Politics makes strange bedfellows. International politics makes even stranger bedfellows. Remember when Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi was the Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of his day? Now he's a U.S. ally? Remember when Chairman Mao was the No. 1 enemy of the West, and then Nixon went to China? Remember when we were the allies of Saddam Hussein, going after Iran? And how about Ahmadinejad’s predecessor working to assist us in ridding Afghanistan of the Taliban and al Qaeda after Sept. 11?

Your head spinning? It should be. No one can excuse many of the world’s leaders for their outrageous behaviors. But neither should we always take what they say at face value, especially when it comes to the Middle East. 

All this talk about denying state or federal money to Columbia University for allowing Ahmadinejad to speak is absurd. Look, some of these guys are like bad mushrooms: Shine the light of day on them and their ideas shrivel up and die. Take them on, confront them in the free exchange of ideas. Lo and behold, maybe things will change.

I am glad that Columbia brought him to campus. I am glad the world watched; I am glad that the Internet was full of all this, even in Iran. What we have learned from years of dealing with these types of leaders is that it is best to take them on, not ignore them.