I cannot remember where I saw the above statement quoted yesterday, regarding Columbia Pres. Bollinger. The statement does apply, I believe. Admadinejad scored a great PR and political coup, while illuminating nothing and showing contempt for the intelligence of his audience. As Kate noted at SDA, Bollinger has now been attacked by Iranians. Some gratitude.
Here's an email I received early today from Columbia, still pushing the bogus "free speech" spin and trying to hype Bollinger's belated challenges to Ahmadinejad:
Over the past week the scheduled appearance of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at Columbia's World Leaders Forum has sparked debate around the world. Here on campus, in countless conversations, students and faculty challenged one another to think critically about the issues raised by his visit. President Bollinger has answered tough questions from the media and from local and regional politicians. The University has heard from hundreds of alumni on the subject expressing both support and dismay.
Yesterday the Morningside Heights campus was alive as thousands of students participated in peaceful demonstrations and dialogue about issues relating to both Iran and free speech. Many alumni would have been proud of our students who, however intense and disparate their viewpoints, upheld the values of free expression and respect that define the essence of our campus community and our society.
At the World Leaders Forum event in Roone Arledge auditorium, President Bollinger, SIPA interim dean John Coatsworth, and Columbia students called the Iranian President to account for his positions on the Holocaust, Israel, nuclear weapons, homosexuals, women's rights, and many other matters—and afforded Ahmadinejad the opportunity to respond. I hope you will take the time to visit http://www.columbia.edu/cu/news/07/09/sipairan.html, where you can see a full video of the event, read transcripts of President Bollinger's introduction and President Ahmadinejad's remarks, and read other statements relating to the event. You may also want to read an editorial, "Free Speech in Practice," published in the Spectator, Columbia's student newspaper.
The issues raised at, and by, yesterday's World Leaders Forum will continue to reverberate. I invite you to follow the links above and then log in to share your thoughts with other alumni in Columbia's free speech discussion group at alumni.columbia.edu/forum.
Eric J. Furda
Vice President for Alumni Relations