Rev. Wright Is Not the First Controversial Figure to Get the Nod from Northwestern
… but he just might be the first to have had it withdrawn.
Rev. Jeremiah Wright just before he addressed the National Press Club on April 28, 2008.
That Northwestern University backpedaled on its plans to award an honorary degree Rev. Jeremiah Wright is now old news. In a May 1 article on Bloomberg.com, University spokesman Alan Cubbage explained that Northwestern withdrew its offer of an honorary degree from the controversial former minister at least in part because it wished to avoid the negative pall that his presence might cast over the upbeat mood of this year’s commencement exercises. Said Cubbage, “In light of the controversy around Dr. Wright and to ensure the celebratory character of commencement not be affected, the university has withdrawn its invitation to Dr. Wright.”
I have very mixed feelings about Rev. Wright. I do not believe that candidate Obama should be judged by the comments of his former minister, nor do I necessarily believe that those comments were appropriate. Still, the decision by Northwestern University to rescind his honorary degree troubles me, largely because it seems to indicate a double standard.
This is, after all, the institution that, in 2005, chose to grant honorary degrees to both John McCain, controversial for his his spoken references to his Vietnamese captors as “gooks” (for example, “I hated the gooks. I will hate them as long as I live“), and NY Times Columnist Thomas L. Friedman, whose less-than-respectful list of “basic rules for reporting in the Middle East” (NY Times, 1/13/2005) includes these gems:
Rule 1 Never lead your story out of Lebanon, Gaza or Iraq with a cease-fire; it will always be over by the time the next morning’s paper is out.
Rule 4 In the Middle East, if you can’t explain something with a conspiracy theory, then don’t try to explain it at all – people there won’t believe it.
Rule 5 In the Middle East, the extremists go all the way, and the moderates tend to just go away – unless the coast is completely clear.
When it comes to getting an honorary degree from Northwest, there is clearly a hierarchy of acceptable (ahem) misstatements at work, in which racial slurs and anti-Arab humor is forgiveable, but anti-Americanism of the sort for which Rev. Jeremiah Wright is now famous is completely unacceptable.
Click HERE for ABC News coverage of Rev. Wright’s controversial statements.
Posted by Ajuan Mance
Posted in Uncategorized