by Juan Williams
Have you heard the news?
Condoleezza Rice lacks “moral authority.” She fails to meet the standards of “exemplary citizenship” and she does not have what it takes to “inspire” graduating college seniors.
That crazy thinking comes from the New Brunswick Faculty Council of Rutgers University. They voted last week to ask university leadership to cancel Rice’s invitation to be this year’s Commencement Speaker and receive an honorary degree.
Yes, apparently the first African-American woman to serve as National Security Adviser and the nation’s Secretary of State doesn’t have what it takes to be honored by Rutgers.
Rice holds a Ph.D. in political science. She has taught college for decades. She was Provost of Stanford University. She worked her way up from a working-class family in the segregated South to the highest echelon of world power and politics.
But according to the Rutgers faculty council, all of that is negated by her service in President George W. Bush’s administration.
They cited her roles in pushing the false claim of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. They also point to her support for using enhanced interrogation techniques to get information from terror suspects.
The facts are right. The conclusion is wrong.
I, too, disagreed with many of the policies Rice faithfully supported as a member of the Bush administration. But only partisan hatred can blind the faculty to her extraordinary level of accomplishment for herself and her country.
Rice is smart, disciplined, hard-working and the model of an inspiring modern American. She personifies the American Dream. She is living inspiration for a young person trying to accomplish great work no matter what the barriers. And in Rice’s generation there were some serious barriers starting with her race and gender.
That is why New Jersey Republican State Assemblywoman Mary Pat Angelini called the Rutgers faculty’s wrongheaded decision “appalling and an embarrassment to our state.”
“This is nothing more than a political firestorm fueled by their hatred of an opposing ideology, and President George W. Bush in particular. Dr. Rice and the people of New Jersey deserve better,” Angelini said.
There is an added element at play here. There is a disgraceful double standard amongst liberals, particularly those in academia, in the hatred they direct at black conservatives.
We saw this last April when the conservative neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson was forced to step down as a Commencement Speaker for Johns Hopkins University (where he ably served as the head of pediatric neurosurgery).
Liberals on the Hopkins campus mobilized against Carson because he criticized President Obama’s health care reform law and said that he opposed gay marriage.
I am not a conservative but I have spoken out for years against the staggering amount blind hatred directed at black conservatives by liberals.
Liberals are shockingly quick to demean and dismiss brilliant black people like Rice, Carson, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, U.S. Senator Tim Scott (R-SC), Professor Walter E. Williams and economist Thomas Sowell because they don’t fit into the role they have carved out for a black person in America.
Black Americans must be obedient liberals on all things or risk being called a race traitor or an Uncle Tom.
I’ve experienced some of this vitriol firsthand when I have veered by liberal orthodoxy. I wrote about it in my book “Muzzled – the Assault on Honest Debate.”
This shunning of Rice is especially troubling coming from a great American university. This is the place where debate and dissenting views are to be valued as sacred.
Rutgers’s own university mission statement says that one of its goals is to produce students who perform “public service in support of the needs of the citizens of the state and its local, county, and state governments.”
How is the public served by muzzling one of the most thoughtful, accomplished and respected political voices of her time just because she happens to be a Republican?
Doe the Rutgers University faculty really have so little faith in the students they are about to graduate that they think are incapable of hearing opposing views and making up their own minds?
Before her commencement speech, I would like to see any of one of the members of faculty council debate Secretary Rice on foreign policy and then let their students see how well their professors’ critique holds up.
Hell, how about we invite the entire faculty council to take their best shot at Secretary Rice in a debate.
Rice is the most famous Republican woman politician in the country. She gave the best speech of the 2012 Republican National Convention and, despite her lack of interest in political office, still gets mentioned as a potential Republican presidential candidate for 2016.
If she is truly on the fence about a White House run, I would suggest she go for it if for no other reason than to rub it in the faces of these pompous jackass professors.
Of course that is not the only reason she should run, but it sure would be a delightful bonus.
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Juan Williams writes for several newspapers including The Washington Post, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal and has been published in magazines such as The Atlantic Monthly and Time. He also writes for FoxNews.com and is a Fox News Channel contributor. He was a senior news analyst forNational Public Radio (NPR) for more than a decade.