Condoleezza Rice will deliver the commencement address at the May 18 Rutgers University graduation ceremony despite opposition from faculty.
As The Inquisitr previously reported, progressive/liberal professors launched a protest against Condi Rice as commencement speaker because of her role in the Iraq War and in aggressive interrogation techniques. The professors want the speaking invitation rescinded. Rutgers is the state university of New Jersey.
Rice, a Republican, is the first African American woman to serve as National Security Adviser and Secretary of State in the George W. Bush administration. She holds a Ph.D in political science and was the former provost of Stanford University where she now teaches. She is an accomplished pianist who also speaks Russian fluently.
Most people would agree that the Iraq war was a disaster. That being said, can you imagine the same group of professors trying to prevent Hillary Clinton, a Democrat, from speaking at Rutgers? After all, Clinton voted for the Iraq war as a US Senator. As Secretary of State, she continued Bush-era foreign policy into the Obama administration. As the previous Inquisitr piece noted, she is also involved in what many feel is a cover-up of the terrorist murder of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya.
Rutgers President Robert Barchi announced yesterday in a letter to the campus community that the Rice commencement address will go forward. The university president described Rice as one of the “most influential intellectual and political figures of the last 50 years.” As far as the campus controversy is concerned, Barchi acknowledged that both faculty and students had strong opinons about the situation, but explained that “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. Free speech and academic freedom cannot be determined by any group. They cannot insist on consensus or popularity.”
Although he disagreed with many of the Bush/Rice policies, liberal journalist Juan Williams described Rice as “smart, disciplined, hard-working and the model of an inspiring modern American. She personifies the American Dream. She is living inspiration for a young person trying to accomplish great work no matter what the barriers.” He added that Rice is facing the same kind of backlash that other black conservatives (or those perceived to be so) such as Dr. Ben Carson, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, or US Senator Tim Scott have encountered:
… There is an added element at play here. There is a disgraceful double standard amongst liberals, particularly those in academia, in the hatred they direct at black conservatives… I am not a conservative but I have spoken out for years against the staggering amount blind hatred directed at black conservatives by liberals…This shunning of Rice is especially troubling coming from a great American university. This is the place where debate and dissenting views are to be valued as sacred… How is the public served by muzzling one of the most thoughtful, accomplished and respected political voices of her time just because she happens to be a Republican?”
Since it is unusual that any right-of-center luminary gets a high-profile speaking engagement at an American university or college, is it time for administrators and faculty at those educational institutions to exercise more tolerance and diversity?
Do you think the Rutgers community will greet Condoleezza Rice with appropriate respect when she delivers the commencement address?
Update: Condi Rice subsequently decided against speaking at Rutgers because in her view the controversy became too much of a distraction from the graduation ceremony itself.