Friday, November 09, 2007

Stanford campus rejects Rummy

By Libby

I'm conflicted about this oppostion to Rumsfeld's appointment. It's not that I don't understand the objections.

STANFORD, California - More than 100 Stanford University students demonstrated on Thursday against a decision to make former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution amid campus discontent over a symbol of U.S. failings in the Iraq war.

To date, nearly 4,000 Stanford faculty, students and alumni have signed a petition begun by a faculty member to reject Rumsfeld’s appointment announced in September, but John Raisian, the institute’s director, said Rumsfeld deserved the honor of being a “distinguished visiting fellow.”

It appears the big objection is to the designation 'distinguished.' That arguably could accurately describe his career over a lifetime it we keep to the strictest definition of the word but the point is well taken that his tenure as DefSec was hardly exemplary. Still I'd be more comfortable if the debate centered more around his academic value to the university. I don't buy into the false myth that 'the left' is taking over academia, but I'm not thrilled about the trend I see on campuses where holders of objectionable ideology are being protested for voicing unwanted speech. It offends the First Amendment advocate in me.

It's not that I'm against protests, but I think it's more effective to protest the ideology rather than the speaker who symbolizes it. The former enlarges the debate, the latter simply shuts it down and that strikes at the heart of free speech. I find it a dangerous place to draw the line. [h/t David D]

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