A petty and cruel university president

Ted Hamilton

The president of Columbia University, Lee Bollinger, made a couple sorry mistakes this week. The first that comes to mind is inviting the terror-supporting president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, to speak at his Ivy League institution.

Recently, U.S. troops came across advanced weaponry allegedly smuggled into Iraq by Iranian Revolutionary Guards. The fun does not stop there. Ahmadinejad has repeatedly denounced the Holocaust and went as far as having his country play host to a conference questioning the validity and extent of the historic event. In Iran, women still struggle daily for anything resembling equal rights in the oppressed country.

Perhaps the most noteworthy, and possibly the cruelest, thing Ahmadinejad mentioned in his speech at Columbia was how there is no homosexual “phenomenon” in Iran as there is in other countries. It appears the president might very well believe his statements because homosexuality is punishable by death in Iran. With homosexuals being taken care of, there is no wonder why he believes his country is without this “phenomenon.”

Too bad those pesky Internet blogs have been posting pictures of Iranian men kissing each other in a way that probably is more than a “how are you.”

With all this information, you have to wonder why Bollinger invited the president of an oppressive, terror-sponsoring country to speak at one of the countries’ best colleges. Was it temporary insanity? Did he want his 15 minutes of fame? Is he an anti-Semitic, homophobic, terrorist sympathizer?

Although I doubt it, someone should question why he invited the Ahmadinejad there just to bash him. That was his second mistake and the biggest of all.

Bollinger introduced the Iranian president by comparing him to a “cruel and petty dictator” and made generally rude comments about the person he invited to speak. You give up your freedom to belittle someone when you invite him to lecture at your university.

To treat a speaker like Bollinger did just makes him look that much worse. He did not just make himself or his prestigious university look pathetic – he made all of us look bad. Every American is looked down upon even more now in countries such as Iran, but for good reason this time.

Iranians are up in arms about our treatment of their president. Citizens asked about the “cruel and unusual” introduction of their president responded that it was more proof that Americans “act like cowboys and nothing more.” Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez claims we “ambushed” our guest. As much as I hate to admit it, for once he is right.

What Bollinger did was no better than inviting someone to his house and spitting in his face. He should apologize for his actions or be released from his position for helping enforce the stereotypical image that all Americans are “Yee-ha!” yelling cowboys.

Ted Hamilton is a senior magazine journalism major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].