Honoring Rice question of morals, not freedom of speech
Letter to editor
Quite predictably, University President Robert L. Barchi has tried to turn the choice of Condoleezza Rice as the Rutgers commencement speaker and recipient of an honorary doctor of laws degree into an issue of free speech and academic freedom — which, obviously, is not. I believe I speak for all those opposed to this choice in stating that we would be delighted to have Rice speak on any Rutgers campus in a forum that allows an open and free discussion of her views, her career or any topic of her choosing.
The real issue is framed quite succinctly by the Rutgers official Guidelines on Honorary Degrees, which stipulates that the accomplishments of every awardee of a Rutgers honorary degree “Must … support the ideals of Rutgers and serve as an example to our students, our alumni, and society.” Awarding an honorary degree to Rice, not to mention having her as the Rutgers commencement speaker, would mean that Rutgers is officially proclaiming that her accomplishments do indeed “support the ideals of Rutgers and serve as an example to our students, our alumni, and society.”
Are we thus prepared, for example, to honor her for deliberately lying to the American people to lead us into the invasion of Iraq, with all its disastrous consequences for the past, present and future?
H. Bruce Franklin is the John Cotton Dana professor of English and American studies at Rutgers University-Newark.