Columbia University, one of America’s more prestigious universities, created a furor when they invited Mahmoud Ahadinejad to speak on their campus.
It doesn’t make the decision any better, but at least he has the credibility of being the leader of a country.
In their attempt to play catch-up with their American friends, the Oxford Union could only get David Irving, whom Der Spiegel gently describes as a “discredited British historian,” and David Griffin, the leader of a political party in Britain that got a whopping 0.7% of the vote in 2005.
The ‘debate’ was picketed, with protesters breaking through the police line. And the backlash hasn’t been good for the OU: a member of Parliament has turned in his 37 year membership, and a number of other dignitaries have canceled their engagements.
In case you’re not familiar with the Oxford Union, Der Spiegel describes it this way:
The Oxford Union is a venerable platform for debate at the university, and protesters objected to giving Griffin and Irving so much respectable exposure. Bill Clinton and Mother Theresa have spoken at the Union in the past. Kermit the Frog, however, has also been invited.
Kermit the Frog, apparently, doesn’t rise to the level of ‘venerable.’ Neither do their two most recent guests.*
*While living in Oxford, I lived 100 feet from the Oxford Union and directly above their bar, the “Purple Turtle.” Trivial information about my life completely unrelated to the story, but potentially interesting all the same!