Petty role model

One of America’s greatest presidents, Franklin D. Roosevelt, recruited a group of advisers from the prestigious Columbia University – they were known as ‘Brain Trust’. In their first one hundred days in office, the Brains Trust helped Roosevelt enact fifteen major laws beneficial to the country. Regrettably, today, Columbia under the leadership of a petty role-model, Lee Bollinger, is losing its prestige and has become a place of hate and discrimination. A noose was found in a lecture room of a black female professor.

America’s intolerable past is re-awakened at this prestigious university because Bollinger demonstrated to the world that under his leadership, Columbia is not a place of learning, truth-seeking and exchange of ideas, but rather where the powerful are permitted to dominate not as a result of their intellectual capabilities, but due to the interest groups that give voice to their authority.

The United States is going through a critical juncture. It is the leadership in the White House that sets the mood for the tragic incident at ‘Jenna 6’ and the audacious people such as Bollinger to surface in the manner in which they did. Throughout America there is a reappearance of nooses because hate-filled ‘God-fearing’ leaders have publicly announced by way of example that attacking those we feel are weaker, disdainful, or inferior, is the acceptable solution. Mr. Bush’s genocide in Iraq, his neglect of the victims of Hurricane Katrina, and Bollinger’s disgraceful treatment of Iran’s president, Mr. Ahmadinejad, the next nation that is the target of Mr. Bush’s genocidal attack are such examples.

So once again, the ugly monster of bigotry that had been dormant is stirred in this country. During the Cold War years, as America was competing with the Soviet Union to win over the ‘hearts and minds’ of the free world, it faced the same monster – The Jim Crow Laws and segregation. How could it brag of democracy, human rights and the American Dream when blacks had no rights? It set out to correct its tarnished image through diplomacy. One has to wonder what will be done in today’s world where the truth is not so easily buried.

While Mr. Bush wages war against ‘evil’ he is inspiring malice at home. Bollinger’s ‘petty’ performance has brought wickedness to Columbia. Thankfully, the students of Columbia are resisting the evil temptation. Surely one must wonder why it is that there is not the same unity to resist the hatred they are brewing towards Islam. Does a Moslem have to have his/her head in a noose before we take action – Is the red, white and blue not solid enough to cover religion?

Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich has lived and studied in Iran, the UK,
France, and the US. She obtained her Bachelors Degree in International
Relations from the University of Southern California, Los Angeles. She
is currently pursuing her education in Middle East studies and Public
Diplomacy. Soraya has done extensive research on US foreign policy
towards Iran and Iran’s nuclear program. She can be reached at

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