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Hugh Hewitt Book Club

Morton Kondracke and Juan Williams defend the Columbia decision to invite Ahmadinejad on campus.

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HH: Tomorrow night at 6pm in the East, 3 in the West, you can watch the Fox News Channel Beltway Boys, Fred Barnes and Morton Kondracke. Tonight, we’ve only got one of the two. Morton Kondracke joins us, always a pleasure, Morton, but please don’t tell me you think it was smart for Columbia University to invite this terrorist to their campus.

MK: I think it was okay. I mean, look, you know, they’re not giving him an honorary degree, for Heaven’s sakes. He’s going to speak to a class…by the way, Juan Williams is here if you want to have somebody call the other phone.

HH: Oh, I’d love to talk to Juan. Maybe he’s right about this.

MK: (laughing) You know, it’s not…they’re not giving him an honor, for Heaven’s sakes, and if the students are smart, we’ll find out more about the students and the faculty of Columbia University, to see whether they’re well-informed, or whether they can grill him. But you know, all the outrageous things he’s saying and doing, and I’m sure that he’s going to deny furnishing weapons to Shiite militia and stuff like that, but he ought to be grilled, and understand how much Americans are offended by what he’s doing. You know, this is a matter of speech, for Heaven’s sake, and…

HH: It is not a matter of free speech, it’s not government action. But let me ask you, Morton, are you aware, and welcome, Juan Williams, always a pleasure to have you on.

JW: Hugh, good to be with you.

HH: You know, I’ve got to get you on for an hour to talk about your book at some point, so let’s make a mental note of that. But Morton, are you aware that Ahmadinejad has ordered repeated closures of Tehran University, the jailing…

MK: Of course, of course I’m aware of that. I mean, look, this guy is a monster.

HH: So it’s not about us. So what…

MK: But he is in the United States, and exposure of bad people in front of other people, you know, is good for our side.

HH: Morton, what do you think the students of Tehran University take away from the fact they will see on their state-controlled television sets Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at Columbia University?

MK: You know what? You know what they’ll say? They’ll say wow, ain’t America great, that this guy who closes us down can have his chance to talk at one of those universities.

HH: Juan Williams, what do you make of Columbia’s disgrace?

JW: Well, from what I understand from the Columbia officials, they’re not giving him a platform to make a speech, that he’s going to a classroom, and in the classroom, the students will have the right to ask lots of questions, and have an exchange with him, but it’s definitely not a platform for a speech. In that setting, I think it’s all right with me that they go at each other, and they can expose him for what he is, which is obviously a tyrant, and not only that, a threat to world peace, and a man who’s obviously a Holocaust denier. So I would think that that kind of exchange is to the benefit of everybody who wants to expose him for what he is, which is a fraud.

HH: So you are endorsing Columbia’s decision to invite him?

JW: I think it’s again, it’s the way that they’re inviting him. They’re not giving him an honor, as Mort pointed out, but secondly, and my point is, they’re not even giving him a platform to make a speech in front of a large audience with the Columbia University emblem behind his head. No, they’re putting him in a classroom, and no doubt there’ll be lots of TV cameras and reporters around, but he’ll have to engage in a real intellectual exchange with students, and defend his positions, which I believe are indefensible. So to my mind, it’s a great benefit to the world to see this man exposed.

HH: Morton Kondracke, are you aware that two weeks ago, Judge Royce Lamberth of the District Court of the District of Columbia awarded $2.65 billion dollars against the state of Iran for the murder of Americans in the barracks in Lebanon, and those wounded in 1983?

MK: Look, I am aware of lots of things that Iran is doing. You know, Iran is run by a bunch of crazy killers. I mean, there’s no question about it. They…

HH: And are they killing Americans right now?

MK: They’re killing Americans. Of course they’re killing Americans. We’re not at war with them. You know, by your logic, we should ban him from the United States, you know, even though he’s…

HH: We can’t because of international treaty obligation, but this is Columbia’s independent decision of what our international treaty obligation is. Would you have been objective if Hitler had been invited to Columbia in 1940? We weren’t at war with him then, but he was bombing Britain.

MK: Boy, I would love to have seen Hitler face American Jews, and have American Jews recite the record of what Hitler was doing. Absolutely, it would have exposed to the whole of the United States, which was partly blind to what he was doing, what he had been doing.

HH: Would you, Juan Williams, be in support of having Hitler tour the United States in 1940?

JW: Sure, and in fact, that question was put to the Columbia University officials today, who said they would have had Hitler. But again, they would have done what they planned to do now with Ahmadinejad, which is to put him in front of students, and allow the kind of intellectual exchange that they think will pull the veil from all of his lies.

HH: Guys, you’re both television professionals. I am not hearing you two not understand the propaganda windfall this is to a Holocaust denier.

MK: It’s not a propaganda windfall. I mean, look, this is not a propaganda windfall, and you know something? Next week, it will be over, and he will not have gained a single smidgeon of credibility in the United States if, assuming that the students do it right. I mean, the Mike Wallace interview, I thought was a catastrophe. I was a gift to him, where basically, he flummoxed and laughed off Mike Wallace. That was on American television, but everybody could say hey, Mike Wallace, you’re a weakling. After this is over, if these people are just as much patsies, we can say what kind of education do people at Columbia get?

