It speaks well of the Columbia president, Lee Bollinger, that a group of left-wing or anti-Israel faculty members is now petitioning against him. In a letter obtained by The New York Sun's Annie Karni, 70 Columbia faculty members speak of a "crisis of confidence" in Mr. Bollinger, faulting him for his harsh introduction of President Ahmadinejad, which, they said, "were not only uncivil and bad pedagogy, they allied the University with the Bush administration's war in Iraq, a position anathema to many in the University community." The Bush administration is apparently more of an anathema to these faculty members than is the Holocaust-denying, American soldier-killing, terrorist supporting, nuclear bomb-building administration of Iran.
The nub of the matter is the petition's reference to "the autonomy of the University in the face of outside threats and pressures," and "a determining role for faculty in the governance of the University." When the professors say "autonomy," they mean a total lack of responsibility or accountability to trustees, students, parents, alumni, or America. When they say "outside threats and pressures," they mean Jewish students and alumni, but not the Arab potentate that funds the professorship of one of the petitioners, Rashid Khalidi.
A similar putsch by leftist and anti-Israel professors ousted Lawrence Summers last year from the presidency of Harvard. Mr. Bollinger's enemies are a sign of his character. How he handles them will be a test of his backbone, and will determine whether Columbia sinks back into the troubled mediocrity that afflicted it after the 1968 strike, or rises above it into the very first rank of American universities.