Columbia President Bollinger Abandons Principle and Attacks Ahmadinejad

Columbia President Lee Bollinger was supposed to introduce Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Monday. While many expected a speech on freedom of speech and academic freedom, Bollinger launched into a personal attack on Ahmadinejad. Bollinger has been getting great criticism for the invitation and seemed to want to fend off critics with his attack on Ahmadinejad. I happen to agree with every statement made by Bollinger about Ahmadinejad, who is a true nut job and a danger to the world. However, I believe that academic should question whether it was appropriate for Bollinger to abandon his role as the host for the debate and become one of its main protagonists. These issues and past statements could have been raised in a more nuetral way. Instead, Bollinger seemed intent on improving his own position by attacking Ahmadinejad and calling him names. It was, in my view, a poor representation of American academic principles and undermined Columbia’s position as serving as a forum of the debate of such issues. Frankly, few people likely care what Lee Bollinger thinks of past statements. The statements speak for themselves. They are hateful and ignorant. Bollinger could have qouted them in the spirit of open debate without desperately trying to show that he could out do his critics in bashing Ahmadinejad. He not only succeeded in undermining the image of Columbia as a place for free speech, but of making Ahmadinejad appear the victim ( a difficult feat indeed). For the story, click here