Cheat-Seeking Missles

Monday, September 24, 2007

Did Bollinger Completely Miss The Point?

Update: The Bollinger transcript is out; view it here. He did quite a good job all in all, as I discuss above ... which I'll post as soon as I'm done.

I'm still waiting for a transcript of Lee Bollinger's reportedly scathing introduction of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to be posted. Despite the views of some I respect that it was an award-winning intro, I'm holding my opinion until I can see the transcript.

Here's why.

The LAT clip below is indicative of most clips I've read regarding the appearance:
In his scathing introduction to the much-anticipated on-campus event, Bollinger told the leader of Iran that he resembled "a petty and cruel dictator."

Bollinger levied repeated criticisms against Ahmadinejad, calling on him to answer a series of challenges about his leadership, blasting his views about the "myth" of the Holocaust "absurd" and saying that he doubted he "will have the intellectual courage to answer these questions."

"Mr. President, you exhibit all the signs of a petty and cruel dictator," Bollinger said, to loud applause.

He said Ahmadinejad's denial of the Holocaust might fool the illiterate and ignorant.
It appears from all the coverage I've read that Bollinger focused on the Holocaust, which certainly wouldn't have been my focus. As appalling has Ahmadinejad's view on the Holocaust is, it is inconsequential in terms of the politics of today. That's not to say the extermination of Jews isn't a critical issue, but Bollinger should have gone after Ahmadinejad for his declarations that Israel should be wiped off the map today. That is much more relevant than his denial that Hitler tried to exterminate them 60 years ago.

I also have seen no mention that Bollinger attacked Ahmadinejad for Iran's supply of munitions, funding and training to terrorists in Iraq, all in a deliberate effort to kill as many American troops as possible.

It would have taken some real courage to bring that up at Columbia, a place where a fair number on the faculty and in the student body probably think killing "imperialist" U.S. soldiers is a fine thing to do. Criticizing holocaust deniers, in contrast, is not risk-taking in an American campus (yet, thank God), so I don't give Bollinger any kudos for that.

Like I say, when I get to read the transcript, I may change my viewpoint.

Meanwhile, I thought David Schizer, the dean of the Columbia Law School did some pretty commendable risk-taking with this statement:
A controversy has developed about the invitation extended to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran by the Columbia School of International and Public Affairs. Although Columbia Law School was not involved in arranging this invitation, we have received many inquiries about it.

This event raises deep and complicated issues about how best to express our commitment to intellectual freedom, and to our free way of life. Although we believe in free and open debate at Columbia and should never suppress points of view, we are also committed to academic standards. A high-quality academic discussion depends on intellectual honesty but, unfortunately, Mr. Ahmadinejad has proven himself, time and again, to be uninterested in whether his words are true. Therefore, my personal opinion is that he should not be invited to speak. Mr. Ahmadinejad is a reprehensible and dangerous figure who presides over a repressive regime, is responsible for the death of American soldiers, denies the Holocaust, and calls for the destruction of Israel. It would be deeply regrettable if some misread this invitation as lending prestige or legitimacy to his views.

Our university is a pluralistic place, and I recognize that others within our community take a different view in good faith, and that they have the right to extend invitations that I personally would not extend. I know that we will learn from each other in discussing the difficult questions prompted by this invitation. (emphasis added)
That's getting it right.

Meanwhile, over at Kos, we read this:
As an American, I was stunned and embarrassed by Bollinger's harangue of Ahmedinejad. It was a craven and cowardly capitulation to political pressures, and unworthy of the academic institution that Bollinger represents. I know who and what Ahmedinejad is, but I also know that he was at Columbia at Columbia's invitation. Bollinger's speech was less a challenge to Ahmedinejad than it was an ambush, and it dishonered [sic] all of us as Americans.
Hmm. I wonder what this writer's response would be if Bollinger had been equally pointed in introducing the president of the United States. I'll hazard a guess that he wouldn't think that to be unworthy of Columbia or -- and this is really odd -- dishonoring to Americans.

And speaking of Kos, we also see this on the site, courtesy of LGF:

Obviously, this is not a poll based on reality so a lot of people used it to make political statements that do not reflect what their actual actions would have been if we were suddenly transported to Bizzaro World, where such a vote might in fact take place.

Be that as it may, Kos posed the question, a question no one on the Left in the pre-Bush era would have ever thought about asking. It appears that as the Bush administration is winding down, the demented hatred of Bush is only increasing among the rabid Left.

hat-tip: memeorandum

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