Well, the nation survived Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s visit to the United States. He didn't set off a nuclear bomb in downtown Manhattan, he didn't release a toxin into the air that, like, KILLED US ALL, he didn't do anything, really, except blather, blather, blather. Duh. That's all the power he has, under the Iranian Constitution, which reserves all real power in Iran to Ayatollah Khamenei. What, Ahmadinejad is going to kill us with his breath or somethin'?
Now, some folks have questioned the manners of Columbia University President Lou Bollinger, whose 15 minute introduction of Ahmadinejad was, well pretty harsh. There's some folks who say that saying bad things about your guest to his face is, well, rude. But those people simply don't get the point. The emotion I saw most on Lou Bollinger's face was not hatred, or disgust, or anything like that. What I saw most was fear. He feared that, if he did not demonize Ahmedinejad in exactly the same way as the media-spread orthodoxy, he would be hounded from his position as doctrinally unsound, and relegated to some ghetto of American existence wherein lie the "kooks" and "cranks", eventually to be found shuffling the streets in a shabby bathrobe occasionally muttering, "brother, spare some change?" to their imaginary friends. Soviet America enforces doctrinal orthodoxy via a variety of ways, the most common of which is to destroy those who dare ask questions that threaten the doctrinal orthodoxy. Just ask Juan Cole if he's ever going to get another university teaching position or ever get a promotion at his current one. Ain't happening, because he refuses to spout the Party line as enforced via our media, talk show hosts, etc.
Reminds me of a day 50 years ago, when if you said hello to one of the black students who were just forcibly integrated into your all-white school, you were shunned as a "nigger-lover" and treated the same as the black students (i.e. like shit). It's the same sociological principle at work, except at a far, far larger scale. Free speech, it appears, is something that happens elsewhere. This is America. If you are in a position of importance or speaking to one of importance (as vs. a random penguin blathering to fellow odd fowl) and speak freely here in Soviet America, you will be demonized, ostracized, or tasered. Compliance with the Party orthodoxy is required, not optional, in Soviet America once you get past the point of being a random penguin on the street blathering to fellow odd fowl.
-- Badtux the Random Penguin