Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will take questions and answers at Columbia University while in New York for the occasion of his third annual speech to the United Nations since he took office.
In anticipation of his visit to Columbia University — a leading university in a society that values freedom of the press, academic freedom, and critical thought, including thought that is critical of the concepts and abuses of religion — President Ahmadinejad has explained that “[t]he United States is a big and important country with a population of 300 million. Due to certain issues, the American people in the past years have been denied correct and clear information about global developments and are eager to hear different opinions.” Apparently, President Ahmadinejad believes that one problem with America is that the population is being prevented from getting accurate information about the world from its press. One confusing aspect about President Ahmadinejad’s statement is that it is actually Iran, and not the United States, that employs policies of censorship of the press, lack of academic freedom, lack of freedom of conscience (i.e. freedom to criticize religion as well as freedom to belong to any religion or no religion) and other illiberal policies that suppress thought and speech and inhibit the pursuit of happiness and liberty generally.
President Ahmadinejad hopes to teach the American people something through his question and answer session with students at one of the world’s top universities where academic freedom, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and other virtues of Western society reign supreme. This observer remains skeptical whether he will be successful in this ambition.
What would you ask President Ahmadinejad if you were in the audience at Columbia University?