I’ll have to respectfully disagree with what seems to be the prevailing opinion among my fellow Patriot writers (gee, that’s a first) on the choice of Julian Bond as commencement speaker.
Most of the people supportive of the choice, though, aren’t being fair to the critics. An anonymous commenter:
Yeah, hopefully next year we can get someone who became famous without offending anyone and who is totally uncontroversial to give a really exciting, completely balanced speech that everyone agrees with.
The problem is not that Bond isn’t “uncontroversial,” or that he might say things with which some students will disagree. Their criticism is that the things Bond has said are both controversial and completely off-the-wall crazy. Calling him the “Ann Coulter of the Left” would be a stretch, but it certainly is Coulteresque to compare one’s political opponents to the Taliban, Confederate slaveholders, and Nazis. Aren’t we and our intellectual role models supposed to be above that sort of tripe? Is that really any better than demanding that the United States invade Muslim countries and convert their leaders to Christianity?
This said, I don’t really mind inviting Bond to speak at commencement. First, here’s a shocker: commencement speakers don’t really matter. It’s an honorary degree and a five minute speech, and–like it or not–Sergio Gor is not G.E.M. Anscombe. We might as well make a big fuss over the color of the trim on the graduation robes, or the quality of the grass on the Mall. Second, I’m willing to give Bond the benefit of the doubt because of his admirable work with SNCC during the Civil Rights era. I hope he’ll draw more on that than on his RepubliConfedeNaziBan fantasies when he’s thinking of material for his speech.
GW students love to whine and bitch, but let’s at least try to keep that limited to the important stuff.