Lee Bollinger, World’s Rudest Host

September 24, 2007 · Print This Article · Email This Post

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Having been brought up with manners, it was unnerving to watch how much damage can be done to diplomacy in the absence of manners, as skillfully demonstrated this afternoon by Columbia University’s President, Lee Bollinger, who welcomed his guest, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the President of Iran, to a public lynching forum held at the New York City campus. As Donald Trump told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer later in the day, Ahmadinejad will most likely “dislike us a helluva lot more” after this visit.

And who could blame Ahmadinejad? What was purported to be an educational discourse at one of the nation’s best Ivy League universities began with the strangest greetings we’ve ever seen for a foreign dignitary. In an astonishing “yee-haw! ride ’em cowboy!” ambush introduction for Ahmadinejad, Bollinger went on at great length, excoriating his guest at every turn. It was quite clear that reason had flown out the window long before the Iranian President arrived. Bollinger said he was “yearning to express revulsion at what you stand for.” How’s that for hospitality? A similar nadir was reached when Ahmadinejad was termed a “petty and cruel dictator,” to audience applause. After the insults ceased and he was, at last, allowed to speak, Ahmadinejad said: “I should not begin by being affected by this unfriendly treatment.”

World Trade Center

This all came on the heels of the Iranian President not being allowed to pay his respects at Ground Zero. As he told 60 Minutes in an interview which aired yesterday, he didn’t think his idea of visiting Ground Zero would be perceived as insulting by Americans. (Well, obviously, he miscalculated that one.) “Why should it be insulting?” he said. “Usually you go to these sites to pay your respects. And also perhaps to air your views about the root causes of such incidents. I think that when I do that, I will be paying, as I said earlier, my respect to the American nation.”

 

Bollinger’s vitriole was startling in its intensity and the Iranian people no doubt feel insulted by our miserable manners and our treatment of our guest. Americans would scream bloody murder if one of our leaders visited a foreign country and was ripped up one side and down the other. You don’t think the Iranians will feel the same? Our diplomatic efforts were harmed today by Bollinger’s cheap shots, which could have foreign policy ramifications. We hope you enjoyed your 15 minutes of fame, Mr. Bollinger. After they’re up, you might want to consider hiring a new tailor.

Read more about Ahmadinejad’s visit here.

Photo credit: AP / Stephen Chernin

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Comments

One Response to “Lee Bollinger, World’s Rudest Host”

  1. De Novo on October 2nd, 2007 12:07 pm

    Columbia and “the Vexed Issues of the Day”

    Stanley Fish joins the chorus of those condemning CU president Bollinger’s negative introduction of Iranian president Ahmadinejad, though he departs from the usual complaint that Bollinger acted as a bad host in insulting his guest. Instead, Fish argu…