Columbia University Makes Iranian President a Hero in the Middle East
by James Glaser
September 25, 2007

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was invited by Columbia University to speak to its student body during his visit to the UN in New York. Having been invited, it played right into the Iranian's hand that Columbia President Lee Bollinger repeatedly insulted the man he invited to speak

The following are quotations from a CBS news report on the Iranian President's talk and how Columbia President Bollinger treated him.

Columbia University, whose president accused the hard-line leader of behaving like "a petty and cruel dictator."

Ahmadinejad smiled at first but appeared increasingly agitated, decrying the "insults" and "unfriendly treatment."

"Mr. President, you exhibit all the signs of a petty and cruel dictator," Bollinger said, to loud applause.

Bollinger was strongly criticized for inviting Ahmadinejad to Columbia, and had promised tough questions in his introduction to Ahmadinejad's talk. But the strident and personal nature of his attack on the president of Iran was startling.

"You are either brazenly provocative or astonishingly uneducated," Bollinger told Ahmadinejad about the leader's Holocaust denial.

In the last week Columbia, and its president have been under attack for inviting the Iranian President, and that is probably why Bollinger treated Ahmadinejad so badly. However that treatment plays right into the Iranian President's hand. Now he can go back to the Middle East and say that he had the guts to stand up in America and say what he believes.

On top of that he was able to defend the Palestinian people, and that always plays well in every country over there—except Israel. He can say, America invited me to speak and treated me very badly. America is impolite. Of course most of the Middle East already thinks of us as the Great Satan, so this show of bad treatment of an invited guest plays right into the image people in the Middle East have of us.

If you don't like someone, if you think they are "astonishingly uneducated or that they are a petty and cruel dictator," why would you invite them in the first place?

Columbia University and its president made America look bad, and that can only help the President of Iran.

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