Graduation Gift for the Left · 01 July 2004

By Shawn, 07/02/04

School is over, graduation ceremonies a fading memory. For those paying attention, these rituals have become a bittersweet indicator of the eroding values of pluralism in American higher education. Despite the evenly divided electoral map of the American body politic, only one American university out of 200 surveyed hosted a conservative "with a position outside of government or military," according to a recently released report from the Young America's Foundation. All across the country colleges invited numerous leftwing activists to cap the educational careers of their students, while the only right-of-center speakers permitted to grace these poduim were senior Administration officials like Condoleezza Rice, or cabinet members like Donald Rumsfeld and Tom Ridge.

For eleven years, we've shown that college administrators are using commencement ceremonies to send their students off with one more predictable leftist lecture," American Young America's Foundation President Ron Robinson said, reflecting the reality portrayed in his organization's study (and echoing a recent one conducted by the Center for the Study of Popular Culture (the publisher of

The nation's universities are not even above inviting terrorists as speakers. Pitzer College invited Weather Underground leader Bernardine Dohrn, who planted bombs in the U.S. Capitol, the Pentagon and other bastions of U.S. "imperialism" in the Sixties. Dohrn kicked off her speech by deriding Pitzer's students as having been "raised in, soaked in and shaped by an era of American triumphalism, empire, privilege and apparent peace." But their "myopic world view," she assured them, lay "in ashes." She proceeded to give students the following perspective on the last four years:

"During your student years here, the cruelly brutal, criminal attacks of September 11, 2001, the shredded economy and loss of jobs, the consequences of deregulation and devolution that bankrupted state and local governments, the relentless punishment and imprisoning of over two million people in America, flagrant corporate plunder and criminality, rolling blackouts, the apparently permanent war on terrorism, the shock and awe occupation of Iraq, systematic and degrading detention without trial, torture and extra-judicial assassinations, and the establishment of a crescent of new U.S. military bases across the Middle East and South Asia - all have transformed whatever blissful illusions were harbored as you entered college."

And Dohrn is not alone in her fervent anti-Americanism. Barnard College invited socialist doyenne Barbara Ehrenreich to rant about the Abu Ghraib incidents and photos. "The last moral justification for the war with Iraq died with those photos." She accused the U.S. of creating "a regime of torture, (and) an empire of pain." "The final justification was that we had removed an evil dictator who tortured his own people" - but this is simply not so, she said. She concluded by echoing Al Gore and Ted Kennedy: "As recently as April 30, George Bush exulted that the torture chambers of Iraq were no longer operating. Well, it turns out they were just operating under different management. We didn't displace Saddam Hussein; we replaced him."

At Columbia University's ceremonies, the Sugar Daddy of the paranoid Left, George Soros, prattled on about his hatred for George W. Bush . "If President Bush is reelected, we must ask the question, 'What is wrong with us?'" But Columbia faculty couldn't care less about anti-Bush "hate speech." Socialist playwright Tony Kushner offered more caustic rhetoric at Columbia, explaining to those who attended Class Day exercises:

"The world is melting, the world is darkening, there is injustice everywhere, there is artificial scarcity everywhere, there is desperate human need, poverty and untreated illness and exploitation everywhere, there is ignorance everywhere, not native to the species but cruelly enforced, there is joylessness and hatred of the body and slavery masked as freedom and community disintegrating, everywhere, racism, everywhere, sexism, everywhere, homophobia, everywhere…."

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan was more guarded in his anti-Americanism during commencement at Harvard. "What kind of world would it be, and who would want to live in it, if every country was allowed to use force, without collective agreement, simply because it thought there might be a threat?" Annan asked in a not-so-subtle censure of President Bush. "American leaders have generally recognized that other states, big and small, prefer to cooperate on the great issues of peace and security through multilateral institutions such as the United Nations, which give legitimacy to such cooperation," he admonished. "All great American leaders have understood this." Like Bill Clinton.

New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman shared his vision of Utopia with the graduates of Washington University in St. Louis:

"My wife and I started to just spontaneously play 'Imagine,'" John Lennon's ballad to socialism. "My wife said, 'Imagine if President Bush decided to offer a real alternative to the stalled Kyoto Treaty to reduce global warning. I'd like to wake up and read that in the morning.'" Friedman then daydreamed an end to Israeli settlements; the immediate halt of the production of SUVs, ushered in after President Bush agrees to replace "his limousine with an armor-plated" hybrid Toyota Prius; an apology from Dick Cheney "to the UN and all our allies for being wrong about Iraq"; and a "tax hike on the rich in order to save Social Security and Medicare for the next generation and to finance all our underfunded education programs," which funding has dramatically increased during President Bush's tenure.

Friedman's musings were matched by Comedy Central anchor Jon Stewart, whose very unfunny speech at the College of William and Mary claimed our "arrogant sense of endless empire" has "broken" the world. Stewart went on to tell graduates to follow their dreams because "not everybody can wander around in an alcoholic haze until 40 and then, you know, decide to be president."

Radical talk show host Amy Goodman devoted much of her commencement speech at Hampshire College to self-promotion, plugging her radio show, "Democracy Now!" and her latest book, The Exception to the Rulers. But she spared time to demean her own country. "There is no question that the United States is the greatest democracy on earth - for some," she said. "But for others it is a very frightening place right now." Goodman claimed the U.S. media is biased against leftists and liberals, so "dissent" has been almost entirely suppressed. (What is suppressed, if anying, are conservative views at university graduation ceremonies.)

Clinton crony Vernon Jordan likewise portrayed America as a scary place, dominated by white racism. At Penn State University, he expatiated on the horrors of college life in "white supremacist" 1950s America. He inexplicably singled out "I Love Lucy" - a show in which a white woman is married to a Latino - as evidence of the era's inherent bigotry. Then he warned ominously that Brown v. the Board of Education was in danger of "ending up on the dustbin of history."

Others were more forgiving of the United States. Rock star Bono told students at the University of Pennsylvania he was a "huge fan of America." The U-2 front man said, "I read the Declaration of Independence and I've read the Constitution of the United States, and they are some liner notes, Dude."

Bradley Whitford of "The West Wing" may have uttered the most honest words of this commencement season at University of Wisconsin. After deriding President Bush, he candidly told the crowd, "Now, you may think that I am inappropriately taking this opportunity to attack the president on a meaningless issue because of my particular political persuasion - and you would be correct." Enough said.
Shawn Macomber is a staff writer at The American Spectator and a contributor to FrontPage Magazine. He also runs the website Return of the Primitive.