The Other McCain

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Let the Politics Commence

Posted on | May 19, 2014 | 20 Comments

Sunday afternoon, our family attended a nice party to celebrate our son-in-law’s graduation from law school. It was a nice opportunity for me to hassle my daughter and her husband about the need to provide me with grandchildren, and also to tell some of my favorite lawyer jokes, but it was just fun. No need to bring politics into it. My son-in-law is more liberal than me, but then again, everybody is more liberal than me. Why argue about politics at a graduation party?

Students at Haverford College seem to feel differently:

In a surprising move, a commencement speaker at Haverford College on Sunday used the celebratory occasion to deliver a sharp rebuke to students who had mounted a campaign against another speaker who had been scheduled to appear but withdrew amid the controversy.
William G. Bowen, former president of Princeton and a nationally respected higher education leader, called the student protestors’ approach both “immature” and “arrogant” and the subsequent withdrawal of Robert J. Birgeneau, former chancellor of the University of California Berkeley, a “defeat” for the Quaker college and its ideals.
Bowen’s remarks to an audience of about 2,800 that gave him a standing ovation added a new twist to commencement speaker controversies playing out increasingly on college campuses across the nation. Bowen faced no opposition, but chose to defend a fellow speaker who was targeted, calling the situation “sad” and “troubling.”
Rutgers University also held commencement on Sunday without former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who withdrew after professors and students there protested her appearance for her role in the Iraq war. Smith and Brandeis, too, saw the loss of speakers this year.
At Haverford, the controversy arose over Birgeneau’s leadership during a 2011 incident in which UC Berkeley police used force on students protesting college costs. A group of more than 40 students and three Haverford professors — all Berkeley alums — objected to Birgeneau’s appearance and receipt of an honorary degree, noting that many of them had participated in Occupy protests as well and wanted to stand in solidarity with Berkeley students.
They wrote a letter to Birgeneau, urging him to meet nine conditions, including publicly apologizing, supporting reparations for the victims, and writing a letter to Haverford students explaining his position on the events and “what you learned from them.”
Bowen – who made clear he took no position on Birgeneau’s handling of the Berkeley student demonstration — blasted the Haverford protestors’ approach.
“I am disappointed that those who wanted to criticize Birgeneau’s handling of events at Berkeley chose to send him such an intemperate list of “demands,” said Bowen, who led Princeton from 1972 to 1988 and last year received the National Humanities Medal from President Obama. “In my view, they should have encouraged him to come and engage in a genuine discussion, not to come, tail between his legs, to respond to an indictment that a self-chosen jury had reached without hearing counter-arguments.”

(via Memeorandum.)

 

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Comments

  • http://www.journal14.com/ Dana

    Our esteemed host wrote:

    At Haverford, the controversy arose over Birgeneau’s leadership during a 2011 incident in which UC Berkeley police used force on students protesting college costs. A group of more than 40 students and three Haverford professors — all Berkeley alums — objected to Birgeneau’s appearance and receipt of an honorary degree, noting that many of them had participated in Occupy protests as well and wanted to stand in solidarity with Berkeley students.

    It is to laugh. From Haverford’s Tuition and Aid page:

    Tuition and Fees 2014-15

    Tuition $46,790
    Room and Board $14,350
    Student Activity fees $424
    First-Year Orientation fee $220
    Total $61,784

    Oh, so three professors were trying to show solidarity with the Berkeley students protesting college costs, and chose to teach at a college which charges $61,784 per year. The students, those wonderful Occupods, were well off enough to attend a college which charges $61,784 per year.

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  • http://evilbloggerlady.blogspot.com/ Evi L. Bloggerlady

    I am glad to hear Bowen called them out on it.

  • http://evilbloggerlady.blogspot.com/ Evi L. Bloggerlady

    If you want to throw money away on an education that probably makes no economic sense, that is your decision. Just don’t expect me to pay for it.

  • http://www.journal14.com/ Dana

    Alas! You most certainly are paying for it; the page I cited noted that 53% of Haverford students received some type of financial aid. Not all of that would be in the form of taxpayer dollars, but some is.

  • Neo

    These speakers wouldn’t be so controversial if they weren’t awarded honorary degrees.
    Last year, I had to endure Bill Nye “The Science Guy”-s speech about how you can “Change the World.”

  • RKae

    The Pope and a lawyer both die at the same time and wind up at the Pearly Gates together. St. Peter lets them in and says, “Let me show you your new home.” He takes them first to the lawyer’s new place: a splendid golden mansion with a massive swimming pool, tennis court and golf course. After dropping off the lawyer there, he takes the Pope to his tiny studio apartment. The Pope says, “I don’t want to sound ungrateful – I mean, it’s great to be in Heaven – but I just need to know, why am I in this teeny place while that other guy gets a gigantic mansion?”

    St. Peter replies, “Hey, we got lots of popes up here. That was our first lawyer!”

  • http://www.journal14.com/ Dana

    Does that explain why Pope Francis chose the small apartment, because he’s trying to prepare himself?

  • http://www.journal14.com/ Dana

    Well, it kind of ties in with the so-called “trigger warnings” about potentially offensive material Kit Lange wrote about on the Victory Girls.

    Trigger warnings are alerts for readers that the material in a given work of literature is possibly offensive to some group, or that it may ‘trigger’ a post-traumatic stress reaction in some students. What authors and books are being held up as potentially traumatic? Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer, Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, and Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, to name a few. In other words, classic pieces that most people with any kind of decent education have read.

    In an environment so concerned about student mental safety, the appearance of people like Condoleezza Rice or Ayaan Hirsi Ali might be more than controversial; apparently their presence might actually injure the tender psyches of some of the graduates.

    It’s a good thing that the leftist loons won’t be able to get jobs with their gender studies degrees, because exposure to the actual workplace might cause them irreparable mental damage.

  • http://athenesword14.blogspot.com/ ThePaganTemple

    I think its high time somebody stood up to these leftist freaks and their dictatorial demands. Fine, maybe it’s regrettable that it had to happen in the context of a graduation ceremony.

    On the other hand though, what better way to send these little bastards out into the real world?

  • Quartermaster

    He prolly already knows. They’ll put him in the same stairwell with the Borgias.

  • Bozikek

    Well its a loan and it going to be repaid, we are just underwr– HAHAHAHA couldn’t finish that with a straight face.

  • Bozikek

    At least they could shell out for Mr. Wizard, that guy had class.

  • http://wizbangblog.com/ Adjoran

    We are subsidizing the school, half the faculty with grants, and students with grants and loans.

  • http://wizbangblog.com/ Adjoran

    Note that Bowen may even agree with them about the Berkeley protestors, he made a point of NOT agreeing with Birgeneau’s position. His entire argument is the need for freedom of speech, thought, and discourse at the academic level, and how such censorious behavior destroys the whole notion of it.

  • http://boogieforward.us/ K-Bob

    “Commence.”

    You get a nice, Popeye-style “ark, ark, ark,” for that.

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  • http://www.journal14.com/ Dana

    Alas! I wish I found that as humorous.

  • Bozikek

    Laugh or cry friend, whatever you think suits you.

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