In his commencement address at the flagship campus of Rutgers University on Sunday, President Barack Obama strongly condemned the far-left students and professors who protested former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s planned commencement speech in 2014.
“I know a couple years ago, some folks on this campus got upset that Condoleezza Rice was supposed to speak at a commencement,” Obama said.
“Now, I don’t think it’s a secret that I disagree with many of the foreign policies of Dr. Rice and the previous administration. But the notion that this community or the country would be better served by not hearing a former secretary of state or shutting out what she had to say — I believe that’s misguided,” the president urged. “I don’t think that’s how democracy works best — when we’re not even willing to listen to each other.”
Obama then offered some amazingly astute and valuable advice that every American of every political stripe would do well to take to heart regardless of what they may be commencing. (RELATED: The Best And WORST Commencement Speakers Of 2016)
“If somebody has got a bad or offensive idea, prove it wrong. Engage it. Debate it. Stand up for what you believe in,” he said — to a great deal of applause. “Don’t be scared to take somebody on. Don’t feel like you got to shut your ears off because you’re too fragile and somebody might offend your sensibilities. Go at them if they’re not making any sense. Use your logic and reason and words. And by doing so, you’ll strengthen your own position, and you’ll hone your arguments. And maybe you’ll learn something and realize you don’t know everything. And you may have a new understanding not only about what your opponents believe but maybe what you believe.”
Amid protests against her as a “war criminal” in 2014, Rice abruptly withdrew from speaking at the Rutgers commencement ceremonies. (RELATED: Awful School Is Awfully Intolerant: Condi Rice Backs Out Of Rutgers Speech Amid Protests)
“Commencement should be a time of joyous celebration for the graduates and their families,” Rice said in a statement. “Rutgers’ invitation to me to speak has become a distraction for the university community at this very special time.”
The announcement of Rice’s selection prompted immediate negative reaction from Rutgers faculty and some students. The faculty council voted to denounce her selection and urged the school to rescind its invitation.