Mighty Bollinger

Columbia University President makes himself a tool to Bush


Mighty Bollinger
by tinoush

Frank Wisner, head of Directorate of Plans in CIA in the 1950’s, used to refer to the US media as a Wurlitzer, a giant pipe organ.  Because it could be counted on to play whatever propaganda tune the US government wished to broadcast loudly.  Had he been alive today, he may have been proud to hear another Wurlitzer, this one from the academic circles, chiming in perfect harmony with the old one.

Let me start by saying that Dr. Bollinger, president of Columbia University, made several valid points in his address before Ahmadinejad’s speech.  I also commend him in the tone that he used to challenge Ahmadinejad.  Politicians should not receive a free pass because they’re guests, invited speakers, or politicians.  On the contrary, they should be subjected to harsh criticism when they deserve it.

And so, let’s analyze Dr. Bollinger’s speech starting with his tone.  Would Dr. Lee Bollinger have the courage to confront George Bush, Dick Cheney, Tony Blair, or any other world leader with the same tone?  I hope that he would.  I hope that he would use the same tone and words to point out the criminal, terrorist acts of Western leaders.  However, I wouldn’t hold my breath!  It should be mentioned that there are plenty of Israeli leaders, who have made controversial statements like Ahmadinejad; however, if Dr. Bollinger ever contemplates addressing them in the same manner, he better clear out his office first.

He was also very courageous and correct to point out Iran’s treatment of women, the Baha’i faith, and homosexuals.  We should all commend him for that.  However, I would point out a discrepancy that I see.  None of these human rights violations seemed to be an issue for Dr. Bollinger when the UAE government made a $200,000 contribution to Columbia University?  The UAE government’s human rights records and treatment of homosexuals, Baha’is, and women is no different than IRI’s.  He opposed Ahmadinejad’s invitation, but had IRI paid $200,000 would he have changed his position?  I hope not.  In fact, I wish that when he accepted the money from UAE, he would have been as candid as he was with Ahmadinejad and condemned UAE government’s human rights records too.  These issues are complicated.  Money for education is important and there is nothing wrong with accepting it while holding on to and applying a uniform set of principles.

Dr. Bollinger must also be commended for raising the Holocaust issue.  I particularly liked the way he phrased it: “your absurd comments about the debate over the Holocaust both defy historical truth and make all of us who continue to fear humanities capacity for evil shutter at this closure of memory, which is always virtue’s first line of defense.” 

I am one of those idealists who think that acts, which directly or indirectly lead to murder are wrong, regardless of murdering six million people or one person.  Therefore, I just have a few questions.  What about Iran in 1953 and the war with US-backed Saddam?  What about Iraq and Afghanistan?  What about Haiti?  What about the Palestinians?  What about …? 

It seems to me that humanity, especially in the West, has an almost infinite capacity for evil, when those who are brutalized are of a particular creed.  It seems to me that if Dr. Bollinger had included the plight of Iraqis or Palestinians in that beautifully worded criticism, he would no longer have his job, as it was demonstrated in the case of Professor Norman Finkelstein.  

He ended his remarks in regards to Holocaust and Israel by asking Ahmadinejad “do you plan on wiping us off the map too?”  To borrow from Amy Goodman’s terminology, it was at this point that the Mighty Bollinger began to metamorphose into the Mighty Wurlitzer. 

Dr. Bollinger should know that if anyone is making real and deadly threats of wiping other countries off the map, it’s the gang lead by US.  Can he point to a Palestinian state on a map?  Will he be able to outline the boundaries of a unified Iraq in the future, on a map?  Does he have an inkling of US government’s activities to foment sectarian discord and threaten Iran’s territorial integrity?  Ahmadinejad expressed a ‘wish’, and the US media ballooned it into Armageddon, but the rest of the world is fully aware of which countries have been and are wiping others off the map.

