This is a rush transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," September 24, 2007. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated
SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: And welcome to "Hannity & Colmes." Glad you're with us. I'm Sean Hannity, reporting tonight from Detroit, Michigan. And the big story was back in New York today, where Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spoke at Columbia University. He was introduced by university president Lee Bollinger, who seemed to go after his visitor, some say, in an attempt to blunt criticism from alumni.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEE BOLLINGER, PRESIDENT, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: The destruction of Israel, 12 days ago, you said that the state of Israel cannot continue its life. This echoed a number of inflammatory statements you have delivered in the past two years, including in October 2005, when you said that Israel should be wiped off the map.
Why does your country continue to refuse to adhere to international standards for nuclear weapons verification, in defiance of agreements that you have made with the U.N. nuclear agency? And why have you chosen to make the people of your country vulnerable?
I doubt that you will have the intellectual courage to answer these questions. But your avoiding them will, in itself, be meaningful to us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HANNITY: Now, for what followed was a bizarre question-and-answer period, during which the Iranian leader even went as far as to say that there are no homosexuals in Iran.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD, PRESIDENT OF IRAN (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): In Iran, we don't have homosexuals like in your country.
We don't have that in our country.
In Iran, we do not have this phenomenon. I don't know who's told you that we have it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HANNITY: Now, meanwhile, the streets outside Columbia were filled with protesters. Our cameras were there and caught some of this in exclusive video.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Islam needs to reform, and they should have reformed about 20 years ago.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Iranian people are peaceful people. We want peace. We do not have atomic bombs.
UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: Shame on you! Shame on you! Shame on you!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe in freedom of speech. I believe any head of state — I believe any head of state has the right to come and say what he wants to say.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ahmadinejad is a piece of (BLEEP) is what he is. He's extremist, Muslim terrorists, nothing more.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They don't even have ROTC on campus, and yet they have — they have this — this monster, Ahmadinejad, coming to speak to the students.
UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: (INAUDIBLE) U.S. out of the Middle East.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HANNITY: We're going to have much more of that exclusive video coming up a little bit later on the show, right here on "Hannity & Colmes."
But first, joining us tonight is Columbia University graduate Elisa Davidovit who is upset with what happened today. Also with us, Columbia University student Chas Carey, who thinks it was the right thing to do for Ahmadinejad to visit. And our own Heather Nauert, who is also a Columbia grad and reported on the scene earlier today.
Heather, let me start with you. First of all, you're a Columbia graduate. Describe the scene of all that you saw down there today.
HEATHER NAUERT, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, I found the students to be incredibly mixed in their reaction to what was said today. Some students felt that the speech, those who were inside, felt that it was a waste of time, that all Ahmadinejad did was dance around the questions. There were some very tough questions that were posed.
To Columbia University Lee Bollinger, the president there, to his credit, he asked about terrorism, Iranians fomenting violence in Iraq. He asked about marching us down the war — down the path to nuclear war, none of which the president of Iran answered appropriately. He danced around everything.
So some students felt it was a complete waste of time. Others felt it was just fascinating to see this guy, who ignored things and who wasn't willing to speak frankly.
HANNITY: Well, I think Bollinger did this, Heather, because I think he wanted to save face after inviting this guy. He knew that there would be a lot of scrutiny of the way he introduced him here. But after he introduced him, with the right words, I thought, the Iranian president objected to the introduction, saying it wouldn't happen that way in Iran. And then what bothers me is the reaction of the students. Let's roll that tape.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AHMADINEJAD (through translator): In Iran, tradition requires that, when we demand a person to invite — as a talker — to be a speaker, we actually respect our students and the professors by allowing them to make their own judgment. And we don't think it's necessary before the speech is even given to come in with a series of claims.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HANNITY: Aliza, you're a Columbia graduate. How do you react to the students' reaction there?
ALIZA DAVIDOVIT, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY GRADUATE: Well, first of all, Hannity, I'm just going to correct you, say that my last name is Davidovit. And in regards...
HANNITY: Oh, I'm sorry, I apologize.
DAVIDOVIT: No, no, that's OK. I didn't think that there was a show-up as I expected. I really expected to see a lot more support, actually on either side. I don't know. Maybe I missed the beat today, but I don't think so. So it was not as emphatic and it was not as strong as I would have liked it to have seen — to have seen it.
HANNITY: Yeah. Aliza, look, you know, I think it would be any parent's dream. They want their kids to one day maybe go to an Ivy League university, I mean, one of prestige, which is my criticism here, is that he should not have been granted this honor. You got your degree there. I heard that you were thinking about ripping that piece of paper up. Is that true?
DAVIDOVIT: Well, Sean, I took it a little bit farther than just thinking about it. When I heard what was going on, I was actually putting my make-up on one morning, and I hear on FOX TV — which I watch every morning — that...
HANNITY: Thank you.
