“You’re an archetype they can pin to the wall. When you cling to your convictions like a farm animal in its stall, never thinking of the bigger world outside, as they take you for a ride.”- Bad Religion “The Resist Stance”
Two months ago, uproar arose from the faculty at all three Rutgers campuses over the approval of former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as commencement speaker for this years graduation.
In a resolution to the Rutgers Board of Governors, the New Brunswick Faculty Council said, “(Rice) played a prominent role in (the Bush) administration’s effort to mislead the American people about the presence of weapons of mass destruction.”
The resolution also says that Rice “at the very least condoned the Bush administration’s policy of ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ such as waterboarding.”
The reaction of the faculty at Rutgers University-Newark was just as vitriolic as the one from their brethren in New Brunswick. H.Bruce Franklin, an English and American Studies professor here at Rutgers University-Newark, spearing the approval of a similar resolution from the RU-N faculty.
“What we’re (Rutgers) doing is awarding an honorary degree and having a commencement speech from someone who is a war criminal,” Franklin said to the Star-Ledger’s Kelly Heyboer.
The reaction from the community to the collective denouncing of Rutgers’ choice of commencement speaker by its’ faculty was mixed, as you imagine. Supporters agreed with their stance on not having a “war criminal,” as Franklin put it; while detractors, including state Assemblywoman Mary Pat Angelini (R-Monmouth), who said this about the resolutions:
“This is nothing more than a political firestorm fueled by their hatred of an opposing ideology, and President George W. Bush in particular. Dr. Rice and the people of New Jersey deserve better,” Angelini said, adding “Condoleezza Rice is a trailblazer and a woman of extraordinary intelligence and diverse talents who has spent most of her career in academia.”
“She was the first woman and first African-American to serve as provost of Stanford University and has served as a Stanford professor for more than three decades. That alone makes her beyond qualified to deliver the commencement speech at Rutgers or at any university,” said Angelini.
This issue is a perfect example of the philosophical logjam that is plaguing this country and our government today. Every argument sees two sides of a particular argument lobbing insults at each other without even remotely trying to reach a common ground. All it turns into is screaming at a wall.
As for the Condoleezza Rice/Rutgers commencement issue, while I don’t agree with her political stance nor do I condone what she was a part of while being Secretary of State, forcing your opinion down someone’s throat is something that turns off people off of your beliefs, which is what the faculty of Rutgers is doing.
Furthermore, who really cares about who the commencement speaker is? All they are there to do is to give a pump-up speech chock full of trite phrases to the graduates assembled to assuage the dread and apprehension about what awaits for them once they step off that stage.
I’m sure that the faculty of Rutgers who like to see someone that falls in lock-step with them philosophically but to be blunt, whether it’s Condoleezza Rice, Howard Dean, Snooki, Steven Colbert, whomever, all a commencement speaker is just a overqualified person that’s paid through private donations to come to speak at your graduation and receives a bullshit “honorary degree.”
Commencement speakers are like one of those clowns that are hired to come to a little kid’s birthday party. Yeah it’s nice and all that they are there but who cares? Every graduate there is more concerned about the flare on his or her cap and where should they go party after this boring-ass ceremony ends later than advertised.
Instead of worrying about having Condoleezza Rice as the commencement speaker, maybe the Rutgers faculty should be focused on something more important, like tenure for starters.