Once, this was the place that housed those who fled tyranny in Europe. Now, when in a chilling reminder of the past, Iranian Jews and Christians are being forced to wear colored badges, students at the New School respond in a rude and childish manner to John McCain’s commencement address. A sample:
He eventually enters into a Bushian rift: “All people share the desire to be free”; “human rights are above the state and beyond history”; we are “insisting that all people have the right to be free.” Someone shouts: “We’re graduating, not voting!” Lots of derisive shouts and laughter and applause.
As McCain continues with a personal story, a student shouts: “It’s about my life, not yours.” McCain:
“When I was a young man, I thought glory was the highest value...” Groans from the students. “It’s not about you!” “Sit down!”
McCain circles back around to the theme of civility: “We are not enemies, we are compatriots...” Boos, shouts. McCain: It “should remain an argument among friends”; we should be “respectful of the goodness in each other.” Literally one person applauds.
McCain goes on to tell his story about his reconciliation with an opponent of the Vietnam War: “I had a friend once...” Groans, boos.
He talks about forgiving his friend who dissented from the war. Hostile rumblings from the students.
He says after the reconciliation, he and his friend “worked together for shared ideals.” A shout: “We don’t share your ideals!” As McCain closes there is a mix of boos and applause, and a few people even stand to clap.
This needs no further commentary.
Update: The report about Iranian legislation appears to be incorrect, but not the report of how badly McCain was treated. The graduates insisted that the occasion was intended to honor them, but those who behaved rudely were not themselves honorable. Should we take the New School grads as exemplars of how to behave hospitably to our guests? Or how we should conduct our discussions?