Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Lee Bollinger's Big Surprise

I wrote this post as I watched events unfold on TV. Columbia President Lee Bollinger is giving Iranian President Ahmadinejad the public tongue lashing he has long deserved.

Beginning with a warm introduction, Bollinger followed with an inventory of questions that highlight the threat Iran is to the world, including the US. Furthermore, he listed the numerous Human Rights violations the Iranian regime is famous for. Bollinger ended his series of questions by stating that he didn't expect Ahmadinejad to have the "intellectual courage" to answer the queries.

I was shocked. So was the Iranian President who basically countered that Bollinger had "bad manners" according to Iranian standards. The wonderful thing about it, Ahmadinejad spent much of the address countering Bollinger's well put attacks.

So why did Bollinger get tough? I can only speculate, but a few thoughts came to mind:

* He probably got a little tired picking up newspapers and seeing that providing this forum was the equivalent of giving Hitler a forum, giving the President's view of Israel and the West. I'm not sure if that is how Bollinger wants to be remembered.

* I'm sure he has personal disdain over the views of Ahmadinejad. How could he not?

* Maybe it was a planned "set up." An opportunity to take the Iranian president to task with an unusually large audience to watch both in an auditorium and TV.

* He was probably influenced by personal relationships. I'm sure family, friends, and business associates raised questions about the wisdom of such a decision.

* This is my opinion, but the most important reason is that "money talks." How many alumni of Jewish descent threatened to pull the plug on the institution? How many veterans who saw their band of brothers killed at the hands of Iranian terrorists protested? How many supporters of the university who experienced little pain directly from the Iranian monster, but had abundant enough common sense to not tolerate such a choice by the university?

I doubt seriously that Bollinger received "common sense," but instead was influenced by "dollars and cents." I guess we should be glad that, at least on one small level, Bollinger did the right thing. It would have been so much better if he had done the right thing for all the right reasons, which would include not giving this dictator any audience at all.

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