Dr. Bollinger’s slide toward propaganda continued with his repeat of Bush government’s allegations on Iran’s involvement in Iraq.  He also accused Iran of destabilizing Lebanon.  I was wondering at this point, is he the president of a respected academic institution or the White House press secretary?   Has he examined or seen any evidence to support Bush administration’s claims, or is it merely enough for the White House to make a claim and FOX/CNN to repeat it enough number of times.  Speaking of the Holocaust and its causes, was it not Goebel’s axiom that if you repeat a lie, long and loud enough people will believe it?  For an academic to sink to such level of jingoism and hypocrisy is shameful.  

He accused Iran of supporting extremist groups.  But he conveniently left out far worse acts committed by US government and its allies.  Does he know that US government supports groups and individuals that are on its own terrorist list?  It is hypocrisy to only use the US government’s list of terrorists as a benchmark.  It is outrageously shameful when an academic resorts to such biased criterion.   

Dr. Bollinger’s role as the White House megaphone hit a crescendo with the nuclear issue.  On this point, we have to be as bold and forceful with Dr. Bollinger as he was with Ahmadinejad, because Dr. Bollinger is a lawyer by profession and the stakes are high. 

As someone who has more intimate knowledge of law than the average FOX/CNN viewer, he should (and I suspect does) know that the claims of Bush administration have no factual or legal basis at all.  This point is specially demonstrated by the remarks of Mohammed ElBaradei, the Director General of the IAEA, who recently said that he does not see “a clear and present danger in regard to the Iran nuclear program.”  

Dr. Bollinger asked Ahmadinejad “why does your country continue to refuse to adhere to international standards for nuclear weapons verification in defiance of agreements that you have made with UN?”  Apparently, Dr. Bollinger regards UN with the same callus disregard that Bush and company do. 

Apparently, just as Bush stated, UN is only relevant to Dr. Bollinger when it supports his argument.  It doesn’t seem to matter to Dr. Bollinger that US is bullying the rest of the Security Council along the path of war based on the same type of evidence that created the catastrophe in Iraq.

Shame! Such a sheepish regurgitation of propaganda by the dean of a respected academic institution! Doesn’t Dr. Bollinger realize that by parroting this nonsense, he would be complicit in the aftermath of a military action against Iran?  If he is concerned about human rights then he should be first and foremost concerned about human lives!   He should not so carelessly make himself a tool to Bush and go in league with the media that have become so docile to the US government.

Finally, he accused Iran of threatening the world with nuclear annihilation.  This must have been the one night that a president of Columbia University tossed out all academic standards!  I suggest that Dr. Bollinger turn off his TV, stop listening to the talking heads in the media, lock himself in the Columbia University’s Butler Library, and brush up on history and current affairs.  Yes, the world has been and is constantly threatened by nuclear annihilation; however, the threat is made mostly by US and its allies.



Well Done! -- Bollinger only helped Ahmadinejad's image

by Mehdi on

I think it is very hard to make people think of you as less civilized and less intelligent than Ahmadinejad. But Dr. Bollinger somehow managed to pull it off! I haven't seen one American or Iranian who didn't think that Bollinger, to say the least, could have done a much better job. He had a chance to make something useful out of this opprtunity and he muffed it so bad. I wish the writer of this article, tinoush, had conducted the event. He would have done something useful for all humanity. Well done, man!


demagoguery at its best

by aw (not verified) on

So President Bollinger claimed that “Iran leads the world in executing minors.”

President Bollinger has a short (and defective) memory. According to Amnesty International, from 1990 until 2005 when the US Supreme Court FINALLY outlawed the practice, it was the United States of America that led the world in child executions.

“Since January 1990 Amnesty International has documented 46 executions of child offenders in eight countries– the Democratic Republic of Congo, Iran, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, the USA, China and Yemen. The USA carried out 19 executions – more than any other country.”



According to that same page, several countries outlawed child executions recently. “Yemen and Zimbabwe raised the minimum age to 18 in 1994, as did China in 1997 and Pakistan in 2000.” Yep, Yemen, Zimbabwe, China and Pakistan beat us to that by eleven, eight and five years.

Mr. Bollinger, your comments are demagoguery.


