Saturday, May 3, 2014

Condoleezza Rice, Rutgers, Brandeis and the Intolerance of the (Academic) Left

Presidents routinely deliver commencement addresses at our nation’s colleges and universities and receive honorary degrees. Campus politics generally limit Republican presidents to speak only at the military academics and a few conservative institutions. The political outrage, accompanied by protests, on our institutions of higher learning, which purport to invite a diversity of ideas, preclude conservatives from delivering commencement addresses, and indeed, often speaking on campuses. The militant left, often led by the college’s professors, fight conservative speakers. They boo, hiss, protest, demonstrate, harass, interrupt conservatives, often with the connivance of craven university administrators who will not stand up for freedom of speech. Democratic presidents, however, have their run of the nation’s campuses and are usually warmly received as heroes and icons on the campuses. An interesting contrast is playing out between Rutgers and Brandeis this commencement season. Rutgers invited Condoleezza Rice as its 2014 commencement speaker, offering an honorary Doctors of Law degree and a $35,000 honorarium. Secretary Rice is a distinguished African America. She was born in the segregationist South and lived in Birmingham during the reign of Bull Conner. Her parents were academics. They moved to Denver when she was 15. She graduated cum laude from the University of Denver, received a masters from Notre Dame, and then her Ph.D. from Denver. She is a chaired professor at Stanford and served as Stanford’s Provost from 1993-1999. Her life from birth to 1999 present an outstanding CV. She then became President George W. Bush’s National Security Advisor in his first administration and then Secretary of State during his second term. That’s even more luster to a black girl from Birmingham, Alabama during the dark days of segregation. One of her friends was killed in the bombing of the Seventeenth Street Baptist Church. Condoleezza Rice should be a shining light for African Americans. She is a symbol of the greatness of America, of the power of education and upward mobility, the ability to achieve. However, she has two disabilities in the eyes of the left. First, The African American woman is a conservative Republican. Second, she was an integral figure in the Bush Administration and is labeled by the left as a “war criminal.” An outcry from the left rose at Rutgers after the announcement of her selection. Over 350 faculty members signed a petition seeking the disinvitation of Secretary Rice. 50 students staged a sit-in, protesting the “war criminal.” They held up signs saying “No honors for war criminals,” “War criminals out,” and “RU 4 Humanity?” The faculty and students had no problem when Snooki spoke on campus. Secretary Rice's only “crime” is that of the Bush Administration, securing the American people against a vicious enemy after 9/11 so that these academic bigots can teach and learn their intellectual tripe. The opposition to her represents the tyranny of the minority. The vast majority of professors did not sign the petition. The Rutgers New Brunswick Faculty Council urged the Rutgers Board of Governors to rescind “its misguided invitation.” The Newark Faculty Council followed suit. However, the Camden Faculty Council voted in support of the Administration’s decision. In addition the student council voted 25-17 in support of Condoleezza Rice as their commencement speaker. Rutgers President Robert Barchi and the Board of Governors adhered to their invitation of Secretary Rice. President Barchi wrote an open letter to the Rutgers community: “We cannot protect free speech or academic freedom by denying others the right to an opposing view, or by excluding those with whom we may disagree. Free speech and academic freedom cannot be determined by any group …. They cannot insist on consensus or popularity. These principles are, in fact, best illustrated and preserved when we defend perspectives that we oppose or when we protect what may appear to a minority view.” Do not be surprised if in the future President Barchi is subject to a vote of no confidence by the leftwing professoriate at Rutgers. Kudos to the leaders of Rutgers. Sadly, Secretary Rice rescinded her acceptance today, with the class and grace which have exemplified of her life. She said: “I understand and embrace the purpose of the ceremony and I am simply unwilling to detract from it in any way.” Brandeis is a different story. Brandeis announced Ali Ayaan Hirsi would be its commencement speaker. She is internationally renowned as a speaker for women’s rights and as an opponent of the oppression of women under Islam. She was born in Somalia and subjected to female genital mutilation. Her family left Somalia when she was 8. She was later subjected to a forced marriage. She sought political asylum in 1992 in the Netherlands, and elected to the Dutch Parliament in 2003. She left Islam after 9/11 and became an atheist. She has uttered many anti-Islamic remarks, earning the image in some as an “Islamophobe.” She has also said that she is not opposed to Muslims, but to the “submission of free will.” She lectures the world against female genital mutilation, forced marriages, and honor killings. The once devout Muslim is now one of the best known advocated for woman rights. Ali Ayaan Hirsi is a fellow at Harvard’s John Fitzgerald Kennedy School of Government, as well as the American Enterprise Institute. The opposition to her was initiated at Brandeis by a female Muslim student and then amplified by the Council on American-Islamic relations, some faculty and staff. 86 faculty members signed a petition to disinvite her. Brandeis’ President Frederick M. Lawrence responded quickly, and cravenly, by yanking her invitation. The press statement explained Ali did not represent the “core values” of Brandeis. The advocate of women rights did not represent the “core values” of Brandeis! Brandeis had no trouble inviting Bill Ayres, a domestic terrorist, from speaking on campus. At one time three Brandeis women students made the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List, Angela Davis, Susan Saxe and Katherine Power. The Nobel Prize winner Bishop Desmond Tutu, a hero of the anti-Apartheid Movement in South Africa, was the commencement speaker. Bishop Tutu is justly celebrated internationally for promoting civil rights, but he has uttered remarks, viewed as anti-Semitic. The intolerance of the academic left is well known. They believe in academic freedom for themselves, but not conservatives. They often call themselves liberals or moderates, but they are to the far left of America. AS thought police, they become academic Neanderthals. Ward Churchill is probably the most infamous of the academic left. He is an academic anomaly only in the sense that he was an academic fraud. Two highly successful Black women, who overcame seemingly insurmountable obstacles, have been viciously trashed by faculty and students at two major universities. Secretary Rice is good enough for Stanford, but not for some of the faculty at Rutgers. Ali Hirsi is good enough for Harvard’s Kennedy School, but not neighboring Brandeis. What’s Wrong With This Picture? Where is the national media outcry? Where is the outrage of our civil rights leaders? Where is the NAACP? Where is President Obama? Where is Attorney General Eric Holder? Where is the Reverend Jesse Jackson? Where is the reverend Al Sharpton? The sounds of silence speak loudly for the selective moral outrage of the left.

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