Predictable Commencement Addresses

CommentaryWhat comes to mind in the month of June? Weddings. Vacations (and how to pay for record high gas prices if you’re driving). Graduations. Time was when many commencement speeches at major universities were about America and its values and what graduates could expect in the future. In recent years, they have become a political capstone on the progressive ideas imposed upon them in their classes and textbooks. This year has been no different. While an occasional token conservative or Republican is invited, most speakers are liberal in their political beliefs and promote activist causes. Here are just a few examples from a long list. Augustana College: Dick Durbin (D-Ill.). Bard College: Deb Haaland, Secretary of the Interior. Brandeis University: Deval Patrick, former governor of Massachusetts. Clark University: Mary Frances Berry, civil rights activist. Harvard Law School: Loretta Lynch, former U.S. Attorney General. There are many more you can Google, but the picture is clear. Most major universities, while giving lip service to “diversity,” don’t believe in diversity of opinion. Perhaps the most troubling of this June’s commencement addresses was not just the main speaker at Harvard’s Law School commencement, but a prominent and soon-to-be powerful and influential person who attended. The main speaker was New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, whose preferred topic appeared to be “LGBTQ-plus.” She bragged that her deputy is an “openly gay man.” She also touted her country’s approval of same-sex marriage and its progress on “climate change.” This presumably is supposed to inspire graduates to embrace her views, if they don’t already share them. Why wouldn’t they after what they’ve been taught, watched what is promoted in the media, and endured the peer pressure of like-minded students? Among those attending the ceremony was Supreme Court justice-designate Kentanji Brown Jackson. When Prime Minister Ardern reached the part in her address in which she referenced New Zealand’s ban on “military-style semi-automatics and assault rifles,” Jackson applauded. As Congress debates which if any weapons to ban, this issue could come before the Supreme Court. It was inappropriate for Jackson to seemingly telegraph her opinion in advance. Notice how the justices never applaud at a president’s State of the Union Address. That should be Jackson’s model. What a contrast between Ardern’s remarks and another commencement address delivered at Harvard on June 8, 1978 by Russian writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn. His speech drew the ire of some faculty and The New York Times editorial page, because it didn’t fit in with their ideological perspectives. While Solzhenitsyn called Western systems “best,” he indicted the West for its lack of courage: “A decline in courage may be the most striking feature which an outside observer notices in the West in our days. The Western world has lost its civil courage, both as a whole and separately, in each country, each government, each political party, and, of course, in the United Nations. Such a decline in courage is particularly noticeable among the ruling groups and the intellectual elite, causing an impression of loss of courage by the entire society. Of course, there are many courageous individuals, but they have no determining influence on public life.” He added: “Should one point out that from ancient times declining courage has been considered the beginning of the end?” Solzhenitsyn was a modern prophet. Many speakers at recent commencement ceremonies are more pathetic than prophetic. Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times. Follow John Calvin Thomas has been a syndicated columnist, author, and radio commentator for more than 35 years. His latest book is “America's Expiration Date: The Fall of Empires and Superpowers and the Future of the United States.”

Predictable Commencement Addresses

Commentary

What comes to mind in the month of June? Weddings. Vacations (and how to pay for record high gas prices if you’re driving). Graduations.

Time was when many commencement speeches at major universities were about America and its values and what graduates could expect in the future. In recent years, they have become a political capstone on the progressive ideas imposed upon them in their classes and textbooks.

This year has been no different. While an occasional token conservative or Republican is invited, most speakers are liberal in their political beliefs and promote activist causes.

Here are just a few examples from a long list.

Augustana College: Dick Durbin (D-Ill.). Bard College: Deb Haaland, Secretary of the Interior. Brandeis University: Deval Patrick, former governor of Massachusetts. Clark University: Mary Frances Berry, civil rights activist. Harvard Law School: Loretta Lynch, former U.S. Attorney General.

There are many more you can Google, but the picture is clear. Most major universities, while giving lip service to “diversity,” don’t believe in diversity of opinion.

Perhaps the most troubling of this June’s commencement addresses was not just the main speaker at Harvard’s Law School commencement, but a prominent and soon-to-be powerful and influential person who attended.

The main speaker was New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, whose preferred topic appeared to be “LGBTQ-plus.” She bragged that her deputy is an “openly gay man.” She also touted her country’s approval of same-sex marriage and its progress on “climate change.” This presumably is supposed to inspire graduates to embrace her views, if they don’t already share them. Why wouldn’t they after what they’ve been taught, watched what is promoted in the media, and endured the peer pressure of like-minded students?

Among those attending the ceremony was Supreme Court justice-designate Kentanji Brown Jackson. When Prime Minister Ardern reached the part in her address in which she referenced New Zealand’s ban on “military-style semi-automatics and assault rifles,” Jackson applauded.

As Congress debates which if any weapons to ban, this issue could come before the Supreme Court. It was inappropriate for Jackson to seemingly telegraph her opinion in advance. Notice how the justices never applaud at a president’s State of the Union Address. That should be Jackson’s model.

What a contrast between Ardern’s remarks and another commencement address delivered at Harvard on June 8, 1978 by Russian writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn. His speech drew the ire of some faculty and The New York Times editorial page, because it didn’t fit in with their ideological perspectives.

While Solzhenitsyn called Western systems “best,” he indicted the West for its lack of courage: “A decline in courage may be the most striking feature which an outside observer notices in the West in our days. The Western world has lost its civil courage, both as a whole and separately, in each country, each government, each political party, and, of course, in the United Nations. Such a decline in courage is particularly noticeable among the ruling groups and the intellectual elite, causing an impression of loss of courage by the entire society. Of course, there are many courageous individuals, but they have no determining influence on public life.”

He added: “Should one point out that from ancient times declining courage has been considered the beginning of the end?”

Solzhenitsyn was a modern prophet. Many speakers at recent commencement ceremonies are more pathetic than prophetic.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.


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John Calvin Thomas has been a syndicated columnist, author, and radio commentator for more than 35 years. His latest book is “America's Expiration Date: The Fall of Empires and Superpowers and the Future of the United States.”