Iranians deserve Ahamdinejad

by ktla (not verified) on

Iranians deserve Ahamdinejad and the mullahs. They don't deserve any better whatsoever. Let them rot in their medieval prison. I hope they descend into the swamp of ignorance and superstition even more where eveyone has to wear burka and universities turn into Madrassa. Iran is dead and gone. Change the name to some Arab word...I hope they ban speaking Persian too. Only Arabic should be allowed for Islamists.


Naa Mard ...

by Aquaman (not verified) on

I'm against Bush & his crimes against humanity but correct me if I'm wrong, somebody needed to tell the Moron (Ahmadinejad) that he & his CRIMINAL mentality, actions & friends inside & outside Iran are dead wrong by any logical & humanly standards...
Evidences & documents are present of what these criminals have done in the past 29 years to Iran & Iranians... Please stop these mad hypocrisies people...

He claims Iran is the best & has the best since the Islamic revolution!!!!????? What kind of DRUGS are you on bitch?

They kept repeating these lies to themselves & other Iranians for so long (hence, the Goebel’s axiom)that has caused even the ungrateful Iranians outside the occupied land (IRAN)to take sides with Islamic Republic & Ahmadinejads... How ignorant & fricking sad...
Maybe you and/or your parents were the ones who took sides with Khomeini, The outside Imperialists & Arab/ Muslim terrorist forces to attack & occupy our beloved Motherland (IRAN)in the name of intellectuals! How Ignorant & Stupid of anyone to ever believe you ever again...

Somebody had to say the truth to Islamic Republic & Ahmadinejad! : You are fucking physco Criminals... and it was Dr. Bollinger! Maybe, He will wake these bastards up! Maybe...

Because if anyone says a word against them in IRAN will get beaten, harassed, jailed and or killed...

Stop the Hypocrisies you gutless Iranians & do something...

Khoda Iran roo az daste har namardi nejat bedeh...
Reza (San Diego, CA)


Ahmadinejad was allowed to

by jane doe (not verified) on

Ahmadinejad was allowed to speak without being interrupted by protesters. Yet a speaker who was bold enough to question the "Islam is peace" rhetoric or speak of the Arab race card would have been shouted off the stage. Would he have been allowed to speak if he was questioning slavery? Made cartoon about lynching of african americans? I've seen people use violence on campus when affirmative action is questioned! Over and over again speakers at universities are denied the right to speak by protesters. Since Ahmadinejad was given an open forum it only makes obvious that it is not jews who have the power- look at instances where free speech on campus has been curtailed with threats of violence- it is always the same people, and you can't even say it without being called racist.

To those who complain that Bolinger was insulting- yes in America an infidel can speak honestly to a muslim. This is often mistaken for Islamaphobia.


Unfortunately, Ahmadinejad gained much more than anyone else!

by Kashef (not verified) on

I don't want to go into the argument on whether Bollinger treated Ahmadinejad right or wrong. Many different views are out there. But in summary, the principles of freedom of speech, gives him every right to do so.

However, I personally think this was not a wise choice. Because, it helped Ahmadinejad to look better in the eyes of those ordinary people in Iran who voted for him. I have lived with this class of people, they think good about their authoritative figures. Their mind set is different than Americans who can easily laugh at flaws of their president or other authoritative figures and see them mocked in national television.

This is the same people who will also believe and back up Ahmadinejad's sentence that there are no homosexuals in Iran! (Even if someone knows of a homosexual in their family, or around, they never admit it or talk about it.)

For them Ahmadinejad, looks like a hero, with all the hypocritical attitudes and general nice sentences (paraphrased like: Women are equal in Iran; We have a free country; We are civilized and tolerable to opposing comments)...and Bollinger's commentaries before Ahmadinejad's speech just added to his heroism in the view of simple-minded ordinary people who have no access to media with different points of views than those backed by the government.


Bollinger bolted when

by ABC (not verified) on

Bollinger bolted when realizing he might lose his job for inviting Ahmadinejad, and the reaction of the hardliners' part of the Jewish community. He increased the attacks and insults up a few levels, just to make sure that wouldn't happen.


These are appointed positions

by Anonymous123 (not verified) on

Bollinger was appointed to his role as president of Columbia. He needs to serve his masters.

They (Americans) talk about fucking freedom of speech but will not practice what they preech. Our fucking iranians in US need to open their fucking eyes.

