Jim Moore, writing at the Huffington Post, chastises the Notre Dame graduating students who turned their backs and walked out as VP Mike Pence began his commencement address:
No point was served by walking out on the vice president, other than to demonstrate the students’ shallow intolerance of someone with whom they disagreed. I feel the same about the Bethune-Cookman HBCU students’ back-turning, booing, dissing of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. I’m on the record as being opposed to Ms. DeVos and Mr. Pence, and their boss, Mr. Trump, so I’m hardly an apologist here.But, in real life, the Notre Dame graduates and the Bethune-Cookman graduates are going to have to work with people with whom they disagree; they will have to deal with real life situations that make them uncomfortable; they will have to learn adult coping strategies for getting along with unprincipled people (maybe even their bosses) without diluting their own principles; they will have to learn that walking away from a problem is an abrogation of civil, personal, and professional responsibility.
I couldn't disagree more. First, walking out is a form of speech too, and so the students only met speech with speech. Crucially, they communicated (correctly in my view) that VP President is a dangerous and contemptible man, unworthy of respect or polite acquiescence.
Putting aside even Trump administration objections, VP Pence has used his political power to try to make millions of LGBTQ Americans second-class (or fourth-class?) citizens. Pence is so extreme that he proposed a law that would criminalize and jail any clergy member who married a homosexual couple. He has also been a champion of anti-women and anti-abortion issues. In short, the man represents an inexcusable threat to both individual Americans and our Constitutional protections.
Turning your back and walking out on a dangerous miscreant like this is laudable, and I only wish more of the graduating students had done so. Indeed, pious hypocrites like Pence only draw strength from the silent acceptance and respect offered by polite company.
I suspect that the crux of Mr. Moore’s objection is that these college students should have learned how to behave, and how to sublimate themselves, to the employer class (“maybe even their bosses”). Please. Part of the enduring appeal and moral strength of college students is that they have not already been economically castrated (or, at least not completely). These students will have plenty of time to become meek supplicants like Mr. Moore. Let’s not start crushing their souls and consciences before they even exit the university door.
Mr. Moore writes that “If I were a parent of any of those students, I’d consider my aspirational investment in my son’s or daughter’s path toward educational enlightenment at a fine University a sad failure.” Mr. Moore . . . you have no idea what is the mission of a university education. Maybe one day your kids can explain it to you.