As a follow-up our item yesterday regarding the triumph of the illiberal anti-speech mob at Berkeley, here's a dispatch from the plains of Indiana. Notre Dame broke from its long tradition of inviting newly-elected presidents to deliver the university's spring commencement commencement address, passing over President Trump and instead extending the offer to Vice President Mike Pence, a Hoosier. Trump's presence would surely have caused controversy and sparked protests, and one can think up any number of reasons why a religious college might be queasy about welcoming someone with his history of statements and actions -- but if Barack Obama's pro-abortion radicalism wasn't a deal-breaker for the famously Catholic institution in 2009, excluding Trump feels like a cop-out. But opting for the mild-mannered former Indiana Governor still hasn't spared the university from a dispiritingly predictable backlash from the intolerant Left:
University of Notre Dame students have begun a “#NotMyCommencementSpeaker” white board campaign to protest the invitation of Vice President Mike Pence to speak at Commencement. Last week, seniors Immane Mondane and Jourdyhn Williams invited students to take photos holding white boards with “direct quotes from Pence that are racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, offensive, or ostracizing to members of our community,” along with the hashtag “#NotMyCommencementSpeaker.” Alternatively, students could also write about why they “feel unsafe with the presence of Mike Pence on our campus,” with daily opportunities to have photos taken with their whiteboards through the week. Once all the photos have been compiled, the organizers plan to share them on social media in hopes of starting a “discussion” about Pence’s invitation...While Notre Dame usually invites the president to give its Commencement address during his first year in office, this year the administration opted to invite Pence instead after students launched a preemptive protest campaign objecting to Donald Trump. The attempt to avoid controversy hasn’t panned out; in addition to the whiteboard campaign, a number of student groups have spoken out against the invitation of Pence, including the Diversity Council and the College Democrats.
So far, it doesn't appear as though leftist student groups have demanded that the Pence invitation be rescinded, with several organizations merely putting out statements of "profound disappointment" and the like over the school's decision. This strikes me as hyper-sensitive snowflakery, but it's far preferable to outright demands to silence a controversial voice Then again, the administration preemptively caved to those who planned to object to hearing from the duly-elected President of the United States, so it's not as though Notre Dame ought to be held up as a paragon of open-minded tolerance on this front. As for the preposterous notion that the presence of a mainstream conservative politician on campus might make alleged adults feel "unsafe," HotAir's Ed Morrissey has a thought or two on that:
There’s nothing wrong with protests in general, of course, as long as they obey the law — and this one certainly appears to respect those boundaries. However, the constant refrain of protesting because opposing political views makes someone “feel unsafe” is laughable on its face, and (to borrow a phrase from protesters in my day) evidence of a crypto-fascist approach to political discourse. If a speech by Mike Pence truly makes you feel unsafe rather than just annoyed by hearing political opposition to your own positions, then you should really consider a lifetime of crayons rather than pencils, and padded rooms to boot. The obvious solution to that situation is.. don’t attend the speech. If one argues that the public square and political discourse should be limited to each individual’s perception of “safety,” then they’re arguing against all political discourse — and the very protests they are carrying out now. Apparently, Notre Dame has stopped teaching critical thought.
Fox & Friends covered this controversy earlier today:
Notre Dame students protesting VP Pence as this year's commencement speaker because it makes them "feel unsafe" pic.twitter.com/W7mJoFp6dV— FOX & friends (@foxandfriends) April 12, 2017
As we wrote in End of Discussion, university administrators should not be pushed around by loud but relatively limited outrage mobs in these confrontations -- and just as importantly, right-leaning speakers should not be bullied into withdrawing out of "respect" for some anti-intellectual students' wishes.