What open bigotry. What an assault on the entire concept of a true education in “the liberal arts.” And what an incredible assault on preserving and honoring our freedom of speech.
I will be the first to say Condoleezza Rice was never a favorite of mine during the years of George H.W. Bush. Likely, I fell for the image pushed by the press that she was a “facts be damned” booster of Vice President Dick Cheney’s “let’s get ’em at any cost and without solid proof” style of rough-shot foreign policy.
But regardless of my ignorance of Rice’s job performance, what in the world would a faithful execution of her duties as Secretary of State under a president have anything to do with her worthiness as a commencement speaker at a second- or even third-tier university such as Rutgers? I mean it’s a fine school (tying Texas A&M for 69th on last year’s U.S. News list of top national schools), but Oxford or Cambridge it’s not.
Perhaps that is best illustrated by Rutgers’ decision to pay New Jersey’s version of Honey Boo Boo, the one and only “Snookie” of MTV reality fame, over $30,000 for an appearance there. How dreadful.
Of course, just like the lack of coverage and outrage over the Benghazi cover-up or the IRS scandal, Ms. Rice’s unfair treatment by a select group of “intellectual” protesters at Rutgers was treated as par for the course by mainstream media.
But it was not “par for the course” treatment. It was racist, cruel and anti-intellectual bully-like behavior by “learned” men and women. Had they directed their ire at a white equivalent, such as Hillary Clinton, their protests would have brought fire and brimstone upon their heads. And, hey, it’s no secret: I’m a fan of Hillary.
Al Sharpton, who has been accused of everything under the sun by critics, can speak wherever he pleases without protest or hassle. And that’s fair because this is America and if someone invites the man to speak, then speak he should.
But when Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, a conservative African-American appointed by a Republican, is chosen to speak at a commencement, there’s a good chance that “scholars of conscience” will raise hell about it. That happened in 2008 when Thomas was asked to return to his native Georgia to an even higher ranked national institution, the University of Georgia.
So let’s be clear about how this works. An idiot like Snookie can impart “wisdom” to Rutgers students. But when a woman with a Ph.D., who has studied at both Harvard and Stanford, and rose to the position of U.S. Secretary of State, is deemed unworthy of sharing her likely general observations about life to a group of 22-year-olds, the potential speech is met with protest.
This is not only racism but it is truly what I call “the honoring of ignorance.”
Sure, I get it. Everyone wants to hear the wisdom of rapper Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs at Howard University’s graduation ceremony this year or listen to fashion designer Tory Burch at Babson College’s commencement. But Lord help us if a learned woman who served as National Security Advisor and head of our State Department wants to share a thought or two.
Let’s be blunt. Accomplished leaders such as Thomas and Rice “somehow” become embroiled in controversies which manage to receive immense publicity from the mainstream media and are never forgotten by the “intellectual” community. Could that be because they are African-Americans who are hit with the vilest of labels — being so-called “Uncle Toms”? Even though their real sin is to be of a more conservative degree of political philosophy or, “even worse,” a past appointee of a Republican president.
The Rutgers debacle is nothing new, and the school should not be singled out for the event. Instead, it serves as a reminder of how our nation’s “intellectual elite” often end up paying homage to their own ignorance ... and racism.
Matt Towery is author of the book “Paranoid Nation: The Real Story of the 2008 Fight for the Presidency.”