Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Patriotically Correct at Columbia University?
Lee C. Bollinger, Columbia University’s president, spoke before Iran's President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad today, and he made a mockery out of the valued principles of academic freedom and free speech.
Bollinger decided it was more important to defend his reputation and ward off patriot critics who would cast him as soft on terrorism.
In these terms, Bollinger is neither an academic nor a patriot of the Bush position on Iran. Instead, he is a selfish man who chose the shallowest of all positions to guard his reputation and his job.
There is nothing academic and principled in this position.
Rather, there is the usual buffoonery that typifies the gross and ugly American stereotype.
His comment that Ahmadinejad is a "a petty and cruel dictator" who is either "brazenly provocative or astonishingly uneducated," is not in keeping with the standard of academic decency, and distance, that is afforded to anyone who is invited to address a university function.
But what would Bollinger care about academic decency and distance in this era of American imperialism?
If there is a semblance of justice in this episode it would have to be found in the fact that the Iranian President remained respectful and walked away dignified in the face of Bollinger's hostile and uncultured attack.
It is abundantly clear to me that it is Bollinger who is “astonishingly uneducated” about the purpose of academic engagement.