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Disgrace at Columbia

The problem here is that Columbia would have never invited a world leader with a professed hate of Muslims, or immigrants, or any of the groups that the liberal vanguard has all but sainted

There are a few credentials in life worth having: for instance, a Harvard law degree, an MBA from the Wharton School, and, in the world of journalism, a graduate degree from Columbia University in New York.

It’s a nice little badge, something my mother enjoys bragging about and that I use from time to time to establish credibility with difficult interview subjects. But recently, I felt ashamed that I ever took pride in walking through the wrought iron gates at 116th and Broadway.

At the end of September, Columbia invited an unrepentant anti-Semite to address its World Leaders Forum, the 94-year-old prime minister of Malaysia, Mahathir Mohamad. Though he has lived long, he hasn’t shaken his decades-old anti-Jewish animus. He engages in all the usual anti-Jewish bias and conspiracy — he has said that Jews are “hook-nosed” and that they “rule the world by proxy” — but what really distinguishes Mohamad is the pride he takes in his hatred. As he told a packed house of enlightened students and professors at Columbia: “Why can’t I say something about the Jews, when people say nasty things about me and about Malaysia?” Responding to a challenge from an angry Jewish student, Mohamad replied: “When you say ‘you cannot be anti-Semitic,’ there is no free speech.”

He’s absolutely right. People have the right to be anti-Semitic. The problem here is that Columbia would have never invited a world leader with a professed hate of Muslims, or immigrants, or any of the groups that the liberal vanguard has all but sainted. That would have been considered beyond the pale. But Jews?

The president of Columbia offered a mealy-mouthed defense of his university by saying that “this form of open engagement can sometimes be difficult, even painful. But to abandon this activity would be to limit severely our capacity to understand and confront the world as it is, which is a central and utterly serious mission for any academic institution.”

This coming from the man who also invited genocidal anti-Semite Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the former president of Iran, to campus in 2007. These people have no shame.

(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 782)

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