Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The old "Speaking truth to Power" ploy...

MKH at Hugh's blog discussed yesterday the left's penchant for "speaking truth to power,"--read: disrespecting conservative speakers. Initially the post focused on the response to Condi Rice's commencement address at Boston College. What drew me in was the discussion later on of John McCain's address at the New College in NYC:

...John McCain's lessons in respectfully disagreeing were lost on one New College student who sucker-punched him with a speech that was high on disagreement and low on respect (and, pricelessly, contained the words "speak truth to power," employed seemingly without irony).
Once again, if you disagree with the commencement speaker, fine. If you want to vocally disagree with the speaker in your speech, fine. You earned your speech slot. Just do it with a little bit of class, and some respect for your fellow students who may just want to hear the speeches and go eat barbecue without the appetizer of self-righteousness

Having been known to grind an axe where McCain is concerned, I was intrigued enough to read the student's post though unready for what I read:

Right now, I'm going to be who I am and digress from my previously prepared remarks. I am disappointed that I have to abandon the things I had wanted to speak about, but I feel that it is absolutely necessary to acknowledge the fact that this ceremony has become something other than the celebratory gathering that it was intended to be due to all the media attention surrounding John Mc Cain's presence here today, and the student and faculty outrage generated by his invitation to speak here. The senator does not reflect the ideals upon which this university was founded. Not only this, but his invitation was a top-down decision that did not take into account the desires and interests of the student body on an occasion that is supposed to honor us above all, and to commemorate our achievements.

What is interesting and bizarre about this whole situation is that Senator Mc Cain has stated that he will be giving the same speech at all three universities where he has been invited to speak recently, of which ours is the last; those being Jerry Falwell's Liberty University, Columbia University, and finally here at the New School. For this reason I have unusual foresight concerning the themes of his address today. Based on the speech he gave at the other institutions, Senator Mc Cain will tell us today that dissent and disagreement are our "civic and moral obligation" in times of crisis. I consider this a time of crisis and I feel obligated to speak. Senator Mc Cain will also tell us about his cocky self-assuredness in his youth, which prevented him from hearing the ideas of others. In so doing, he will imply that those of us who are young are too naïve to have valid opinions and open ears. I am young, and although I don't profess to possess the wisdom that time affords us, I do know that preemptive war is dangerous and wrong, that George Bush's agenda in Iraq is not worth the many lives lost. And I know that despite all the havoc that my country has wrought overseas in my name, Osama bin Laden still has not been found, nor have those weapons of mass destruction.

Finally, Senator Mc Cain will tell us that we, those of us who are Americans, "have nothing to fear from each other." I agree strongly with this, but I take it one step further. We have nothing to fear from anyone on this living planet. Fear is the greatest impediment to the achievement of peace. We have nothing to fear from people who are different from us, from people who live in other countries, even from the people who run our government--and this we should have learned from our educations here. We can speak truth to power, we can allow our humanity always to come before our nationality, we can refuse to let fear invade our lives and to goad us on to destroy the lives of others. These words I speak do not reflect the arrogance of a young strong-headed woman, but belong to a line of great progressive thought, a history in which the founders of this institution play an important part. I speak today, even through my nervousness, out of a need to honor those voices that came before me, and I hope that we graduates can all strive to do the same.

Not even Senator McCain deserves such simple-minded naivete dressed up with cutesy "progressive" rhetorical flair. MKH makes a point later on in discussing McCain as to what the core problem is:

I disagree with Sen. McCain on many issues. I know several conservative bloggers who, if given the chance, would likely "speak truth to power" on the subject of McCain-Feingold. I would hope they'd do it with more facts and less ranting than Rohe did, and preferably in a way that didn't catch an entire graduating class and their families in the crossfire. It just seems rude to me.

There's a time and a place for pretty much every type of communication there is. "Happy Graduation" day is not the time nor the place for "Blast your elected Official Day." All the inanity of Ms. Rohe's argument aside, bottom line she'd do well to learn some wisdom about what time is appropriate for what words.

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