Do we believe in free speech or not? That’s the real question behind whether Columbia University was right to invite Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to speak on campus.

Of course, Columbia was right. He did speak. And nothing happened, except he revealed himself to be the confused, uninformed, mindless leader we expected. 

Protests against his appearance at Columbia were misplaced. You don’t have to agree with anything Ahmadinejad says. But he is the leader of a powerful Middle East country. He is a man who will play a very important role in the future of the region, including with regard to Iraq. And he is the president of a country that, if Dick Cheney has his say, we might be going to war against next.

So don’t you think we should be at least curious — to hear what he has to say?

Sure, there are some close-minded people who never want to hear anything they might disagree with. Fine, stay home. But the idea of denying Ahmadinejad the opportunity to speak was not only short-sighted, it was downright un-American.

Letting Ahmadinejad speak was the right thing to do, in order to show the world what America’s all about. We are not afraid of the clash of ideas. And besides, if the only people we allowed to speak were those we agreed with — what a boring world this would be.