Jonah Goldberg on Rice & BC
That settles it. The flap at BC over honoring Condi Rice as commencement speaker has now entered the immortal realm of the Rorschach Test. Jonah Goldberg has issued a column on the controversy. His opening salvo:
How is academic freedom like Catholicism? Well, if you are a left-wing academic, the answer is obvious: both can be used like a club on people you don’t like.
You can guess where this is going. Before Goldberg lands on his predicable conclusion–
Whether the cudgel is racism, sexism, academic freedom or even Catholicism, the intent is the same: Voices the Left likes are privileged on America’s campuses. Voices the Left dislikes are to be smashed, with whatever tool is available.
–he throws himself a few softballs. Like this one:
When a professor at Columbia University proclaimed that he hoped America suffer from a “million Mogadishus”—referring to the battle made famous by Black Hawk Down—and declared that “the only true heroes are those who find ways that help defeat the U.S. military,” he was immediately defended by the left on grounds of academic freedom.
What could possibly be different between this scenario and the Rice controversy at BC? Here’s Goldberg’s version of events:
In a letter distributed by the heads of the Catholic school’s theology department and signed by about 200 faculty members, we are informed that, “On the levels of both moral principle and practical moral judgment, Secretary Rice’s approach to international affairs is in fundamental conflict with Boston College’s commitment to the values of the Catholic and Jesuit traditions and is inconsistent with the humanistic values that inspire the university’s work.” The letter, titled “Condoleezza Rice Does Not Deserve a Boston College Honorary Degree,” cherry-picks quotes from Pope John Paul II to argue that Rice’s policies should disqualify her as a commencement speaker.
Cherry picks quotes from John Paul II? No. The 250-word doesn’t once quote the late pope. More:
One can respect honest disagreement over the Bush administration’s foreign policy. But this high-minded rhetoric is a bit hard to take considering that B.C. is fairly selective about where it will draw such lines. For example, Mary Daly was for decades a distinguished professor at Boston College, despite the fact she exceeds even the right-wing parody of a left-wing academic.
Wrong again. It’s hard to know what Golberg means by “distinguished professor at Boston College.” Daly never held the title of distinguished professor. She was Professor Daly. That’s it. It’s no secret that she was hardly beloved within the BC theology department. Daly went too far out for many theologians, and this ultimately isolated her.
In case you’re interested in reading the actual statement, here it is:
Condoleezza Rice Does Not Deserve a
We, the undersigned members of the faculty at
As a matter of moral principle, Rice maintains that
On the level of practical judgment, Rice has helped develop and implement the strategic policies that have guided the
For these reasons, we object to
References are to Condoleezza Rice, “Promoting the National Interest,” Foreign Affairs 79 (Jan./Feb. 2000), and to Pope