Monday, September 24, 2007

Where are your manners Mr. Lee C. Bollinger ?

Columbia University’s President Lee C. Bollinger today told President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, “You exhibit all the signs of a petty and cruel dictator”, before turning over the lectern to him to deliver a speech.

Bollinger’s description of the Iranian President may well be correct. Different people and different countries have different views of political leaders. If US President George Bush were to go to Iran or Iraq, a speaker there may well have told him, “ You exhibit all the signs of an interfering and petty war monger”, and they may have been right too.

But were your remarks to Ahmadinejad in good taste, Mr. Bollinger ? Were they civil ?

Ahmadinejad was invited to speak at Columbia University, and as a guest speaker at the university, your remarks to him were uncivil.

If you thought that the Iranian President was a petty and cruel dictator, you were entirely within your rights not to invite him to speak to your students, which is precisely what demonstrators outside had all along been demanding.

But once you had invited the man, don’t insult him. That reflects on you and the university, in fact on the US.

You also gave Ahmadinejad the opportunity to score points that a number of Muslims may be able to relate to - the President of a Muslim state was insulted at an American university.

Related Articles:

Iran President says no need for nuclear bomb
Why the US should stay in Iraq
Who rules in Iraq today ?


Anonymous said...

Excellent point, maybe if you feel so low of a person then don't invite him. If you do invite him treat him with respect. His views are his views and he is entitled to them, it's what we call free speech, or is that a concept good on paper but not actuall fully implemented ??

Anonymous said...

When I read that President Ahmadinejad was an invited speaker at Columbia University, I was very disturbed. "How could any Academic Institution have such a person as a guest speaker of a sort?" I asked myself. When I read that President Lee C. Bollinger called in front of the entire world the Iranian President an "idiotic tyrant" in so many words, I was overjoyed.

The chuspah of Ahmadinejad. Did he really think that he would or should be treated with any respect in American soil after everything he has done? With what moral authority did he dared to use the words "search for the truth" in his reply?

I applaud the initiative of President Bollinger. I hope that he gets the support he deserves from other Academic institutions.