It’s happened again. Another conservative African-American leader with the “taint” of a GOP past is invited to speak to a university. A small group of “enlightened” professors or students decide that the speaker is offensive to the highbrow standards of academia. A drumbeat starts and he or she is forced to withdraw.
What an assault on the entire concept of a true education in “the liberal arts.” What an assault on preserving and honoring our freedom of speech.
I will be the first to say that Condoleezza Rice was never a favorite of mine during the years of George H.W. Bush.
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, but Oxford or Cambridge it’s not.
Perhaps that is best illustrated by Rutgers’ decision to pay Snookie of MTV reality fame, over $30,000 for an appearance there.
Ms. Rice’s unfair treatment by a select group of “intellectual” protesters at Rutgers was treated as par for the course by media.
But it was not “par for the course” treatment. It was racist, cruel and anti-intellectual bully-like behavior. Had they directed their ire at a white equivalent, such as Hillary Clinton, their protests would have brought fire and brimstone upon their heads.
Al Sharpton, who has been accused of everything under the sun by critics, can speak wherever he pleases without protest. 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 the University of Georgia.
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, the potential speech is met with protest.
This is not only racism but it is truly what I call “the honoring of ignorance.”
Let’s be blunt. Accomplished leaders such as Thomas and Rice “somehow” become embroiled in controversies that 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 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.
(Matt Towery is author of the book Paranoid Nation: The Real Story of the 2008 Fight for the Presidency. He has served as an elected official, has advised major national campaigns and heads a non-partisan polling and media company. He is also publisher of the Washington-based Southern Political Report, the nation’s oldest active political newsletter. Follow him on Twitter: @matttowery.)