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.