We’re so used to bad news from the politically correct Columbia University of Lee Bollinger, super-champion of affirmative action, that it comes as a shock, albeit a pleasant one, to see that Columbia awarded Cuban opposition leader Oswaldo Payá an honorary degree yesterday. Payá could not be there to accept the degree because he was not allowed to leave Cuba, but Bollinger read his citation in his absence, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Engineer, journalist, activist, tireless campaigner for human rights and advocate for the people of Cuba, you represent the aspirations of millions around the world yearning for freedom and democracy. Based on the Cuban constitution itself, your Varela Project — a peaceful civic initiative to gather signatures across Cuba for the establishment of a free and democratic citizenry — is a model of civic activism. At great personal sacrifice and despite nearly constant surveillance and harassment, you have remained committed to nonviolent dissidence and political change. . . .
Bollinger might have added what the Cuban dissident wrote in a letter to the Columbia president, that he, Payá, was there in spirit and so were ”all of my colleagues who are now in prison for defending the rights of Cubans, and all those in Cuba who struggle peacefully for democracy, reconciliation and the guarantee of the rights of all people.”