- The Washington Times - Monday, October 1, 2007


Columbia U. and Ahmadinejad

Referring to Columbia University’s recent invitation to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Victor Davis Hanson writes: “One wonders whether Columbia would have invited Adolf Hitler as well” (“The university madhouse,” Commentary, Saturday). In fact, Columbia did the next worst thing: it invited Hitler’s senior representative in the United States.

In his forthcoming book on the U.S. academic community’s response to Nazism, professor Stephen Norwood of the University of Oklahoma describes how, in 1933, Columbia President Nicholas Murray Butler invited German Ambassador Hans Luther to speak on campus, and also hosted a reception for him. Mr. Luther represented “the government of a friendly people,” Mr. Butler insisted. He was “entitled to be received … with the greatest courtesy and respect.” Mr. Luther’s speech at Columbia focused on what he characterized as Hitler’s peaceful intentions.

Mr. Norwood also chronicles Columbia’s attempts to maintain friendly relations with Nazi-controlled universities. For example, Columbia refused to cancel its student exchanges with German universities, and in 1936, Columbia sent a delegate to take part in celebrations at the University of Heidelberg, even though Heidelberg had been purged of Jewish faculty members, instituted a Nazi curriculum, and hosted a burning of books written by Jews.

In fact, the chief book-burner, Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, presided over one of the receptions for the American delegates. Columbia’s representative, professor Arthur Remy, reported that the reception was “very enjoyable.” A student who led protests at Columbia against participation in the Heidelberg event, Robert Burke, was permanently expelled from the university as punishment.

By giving Hitler’s representative a distinguished platform from which to lie about the Fuhrer’s intentions, and by treating Nazified universities as legitimate institutions of higher learning, Columbia helped soften Nazi Germany’s image. This kind of well-meaning but naive behavior, undertaken in the name of free speech and international goodwill, contributed to the free world’s lack of preparedness in the face of Hitler’s aggression. One can only hope that Columbia’s actions with regard to Mr. Ahmadinejad will not have a similar effect.



David S. Wyman Institute for

Holocaust Studies


Between civilization and barbarism there is no common meeting ground. Does anyone see a common ground, even an acceptable level of humanity, in a leader who openly boasts about his determination to destroy another country and Western civilization itself? And yet Iran’s leader is admitted into the country, honored, and given a platform at an American university (“Ahmadinejad in America,” Editorial, Sept. 24).

Even with the hindsight of what we know now, there are those who would engage in “dialogue” and “negotiate” with Adolf Hitler. Some of them are students and faculty members at Columbia University. They do not understand that dialogue requires rational participants with a common meeting ground, that rights are not concrete but dependent on acceptable civilized behavior, or that rules are made by responsible authority, not by violators without standards. Freedom of expression, according to them, is only for enemies, not friends, and they reserve their support for adversaries of the United States.

The schizophrenic action of Columbia’s president, inviting and then condemning an enemy of civilization, is not what parents were expecting when they paid the tuition. Why didn’t prior condemnation preclude invitation?

Students who applauded the Iranian dictator insulted their own country on the worldwide propaganda stage. Their self-righteous dedication to freedom of speech was not in evidence when the Minutemen, also invited to speak at Columbia, were driven from the same stage while the administration turned a blind eye.

Columbia is not a gem in American education. It’s more like an ocean of permissiveness and misinformation. A significant number of its students have failed Vocabulary 101, having little understanding of words like honor, character, responsibility, freedom, citizenship, patriotism or sedition.

They have trouble with constitutional concepts also, like rights, equality and freedom of speech; their perspective of history starts with their birthday and is not much enlarged by the university.

They have failed comparative government. They exhibit very low marks in history, logic, inductive reasoning, behavior, manners and simple decency.

By applauding shabby, uncivilized orators, they show a questionable understanding of civilization itself and what it takes to achieve it.

This is what passes for education at Columbia, where the cost and the results are without parity.




Bullfighting is barbaric

In defending bullfighting, Daniel Amon says: “A matador cannot work a crippled bull” (“Bull-loney,” Letters, Saturday). The converse is true: the bull has to be crippled in order for the matador to fight it.

First, mounted picadors use lances to stab the muscles on the bull’s neck. Then three banderillos on foot each attempt to plant two banderillas (sharp barbed sticks) into the shoulder and neck muscles. The result is that the bull is weakened by the loss of blood and, most importantly, holds its head lower. This gives the matador greater freedom when “working” the bull and also makes it possible for the matador finally to stab the bull with a downward sword thrust between the shoulder blades to hit either the aorta or the heart. This would not be possible if the bull could keep its head up.

Mr. Amon asks: “Is bullfighting cruel? Yes, in the same way that life is cruel.” But the latter expression applies to what can happen to human beings because of the vagaries of life; it is no reason to inflict pain on an animal for entertainment. That man alone has intellect is irrelevant and if bullfighting is art it is very debased art that necessitates causing pain to dumb animals.


Harrow, Middlesex, England

Pakistan’s other history

Recently, former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto made the claim on C-SPAN that Pakistan lost East Pakistan in 1971 because of military rule (“Bhutto resolute in plan to return next month,” World, Wednesday).

Pakistan lost its eastern wing because her father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, then a powerful foreign minister in Gen. Yahya Khan’s military government, would not allow the general to cede power to the victorious party, called the Awami League.

This meant that Sheikh Mujibar Rahman would become prime minister while Mr. Bhutto, a powerful minister in both Field Marshal Ayub Khan’s government as well as then Gen. Khan’s, would merely have been a member of parliament.

Mrs. Bhutto, then 19, who attended the postwar summit meetings in India with her father, might not remember her father’s stubbornness that resulted in the 1971 slaughter of East Pakistani intellectuals and civilians and millions of refugees who poured into India.

Furthermore, as foreign minister, Mr. Bhutto began chalking out a foreign policy independent of the West. He criticized the United States for providing military aid to India during the Sino-India war of 1962. He later established stronger relations with China and promoted pan-Islamic unity within the Arab and Muslim nations.


Stamford, Conn.

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