The Leader and the Led

Eli Lake reports in today’s New York Sun on the Columbia University conference on democracy in Libya that featured a televised address from Colonel Gadhafi. The conference was was co-sponsored by al-Fatah University, an institution whose Tripoli campus was previously distinguished by its history in the late 1970s and 1980s of publicly hanging student dissidents. Lake also reports that the conference was co-sponsored by “the international green book center,” an entity funded by the Libyan government. Dean Lisa Anderson of Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs played a role in the conference and is described in a Libyan newspaper report on the event as “a particularly gracious host.” Lake quotes the report:

“Dr. Lisa Anderson, the Dean of SIPA at Columbia University, expressed gratitude especially to the Leader for taking valuable time to speak, which has enriched the conference. Affirming her great happiness to the result of the constructive dialogue and discussion. She praised what the Leader Muammar Al-Gadhafi has pointed out about mind-based faith and dialogue for the benefit of mankind,” it said.

Ms. Anderson would not return emails asking for comment. The article went on to say, “After the conclusion of the conference, Dr. Anderson, expressed to the Jamaheiriya Press corps, her hope more meetings and conferences would take place, pointing out that this experiment was magnificent.”

Last week her comments to the Sun were less enthusiastic. She described Gadhafi’s speech as “what you would expect from the author of ‘The Green Book.'”

Columbia apparently joins Yale as another of the Ivy League institutions whose tongue is tied in explaining its words and deeds to the rest of the country.

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