When former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was invited to deliver the keynote address at the Rutgers University commencement ceremony, some faculty members objected, and the New Brunswick Faculty Council eventually issued a resolution to rescind her invitation. According to National Review, the resolution was introduced by chemistry professor Robert Boikess. Professor Boikess reportedly cited Dr. Rice’s “contentious past” as the basis for the resolution, suggesting that her appearance would cause controversy, and distract from the ceremony. But the text of the resolution reveals a more honest reason for the faculty’s objection. It shows that it was actually Boikess and other members of the Faculty Council who vigorously promoted controversy.
The resolution reads, in part, that Dr. Rice “played a prominent role in the (Bush) administration’s effort to mislead the American people about the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq…leading to the death of over 100,000 men, women, and children.”
Their efforts to disinvite Dr. Rice had nothing to do with distractions from the ceremony. It was all about political ideology. Though the issue of chemical weapons in Iraq has long since been settled in most people’s minds, it will always be a rallying cry for the far-left.
Ironically, the faculty’s resolution also stated that, “Rutgers, as a public institution of higher learning, should educate its students about past historical events, not pretend they never took place.”
Perhaps those learned professors should be educating their students about some of the real historical events, like the thousands of Kurds who were, in fact, killed by Saddam Hussein’s chemical weapons in 1988. Maybe they should be conveying other facts to their students – like Saddam’s flagrant violations of UN sanctions, his refusal to allow access to weapons inspectors, and other events leading up to military action. As liberal ideologues, they have condensed those complex events to the simple and unfounded allegation that the administration lied in order to justify a war in Iraq.
So instead of teaching historical facts, they are determined to disseminate liberal propaganda. And while they hide behind the First Amendment, what they are really demonstrating to their students is how a handful of malcontents can shut down free speech and obstruct the will of the majority.
They managed to rally a small group of students who parroted their sentiment. One such wide-eyed disciple rhetorically asked, “Do we really want to honor someone who was responsible for a war of choice and not a war of necessity? No one arbitrarily “chooses” to go to war, but when a responsible leader sees a threat to our country, and all other solutions have been exhausted, military action must be taken. We have to wonder if, peering through those rose-colored glasses, any of those protestors could see a “necessity” for war under any circumstances.
We also have to wonder if they would show the same distain for Hillary Clinton if she were invited to speak. In 2002, she declared, “I can support an action against Saddam Hussein because I think it’s in the long term interest of our national security.” She also said during that year, “…if left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will continue to increase his capacity to wage chemical and biological warfare, and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons.”
As a matter of historical fact, back then, virtually every Democrat agreed with, and fully supported the administration’s position. They ultimately did turn against the war, in precise unison with the public opinion polls. That could be another lesson for our future leaders. Politicians follow the polls; leaders stand on principle.
To his great credit, University President Robert Barchi did that by refusing to bow to the protestors’ demands. He rightfully argued, “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.”
Citing all the controversy generated by her critics, Dr. Rice graciously withdrew from the event, stating, “Commencement should be a time of joyous celebration for the graduates and their families.”
The righteous indignation of those left-wing ideologues has deprived the student body of the rare opportunity to hear from a real leader who overcame endemic racial barriers in the 1960s to achieve the enormous success that intolerant, closed minds can never achieve.
Rutgers has a long, distinguished history. Founded in 1766 as Queen’s College, it was the eighth institution of higher learning in the colonies. The motto that appears on its seal reads in Latin, “Sol iustitiae et occidentem illustra.” It is loosely interpreted today as an appeal or a prayer for the enlightenment of learning to shine upon the New World. By suppressing other viewpoints, Boikess and his ilk are not enlightening their students. They are indoctrinating them.
So once again, liberal intolerance has silenced another voice of reason. In the long run, it was probably best for all parties concerned. Rutgers was only paying Dr. Rice about the same amount they paid Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi for her question and answer session a few years ago. Her appearance generated only a modicum of controversy, and the theater was filled to capacity. She was treated respectfully, and there were no protests or faculty resolutions. Attendees even walked away with some parting advice from Snooki, “Study hard, but party harder.” It probably sounds more profound in Latin.
Peter Lemiska has spent more than 28 years in government service. He is a former Senior Special Agent of the U.S. Secret Service and an Air Force veteran. His political commentaries appear regularly on renewamerica.com and have been widely published on line and in print. He can be contacted at [email protected].