Bollinger and Hospitality
September 29, 2007, 07:55 PM
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I know I`m late to the story about Iranian President Ahmadinejad`s visit to Columbia, and the personal insults Columbia President Lee Bollinger made in his introductory speech, but my question is about Persian culture (or cultures—it`s a big, very old, very complicated place). I don`t know much about Persia, but a lot of it is desert, and don`t West Asian desert cultures put a very strong emphasis on hospitality?

Winston Churchill wrote about the Pathans who live to the east of Iran:

"Every family cultivates its vendetta; every clan, its feud... For the purposes of social life … a most elaborate code of honour has been established and is on the whole faithfully observed. A man who knew it and observed it faultlessly might pass unarmed from one end of the frontier to another. The slightest technical slip would, however, be fatal. The life of the Pathan is thus full of interest…"

Did Bollinger come across as an ill-bred barbarian to people from that part of the world for accepting the role of host but then failing so badly in his duty to be a polite one?

Bollinger got his Ivy League sinecure because he defended "diversity" (i.e., quotas) so vociferously at the U. of Michigan, but an enthusiasm for multiculturalism often goes along with ignorance about other cultures.