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Is Lee Bollinger receiving the “Larry Summers treatment” from Columbia? (WEDNESDAY EVENING UPDATE)

I just read over at Jules Crittenden’s blog [1] that Columbia president Lee Bollinger is taking criticism from some of Columbia’s faculty and students post-visit from Ahmadinejad. Apparently, they believe that Bollinger’s opening remarks and questions [2] were “too rude” to Columbia’s guest speaker. Via the NY Sun [3]:

A backlash against the president of Columbia University, Lee Bollinger, who on Monday delivered a harsh rebuke to President Ahmadinejad, is coming from faculty members and students who said he struck an “insulting tone” and that his remarks amounted to “schoolyard taunts.” The fierceness of Mr. Bollinger’s critique bought the Iranian some sympathy on campus that he didn’t deserve, the critics said, and amounted to a squandered opportunity to provide a lesson in diplomacy.

[…]

“It’s odd to invite someone and then deal with the objections to inviting him by insulting him before he gets to talk,” a professor of political science at Columbia, Richard Betts, said during an interview in his office yesterday. “He’s having it both ways in a sense, honoring the principle of free speech by not choosing speakers on the basis of how nice they are, but being sharp to him before he speaks.”

Mr. Betts said a more appropriate introduction would have been to make clear that an invitation to speak at Columbia did not qualify as approval of the content of the speech. He said the message should have been delivered as a “less in-your-face assault.”

Students said they interpreted the severity of Mr. Bollinger’s opening, in which he called Mr. Ahmadinejad’s denial of the Holocaust “brazenly provocative or astonishingly uneducated,” as a cowing to political and financial pressure from elected officials who in the days leading up to the event criticized Columbia for providing a platform for Mr. Ahmadinejad and said they would consider reducing capital aid to the university.

“It felt like Bollinger responded out of fear because he still has to be able to get money,” a second-year Pakistani SIPA student, Noni Durrani, said. “It showed a serious difference of class, the way Bollinger behaved and the way Ahmadinejad behaved. Ahmadinejad could have walked out, and he handled it very well.”

The professor of history and Iranian expert who had a role in bringing Mr. Ahmadinejad to campus, Richard Bulliet, said that if Mr. Bollinger led a mission of faculty and students to Iran, which he has expressed interest in doing, he would likely receive a more courteous welcome than was provided to Mr. Ahmadinejad.

Are these people blithering idiots or what?

The statement and questions Bollinger leveled at Ahmeanie have gotten praise from many a conservative in the blogosphere, Jules included:

Larry Summers, now the ex-president of Harvard, was like Bollinger a breath of fresh air in the stifling air of academia. But he learned the hard way that daring to speak harsh truths on a university campus leads to nothing but trouble. Summer’s experience suggests that if Bollinger cares to save his job, he needs to come down from the heady heights of speaking unvarnished truths to a despot, avoid future indiscretions, and don sackcloth. Either that or, if he believes it, stand up for what he believes in.

As a refresher, I recently wrote [4] about what happened to Larry Summers when he dared to say things that liberals in academia didn’t want to hear.

I disagree that this is what Bollinger “believes in.” I don’t think his remarks were sincere and in fact believe he made them in an attempt to “save face” after the massive amount of heat Columbia received [5] over its invitation to Ahmadinejad. But assuming for the sake of discussion that the comments were sincere, that still doesn’t excuse the fact that Columbia provided a stage for Ahmeanie to spew his hateful Islamofascist nonsense, which was a huge propaganda win for Iran’s “leader” and radical Islamics at large. Not only that, the platform at Columbia gave Ahmadinejad’s anti-west viewpoints an air of legitimacy they otherwise would not (and should not) have gotten. Sure, he was allowed to speak at the UN, but if he speaks anywhere on US soil, that’s the place he needs to do it. No one with a half a brain gives the UN any credibility anyway (and the only reason I believe our President visits it [6] is out of obligation and in an attempt to put on a “public face” of wanting to “get along” with members of the UN).

That said, I do agree with Jules that Bollinger is receiving the Larry Summers treatment from some of the faculty and students at Columbia for daring to – sincerely or not – say things which make the far lefties on campus uncomfortable. Incidentally, I don’t remember these same faculty members and students raising such a stink when Minuteman Project founder Jim Gilchrist’s speech was sabotaged [7] at Columbia when far left students rushed the stage as Gilchrist started to speak. But then again, consistency in liberalism is an oxymoron of sorts, so it’s not exactly surprising that this same crowd never complained about the “insulting tone” of the leftist groups that took part in disrupting Gilchrist’s (and others who were speaking that night) speech. And I have no doubt whatsoever that if it had been GWB sitting across from Bollinger, these same faculty members and students upset over Bollinger’s “rudeness” to Ahmeanie would have been demanding those same types of harsh accusations and questions for the President.

Evening Update: My friend The Dissident Frogman [8] has posted another installment [9] in his amazing 3D cartoon series “Meltdown Mahmoud” that you won’t want to miss. It revolves around Bollinger’s remarks to Ahmadinejad, Ahmadinejad’s response, and a post written by a Daily Kos diarist who admits that she, in spite of being a Jewish lesbian who she knows he would kill if she lived in Iran, has a “little crush” on Ahmeanie.