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Another commencement Address no one asked me to give

Every year I wait for an invitation to address graduating seniors at a college commencement. And again - the sixth straight year - no such invitation has come.

Editorial Comment
May 23, 2002


So continuing a tradition, I'll make my speech from the podium of this editorial page as an antidote to the vacuous messages normally heard at commencements.

Tap, tap, tap, is the microphone on? Can you hear me in the back? Dr. and Mrs. Contumely, esteemed faculty and honored guests, graduating seniors and parents, today my message will differ from the speeches I've delivered in the past. I will begin with my usual disdain for universities and academia, but I will end on an upbeat note.

First, an interesting tidbit. The Western Illinois University basketball team appeared in photographs in its media guide wearing jerseys with the state name misspelled as Illinios. Nobody noticed. Then the team played six home games wearing the jerseys. Still, nobody noticed. This speaks volumes about the powers of perception in American universities.

Now, on to a more substantial matter, namely, the lack of diversity at American colleges. The type of diversity I am talking about has nothing to do with race or gender. It concerns political thought.

A recent poll surveyed 151 professors in the Ivy League about their political attitudes. Not one of the professors considered themselves to be conservative, while 64% considered themselves to be liberal, and 23% called themselves moderate. Only 3% admitted to being Republicans.

Which president from the last 40 years did they admire the most? Bill Clinton was the hands-down winner, being named by 26%. John Kennedy was named by 17%, and Lyndon Johnson by 15%. Even Jimmy Carter, often called the poster boy for a failed presidency, was named by 13%. Ronald Reagan, the man who brought down Communism, got the nod from only 4%. As one newspaper columnist observed, many parents are sending their children off to prestigious schools, not realizing their offspring will be indoctrinated with political values diametrically opposed to their own.

Finally, I'll get to the positive aspect of my talk. At a commencement address last December at a university in California, the speaker expressed concern over the government response to the terrorists' attack of September 11. She criticized federal enforcement policies as amounting to unlawful detainment, unwarranted wire tapping, and an overall curtailment of civil liberties. But while she made these criticisms, the audience began to boo her. Nevertheless, she continued in this critical vein while the audience grew more and more hostile. Finally, when she said that the Constitution gives us the right to challenge government policies, a clapping chant and shouts forced her from the stage.

My view on this? At long last, something positive has happened at an American university. A radical speaker at odds with core public sentiment has been hooted off the stage by a student body. Perhaps there is hope for young people after all. Given the opportunity, they show amazingly mainstream values clearly at odds with their professors and with the leftists invited to speak to them.

That concludes my remarks. Thank you for your kind attention. Good evening. Thunderous applause builds to pandemonium until Dr. Contumely steps to the podium to announce: "Mr. Khol has left the auditorium."

-Ronald Khol, Editor

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