Long live all Iranians who love their country.


Amazed is right on the Money! Tinoush is not that clever

by Parthian on

It is constantly puzzling and mind boggling how the Iranian left, filled with the hatred of U.S. actually ends up defending a despicable character like Antarinejad. More amazingly, they do so by completely avoiding a logical and rational discussion. I suggest to all of them here to take logic 101, or review it again. Ok, U.S evil, West bad, really bad! They did terrible things! What does this have to do with IR? Let's say the hated mullahs come out tomorrow and declare that the sky is blue! Should I say to myself, you know these guys are so evil, such liars, there is no way the sky can be blue!

Tinoush is masterful in creating a strawman argument, than goes on to destroy it. The rest of the idiots play the role of cheerleaders, clapping their hands in awe of such masterpiece. Her arguments are extremely weak. The discussion had nothing to do with Iraq, Israel, palestine. Antarinejad knew what to expect, he was warned in advance of the subjects that would be discussed. Just because U.S is terrible, it does not diminish Bollinger's arguments. All his points are right on the money, and correct.

There are NO RULES that I am aware of with regards to what an Academic discourse should look like! That is completely nonsense. On the very same campus, the students almost beat up a minutemen representative few months ago. If you are a dictator, if you are willing to see 16 year old girls get hanged during your reign as a president,  you sure deserve to be treated much worse than what we saw.

Here is another news to all of you idealists. In a discourse, it is never expected that a participant will be fair. But in a fair society, it is expected that differing views are represented in a discourse to balance the argument. Antarinejad is so absured, or premodern that regardless of what bollinger did, Antari was gone look extremely ridiculous. "There is no homosexual..." line speaks volume about the mental state of our beloved president. We must not expect Bollinger to be fair, at least in our view; just like many will not find Tinoush's views to be fair. The beauty of it is that even Tinoush with all her hatred of the west can express her view freely, and balance people like Bollinger. In Iran, no one will be able to do the same with the Islamist thugs. Antari got the medicine he is been serving 70 million people, but a much milder, and nicer version of it.


To Amazed

by aw (not verified) on

Dear Amazed,
I will not try to defend the author here, I am sure Tinoush is capable of doing that just fine.
Nobody is trying to silence the critics of IR here. Mr. Bollinger had every right to challenge his guest and in fact not doing so would have been a disservice to his students. His challenge is not the problem, how he did it is the issue.
This event was not a political debate. It was a lecture by an invited guest. As is customary, a brief and civilized introduction is given, then the lecture and then a Q&A period followed by concluding remarks. Bollinger as an academic should have stuck to this protocol and saved his challenges to the question period at the end. He did not do that. He came out aggressively in his introduction and condemned the speaker. In all my many years in academia, I have never witnessed such an absurd approach. Furthermore, his tone, demeanor, language and aggressiveness was more suited for a political debate or a court room and not an academic setting. He listed his questions regarding women, bahais etc (all legitimate of course) and then proceeded to tell the speaker that "he does not have the intellectual integrity to answer them." Why ask questions then? If he has already made up his mind and he thinks the speaker does not have the intellectual integrity to answer the questions, why invite him and ask him question?
Also he is quite selective as to who he calls a "dictator." See my previous comment on this. His double standard regarding Ahmadinejad the "petty and cruel dictator" and Musharaf as a "central and global" figure is quite telling. This is fine for a politician but inexcusable for an academic.
He acted like an opportunistic political hack and not as an academic. He pandered to the political establishment and special interest groups. The fact that he was criticizing Ahmadinejad does not in any way change this. Your level of hatred for IR has no bearing on this either. It is was it is. A despicable and shameless act by a charlatan pretending to be an unbiased and objective professor.
I find it rather sad that some Iranians have so much hatred when it comes to IR that they lose all objectivity.


Bollinger is also a hypocrite

by aw (not verified) on

While Bollinger described Ahmadinejad who was elected in an election (however imperfect) a "cruel and petty dictator", here is how he described Parvez Musharraf, the Pakistani dictator who took power through a military coup:
"President Musharraf is a leader of global importance and his contribution to Pakistan’s economic turnaround and the international fight against terror remain remarkable - it is rare that we have a leader of his stature at campus."

