that he shut down the universities in Tehran repeatedly, and here they are inviting him to a university. I wonder what the students at Tehran University think about this?
DP: They probably think what unfortunately many dissidents on behalf of democracy and freedom around the world think, that the battle is the same everywhere. There is a battle against Islamic fundamentalism, and there’s a battle against the left. It’s like when people say the world hates America, that’s not true. The left hates America. The non-left around the world love America, and the non-left in American love America. So that’s what they will learn.
HH: But they must feel tremendous discouragement when they risk their lives, imprisonment…
DP: That’s right.
HH: ..and then they see this man who is oppressing them welcomed to one of the most distinguished campuses in America.
DP: And by the way, he can’t lose.
DP: Because if there are demonstrations, that will go on television, and they will show look, look at how much hatred America foams against us Iranians. So there’s literally nothing…if it’s a question that is bad, they won’t put it on Tehran TV.
DP: So it’s irrelevant. Also, I have asked this question on my show, I want to know will he get an ovation when he is introduced?
HH: Interesting. Bill Kristol has urged every student to stay away.
DP: Of course.
HH: That if he has an empty auditorium, it would be wonderful.
DP: That’s exactly…that is…silence would have been the only effective response.
HH: It’s the old question, would you stand up if Hitler entered the room? And you’d have to make sure you didn’t. And it’s just disgusting. Dennis, thank you, and a blessed Yom Kippur to you.
DP: Thank you, my dear friend.
HH: Talk to you soon. Dennis Prager from many of these Salem Radio Network stations, blogging at Townhall.com.
End of interview.