Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Columbia's Silent Shame

Yesterday, Columbia University invited Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to speak as part of their Heads of State series. Leaving aside the impropriety of Ahmadinejad- a Holocaust-denier, supporter of Adolf Hitler's 'final solution' and a member of the force that kidnapped and held American diplomats hostage in 1979- speaking at an American university, the larger shame belongs to the students and faculty of Columbia University.

After Ahmadinejad entered, Columbia President Lee Bollinger addressed the Iranian theocrat in no uncertain terms. During a ten-minute address, Bollinger said,
Mr President, you exhibit all the signs of a petty and cruel dictator," Bollinger told Ahmadinejad, accusing him of brutal crackdowns on the country's academics and homosexuals.

"Why are you so afraid of Iranian citizens expressing their opinions for change?" he asked, challenging the leader of the Islamic republic to explain his comments downplaying the Holocaust.

"Frankly, in all candor Mr President, I doubt you will have the intellectual courage to answer these questions," he added.

"When you come to a place like this, this makes you quite simply ridiculous. You are either brazenly provocative or astonishingly uneducated," he said.

I happened to hear this address on radio while on my way home and I was struck by the fact that while Bollinger spoke these truths to Ahmadinejad, there was absolute silence in the auditorium. Not one person expressed support for Bollinger's strong statements. Not a single voice was raised in support, though according to some news reports, Ahmadinejad received applause during his address, despite neglecting to answer Bollinger's questions.

So Ahmadinejad received support from the audience. Yet not one member of the audience could show support for Bollinger's strong questioning of the Iranian theocrat, who holds his position only through the threat of force- he has never been honestly elected. Columbia should be ashamed of itself for its poor showing, if there is any shame left in the hearts and minds of these useful idiots of the academy.

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