Iranian leader’s visit raises awareness

One of the goals of higher education is to increase awareness to those areas that might be outside of a person’s comfort zone. Columbia University followed that goal and did so successfully when Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visited the university for a speech this week.

Although Columbia President Lee C. Bollinger has been criticized for allowing Ahmadinejad to speak about his radical viewpoints at the university, he should be applauded for continuing to educate and spread awareness to not only his students but also to the country.

How many people were unaware of Ahmadinejad denying the Holocaust ever happened, his reported support for international terrorism and his passion for wanting to destroy Israel? Although it was Bollinger who brought Ahmadinejad to the university, he also outright challenged him on his beliefs, calling him “either brazenly provocative or astonishingly uneducated.”

These two might not be having lunch any time soon, but it was clear Bollinger thought the increase in awareness through Ahmadinejad’s visit outweighed whatever backlash that was to follow.

To appreciate what Bollinger did, people need to look at what the situation might look like from a foreigner’s perspective in relation to President Bush. This same type of anger is brought about when President Bush goes abroad and the majority of the time, the anger brought about from a Bush visit far exceeds the outrage Ahmadinejad brought with him to New York.

Think about the response President Bush receives when he travels abroad. The average person would think the second coming of Adolf Hitler were in town instead of the leader of the U.S. It does not mean the leaders of those countries believe their respective countries will support a Bush visit, but they are trying to educate and they succeed in doing so.

Columbia was educating Americans and people are now more aware of Ahmadinejad. Mission accomplished.

Sports editor Tim Bella for the editorial board.