April 25, 2019 | 52° F

Asking for Obama defies Rice protests

Letter to the Editor

It is interesting that the faculty and students are so eager to push for President Obama as the commencement speaker for Rutgers 250th class. Not two years ago, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was invited to speak at commencement, but after faculty and student protests, she withdrew. Those protesters accused her of war crimes, supporting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, indefinite detention and former President George W. Bush's drone program. Instead of addressing the validity of these claims, I will offer a few comparisons.

President Obama launched ten times the number of drone strikes as President Bush. These strikes have killed six times as many people, and twice the civilians of those under President Bush. President Obama more than doubled the number of troops in Afghanistan shortly after taking office, after promising to end both wars. The indefinite detention center at Guantanamo Bay remains open, despite repeated promises to the contrary.

There is an obvious double standard, on almost every issue the protestors had with Dr. Rice, President Obama has continued or expanded those same policies, and yet the President gets a pass where Dr. Rice got none. Furthermore, in contrast to Dr. Rice who served as Secretary of State at the behest of President Bush, President Obama could have addressed many of the aforementioned issues through Presidential powers.

Sherif Ibrahim and Carmelo Cintron, leaders of the “No Rice” protest claimed that if President Obama attempted to speak on campus, they would protest, with Ibrahim saying, “I don’t care if it's President Obama drone bombing ... or if it’s Condoleezza Rice ... what is wrong is wrong.” Cintron also stated that he would not be okay with the President speaking on campus. Where were they when the President spoke at Rutgers—Newark, where are they now? Where are those who sat-in at Barchi’s office, or those who claimed to be nonpartisan in their protest?

They are nowhere to be found, now that the speaker’s political affiliation aligns with their own. Identifying as a Liberal is enough to protect from criticism in today’s college environment. They labeled Dr. Rice as a war criminal, killer and lawbreaker, but apparently none of those labels applies to the President, reinforcing the double standard between Liberal and Conservative. This is the latest example of the targeted silencing of Conservative viewpoints on college campuses.

The Daily Targum once wrote, "Rice is a former politician, and we can’t really ignore her controversial career. Do the positive aspects of her personal accomplishments really outweigh the destruction of war she contributed to during her political career?" Can we ignore President Obama's similarly “controversial career” due to his political party? Given the attitude on campus, apparently so.

Najum M. Junaid is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore with intended majors in genetics and political science.

Najum M. Junaid

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