HH: Juan Williams, I want you to react to that. Do you expect these kids to lay a glove on this guy?

JW: I do.

HH: Oh, geez! You guys are…

JW: And I’ll tell you what.

HH: What is wrong with the Beltway?

JW: You know what?

HH: What is going on with liberal elites? Why…I’m beside myself.

JW: (laughing) Hugh…

MK: (laughing)

HH: No, but here’s the deal. I’m up…in about a month, I’m going to have in this studio a bunch of Marines who are benefiting from the services of the Semper Fi Fund. They have horrible injuries. They’re working their way back. Many of them were injured by IED’s that were supplied by this terrorist, and we are inviting a terrorist to an American university. I am appalled, and I think of these kids who he has maimed for life, and families who have lost their loved ones, and I do not understand the moral collapse of this…I’m just genuinely outraged. I don’t know what to say.

JW: Well, I understand your outrage, but you know what? There are lots of monsters in the world, Hugh. And the key here is not to cut off conversation.

HH: Yes, it is! It’s to kill him.

JW: And it’s certainly not to give them some kind of propaganda victory by saying the Americans are so afraid of them that they won’t allow the young people to engage in conversation, and to question them, even you know, put them on the spot. To the contrary…

MK: Hey, Hugh, Hugh.

JW: Here is America at its…

HH: I’m just speechless.

MK: You…don’t have…you know, don’t have Columbia University fighting that battle. This is a job for the U.S. military to stop, to start controlling the border of Iraq, and make sure that those weapons don’t get in there.

HH: Morton, Columbia doesn’t allow the ROTC…Columbia doesn’t allow the ROTC on its campus.

MK: Tell me about it. I mean, I think that’s deplorable. I think that’s a violation of free speech.

HH: It’s a despicable place. It’s a despicable place with moral…their inability to come out and say not here, not now, not on our campus, not ever, is to me just a collapse totally of the ability…is there a difference, Morton, between Mullah Omar and Ahmadinejad?

MK: No.

HH: So you would invite Mullah Omar to the campus?

MK: If Mullah Omar was allowed in the United States, I would love to see Mullah Omar exposed for all the stuff he does. Now Osama bin Laden? No.

HH: What’s the difference?

MK: Osama bin Laden…well, in the first place, if we got Osama bin Laden in our sights, I’d be in favor of shooting him.

HH: But what’s the difference between Ahmadinejad…

MK: Well, okay, Mullah Omar, you want to know? Mullah Omar I think fits in the Osama bin Laden category.

HH: But what’s the difference between them and Ahmadinejad?

MK: We have proved evidence that Mullah Omar was responsible for, directly responsible for the deaths of Americans.

HH: We have proved evidence that Ahmadinejad…

MK: That the Iran government, that the Iran government is putting weapons into Iraq. We do have that evidence.

HH: We also have a judgment that that regime killed hundreds of Americans in 1983.

MK: It’s not Ahmadinejad’s regime. I mean, in 1983, Ahmadinejad was nothing but a student terrorist.

HH: But he is the head of the state which…Juan, is there a difference between what Iran did in ’83 and what they’re doing now?

JW: Well, no, I mean, they’re killing people, and in some cases, killing Americans. But the difference would be, in this case, what’s going on now is that they’re…it’s a state function. They’re involved in…we’re involved in a state function in a war, they’re involved in trying to support one side in that war for their own aggression, their own desire to be more of an influence in the Middle East. And the key thing here about Ahmadinejad is that he’s coming here as a representative and the official elected, allegedly elected representative of a state. That’s why he’s getting the passport, a very restricted passport, but we’re allowing him in our country, as you said, Hugh, under treaty obligation. But we’re allowing him in our country.

HH: But that’s not Columbia. But that’s not Columbia, or the Press Club. Are either of you guys members of the Press Club?

JW: Yeah, I am.

HH: Juan, do you think he should be doing the first ever video conference with the National Press Club?

JW: Again, I think that the more exposure that this guy gets, the less people will put any credibility, any stock in what he has to say, Hugh. Let the light shine, and let people see him for what he is.

HH: Okay, does anyone not know what he is? The man is…

JW: I think lots…look, I’m going to tell you something, there are people who will stand up right now in terms of their anger at the U.S. over the war, there are people who will stand up and say that all he’s doing is trying to protect Iranian sovereignty, and that the U.S. is trying to provoke war. You hear…

HH: Juan, will you go to that press conference and get in his face? Will you personally go there and demand seven, eight, nine follow-ups so you can go after the Holocaust?

JW: Well, you know what? I don’t think there’s any doubt about it, that’s what you’re going to see.

HH: No, you won’t. You’ll get one offs. You’ll get Mike Wallace. You’ll get the Beltway press being polite.

JW: Oh, I hope not. I think that would be regrettable.

HH: We will watch and see. Good luck, Juan, getting in the front of the queue and staying there. Morton Kondracke, I’m just mystified, but I’ll talk with you more next week after the propaganda rout.

End of interview.


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