Thursday, September 20, 2007

Shame on Columbia

Columbia University, the bastion of the first amendment and of free speech, is inviting the cretinous head of Iran to address its students at its School of International and Public Affairs. This is the same school that is headed by Dean Lisa Anderson who helped to whitewash the anti-Israel bias investigation and supports the campaign to divest from companies that do business in that country. And, get this, she is "member emerita" of the board of Human Rights Watch!

Anderson herself belongs on the same stage as Ahmadinenjad. As Campus Watch points out: "Her most recent achievement was in raising money, almost entirely from Arab sources for an "Edward Said Chair in Middle Eastern Studies." Though Edward Said was neither a scholar or teacher of either Islam, or of the Middle East, but a celebrated polemicist, Anderson found nothing peculiar in naming this chair after him—rather as if one had decided to create the "Noam Chomsky Chair in American Political Theory." Indeed, she managed to raise $4 million, and was instrumental in keeping the sources of that funding secret for as long as possible. Much effort had to be expended to persuade Columbia to reveal those sources, though New York State Law requires such information to be reported when it involves foreign funds."

Will we see any protests of the Holocaust-denier leader? Probably not from anyone at Columbia, since there is only an appetite there to protest speakers who may support this country's foreign policy-or support the integrity of its borders. In fact, we're confident that the faculty of the Middle East Studies Department will feel more ideologically at home with the Iranian nutcase than with George Bush-or Hillary Clinton even.

All of which underscores the intellectual hypocrisy and dry rot that exists on the nation's elite campuses. As David Bernstein points out, free speech doesn't really exist in the universities-except for a range of acceptable opinions. It's as if the commissars have taken over, and having read Herbert Marcuse's Repressive Tolerance, have set out to expunge "wrong thought" from the campus. We are in desperate need of a Herculean effort to clean up the Augean Stables.