On Sept. 9, I sent out an invitation to my forthcoming talk vs. Hanan Ashrawi at Colorado College. I have received many inquiries about that event, so here - after three preliminary items - is a report.
First, so far as I know, neither Ashrawi's talk nor my rebuttal has been transcribed.
Second, I placed the Colorado College episode in context (along with the Binyamin Netanyahu talk in Montreal) in my column yesterday, "The War on Campus."
Third, if you would like to see a fine piece on my talk at another CC - in this case Connecticut College - see "At Conn, fear muffles the debate" in Connecticut's Day newspaper, September 15, 2002.
As for the opening events of the "September 11: One Year Later" symposium at Colorado College on Sept. 12:
Ashrawi's basic point was that 9/11 could serve as an "historic opportunity" to solve the Palestinian problem. Come again, you might say? Well, her logic - as best I could tell in her hundred minutes of disorganized, patronizing, self-indulgent, banal, and overly-theoretical presentation - goes as follows:
Bin Laden and his ilk represent violence and fanaticism. The United States must learn from its tragedy to avoid this course. Instead, it should follow the dictates of the United Nations, including, of course, those many that apply to Israel. QED.
This, by the way, is the standard leftist agenda for a world order (which I plan to devote a column to shortly) as applied to the Arab-Israeli conflict.
The audience divided, as best I could tell, about half-half, with some clapping madly and others sitting firmly on their hands. The only protests were the waving of small "I disagree" signs and the very occasional boo (usually, when Ashrawi made a gratuitous swipe at Israel). For some reason, the college president, Richard Celeste, tolerated the applause that interrupted Ashrawi's talk but remonstrated against the booing - though they were parallel responses. I am still puzzling over that one.
After Ashrawi finished, Celeste announced the other events of the multi-day symposium and, in an almost slurred way, also announced my talk, to follow Ashrawi's. (He thus kept his part of the bargain, but just barely; my talk was an official college function but not part of the symposium.)
Those who fought for my giving a response to Ashrawi did a magnificent job, mobilizing and pressuring the college to include an alternative point of view; but they made a tactical mistake in placing me in a venue separate from Ashrawi's. I spoke in front of a large tent on the lawn just by the auditorium where Ashrawi had been. I had about half her audience and half her media coverage. Fortunately, though warm, there was no rain and the event went off quite well.
I had the privilege of being introduced by Ken Salazar, the attorney general of Colorado, a graduate of Colorado College, and a member of its board of trustees. I did three things in a few minutes (many fewer minutes than one hundred): review the Ashrawi controversy, rebut her talk (pointing out her biases, conceptual errors, factual mistakes, etc.), then outline "what she should have said" - namely my own views on the topic of the symposium. (A succinct version of these can be found at "Aim the War on Terror at Militant Islam," Los Angeles Times, January 6, 2002.)
I congratulated my enthusiastic crowd on their energy and resolve concerning Ashrawi at Colorado College, but I also emphasized that protesting her a single time would not amount to much. Systematic and organized efforts must be made to delegitimize voices such as hers, those that are on the enemy's side in our current war. They have a perfect right to speak but they should not be awarded prestigious and highly-paid fora in which to promote those views.
For another view of the day, see the "Palestinian speaker roils Colorado college" from The Washington Times, much better than Associated Press or the local papers.