A Columbia student asked how he could effectively protest his university’s invitation to Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to speak Monday. My first response was to suggest petitions, e-mails to President Bollinger and the university trustees, letters to the student paper, peaceful protest, and the like. All these are fine. But then I had a second thought. There might be one form of protest that would be effective both in showing appropriate disgust for the Iranian regime, and in shaming the Columbia administration: A total student boycott of Ahmadinejad’s speech. Let the Iranian president (and the Columbia president) look out on, and speak to, a sea of empty seats on Monday.
The rationale for a student boycott is simple: The Iranian government is directly involved in killing and wounding American soldiers in Iraq. As a gesture of elementary solidarity with those serving our nation in the military–young men and women, many of them their exact contemporaries–Columbia students should refuse to dignify Ahmadinejad’s talk by attending it. Needless to say, Columbia faculty and administrators shouldn’t attend either. Some of them will. But this is a chance for the 9/11 generation to show a decency and a sense of honor that some of their elders lack. After all, this is not primarily about Ahmadinejad. Dealing with his regime is mostly a task for our government. This is about us. Columbia students have a chance to shame their elders, redeem the good name of their institution, and make many Americans proud. I urge them to take it.
Michelle Malkin observes that at least some students at Columbia seem to be getting the idea.