Columbia is doing us all a great favor because, by its offering a platform to the Iranian madman, it allows all to see clearly the moral dry rot that infects so many of our elite campuses today. The repercussions are starting to come in. In today's NY Sun, the paper writes about the response to the university's grave error from Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver: "In an interview with The New York Sun, the speaker of the Assembly, Sheldon Silver, said lawmakers, outraged over Columbia's insistence on allowing the Iranian president to speak at its World Leaders Forum, would consider reducing capital aid and other financial assistance to the school."
This should only be the beginning, since the school has compounded its initial error by an additional outrageous statement from the Dean of the International School, one clueless fellow named John Coatsworth, that Columbia would have invited Adolf Hitler in the 1930s to speak at a university forum. This has led the NY Daily News to call for the dean's firing. In an editorial entitled, " Monstrous Idiocy," the paper says; "Coatsworth's invitation to the Iranian president was a gross abuse of academic freedom that he has been attempting mightily and futilely to defend. But there is no way, at least in civilized society, to defend Coatsworth's expressed openness to granting a forum to a man who was the world's most determined, most efficient mass murderer."
A statement, by the way, that President Lee Bollinger endorses! This is the university that is asking the city and state to condemn other people's property so it can expand its civilizing mission into West Harlem? As we have already said, we can no longer take it for granted that this expansion, spearheaded by moral idiots, is in the public interest. And we're certainly not alone.
As the NY Sun also reports this morning, Council Finance Chair, David Weprin is taking a similar stance: "Bollinger made a big mistake, and there should be consequences for him for making that decision," the chairman of the New York City Council's Finance Committee, David Weprin, said in an interview. "We should look at everything involving Columbia, whether it be capital projects, city and state, or other related things that we do in the city for them," he said."
As the expansion application wends its way through the ULURP process Columbia appears to be treading on some thin ice of its own making. The university is so used to its own ideological echo chamber that it seems to think it's immune from the normal political process. It should beware, however. The Sun's editorial today captures Speaker Silver's angry response:
"There are issues that Columbia may have before us that obviously this cavalier attitude would be something that people would recall," Mr. Silver told our Jacob Gershman yesterday. "Obviously, there's some degree of capital support that has been provided to Columbia in the past. These are things people might take a different view of … knowing that this is that kind of an institution." Mr. Silver faulted Columbia for "attempting to legitimize this individual," saying, "We have an obligation because of the U.N. to allow him to come to this country. It doesn't mean we have to make him welcome. We don't have to give him a forum."
Columbia, through its own arrogance, is creating a situation whereby all New Yorkers will need to re-evaluate is putative contribution to the city's civic life. Daily News columnist Michael Goodwin really gets this: "Opening the door to every global psychopath is not principle. It is pure provocation. It is not defending freedom of speech. It is embracing moral equivalency, a lazy leftist dogma that says all "ideas" are equally deserving of being taken seriously. That Columbia has fallen into the value-less trap shows that an expensive education doesn't buy common sense." Indeed, it appears to militate against having it.