Thursday, May 22, 2003

I am so proud to be a Midwesterner

When I read about the response of the audience at Rockford College to the farce of a commencement speech that was given by New York Times reporter Chris Hedges I feel very proud to be a Midwesterner.

As I read about what happened I am somewhat surprised at those who say that the audience should have been more ‘respectful’ of Hedges right to speak. As I read it the first amendment says that ‘congress shall pass no law’ abridging freedom of speech. Congress had nothing to do with what happened in Rockford - rather; a group of citizens used their rights of free speech. It seems that the left only knows how to dish it out (see Daniel Pipes speaking at any liberal campus) but doesn’t know how to take it.

The point at which I realized just how happy I am to be from the Midwest was when I read this letter to the editor of the Rockford Register Star
“I have heard that college students generally have been becoming more conservative, and, well, less sophisticated and aware of current events. Living near Harvard and MIT, I don’t get to see these trends. But I guess the dumb, bizarre behavior of Rockford’s graduation class indicates that the ‘Dumb and Dumber’ mentality does indeed exist.”

Bernie Connelly, Somverville, Mass.
Let me get this straight – to be conservative is to be ‘less sophisticated and aware of current events’ what a bigot! I am conservative and hold and advanced degree, I travel the world and consume more news than just about anyone I know. However, according to Bernie the fact that I am conservative trumps everything else and means that I must be a victim of the “Dumb and Dumber” mentality. AAARRRRGGGGHHHHH this drives me CRAZY! This typifies a classic east coast liberal perspective on the Midwest. We Midwesterners must all be yokels and who are ‘dumb’ and ‘less sophisticated’ because we don’t hold the same political perspectives as everyone in Massachusetts. That is why I am so very happy to have been born and raised in the Midwest.

The best blogging I have read on the Hedges speech is at A Frustrated Artist a blog I found through the authors great comments on Little Green Footballs. She found a great entry from the Forums at the Rockford Register Star
"I don’t blame Rockford College President Pribbenow for this very poor choice of speaker; I do blame him for not intervening as this poorly chosen speaker alienated the majority of the audience. From my vantage point next to the stage, I observed a female graduate pleading with him, tears in her eyes, “Make him stop! This is our graduation! My family wants to leave.” Pribbenow acknowledged her with an arrogant glance, and then turned his attention back to the speaker. The graduate was still crying.

No, I don’t blame Pribbenow for siding with the minority; I blame him for making the graduating class and their families choose sides at all, and not showing an ounce of care or regret in the process. I call him a fraud for appealing to “academic freedom” while in the same breath asking dissenters to be silent.

Or how about Assistant Dean of Students Bradley Knotts? I observed him arguing with a visibly upset ex-serviceman who had “served in Afghanistan”. When Mr. Knotts’ reason failed, he put the soldier in his place: “You obviously didn’t go to college, so you wouldn’t understand what’s going on here.” There’s really nothing I need to add here; those arrogant displays of self-righteous pseudo-academia speak for themselves. And I’m left with the image of an “uneducated” marine who showed the restraint to walk away from this insult against him and his country."

Ulf Grasse Rockford College Class of ‘95
I hope that the alumni of Rockford take the time to contact the administration and tell them just how unacceptable this attitude from the administrators is. I can not imagine how ashamed I would be if I were in any way associated with a school that allowed Bradley Knotts to represent it. The stain of being condescending and insulting to a US Marine does not wash off easily.


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