Columbia Welcomes Anti-Semite – OpEd
Wed Sep 25 2019
Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad will speak at Columbia University on September 25. He is not shy about using anti-Semitic slurs to attack Jews (calling them “hook-nosed”). Worse, he argues that “Jews rule the world by proxy.”
Columbia has a track record of welcoming Jew haters. In 2007, I went on the “Today” show to criticize Columbia for inviting Mohmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, to speak on campus. It was the same Columbia president, Lee Bollinger, who hosted this anti-Semitic bigot.
Bollinger tells us that he deplores the anti-Semitism of the Malaysian Prime Minister. No doubt he does. To be sure, deploring someone’s views is hardly a reason not to invite a controversial person to speak on campus—colleges should be places where freedom of speech is widely entertained. I hasten to say that as with all rights, making them absolute corrupts their value. Where Bollinger really goes wrong is in his failure to recognize the special status of a university.
Bollinger says that “it is in these times that we are most strongly resolved to insist that our campus remain an open forum and to protect the freedoms essential to our university community.”
Bollinger is right to call a university a community. But he fails to recognize what that means. It means that its members are bound together, sharing norms and values that define who they are. As such, they are not simply a constellation of individuals....