Almost two months ago I posted this article giving Juan Williams credit for calling out the intolerance of the Rutgers University Faculty Council for passing a resolution calling on the Rutgers Board of Governors to rescind an invitation for Condoleezza Rice to be the school’s commencement speaker this year. Williams said, “I am not a conservative but I have spoken out for years against the staggering amount of blind hatred directed at black conservatives by liberals.”
Today I am following up to relate how this matter turned out, and it wasn’t good…if you value open-mindedness and tolerance for different viewpoints.
During the intervening weeks, Rutgers University President Robert Barchi has admirably been ignoring the Faculty Council’s demands to cancel Condoleezza Rice’s invitation to speak at the school’s commencement this month, and receive an honorary degree. Barchi said the university welcomes open discourse on controversial topics.
Then on April 28th, fifty students staged a protest at a Rutgers administration building to denounce the University’s continued intention to feature Rice as the 2014 Commencement Speaker. Holding up signs calling Rice a war criminal, they broke a glass door at the building, requiring police to respond.
Finally, this morning, Rice closed the matter by officially declining the invitation, with the following written statement:
”Commencement should be a time of joyous celebration for the graduates and their families. Rutgers’ invitation to me to speak has become a distraction for the university community at this very special time. I am honored to have served my country. I have defended America’s belief in free speech and the exchange of ideas. These values are essential to the health of our democracy. But that is not what is at issue here. As a Professor for thirty years at Stanford University and as it’s [sic] former Provost and Chief academic officer, I understand and embrace the purpose of the commencement ceremony and I am simply unwilling to detract from it in any way. Good luck to the graduates and congratulations to the families, friends and loved ones who will gather to honor them.”
Ms. Rice displayed maturity and class. Mr. Barchi displayed academic integrity.
Juan Williams displayed journalistic fairness. I have seen no follow-up commentary from Williams yet, but will be keeping an eye out.
As for Rutgers…well, it truly saddens me that this is how America’s future generations of potential leaders are being educated, or should I say indoctrinated, by the Rutgers faculty. To teach, through their actions, that opposing views in a free society will go away just by declaring you don’t want to hear them, is a pretty pathetic lesson plan.
Just take 2 minutes to listen to the words of Harvard Professor of Government, Harvey Mansfield, who finishes with this observation:
“The mission of [a] university should be to open minds, and not to close them. It shouldn’t declare that certain people are prejudiced and shouldn’t be listened to and can be easily dismissed. That’s the way of political correctness, and that’s not the way of a proper university.”