DAVIDOVIT: ... Columbia invited him, and I actually had to walk out of the room to make sure that Comedy Central wasn't what my TV was focused on. And I went back to put my make-up on, and I said, "Sister, you don't look so good without make-up, but if you don't do anything about this, then I can't even look at your face ever again." I was enraged. I was enraged. I worked hard to get into Columbia and even harder to get out of Columbia, and giving up this degree was a big sacrifice for me. But today I didn't tear up a photo copy, and I didn't tear up a multiple whatever people were thinking. I tore up the original.
COLMES: What did you accomplish by doing that?
DAVIDOVIT: I accomplished by sending a message to all the interns that I've hired since I've been in this industry. I've hired hundreds of interns, some of them even...
COLMES: What message was that?
DAVIDOVIT: The message is that if you think something is wrong, just because it says Columbia on it, your opinion is — you know what? Ahmadinejad is one man. Hitler is one man. Mother Theresa was one person. So Aliza Davidovit that showed up with her diploma today.
COLMES: Chas, you were there. You're a student. You're a senior at Columbia. You're a political science major. Do you agree with Aliza? And is there another perspective on this?
CHAS CAREY, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY STUDENT: Well, I think you wasted a lot of money tearing up that degree like that. I mean, you know, it's expensive these days to go to college, especially.
DAVIDOVIT: Yeah. Well, let me tell you...mother's paying for it.
COLMES: What harm, Chas, do you think was done to Columbia or to the republic, which I think is still standing tonight...
CAREY: Last I checked, it was still standing, yes.
COLMES: ... after the man spoke at the United States of America.
CAREY: You know, like it or not, I think one of the things that we really learned today is that Ahmadinejad is a proponent of a failing ideology. Watching him speak was like watching a man, you know, who got his education on another planet, a man who was so confused that he was conflating science with God, with history, thinking that studying the Holocaust was the same thing as studying physics. He's, he's, he's — obviously a madman and obviously...
COLMES: Right. Correct. And, Aliza, the more you saw of him speak, the more crazy he sounded. No gays in Iran? And...
DAVIDOVIT: But. Ok...
COLMES: ...so doesn't that accomplish the idea of...
DAVIDOVIT: ...it accomplishes zero...
COLMES: ...you know, let's see what he's really about, let's see...
DAVIDOVIT: OK, you didn't have to invite him into your living room to find out that the man is...
COLMES: You didn't have to go...
DAVIDOVIT: ...a meshugena
COLMES: You didn't have to watch him.
DAVIDOVIT: You could have hooked him up on the Internet.
COLMES: Meshugena's a good word.
DAVIDOVIT: You could have read a book. You could have read a newspaper. You had to go in person? Why would you have to legitimize him? Why do you have to confirm...
COLMES: You're confusing letting someone speak with legitimizing him. Just because you allow them to speak doesn't mean you agree with that person.
DAVIDOVIT: OK, let me ask you something.
COLMES: A university is supposed to be a place of conflict, of discussion, of all kinds of ideas, even the most reprehensible ideas coming into...
DAVIDOVIT: OK, so you're advocating free speech.
DAVIDOVIT: This is what you're telling me.
OK, let me ask you something. Forget Ahmadinejad; forget Columbia; forget Bollinger; forget everybody. Somebody says, "Alan, I want to kill your mother." What are you going to say? "You know what? Come over. We'll talk about it."
COLMES: Well, first of all, he never said he wanted to kill my mother or anybody else's mother. That wasn't his message.
DAVIDOVIT: He doesn't have to say it. Actions speak louder than words. We have our troops who are dying in Iraq...
COLMES: There's some dispute as to whether he actually said that or whether he ever said he wanted to kill anybody.
DAVIDOVIT: I don't need to say it. We have dead bodies coming home everday.
NAUERT: Alan. The whole reason why he was availing himself to these interviews. At Columbia, he was at the National Press Club...
NAUERT: ... in a video teleconference with National Press Club media folks today, is that he wants to take his message, his propaganda, and send it on over to his region of the world, and whip people up. He wants to say, "Look at these Americans."
COLMES: You think people were actually whipped up? Who is whipped up today? Who was whipped up today?
NAUERT: Alan, no, no, no, not here. He wants to take it over...
COLMES: Who do you think was whipped up overseas...
NAUERT: to the Islamic world...
NAUERT: And he wanted to say, "Look, America is embracing me. America is"...
COLMES: And you know -- no he's not. You know what?...
NAUERT: ...supporting me...
COLMES: And if he wasn't allowed to speak, Chas, he would be saying, "America is denying me. America wouldn't let me speak. This bastion of freedom isn't so free. We can't do it. They claim they allow people to do it."
NAUERT: ...what he wanted to say about the Holocaust. He needs to research other perspectives in terms of the Holocaust.
HANNITY: Alright, guys.
NAUERT: Who needs to research other perspectives?
DAVIDOVIT: Appeasement brings blood to Americans.
HANNITY: All right, we've got to break, guys. Thank you all for being with us.
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