Sunday, September 23, 2007

A Little Accuracy Would Be Nice

Jessica McBride really should be sure of what she is posting before doing so. In this case McBride, as an update at the end of a rant about Columbia University inviting the president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, to speak, informs us that Hitler once did visit Columbia University. She gives a hat tip to that intellectual, Michelle Malkin (though no link) for leading her to that fount of accurate info, Little Green Footballs. It is there, she says, where the truth of the University's dalliance with the enemy is revealed.

Well, not exactly. Little Green Footballs reveals that it was the German ambassador to the United States, Hans Luther, who was invited to speak, not Hitler. In fact, the closest Hitler ever came to the United States was probably in some trench during WWI. Something the eternally clueless McBride could have discovered if she had checked. Something, you know, a lecturer in journalism at a major university might have done.

What gets me the most, though, is not this yet-another-example of McBride's sloppy writing, it's the fact that she really does not understand how a free society operates ... you know, that marketplace of ideas thing that she should be promoting as (I shudder to write this again) a lecturer of journalism at a major university. Let's look at the facts for a moment.

When the offer to speak was extended to Herr Luther in 1933, Germany was still ostensibly a democratic nation and the elected president, Paul Hindenburg had just appointed Adolf Hitler chancellor in January. It would have been considered a coup then (as today) to have the ambassador of a major country speak at any university. And make no mistake about it, Germany was considered a major player in the world and its recovery from the Great Depression was looked upon as a marvel. A recovery, by the way, that had almost nothing to do with Hitler and had almost everything to do with the democratically-elected government, sound fiscal policies and a hard-working citizenry.

Hitler's political success would come later at the expense of a cowed parliament that rubber-stamped everything he and his thugs proposed, and citizens who were exquisitely deluded by the propaganda machine of Joseph Goebbels in a manner not unlike how talk radio is used to misinform and promote GOP talking points and hysteria today.

So, it's easy for wing-nuts to condemn Columbia University, in hindsight, but the fact is in 1933 the excesses to come of the future dictatorship were as yet unknown. That there were some protesters who were prescient enough about Hitler still says nothing about the university's decision.

Inviting the president of Iran to speak is not a condoning of his nation's policies. It is an opportunity to hear what he has to say, and perhaps to ask tough questions, where he will learn first-hand what freedom of speech really means. It will be a remarkable opportunity for students. They should not be denied the chance to hear, unfettered of propaganda from either govenment, what a major actor on the world stage has to say.

In the end, it's just another stupid gotcha attempt by the right and Jessica McBride.

4 Swings of the bat:

Tom McMahon said...

I think Hitler actually spoke at Pepperdine when Charlie Chaplin had to cancel at the last minute. Some sort of Beach Volleyball Award Ceremony, or so I'm told.

Other Side said...

Are you sure it wasn't the Jewish doctor?

Tom McMahon said...

I still find it really weird that Hitler's great-nephews live on Long Island.

Other Side said...

I saw a documentary. I think I remember hearing that the Hitler line will die out with them. Apparently the last two male descendants have decided not to reproduce.