^ barred from commencement speaking : the IMF’s Christine Lagarde

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Recently the media has reported two cases of college commencement speakers pressured to not speak. First, Condoleeza Rice was forced out of Rutgers University’s commencement; now Christine Lagarde, IMF’s first female CEO, has been forced to withdraw from Smith College’s graduation day.

This is not good at all. The young often think that they know it all and that their personal view of things should tell everybody else what to do and where to go. It’s the prerogative of youth to be ignorantly sure of oneself. Adults, however, have no such excuse. For adults to cave to know it all youth is a huge mistake. It validates conceit, flatters inexperience. That the young censorers also haven’t the slightest idea of what the IMF actually does is, i suppose, par for the course. the less one knows of a topic, the easier to believe somebody else’s opinion of it.

It also undermines the basic premise of civilized polity : that views of all kinds must be accorded opportunity, respect, a fair hearing.

For the Rutgers and Smith situations i do not blame the students. Young people can only learn what life is really like by putting their foot into mud and finding out that it isn’t duck soup. I blame the college administrators. They have much to answer for.

Perhaps the administrators have forgotten that, not too long ago, the “political correctness” movement commanded all on most campuses. One was not allowe to say certain things. there was a code for it. Free speech did not apply — that was the lesson.

We all learned from that lesson, and campuses, over time, became freer again and thus more constitutional and real.

At the same time, however, the political world was roiled by a resurgent right-wing populism, which, as we all know, took shape as the Tea party, perhaps America’s most virulent political insurgency since the radical anti-war surge of 45 years ago. As with that surge, the Tea Party’s bilious views — ever more outrageous, shamelessly derogatory of almost everyone else — has generated, finally, a huge backlash.

This backlash has now itself gone viral and finds the judicious incrementalism of President Obama too cool, too patient, too minuscule in its moves. The backlash wants grand gestures, vast waves of change as torrential as the Tea Party’s waves of utter reaction. Politically this means aggressive activism on all the issues — economic fairness, immigration justice, gun control, climate change — that President Obama has seemed to finesse or even to ignore.
That part of the backlash i applaud.

But i cannot applaud the intolerance on campuses.

Last year I noted, as elements of the Democratic party began to turn on the Obama establishment, that “you can’t radicalize an electorate in one direction only.” I can do nothing to prevent the Democratic left from splitting their political party. it’;s their business. The left’;s assault on free and open speech, however,m i can object to. I do object to it. It will find no friend in me, and I will oppose its ugliness wherever and whenever I see it. Let Condoleeza Rice speak to 50 graduations ! Let Christine Lagarde address one hundred campuses ! Heck, let Dick Cheney speak if he chooses — he is a very interesting fellow, not at all the single-minded Darth Vader the youthful left may imagine.

Let all people of importance declare themselves to every young audience they can get to. The young need to dive into an olympic-sized pool of diversity, not cringe on the single lane of a diving board.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere