First of all, I am very, very surprised by the response to having the President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, come to speak at Columbia University. Yes, he is the president of a country with a lot of really different perspectives, just about all of which I disagree with, but I don't see the harm in letting him speak. Calling for the resignation of the people that asked him to come seems a bit much.
People were comparing it to allowing Hitler to come and speak at a University. I don't really see it that way. I did not see it advertised or any of that as I was in the midst of Boards study, but from the reports I have seen recently, it appears he was coming to say why his country wasn't a bunch of terrorists building a nuclear bomb. I think that is valuable information. I am not sure if he is telling the truth or not, but that is not the point.
The point is that we should be open to hearing from people that have differing opinions from ours. I would really like to attempt to understand where he is coming from. I feel as though, on the whole, Americans are putting themselves at a disadvantage by deciding who the "bad guy" is, thus dubbing everything they say as EVIL! Then deciding who the "good guy" is, and dubbing everything they say as TRUTH!
No, if he was coming to have a hate-slewing rally for his cause (i.e. back to the previous Hitler reference), that would be a different story. The way I see it, universities should be welcoming this kind of interchange so as not to make every Muslim into "Ze Terrorists!" (said like Ze Germans! per Turkish)
I certainly would have gone to see him speak.