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Profiles in cowardice

By Michael J. Smith on Monday September 24, 2007 11:49 PM

Okay, folks, gotta forgive me while I foam embarrassingly at the mouth here.

I live on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, an area into which Columbia University has for the last forty years unrelentingly extended its tendrils like a metastatic tumor. From Wild West to Company Town in the blink of an eye. It's really depressing.

Of course the justification is that Columbia, like its better-known and more respectable Ivy League brethren, is an Acropolis of enlightenment, free thought, openmindedness, untrammeled inquiry, et cetera, et cetera. So what if a few nobodies have to move to the Bronx -- or Coventry? It's worth it, so these mighty minds can think in peace, and the tenured ones among them can enjoy a river view while they're thinking.

So here comes the perennial question: is the glass half empty or half full? The half-full advocates will note, correctly, that Columbia, in spite of intense pressure from the soldiers of Zion, did open its gated-community gates today for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the President of Iran. Frankly, I was expecting 'em to cave, right up until the last minute. Okay, credit where it's due.

We half-empty types will, on the other hand, cite the contemptible, vulgar fishwifery of the filthy Lee Bollinger, Columbia's president, who welcomed his guest with these words:

It should never be thought that merely to listen to ideas we deplore in any way implies our endorsement of those ideas, or the weakness of our resolve to resist those ideas or our naiveté about the very real dangers inherent in such ideas.... to those who believe that this event never should have happened, that it is inappropriate for the University to conduct such an event, I want to say that I understand your perspective and respect it as reasonable. The scope of free speech and academic freedom should itself always be open to further debate....

Third, to those among us who experience hurt and pain as a result of this day, I say on behalf of all of us we are sorry and wish to do what we can to alleviate it.

Fourth, to be clear on another matter - this event has nothing whatsoever to do with any “rights” of the speaker but only with our rights to listen and speak....

We do it in the great tradition of openness that has defined this nation for many decades now. We need to understand the world we live in, neither neglecting its glories nor shrinking from its threats and dangers. It is consistent with the idea that one should know thine enemies, to have the intellectual and emotional courage to confront the mind of evil ....

A number of Columbia graduates and current students are among the brave members of our military who are serving or have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. They, like other Americans with sons, daughters, fathers, husbands and wives serving in combat, rightly see your government as the enemy.

Can you tell them and us why Iran is fighting a proxy war in Iraq by arming Shi’a militia targeting and killing U.S. troops?...

I doubt that you will have the intellectual courage to answer these questions. But your avoiding them will in itself be meaningful to us. I do expect you to exhibit the fanatical mindset that characterizes so much of what you say and do.

I think the half-empty types can go to bed tonight feeling justified. If the entire Columbia campus were to be mysteriously emptied by space aliens tonight, and replaced with a scrubby park full of stunted saplings -- or, for that matter, with a parking lot -- what reasonable person could argue that it wouldn't be an improvement?

Lee Bollinger's hysterical, servile, jingoistic, pharisaic, smug, shallow, platitudinous words might as well have been written by a New York Post editorialist. This snivelling, creeping, shameless panderer, this pilotless radio-controlled Israel Lobby drone, this stiff-jointed, lead-footed, tin-eared, robotic, insensate junior-grade golem -- this is the Pericles of our Upper West Side Acropolis?

The only charm of the elites is that they're supposed know how to act like gentlemen. When they lose that -- then, really, haven't they overstayed their welcome?

Comments (10)


Actually, I thought you took it easy on the contemptible Bollinger. I do not understand how anybody can have anything to do with the American higher education system, which has been regnant while the neocons have openly seized full-scale dominance.If I was conducting the fraud of trying to "educate" a classroom of ignoble teens, I would, before I resigned, show them Spike Lee's "When the Levees broke" with Mr. Lee's commentary track playing. It's the best political speaking you are going to hear.



a pinnacle of a post



take it from one who has been
in direct observation of this gent
on and off for 40 some years

no one ..no one
more shares your bilious view
of american hi-er ed
then father smiff

can you not sense it seeping
from every pore of his prose here ???


You left out my favorite bit (well, OK, the 'proxy war' line is still the best): that Ahmadinejad "exhibit[s] all the signs of a petty and cruel dictator," a statement which makes a rather bald farce of Bollinger making any kind of authoritative statement on Iran.


Hi Michael, Terrific post. Bollinger deserves every kind of insult for his truly disgusting performance.
The most contemptible and pathetic moment is when he says at the end " I feel the weight of the whole civilized world upon me" or words to that effect. What an Idiot? It seems nobody in his rehearsal told him it sounds too corny even for that speech. I wish I know where you get those weights of civilized world in New York. It is our job to add some more of those weights and break his back.

plato's cave:

Brilliant, Michael! Shakes-pa-herean!

tim d:

On an unrelated note, was anyone else absolutely delighted to hear about how the Democrats stabbed their friends at Moveon.org in the back? Poor Moveon...will they ever learn?

Yeah, interesting news about MoveOn.

I followed as much of this brouhaha as I could via NBC Today -- or at least as much as I could stand of NBC Today -- and it seems all MoveOn was guilty of was calling 'em as they saw 'em...and for that, just this once, a healthy "bravo!"

If nothing else, this has given me double my pleasure and double my fun of seeing the information/education-industrial complex shit itself in public over all this, as well as the Donkeycratic Party whose reaction, by now, was well-nigh predictable. Don't forget their comically pathetic response to Hugo Chavez' UN gig.

tim d:

Yeah, is it even worth betting on how many will sign their name to the new bill in Congress censuring Columbia for inviting Ahmadinejad to speak there...

god it's so pathetic and predictable i can't take it anymore...


telegram from bro js:

" enough with the mini me shit
at present i think we got
the ziocons well circumscribed
lets refocus our blows on a few wasps
not midges "

oh tel aviv
fuzzy punch toy
of parlor rads

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