POLITICS
03/28/2008 02:45 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Columbia University To Be Punished For Hosting Ahmadinejad

Glenn Greenwald writes:

[W]hat is new, and what most certainly is worth commenting upon, is this extremely disturbing report from The New York Sun regarding the threats made by Democratic State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver to use state power to punish Columbia for inviting a speaker whom Silver dislikes. Silver -- who, among other things, has long been a leader in efforts to free convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard from prison -- did not even bother to disguise the threats he was making:

As the president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, prepares to address Columbia University today amid a storm of student protest, state and city lawmakers say they are considering withholding public funds from the school to protest its decision to invite the leader to campus.

In an interview with The New York Sun, the speaker of the Assembly, Sheldon Silver, said lawmakers, outraged over Columbia's insistence on allowing the Iranian president to speak at its World Leaders Forum, would consider reducing capital aid and other financial assistance to the school.

Lawmakers warned about other consequences for Columbia and its president, Lee Bollinger, who has resisted campus and public pressure to cancel Mr. Ahmadinejad's appearance today, arguing that Columbia's commitment to scholarship requires the school to directly confront offensive ideas.

"There are issues that Columbia may have before us that obviously this cavalier attitude would be something that people would recall," Mr. Silver said. "Obviously, there's some degree of capital support that has been provided to Columbia in the past. These are things people might take a different view of . . . knowing that this is that kind of an institution" . . .

Read Greenwald's full column here.