September 25, 2007


Iranian University Chancellors Ask Bollinger 10 Questions (Fars News Agency, 9/25/07)

Seven chancellors and presidents of Iranian universities and research centers, in a letter addressed to their counterpart in the US Colombia University, denounced Lee Bollinger's insulting words against the Iranian nation and president and invited him to provide responses for 10 questions of the Iranian academicians and intellectuals.

Mr. Lee Bollinger
Columbia University President

We, the professors and heads of universities and research institutions in Tehran , hereby announce our displeasure and protest at your impolite remarks prior to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's recent speech at Columbia University.

We would like to inform you that President Ahmadinejad was elected directly by the Iranian people through an enthusiastic two-round poll in which almost all of the country's political parties and groups participated. To assess the quality and nature of these elections you may refer to US news reports on the poll dated June 2005.

Your insult, in a scholarly atmosphere, to the president of a country with a population of 72 million and a recorded history of 7,000 years of civilization and culture is deeply shameful.

Your comments, filled with hate and disgust, may well have been influenced by extreme pressure from the media, but it is regrettable that media policy-makers can determine the stance a university president adopts in his speech.

It's not just that Mr. Bollinger was rude but that he betrayed such obvious contempt for the Iranian people. Imagine how outraged Americans would be if a foreigner invited one of our leaders to a speaking engagement and then treated him similarly? There was no reason to invite him, but having done so there was no reason not to extend basic courtesy.

Bollinger Forgot to Stand Up for the U.S. (Ed Koch, 9/25/07, Real Clear Politics)

President Lee C. Bollinger of Columbia University and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran met Monday on a field of rhetorical battle at Columbia.

Bollinger opened the proceedings, to which he had invited Ahmadinejad, by presenting a series of sharply-worded questions. Bollinger, normally a genial, soft spoken man who is always courteous and deferential to his guests, was in a totally different mode. His voice was hectoring and bullying. He included in his litany of questions provocative and insulting statements about his guest.

Bollinger's change of style was, I believe, to blunt the enormous criticism that ensued following Columbia's invitation to Ahmadinejad to speak there.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 25, 2007 4:05 PM

I understand why an American university would invite him, but I still don't understand why he was allowed by the US gov't to go. Why is he not on a visa that only allows him to be escorted to and from his hotel, the airport, and the UN, with absolutely no other stops permitted?

Posted by: b at September 25, 2007 4:50 PM

Why would he be?

Posted by: oj at September 25, 2007 6:00 PM

Um, because last I checked our official relations with the Iranian gov't are a bit...strained, and the only reason he's here at all is because we are obligated to allow heads-of-state to attend the UN. We should have done what it takes to meet our basic responsibilities and not an inch more.

Posted by: b at September 25, 2007 6:06 PM

We did.

Posted by: oj at September 25, 2007 9:13 PM

Bollinger *invited him* and then insulted him to his face. How crass. Americans have shown the world that they are rude and arrogant and don't know about diplomatic language.

Posted by: Shareef at September 26, 2007 2:05 AM

Bollinger was a rude, disrespectful and impolite host!

Posted by: Dave W at September 26, 2007 4:45 AM

Diplomatic language is the language of deceit and death, so we don't put much stock in it here.

However, Columbia should have listened to what Buckley told Yale 45 years ago (when it wanted him to 'debate' Gus Hall) - he said that you don't invite a man into your room just to spit on him, but neither do you ask just anyone in without being prepared to spit on him, if he proves to be despicable.

Having invited him, Bollinger was in no position to suddenly go paleo on Ahmadinejad. He was rude.

But Mahmoud is still a murderous thug with a Napoleon complex. Or a Mohammed complex.

Posted by: jim hamlen at September 26, 2007 7:52 AM