Prof. Ted Vestal asks Columbia to redeem its reputation


The following is a letter by Prof. Theodore M. Vestal of Oklahoma State University to Columbia University president Lee Bollinger on the invitation of Ethiopia’s tyrant:

Dear President Bollinger:

I am a constitutional scholar who has admired your writing about First Amendment freedoms. I am also an Ethiopianist who must take strong exception to your posting an ill-advised encomium of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia prior to his speaking at the Columbia University World Leaders Forum on 22 September 2010.

I was pleased that the words of praise for the Ethiopian leader provided by the embassy of Ethiopia have been taken off the World Leaders Forum website, but the damage has been done. By publishing such editorial comment even for a short while, you have violated your own self-proclaimed neutrality of sticking to “basic factual information” in such activities. I hope the party responsible for demeaning Columbia University’s good name as a bastion of free speech will be appropriately disciplined and that you will have the courage to make such action known to the public.

The only way you can redeem the damaged reputation of the World Leaders Forum is by publicly making known the shortcomings of Prime Minister Meles and his government in your introductory remarks—a refutation similar to what you did in introducing President Mahmoud Ahmadinejab of Iran in 2007.

The deficits of democracy and abuse of human rights by the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Front (EPRDF) are too well known and documented for you to miss. If you need additional information about the totalitarian practices of the Ethiopian leader you honor, please see my book, Ethiopia: A Post-Cold War African State (Praeger).

With best wishes,
Theodore M. Vestal, Ph.D.


6 comments on “Prof. Ted Vestal asks Columbia to redeem its reputation

  1. Valid point.
    Tell him. Bollinger should have known better. Bollinger, don’t stick out your neck if you don’t know or pretend to know about the world’s #1 tyrant!

  2. Ina Adam on

    Mr. Bollinger should know that Meles Zenawi’s TPLF army burned to the ground more than 375 villages in Ogaden, killed and starved to death thousands of innocent civilians and turned Ogaden a crime scene that’s open only for his army. You should ask him, Mr. Bollinger about the mass killing in Gamballa, Addis Ababa, Dhagahbur, Fiiq, Kabridahar, Warder, And Godey.

  3. Washington need to promote peace not tyranical rule. on

    The united states once looked up by all community of nations as becon of democracy,defender of human right,freedom and justsice,is now marching in a difference course.It now frequently incourages,now mingls,,abets ruthless regims around the world.For istance,Musharef,Tarzi,The royals of the saudis,Mubarek,Melese are among the washington’s favorite leaders.Even though these leaders had sad record of human right abuse and freely loot the wealth of their respective country, their willingness to accomodate the interests of private institutions make them preferrable alies.iThese nstitutions work behind the scene under the guise of promoting peace,economic assistance.It is disturbing to see the private groups are designing policies that are contrary to the citizenery. No wander, the general public is fed up with politics as usuall as the distinction between the two party platforms become the same.The only possible explanation as to why conservatives and liberals a like cast their vot in support of same bill is because they are bought by the insiders-who move easily in and out of private and public offices.
    Thank God the people are waking,I expect the wrath of the public in the coming election will throw the rascals out.

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