John Leo

That's a fair comment. The New School describes itself as "progressive," and it has all the modern hallmarks of an institution set up by and for liberals, including a strong insistence on political orthodoxy. It functions as a sort of leftist seminary, where the seminarians are not eager to hear from competing faiths. After all, they already have the truth. On a radio program, the vice chair of the University Student Senate said: "I'm really concerned just in terms of the principles that our university was founded on, and McCain obviously has made it clear ... that he does not necessarily endorse those or share those same views. ... That's really what we're founded on, and that's what we're all taught."

Horrors! A speaker who disagrees politically with the university and what it has been teaching all the seminarians! What's next -- teachers who dissent from the faith and lapse into heresy?

Though resistant to conservative, Republican and even some moderate speakers, a few highly political campuses seem ready to accept even ax murderers as commencement speakers, provided that they speak from the left. The late "Tookie" Williams gave two commencement speeches. He is ineligible for more because he was executed last December for the slaughter of many innocents in two robberies. Mumia Abu-Jamal has given many commencement speeches, including five in one year, on tape of course, since he sits on death row for the cold-blooded execution of a cop. So far, no such invitations to the Unabomber though.

The politicization of choices for commencement speakers isn't new. Brent Bozell at the Media Research Center has been documenting it for years. What's new is the sense of deep grievance when a moderate conservative like John McCain shows up.


John Leo

John Leo is editor of MindingTheCampus.com and a former contributing editor at U.S. News and World Report.

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