A "central and great global" figure.


Mr Bollinger is a hypocrite and quite selective about his use of the word dictator. He pandered to the political establishment as well as special interest groups. A despicable act by an academic.
Given that he is an astute lawyer, he handled the event as if he was in a court room rather than academia.
Furthermore, by mentioning Kian Tajbaksh, a political prisoner in Iran and a Columbia graduate and insulting his prison guard (figuratively speaking) at the same time, he put this poor soul in great danger. I would not be surprised that Kian would be forced to condemn Bollinger and Columbia on Iranian TV. For this alone, Bollinger should be fired. He is clearly ignorant about how things work in Iran.



by Not Impressed (not verified) on

Nicely written, but Dr. Bollinger is so extremely to the left...there is no way that the words he used were spoon fed to him.
Second, who gives a shit that he did not turn his speech into..."you guys are bad! Oh, but its okay because we are bad too!"
All governments are imperfect...one way or the other. I tell you what I think sucks about this whole thing...this guy walks into our coutry and we look like a bunch of shit heads going to hear him speak. What the hell is wrong with everyone. This isn't reality TV...this is real life...we gave him a platform and ammo. Does anyone out there realize this guy and his past? Does anyone know who he really is?
Dr. Bollinger did what he has the right to do...speak his mind. Most people who slam his tactics are just pissed because they have no platform to stand on.


Well-put, but publish it in a place Americans are likely to see

by FaridA (not verified) on

Very eloquently put! I wrote an op-ed regarding Bollinger's remarks in Columbia Spectator, the student paper of the university, which they graciously published in the paper: The article can be accessed from
My only issue is that you should post this article in forums that Americans frequent. They need to hear this sort of commentary.



Dear Tinoush

by amazed (not verified) on

Mr. tinoush: There are enough American/Western left leaning websites who criticize, demolish, insult, degrade and ridicule Bush and "Imperialist America" day in and day out on an hourly basis.(dailykos.com, firedoglake, huffingtonpost.com, myleftwing, and millions of others)

You're trying to silence critics of the Islamic republic by using a fallacious argument. Does one government's atrocities obsolve another's?

You're not that clever Mr. Tinoush... Your alliance with the IR is morally bankrupt and NO, the end does not justify the means. The means are the ends in the process of becoming.


Well Written

by cyclicforward on

Very nicely written article and wonderful arguments presented. You should send it to Newyorker magazine. Keep it up.




No platform for fascists

by aa (not verified) on

Ahmadinejad is an executioner and a wanted man in Europe for being involved in assassinating the Kurdish-Iranian leader. Who r you trying to fool? Why do you respect a murderous, corrupt and criminal regime?

The Islamic Republic is not a sovereign nation, period. It's a client state of China, Russia, and the EU moftkhors. It's a puppet of serveral nations instead of only one during the Shah's time.

It's governance doesn't represent and reinforce the true will of the people, who are the true source of all sovereignty, and the only legitimating base for any state.

In a country where the government cannot, yet, publicly account for the serial killings of the most prominent intellectuals and writers; in a country where thousands of political prisoners have vanished without any culpability (massacring dissidents); in a country where the government manifestly lacks any accountability for its methods and means when it comes to providing for its people (except when it comes to pursuing, terrorizing and killing dissidents); in a resourceful country that almost half of the population lives in poverty, in a country where the future generation of Iranians are going to be left destitude because of massive corruption and thievary of its ruling class, the government that has thus thoroughly proven its incompetence in governance has no right to demand respect. It has not earned it. Even the left now knows he is a fraud and reprsents nothing by deception and lies. God Bless for Bollinger for letting him open his ugly mouth.



by impressed (not verified) on

Most beautifully written. Will these words be seen anywhere other than iranian.com? If only your writing could reach a larger audience...


Bolinger waas plain insulting

by alborzi (not verified) on

He was insulting to the nation of Iran and Mideastern people.
It was just plain arrogant, Charlie Rose's interview is much more enlightening .