It seems that a lot of Notre Dame students are offended by some Catholics’ decision to protest Barack Obama’s commencement speech on Sunday. In the weeks leading up to Obama’s visit, students sold T-shirts with a message for the protestors: “Please don’t ruin my graduation.”
Fair enough. But I have to ask, what are they so upset about? Ruining college graduation ceremonies is a liberal pastime. If the commencement speaker doesn’t tell them exactly what they want to hear (or has political views to the right of Karl Marx), liberal narcissists respond with self-serving, disruptive protests.
In 2003, Georgetown University invited a Nigerian Catholic Cardinal, Francis Arinze, to give the commencement address. “In many parts of the world, the family is under siege,” Arinze said. “It is scorned and banalized by pornography; desecrated by fornication and adultery; mocked by homosexuality; sabotaged by irregular unions and cut in two by divorce.”
A Georgetown professor later admitted that “the Cardinal’s remarks were in line with Catholic doctrine and are exactly what he’s paid to say.” Regardless, faculty members chose to ruin the ceremony by stomping off the stage in the middle of the speech. (Several students followed.)
In 2006, faculty and students at the New School wore armbands to protest the graduation speech by John McCain. Then, after taking fifteen minutes to tell the audience how great she was (“If there’s one thing that I know about myself, it is that I care for people, and in that sense I have a great deal of character”), the class-elected speaker verbally attacked McCain onstage during the ceremony. The speaker proudly told reporters that her goal was to make McCain “look like an idiot.”
Last year, Washington University in St. Louis decided to award an honorary doctorate to conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly. Schlafly is the author of eighteen books, holds a Master’s degree from Harvard, and has played a major role in the conservative movement since the 1960s—so there was no doubt that the doctorate was well-deserved.
Liberal students responded with a weeks-long tantrum, demanding that Washington University rescind the honor and ban Schlafly from graduation. When administrators refused to give in to their demands, hundreds of students stood up and turned their backs to the stage during the ceremony. (The always-feisty Schlafly responded by calling the protestors “a bunch of losers.”)
In March, my friend Karin Agness, a law student at the University of Virginia, wrote a column detailing her classmates’ reaction to the prospect of a conservative commencement speaker.
“Some UVA students have launched an effort to challenge the selection of [Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson] in the name of protecting ‘diversity,’ complete with columns, an online petition drive and hints that they will disrupt graduation,” Karin wrote. “They sing the virtues of learning about people from different places with different points of view. Yet, when it comes to listening to someone with a reputation for being politically conservative, that supposed open-mindedness quickly dissipates.”
It is worth noting that the most obnoxious protests tend to take place at elite universities that cost $40,000 a year to attend. The spoiled brats who go to these schools are shocked—shocked!—that they can’t always hand-pick a commencement speaker who will echo their personal views. And if they can’t bully the administration into inviting the speaker they want, they respond with walk-outs, sign-waving, and verbal attacks—ruining the graduation ceremony for everyone else.
And we need lectures from these people on proper decorum during commencement? I think not.