Columbia University, by inviting Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to speak, has shown confidence in the wisdom and adultness of their students and our republic.
Ahmadinejad is the president of a major nation in a vital part of the world, and we should have enough self-assurance and belief in our own system of government, and in the intelligence of our college students, that we can let them (and our larger public) evaluate his words, whatever they may be.
To be terrified of his speaking there (or, for that matter, laying a wreath at Ground Zero) is behavior one would have expected from a fragile régime like Khrushchev’s USSR or Burma’s military junta, not the bold, brave, and fearless USA.
We are the nation whose President Nixon reached out to and met with China’s Mao Tse Tsung at the same time Mao was funding and arming the North Vietnamese to kill our soldiers in Vietnam. We’re the nation whose President Reagan confronted Soviet President Gorbachev, who at the time had thousands of nuclear warheads armed and pointed at us and was actively funding and arming proxy wars we were fighting in more than a half-dozen nations. We’re the nation whose President Roosevelt said, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”
And let’s also remember that the people of Tehran, Iran, produced one of the largest candlelight vigil demonstrations in the Muslim world in support of the USA the day after 9/11, repudiating the act and actors of that event. We still have the ability to make an ally of that nation, and shouldn’t blow it by fear and bluster (or bombs). America is better and stronger than the nervous Nellies and chickenhawk war-mongers who currently have control of the Republican Party (and a few Democrats, apparently).
As JFK said: “We are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies, and competitive values. For a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.”
We are not afraid. We are Americans!
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Published on Monday, September 24, 2007 by CommonDreams.org
Thom Hartmann is a Project Censored Award-winning New York Times best-selling author, and host of a nationally syndicated daily progressive talk program on the Air America Radio Network, live noon-3 PM ET. www.thomhartmann.com His most recent books are "The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight," "Unequal Protection: The Rise of Corporate Dominance and the Theft of Human Rights," "We The People," "What Would Jefferson Do?," "Screwed: The Undeclared War Against the Middle (more...)