Friday, September 21, 2007

Stand Firm, Columbia

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran is a loathsome man who heads a repressive regime; his nuclear efforts and ugly talk about Israel make the world a much more dangerous place. It would be a delight to see him questioned in detail about his rhetoric and polices. Yet that, according to the New York Times, is exactly what we will be denied if New York City Council President Christine Quinn has her way.

Speaker Quinn, like Senator John McCain and Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts, have called on Columbia to bar Ahmadinejad from the university's upcoming World Leaders Forum.

William V. Campbell, chairman of the Columbia board of trustees, has offered exactly the right answer.
The freedom of our deans and faculty to create challenging and even controversial programs for our students is essential and sets a powerful example to the world about the strength of American universities and society.

So far, Columbia stands by its invitation.

If she likes, Quinn can hold a rally protesting Ahmadinajad's presence in the city. She'll have plenty of company, and rightly so.

But she has no business telling a university who it can and can't invite to its campus.

The intellectual autonomy of universities is a fragile thing, and never more than in times of war. You don't have to like Ahmadinejad to believe that Columbia has the right to invite him, talk with him, and question him as the university sees fit.

Quinn thinks he'll be getting a platform. I think he'll be revealed in all his ugliness.

Stand firm, Columbia.

No comments: