Some New York “New School” students and faculty demonstrate how:
NEW YORK (AP) — Senator John McCain of Arizona received a cantankerous reception during his appearance at the New School commencement Friday, where dozens of faculty members and students turned their backs and raised signs in protest and a distinguished student speaker pointedly mocked him as he sat silently nearby.
The historically liberal university has been roiled in controversy in recent weeks over the selection of McCain, a conservative Republican and likely 2008 presidential candidate, to deliver the commencement address.
Some 1,200 students and faculty signed petitions asking the university president, former Nebraska Sen. Bob Kerrey, to rescind the invitation. Petitioners said McCain’s support for the Iraq war and opposition to gay rights and legal abortion do not keep with the prevailing views on campus.
Kerrey, a Democrat who served in the Senate with McCain and, like McCain, is a decorated Vietnam War veteran, addressed the controversy almost immediately after the 2,700 graduates and thousands of other parents and friends filed into Madison Square Garden for the ceremony.
“Sen. McCain, you have much to teach us,” Kerrey said to a smattering of boos and hisses. He urged students to exercise the open-mindedness he said was at the heart of the university’s progressive history.
But Kerrey’s remarks were immediately overshadowed by those of Jean Sara Rohe, one of two distinguished seniors invited by the university’s deans to address the graduates.
Beginning by singing a wistful folk tune calling for world peace, Rohe announced she had thrown out her prepared remarks to address the McCain controversy directly.
“The senator does not reflect the ideals upon which this university was founded,” Rohe proclaimed to loud cheers, with McCain sitting just a few feet away.
She added that she knew what McCain would be saying to the graduates since he had promised to deliver the same speech he gave at Rev. Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University last weekend and Columbia University on Tuesday.
“He will tell us we are young and too naive to have valid opinions,” Rohe said. “I am young and though I don’t possess the wisdom that time affords us, I do know that pre-emptive war is dangerous. And I know that despite all the havoc that my country has wrought overseas in my name, Osama bin Laden still has not been found, nor have those weapons of mass destruction.”
Indeed, it was McCain’s decision to address Liberty that set off the protests at the New School during the past several weeks.
Known for his maverick streak, McCain as a 2000 presidential candidate famously called Falwell one of the “agents of intolerance” hurting the Republican party. But recently, as McCain has begun laying the groundwork for another White House bid, he has sought to shore up his conservative credentials.
It makes no difference what you (general you) think about McCain, but you don’t treat people speaking at your commencement like that – I don’t care WHAT side of the aisle the person is on.
I’d like to say this is an example of sheer arrogance and immaturity on the part of the students and faculty there, but I’m afraid that’s way too kind. Shame on Jean Sara Rohe and the rest of the elitist liberals there who treated a sitting Senator of the US Congress with such disrespect. There’s a time and place to show your disdain for a politician you don’t like – things like inaugurals and commencement addresses aren’t one of them. Maybe one day if any of the students or faculty who participated in the booing and/or the backturning get elected to serve, it’ll happen to them and then they’ll see how it feels.
Hat tip: Flopping Aces, who says:
I disagree with McCain on a great many things but even if it was Howard Dean giving a speech I would still allow him to speak in peace. It’s called civil discourse, something the left has all but abandoned.
He also links up to NRO’s Rich Lowry’s comments on the matter – which are spot on. Rich writes:
1) The solipsism of the student Left is incredible. That a war hero would come to talk to you about what he’s learned in life, and your reaction would be to shout—”it’s about me!” Amazing.
2) The forfeit of foreign-policy idealism on the left at the moment is near total. McCain got some applause when he said we should be doing more in Darfur—maybe because that’s a cause that has an anti-Bush tinge. But his defense of American values and spreading them to the world was met with indifference or hostility.
*Please* make sure to read the entire post at Flopping Aces for a complete rundown of Lowry’s recap of the commencement address. This was a pathetic display from the people who are supposed to one day be our “best and brightest.”
I’m watching FOX’s recap of the event and seeing the protestors who were outside the commencement. Shameful. Just goes to show that the “tolerant” mantra the left frequently uses is nothing but a sham.
Updated to add: I should have titled this “How not to act at a commencement speech” – because you really shouldn’t treat any speaker that way – whether he’s a sitting US Senator or not.