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Betraying Mr. Jefferson

I graduated from Virginia in 1987. My sister graduated in 1982. My father graduated in 1957. My mother, while she left school after my father graduated, as was the style in those days, also was a student at U.Va. I bleed orange and blue, a condition which tends to confuse the doctors, but makes perfect sense to me.

Which is why I am seeing crimson.

I found out today, via Hugh Hewitt, that my University had the dishonor of hosting Mohammed Khatami, lately president of Iran. Now, not without dissent. But still.

I'm sure the members of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, all of whom Mr. Khatami and his kind hold in utter contempt, would agree with the Cav Daily's editorial:

After Khatami's visit to the University, he will speak at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. a church, that, if it had an ideological affiliation, would be to toleration and reason -- values instilled by Jefferson into the American conscience. One can only imagine the reception many would give to an American official speaking at one of the holy sites of Islam. But here, political posturing aside, Khatami will encounter an attentive, respectful audience. And that alone will be a victory.

I'm sure that Mr. Khatami would count it as a victory, anyway. Ah well, never mind. You like the Cowboys, I like the Redskins, but we can all go out and have a beer green tea afterwards.

Not merely having him speak on Grounds, but at the Rotunda no less. If there is a Holy of Holies at the University, the Rotunda is it. It was the original library, housed the original classrooms. As Hugh pointed out, Jefferson detested theological absolutism. When he wrote, "I have sworn on the altar or God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man," it was Khatami he had in mind. Some arguments we settled a while back.

It's from the same building (although not the same room) that FDR delivered his famous "stab in the back" speech when Italy entered the war against France:

Surely the new philosophy proves from month to month that it could have no possible conception of the way of life or the way of thought of a nation whose origins go back to Jamestown and Plymouth Rock.


On this tenth day of June, 1940, the hand that held the dagger has struck it into the back of its neighbor.

On this tenth day of June, 1940, in this University founded by the first great American teacher of democracy, we send forth our prayers and our hopes to those beyond the seas who are maintaining with magnificent valor their battle for freedom.

To invite the modern-day equivalent of Mussolini to speak at the Rotunda is to betray everything the University of Virginia is supposed to stand for.


Here's your modern day Mussolini:

My goodness! How intolerant you are! How dare you hold your Western beliefs to be higher than those of the pure, peace-loving peoples of the East. They're people just like us, yearning for freedom, and fighting to the death for your right to agree with them. It's just too bad that our space shuttle and high-rise seems to have outstripped their camel and tent. And after my 4th grade experience, I question whether even algebra was a contribution or an attack on the West.

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