In a nation that allegedly values “freedom of speech,” why is so much news time being focused on a question to which the answers are given? It is one thing to protest the actions, words and beliefs of a head of state. It is wholly different, however, to protest, oppose and organize to eliminate the right of that head of state to speak. It does not matter that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is not a citizen of the United States. (In fact, the United States is seeking to make him a subject of US military authority unless significant changes are made including the abandonment of a nuclear energy program, suspension of plans for an oil bourse, renewed US access to Iranian oil resources, and regime change away from Islamic clerical leadership.) Americans have sought to internationalize the best and worst of their political practices – and do not reserve the right to rescind those activities when unpopular speakers take the floor.
The United States is not about to suspend the misinformation broadcasts it puts forth across the planet. Why, then, should wealthy, educated, powerful citizens of the world’s leading democracy feel the need to protest the opportunity of a single head of state to speak to a hostile audience at an elite Western institution?