How not to treat a sitting member of the US Congress

Posted by: ST on May 20, 2006 at 8:30 am

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.

Indeed.

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.

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  • 25 Responses to “How not to treat a sitting member of the US Congress”

    Comments

    1. Severian says:

      Used to be, the two biggest lies were “the check is in the mail” and “I promise I’ll respect you in the morning.” Now it seems the two biggest lies are:

      Islam is a religion of peace.

      and:

      Liberals believe in tolerance and diversity.

      Looking at a performance like this, is it any wonder that fascism has always evolved out of socialism/libaralism? Liberals are always so quick to scream that conservatives and Republicans are all bringing on 1984, they should go back and reread their Orwell, and then take a long look in the mirror.

      Will never happen though, introspection seems to be an art the Left has never mastered.

    2. I had the opportunity to hear John McCain speak at VMI in 2001. It was a fantastic experience, and you can tell that he is one of the few politicians who has a personal passion about young people as the future of this country.

      I know that he is a favorite punching-bag of “conservatives” for not taking a fundamentalist line on the issue du jour and parrotting whatever the talking heads are saying; but I think this post simply underestimates the character and conviction of John McCain. The students will look back on this and consider it their loss that they didn’t pay attention to one of the few thoughtful and honest public officials of our time. That is just like many Republicans bemoan the fact that he didn’t make it to the top of the ticket; because the Paleoconservative wing of our party got enough South Carolina voters to believe that he had an illegitmate black child.

    3. Pam says:

      I could almost excuse the kids, because, well..they are kids..but as for the faculty? No excuse. What that showed me is that they are no better than a 4 year old that doesn’t get their way. They turned their back to the audience? As for the student speaker..how about the kids that didn’t want their commencement to be remembered this way! It wasn’t all about her..it was about a group of people that accomplished something on that day.

    4. “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.”

      - Interesting. First she admits shes young and lacks wisdom, but then she assures everyone she has her finger on the pulse of truth. I’m sure it would be enlightening to her her views on “The dangers of PRE-emptive wars”, as opposed to say sitting around wringing your hands until the enemy attacks you where he can do the most damage.

      - I can’t wait for her disertation on the matter.

      - Maybe when shes older and standing in front of a podium some day trying to deliver an address, and has to suffer the same sort of disrespect, she will finally come to understand respect for people that do have the age and wisdom.

      - Bang **==

    5. Kathy says:

      Sister Toldjah wrote:

      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.

      So I take it then that you were just as outraged when New York Times reporter Chris Hedges was booed off the stage when he attempted to give an invited speech at commencement ceremonies at Rockford College in Illinois?

    6. forest hunter says:

      Bang, your last paragraph- or when the checkbooks of the alumnists start slamming shut, like the knotheads at UW over the Pappy Boyington memorial embarassment. Then an insincere apology to keep the flow flowin’.#:-s

    7. forest hunter says:

      But Pam, what about me, me me? Did I mention I and MY rights. Did I mention I am young and I don’t posses the wisdom……….

      Excellent point Pam and you’ll hear nothing of it in the MSM- GUARANTEED!

    8. Kathy: “So I take it then that you were just as outraged when New York Times reporter Chris Hedges was booed off the stage when he attempted to give an invited speech at commencement ceremonies at Rockford College in Illinois?”

      ST: It’s interesting that you quote the following statement from me:

      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.

      … as though it didn’t answer your question already. Read my statement again, and maybe you’ll see the answer. And if you still don’t understand it then, maybe this post will clear up for you my position on conservatives who act like children.

      Now that we’ve cleared up MY opinion on the New School incident, what’s yours? You didn’t give it.

    9. andrew says:

      “How not to act at a commencement speech”

      Frankly, its the students’, not the speaker’s, commencement.

    10. Pam says:

      Good point Forest.

      Andrew- have you ever heard of social decorum? Or how about manners? These speakers are invited to the univ. One does not treat guests this way. That same girl that had a problem with McCain speaking at her graduation, may just find herself working for someone that supports his points of view…what will she do then? Turn her back? @-)

    11. - So then andrew, suddenly we need to scrap a time honored process of having some successful person thats made good in life in some manifest way, speak at commencments. What would you like to do instead, hold anti-Zionist(anti-semitic) rallys, really let down your hair and show everyone what a bunch of asses you can be. Would that make you happy? Sort of one last hurrah before you start carrying some responsibility?

      - Bang **==

    12. andrew says:

      “So then andrew, suddenly we need to scrap a time honored process of having some successful person thats made good in life in some manifest way, speak at commencments.”

      Bill Cosby spoke at mine. It was nice. He was good. Another year, Kofi Annan spoke. Some people complained. Its not Kofi’s commencement, after all.

      “Would that make you happy? Sort of one last hurrah before you start carrying some responsibility?”

      I would say that speaking your mind about the commencement you’re supposed to shut up and enjoy is a good lesson to learn.

    13. Severian says:

      Hmmm…methinks andrew, in typical fashion, neglects to notice the fact that despite the volume of the abuse hurled by the minority, the majority of the students just sat there and tried to have a decent, civil graduation ceremony. What about their desire for a nice, dignified graduation? Oh wait, they must all be closet fascists since they didn’t participate, and therefore their desires aren’t important. :-w

    14. Redbeard says:

      You’d think those students would realize that if John McCain could summon the courtesy to be cordial and supportive to the man who spread rumors of McCain fathering a half-black bastard child, they could sit in their seats quietly while he talked about courage.

    15. andrew says:

      “Hmmm…methinks andrew, in typical fashion, neglects to notice the fact that despite the volume of the abuse hurled by the minority, the majority of the students just sat there and tried to have a decent, civil graduation ceremony”

      At mine, students were bouncing beach balls back and forth. Some were even smoking. Awful isn’t it?

    16. “You’d think those students would realize that if John McCain could summon the courtesy to be cordial and supportive to the man who spread rumors of McCain fathering a half-black bastard child, they could sit in their seats quietly while he talked about courage. ”

      Source that GWB spread those rumors?

      Take your time.

    17. - “When you can’t do or say anything Right the only thing Left is to be loud”

      - Bang **==

    18. Pam says:

      Sister there isn’t anything linking directly to GWB himself, but that was a dirty rotten thing of his staff to do to McCain. You leave kids out of it!

    19. I know, Pam. I just wanted Redbeard to try and prove his assertion. I know he can’t.

    20. sanity says:

      Kids should not have any part in political attacks – similiar in the Kerry campaign doing the same on Cheney’s Daughter.

    21. - Ouch …. another 4 para post – up in smoke – yikes….:(

      - Bang **==

    22. Lorica says:

      This only shows why the left can’t really learn outside of their norm. If a teacher/professor isn’t pandering to the lowest common denominator of the left they just don’t understand.

      Andrew the whole point of a commencement speaker is to gleen 1 last tidbit of knowledge before the youth go off into the real world. Not that many of them haven’t been in it already, but it is wisdom speaking to youth. Would it be so hard for them to sit there and listen 1 last time for a half an hour or so???

      Kathy Since Rockford IL is a union town, I can only surmise that it is populated with Democrats. So thus the college there, is most likely filled with Democrat children. Therefore, it is not hard to figure that these are just as left of center as any out there. So yet again, you are calling the kettle black, pot. A quick review of their mission statement just now, only showed me that it is more of the same. – Lorica