Letter: Columbia University engaged in political propaganda

Editor:

As a graduate student at the U, I am a fierce advocate for this country’s universities and their responsibility to promote free speech and discourse that enhances and expands our understanding of various cultures and viewpoints.

Columbia University should be ashamed of completely undermining its own responsibility to promote civil discourse and understanding by the way it conducted President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s visit. Why invite a guest speaker if you insist on simply using the event as a political ploy? The meeting both opened and closed with a rain of insults directed at Ahmadinejad. This is not civil discourse. Moreover, we don’t even require our own administration, which has its own fair share of civilian blood on its hands, to give “yes” and “no” answers to our questions.

Universities, as institutions of critical analysis and inquiry, need to stay away from engaging in political propaganda, which is what Ahmadinejad’s visit ultimately accomplished for those who want to demonize Iran and continue the United States’ occupation in Iraq, or even widen the scope of the war into Iran. I must also add that as far as nuclear proliferation is concerned, we need to question the United States’ moral premise in requesting another country to cease its production of nuclear power while we continue to proliferate our own nuclear weapons. I remind you, we are the one and only country that has actually detonated a nuclear bomb. And we are to be trusted? I am disappointed in the Bush administration’s arrogance and hypocrisy, and I am downright scared at the thought of our universities deceptively providing a platform for its political agendas.

Shannon MockliGraduate Student, Modern Dance