Saturday, November 25, 2006

Havel at Columbia University

Václav Havel, the last Czechoslovak president and the first Czech president, is spending 7 weeks at Columbia University. His local website
contains a lot of videos of Bollinger, Clinton, and Havel, and many other things, including the movie called Citizen Havel goes on vacation. Be ready that except for three funny sentences, Havel prefers to speak Czech. ;-)

It's been more than 15 years since my admiration of Havel became finite and started to be regulated by various considerations and the realization of his limitations but I still think that his presence is a clearly positive contribution to Columbia University. Whom do you think about these days when someone says "Columbia University"? Years ago, you would realize that Milton Friedman got his PhD there. And today? While there are great people like Brian Greene and others over there, the university has become a symbol of various fringe America-haters, science-haters, crackpots, and similar groups and movements.

For example, some students have recently destroyed a talk by John Gilchrist from Minuteman, an organization of volunteers who try to stop illegal immigration and who have been praised by as moderate people as Arnold Schwarzenegger. As Scott, a decent young Republican, has pointed out at the end of the video, the show was a display of Columbia's poor intellectual capabilities: the storm troopers who took over the stage were animals. No conservatives would ever behave in the way that the democratic liberals did. Can you imagine that some right-wingers would do something analogous during Mohammad Khatami's talk at Harvard - a talk that was undoubtedly more controversial?

Needless to say, the leadership of the Columbia University is more or less openly proud about this garbage that quite clearly dictates the political atmosphere at that university.

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