You hear the stories all the time, some commencement speaker uses the occasion not to exhort the new graduates to greater heights, but to push a (usually left-wing) political ideology on a captive audience.
Here's an interesting twist on that story. This guy doesn't believe in bilingual education so he was "uninvited" to speak at the former CSU Hayward (now CSU East Bay) graduation. No one knows what he was going to speak about--no, it's enough that, as a Hispanic, he doesn't support affirmative action or bilingual education, so he won't be speaking.
Here's some wisdom from the article:
"I'm a bilingual educator," said student Leah Perez, 32, who is graduating with a master's degree in urban teacher leadership and protested Rodriguez's presence at the graduation. "He believes in assimilation and rejection of one's cultural identity, and we don't feel that is what we stand for in our program, and we don't want him representing us."
Who says he's representing you? You don't even know what he's going to say. Apparently he's an accomplished author, not a propagandist, who doesn't just shoot his mouth off about his politics, but writes about it. But because he thinks differently that some of the students, that's enough to threaten a boycott of the ceremony. Brilliant. And these same "educators" no doubt believe that education should be for "social justice" and that students should develop "critical thinking" by experiencing "other points of view".
Campus spokesman Kim Huggett said Rodriguez was slated to receive an honorary doctorate degree and then speak briefly. But those plans were scuttled by Rodriguez after campus President Norma Rees received several e- mails in the past week threatening a protest boycott. It was unclear Wednesday how many students had threatened to boycott the ceremony.
I would like to think that this man is decent enough that he would have accepted his honorary degree graciously, given a pithy and worthy address, and then sat down. But we'll never know, will we?
Fortunately, there is a bit of good news. The university didn't ask Rodriguez to bow out, he did so on his own. And the campus President supports him as speaker, but respects his decision.
"It is a sad situation. You hear about this at other universities," Huggett (campus President spokesperson) said. "We are a university that has always prided itself on the expression of free ideas. The sad part is people doing this based on a book they haven't read."
Go read the whole thing and lament the fact that the whiners involved will be teaching children.
Update, 6/11/05 9:07 am: Debra Saunders has a great article about this situation. Here's a paragraph that spoke to me:
I take what happened to Rodriguez personally, because while he is getting flak from the left, I experience the same nasty censoriousness from the far right. If you stray from a certain set of opinions, the posse of extremism goes a-hunting. You see, no pundit is allowed to think that, just maybe sometimes, folks from another political persuasion have a point.
Update, 6/24/05 1:42 pm: Joanne has more commentary here.