Watch Out Whom You Invite to Speak ...

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It’s fair to say that Columbia University has heard more than an earful over its decision to offer a speaking platform this week to Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Reaction ranged widely, with many condemning the university for inviting the controversial leader, others praising Columbia’s president, Lee C. Bollinger, for sternly rebuking the Iranian president while he looked on, and some doing both. Opinions flowed freely.

On Wednesday, one vehement critic, with a prominent platform of his own, went a large step further. U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter, a Californian who is also a longshot candidate (to be generous) for the Republican nomination for president, introduced legislation that would “prohibit federal grants to or contracts with Columbia University.” The text of the legislation — which college officials called “unprecedented” — was not yet available on any government Web sites.

Hunter, who was en route to Baltimore for a Republican presidential debate that lacked the four leading candidates, could not be reached for comment Thursday. But in a news release he issued Wednesday about the legislation, which he dubbed the “Restoring Patriotism to America’s Campuses Act,” the Congressman contrasted Columbia’s willingness to play host to Ahmadinejad to its anti-military stance, as Hunter characterized it, regarding the Reserve Officer Training Corps and military recruiters.

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