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Mamdani Uproar: Scion Of Ed Said Rocks Columbia

Andrew Rice

Observer

Mon Apr 04 2005

A week before, Mr. Mamdani welcomed a visitor to his book-filled office, which is mostly decorated in red, appropriately enough for an old Marxist. He speaks softly, like many true radicals, with a lilting, cosmopolitan accent. He said he saw the controversy that now grips Columbia as part of a wider campaign against American teachers’ right to express unorthodox political views.

“I find it extremely worrying,” Mr. Mamdani said. He was especially incensed at Columbia’s president, Lee Bollinger, who recently called on professors “to resist the allure of certitude, the temptation to use the podium as an ideological platform, to indoctrinate a captive audience.

“The administration seems to be giving no indication that it understands academic freedom to be something different from freedom of speech,” Mr. Mamdani said. He believes there is a crucial distinction: Teachers are supposed to teach. “I think that if we treat the classroom space as any public space, then we might as well throw out of the window the notion of the university as it developed after the Middle Ages in the West,” he said.

Mamdani Uproar: Scion Of Ed Said Rocks Columbia