Friday, May 26, 2006

McCain goes to College

Senator John McCain was invited to speak at four different college graduations. Including the religious-right Liberty College and the far-left New School. The reactions are interesting.

McCain was soundly criticized for going to Liberty. This was seen as him surrendering to the religious right. The students themselves were respectful and polite. New School was a different matter. There were protests and petitions prior to the graduation. The speaker before him, Jean Rohe, felt the need to attack McCain's speech ahead of time and many students wore armbands and booed.

The irony here is that Liberty is supposed to be a hotbed of close-minded bigots while the New School is home to multi-culturalists.

More disturbing is the way that influence is depicted. Associating with someone who is further to the right than you degrades the person from the left but in no way elevates the person from the right. No one speculated that the students at Liberty would benefit from hearing a more moderate voice and no one gave McCain credit for going into a liberal stronghold.

This is of course nothing new. Those on the left are sure that they hold the moral high ground and that this relieves them of any need for decorum.

There is also the stylish idea of speaking truth to power.

The idea of speaking truth to power is one of the most overused in today's political landscape. The term come from the Quakers but, as this link points out, the term only dates back to 1955. It was used in a pamphlet advocating a pacifist approach to the Cold War. The same article points out that the Quakers didn't even try "speaking truth to power" in Nazi Germany. If they had they would have been arrested. By staying quiet they were able to do some modest charitable works.

As currently used, the term refers to a liberal lecturing a conservative who, because of propriety, will not object. At the New school graduation this was Jean Rohe. She relates her reasons in the Huffington Post.

It should come as no surprise that Rohe disagreed with McCain's speech. He is a centrist hawk who spent years as a POW fighting against communism and she spent a year studying in Cuba. Still, it is how she acted that is important.

She admits that she had no idea that there even was a controversy until the graduation rehearsal. When she realized that she was to speak just before McCain, "... the idea for a preemptive strike began to brew in my little stressed-out brain."

Her speech was nowhere as subversive as she thinks it is. It reads like what it was - something concocted between 2 am and 3 am on the spur of the moment. Her points are feeble and self-contradictory. She glosses over the part in McCain's speech where he talks about hearing the ideas of others. This has no meaning for her. She knows that she and her class-mates alone posses the truth so people with other ideas should stay far away from her graduation.

The tragedy is that the people who think of themselves as "liberals" now live in a monoculture as intolerant of outside ideas as they insist the students of Liberty are.

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