Monday, September 24, 2007

Free-Speech Hypocrisy

Institutional memory is short, so just a flashback to the Qadhafi speech at Columbia. The sad thing is that while faculty fall all over themselves to bring repressive dictators to campus, many dissidents from the same countries are ignored. Columbia has never invited chief Libyan democracy activist Fathi El-Jahmi, for example (his mailing address for the last two and a half years would be Libya's state prison system).

Likewise, Richard Bulliet, Columbia's point man to arrange giving a platform to Ahmadinejad, does not extend invitations to people like Mansour Osanlou, the head of the Islamic Republic's first independent trade union (his mailing address for the last 75 days has been Evin prison).

While university faculties at New York University and Notre Dame rally around convicted terrorists (in the former case) and those denied visa for terror support (in the latter), no faculty has yet to rally around the case of Issam Abu Issa, the Palestinian banker who blew the whistle on Arafat's corruption and promptly had his visa revoked by the Powell State Department in an effort to save Arafat's hurt feelings and keep the "peace process" going.

The issue we see with Columbia is deeper than freedom of speech but rather the inconsistency with which university faculties choose to support it. If men like Richard Bulliet and Lee Bollinger, and women like Lisa Marie Anderson cared about freedom of speech, they might want to enable those who don't have it, rather than celebrate the men who have taken it away.

Short, sweet and absolutely CORRECT.

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