Columbia profs defend Ahmadinejad to Bollinger

How very rude of him to play Colbert to Ahmadinejad’s Bush.

Unhappiness with that confrontation has simmered on campus ever since, and many professors said it provided the main impetus for the faculty petition.

“I think for most people the Ahmadinejad incident was an occasion that brought out a lot of discomfort,” said Wayne Proudfoot, a religion professor. “It seemed clear to me that the language he used in introducing Ahmadinejad was intended to, and had the effect of, placating, appeasing and being a message to conservative critics.”

Eric Foner, an American history professor who was one of the most outspoken professors at yesterday’s meeting, read aloud some of Mr. Bollinger’s remarks to Mr. Ahmadinejad, and added, “This is the language of warfare at a time when the administration of our country is trying to whip up Iran, and to my mind is completely inaccurate.”…

His faculty critics complained that he had expressed his personal views in a forum where he represented the university. In an interview, he acknowledged that he might be seen as speaking for the university, but said, “I think that’s a risk, but I think it’s outweighed by the benefit of having many, many voices.”

I like the idea of him having to clarify that he wasn’t speaking for the university while hammering a religious fascist for his human rights abuses, although not as much as I like the idea of “intellectuals” reflexively siding with a Holocaust denier because to criticize him is to align oneself with the American right. Note Foner’s bit about “the language of warfare,” though, as that’s the political nucleus of this dispute. Ironically, it’s Hillary Clinton who’s borne the brunt of the left’s paranoia about the “imminent” war with Iran that’s been “imminent” for a good two years now. That’s what that incident in Iowa last month was about. Any gesture of opposition to Iran, even one as innocuous as a university president giving a terrorist a verbal rap on the knuckles, gives Dick Cheney that much more license to push the button and bring about the rapture. So we’d better ease off and be nice and conciliatory, never minding the fact that the financial pressure may be starting to work on the nuclear front and, possibly, even in Iraq.

Oh, and you’ll be pleased to know that Iranian media has already picked up this story.