Condoleeza Rice requires no introduction from me. Her resumé accompanies her name. When I read, last week, that Rutgers faculty voted to disinvite her from speaking at commencement where she is to be bestowed a doctor of laws degree, my first reaction was rather liberal arts. All sides deserve a hearing. Why silence this one?
On further reflection, and upon reading reports about this faculty vote, I wondered how, if Condi is so “heavily political”, any politician could ever be invited to speak at any Rutgers event again without the double-standard card coming up.
French professor François Cornilliat criticized Rice’s selection as “heavily political”, asserting that “our students are being manipulated to deliver a political point.”
Mon Dieu! This sounded like 1950-something! As if Alger Hiss had been invited. (But, then, French departments have a habit of being behind the times.)
What is a liberal arts education if it forbids light to be shed on one side of the spectrum? Either side? And how, given this dictum and precedent, does Rutgers ever host or bestow honors on any politician again?
No stranger to campus politics, I concluded that the faculty had shot itself in the foot. Good luck ever getting Hillary Clinton, I thought. Y’all just slammed that door closed – and locked it!
Seems I am not the only one who saw this implication.
Condoleezza Rice; Hillary Clinton
FILES/AFP/Getty Images; FILES/AFP/Getty Images
Put me down as a skeptic when it comes to Condoleezza Rice.
Although she’s generally applauded for her barrier-breaking career in public service, as the first African-American woman to serve as secretary of state and national security adviser, “her signature ‘achievement’ in public life,” as I wrote a couple of years ago, “was co-signing Bush’s 2003 invasion of Iraq—one of the worst foreign policy blunders in American history.”
It’s not exactly a great resume item, and it’s probably why she’s faded from view.
And while I wouldn’t put it quite the way they did, I also can’t really argue with the criticism offered earlier this week by the Rutgers University faculty council, who said Rice “played a prominent role in [the Bush] administration’s effort to mislead the American people about the presence of weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq.
It’s why they’re urging their administration to replace Rice, who’s keynoting this year’s Rutgers commencement ceremony—which is their prerogative—and they’ve got every right to feel strongly about the issue. A lot of folks probably agree with them.
Rice, of course, maintains that she made the best judgment she could at the time, acknowledging in retrospect that she and her colleagues “could have done better.”
But whether or not the Rutgers faculty accepts Rice’s version of events, if they’re prepared to snub her at this point, then down the road they might also want to prepare to snub Hillary Clinton, because she, too, co-signed the invasion of Iraq.
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At the time she cast that vote I agreed with her thinking – believing that it was right to accord those powers as she defined them. I still stand by her words on that vote at that time. I have never had a problem with that vote as it stood then.
If Condoleeza Rice is too heavily political and thereby should be banned from campus events, who is not? Who can speak at Rutgers now? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?
I have another question about all of this. If the chosen speaker had been Colin Powell, would the opposition have been as formidable? Or would the boys club in the faculty lounge just have given him the pass?
Danke shön! Thank you, Rutgers, for shedding light on the state of faculty mentality.
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