OP-ED: No diversity on campus

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Is it still considered bad form to talk politics during a social gathering?

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How is this for an uplifting commencement speech? “Today, this day, 34 Americans will be murdered by guns. And again tomorrow, and the day after. America experiences a Virginia Tech massacre every day … but try finding a majority in Congress who’s willing to stand up and be counted, who’s willing to take on the National Riffle Association. Democrats, Republicans, independents, they’re all terrified. And people die as a result. Children, parents, police officers.” That was New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg speaking at the University of Pennsylvania. Aside from exploiting the tragedy at Virginia Tech to browbeat legal gun owners, the party-hopping billionaire went on to champion federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research and even derided opponents of such measures as being against “science.” Was the University of Pennsylvania the only school to turn its commencement exercise into a left-wing forum? Hardly.

At Carnegie Mellon University, Al Gore used his time to grouse about the 2000 election and ramble on about (what else?) climate change. Global warming is the “most serious crisis our civilization has ever confronted,” he implored. The former vice president even drew a moral equivalency between the elimination of greenhouse gasses and our fight for independence, the victory over Nazism and Communism, and the painful struggle to recognize the civil rights of black Americans.

The former prime minister of Norway, Gro Harlem Brundtland, echoed Al Gore’s environmental radicalism during her commencement address at Michigan State University. Not only does global warming “victimize” the worldwide community, but in Mrs. Brundtland’s opinion, debate on the subject is dead. “It is no longer possible to question the seriousness of this situation,” she told the audience, adding that expressing dissent on man’s alleged culpability is “destructive.” Sadly, if you’ve attended a graduation ceremony in the last 15 years, chances are you heard from a Democratic Party official, liberal activist, or someone within the mainstream media. Young America’s Foundation has kept a record. The tabulations are fairly simple. We match the U.S. News & World Report’s rankings of the top 100 universities with the commencement speakers at those institutions. Our analysis shows that the overwhelming majority of those who can be classified on an ideological spectrum are left of center. For more than a decade conservative commencement speakers haven’t even come close to halving the number of those who are liberals. By our count, there were only six recognizable conservatives this year - less than one-fifth the number of liberal speakers.

In fact, many invitations go to recycled Clinton appointments, including former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin at the University of Miami, former Defense Secretary William Cohen at the University of Oklahoma and longtime Clinton crony Vernon Jordan Jr. at American University. There are more Bill Clinton operatives headlining commencements this year than there are representatives of the current administration.

Even speakers thought to be unlikely toadies for the DNC stumbled into political activism. To wit, Craig Newmark - the founder of the popular online Craigslist - couldn’t refrain from gushing over Barack Obama during remarks at Case Western Reserve University. Mr. Newmark praised Mr. Obama’s Philadelphia speech on race as “shocking” because it was the first time “an American politician spoke to us as if we were adults.” First time? Ever? With that type of sycophantic hyperbole, Mr. Newmark is vying to outdo Chris Matthews’ confession that hearing Mr. Obama sends a thrill up his leg.

Mr. Matthews, by the way, delivered the commencement speech at Washington University in St. Louis, and his associates in the “drive-by” media got in on the action. Columnist E.J. Dionne Jr. was at Wake Forest University, Watergate journalist Carl Bernstein spoke at the University of Maryland and PBS anchor Charlie Rose addressed graduates at Fordham University.

What about Sean Hannity, Rich Lowry, Michelle Malkin or any other conservative media star? Hosting them would be, ahem, “diverse.” And yet the left’s definition of diversity conveniently excludes anyone who doesn’t adhere to its orthodoxy. In the rare instance that a conservative did speak - and those instances are about as rare as finding a Cowboys fan at FedEx Field - the campus left was beside itself.

Professors at the University of Georgia tried stonewalling an invitation to Justice Clarence Thomas by citing the much-discredited Anita Hill allegation. Chris Cuomo, the school’s director of the Institute for Women’s Studies (where else?), “wonder[ed] if the university administration is sending an intentional message that [UGA] believe[s] matters of sexual harassment and gender equity are trivial.” The fact that Miss Cuomo seriously thinks an invitation to Justice Thomas is a tacit acceptance of sexual harassment is enough to question her aptitude. But more importantly, it gives us a glimpse into how the “intelligentsia” perceives higher education: a brainwashing boot camp. That’s why conservative professors and textbooks are virtually nonexistent and why commencement ceremonies send the graduating class off with one more predictable, leftist lecture.

Jason Mattera is spokesman for Young America’s Foundation. The entire commencement report can be viewed at www.yaf.org.

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