Saturday, May 20, 2006

More Rightie Hypocrisy

Right-wing bloggers are oozing with outrage at the angry reception graduating New Schoolers gave John McCain at their commencement ceremony. Gaius at Blue Crab Boulevard says he is an absolutist about free speech, but not at commencement ceremonies. Gateway Pundit calls the students' response "typical liberal rudeness" and concludes that New School students are "unable to accept opposing views." Flopping Aces accuses the left of having "abandoned civil discourse."

Sister Toldjah writes, "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"; and then she adds, " really shouldn't treat any speaker that way [at a commencement speech] -- whether he's a sitting US Senator or not."

Oh, yeah? And right-wing students at traditionally conservative colleges would never greet an invited graduation speaker with strongly liberal views so rudely, would they? And if they did, right-wing bloggers would condemn the "rudeness" and "lack of civil discourse" and "intolerance for dissent" just as forcefully as they did in the instance of McCain at the New School, correct?

Wrong, wrong, wrong. In fact, the very same argument that Sister Toldjah used to accuse New School students of being insufferably rude to John McCain was used by Stanley Kurtz at The Corner on National Review to accuse Chris Hedges of being insufferably rude to Rockford College students.

Here is Sister Toldjah on the New School commencement speech:

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.

And here is Stanley Kurtz on the Rockford College commencement speech [permalink does not work; you'll have to do a "Find" on "Rockford"]:

I've defended the academic freedom of a persecuted Marxist-feminist. And despite condemning Peter Kirstein for his outrageous attacks on our military, I spoke out against attempts to relieve him of his teaching duties. So I'm perfectly willing to defend the free speech rights of leftists. But I find it hard to summon up any sympathy for Chris Hedges. Shouting down speakers is wrong, of course. Under normal circumstances, it should be condemned unreservedly. But a graduation speech is not the place for controversial political advocacy. You've got a captive audience of students and parents. Graduation speeches ought to be about life, education, and issues that transcend ordinary political differences. The exception would be for a college that has a clear and well publicized political/religious/cultural mission that students and parents knew about when they selected the school. Some of the Hedges stories indicate that Rockford College may have been such a place. Certainly, given his anti-war book, simply inviting Hedges was asking for this kind of address. So either Rockford made a bad choice of speaker, or this story shows that even the most openly leftist of colleges has lost touch with its students (or both). In any case, except in rare cases, a graduation speech is not the place for strident advocacy on controversial issues like abortion, gun control, or war. If politics enters into a graduation speech, it should be with due consideration for the occasion. Should Hedges have been shouted down? I guess not. But the real problem was a speech that was inappropriate to the occasion.

Maha has a fantastic post on the McCain-at-the-New-School story. She makes the crucial point that McCain's support for the Iraq war plays even more terribly in New York City than in other parts of the country, because New Yorkers have more reason than most other Americans to know how deeply the Bush administration has betrayed its post-9/11 mission.

On Thursday, September 13, 2001, I walked to Times Square, where much construction was underway. The construction workers had festooned their hard hats with American flags, and they had hung huge signs from the highest scaffolding calling for vengeance on Osama bin Laden. Osama bin Laden. Not Saddam Hussein, but Osama bin Laden.

I wonder what those guys would have said then had they known their president would, within a few short months, pull resources away from the hunt for bin Laden and instead bring the might of the United States military against another Middle Eastern bad guy who had had nothing to do with the attacks and who was no threat to the United States? And that, nearly six years later, bin Laden would still be free? What would they have said if someone predicted the President and his party would exploit the attacks shamefully for political advantage while doing next to nothing to make the United States better prepared for terrorist attacks? On that day, they would not have listened to such talk.

Well, folks, they're listening to it now. Because that's what happened. It isn't New Yorkers who have forgotten what happened on September 11. It's the brainwashed, wingnut, kill-the-Islamofascist Right who have forgotten what happened on September 11.

Righties simultaneously slam New Yorkers for being liberal wusses and soft on terrorism. But they are shocked when New Yorkers refuse to sit and listen politely to someone they associate with the escape of bin Laden and the exploitation of the September 11 dead.

1 comment:

Gaius Arbo said...

You appear to miss my point entirely. I did not at any point say they had no right to say what they wanted. I said they were rude to have done so at the expense of other's rights not to have their big day turned into a political event. There is a huge difference between freedom of speech and being boorish about assuming your rights trump the rights of others.

Please be so good as to at least quote me accurately.