Columbia University president Lee Bollinger took Iran’s president to task Monday, bluntly criticizing his record and saying he exhibits “all the signs of a petty and cruel dictator.”
Bollinger’s assessment came as he introduced Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to an audience of students and faculty.
During the introduction, Bollinger cited the Iranian government’s “brutal crackdown” on dissidents, public executions, executions of minors and other actions.
He assailed Ahmadinejad’s denial of the Holocaust as “ridiculous.”
“For the illiterate and ignorant, this is dangerous propaganda,” he said. He called the Iranian leader “either brazenly provocative or astonishingly uneducated.”
“The truth is that the Holocaust is the most documented event in human history,” he said.
“Will you cease this outrage?” he demanded.
Bollinger said he doubted Ahmadinejad would show the intellectual courage to answer questions posed to him.
Whoa! Remind me to never say yes to an invitation to this guy’s house for dinner!!
What did the candidates have to say about Mahmoud’s visit to Columbia University? From CBS News:
Democratic Sen. Barack Obama said he would not have invited Ahmadinejad to speak on campus, noting that the Iranian president has other forums to air his views, among them the United Nations, where Ahmadinejad was scheduled to speak Tuesday. But Obama, a Columbia graduate, added that “one of the values that we believe in is the value of academic freedom,” and said Columbia officials have the right to invite speakers of their choice.
[Hillary] Clinton said she ” would not have invited” Ahmadinejad to speak if she were a university president. But she said she does not express an opinion about the decision made by Columbia.
[John] Edwards characterized Ahmadinejad’s positions as “abhorrent” but said it “is for Columbia to decide whether they want a man like this to be able to speak at their university.”
Former Sen. Fred Thompson, a Tennessee Republican, criticized Columbia while appearing on conservative pundit Bill Bennett’s radio show this morning.
“It’s a clear double standard and rank hypocrisy” on the part of Columbia to allow Ahmadinejad to speak, he said, and not allow the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, or ROTC, on campus. On Thursday, Thompson said he would not have allowed Ahmadinejad into the country if he were president.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a Republican, also objected to Ahmadinejad’s visit. “Instead of inviting him to speak at the United Nations and Columbia University, I believe he should be indicted under the Genocide Convention,” the candidate said in a statement.
Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain said in a statement that he finds it “astonishing and astounding that Columbia University would welcome the president of a country that has not only dedicated itself to a policy of extinction of the state of Israel, but as he is speaking, most of the lethal and explosive devices are being exported from Iran into Iraq, endangering and taking the lives of brave Americans who are serving.”
Former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who is also running for the Republican nomination, spoke to a reporter today in Portland, Maine, about the Iranian president’s visit.
“I think Columbia made the really wrong decision to invite him to be part of a distinguished lecture series,” he said. “It makes no sense to give him this type of forum, to give him this type of dignity that Columbia has given him by allowing him to speak there, as if has some kind of serious opinion to offer.”
Rep. Duncan Hunter, a California Republican also running for president, harshly attacked the university at a recent press conference.
“If President Lee Bollinger follows through with this hosting of the leader of Iran, I will move in Congress to cut off every single type of federal funding to Columbia University,” he said. “If the left-wing leaders of academia will not support our troops, they, in the very least, should not support our adversaries.”
And Chimpy? From The Seattle Times:
President Bush said Ahmadinejad’s appearance at Columbia “speaks volumes about really the greatness of America.”
He told Fox News Channel that if Bollinger considers Ahmadinejad’s visit an educational experience for Columbia students, “I guess it’s OK with me.”
Chimpy then went back to watching cartoons.