Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Polite, Educated BDS

President George W. Bush has accepted an invitation to deliver this year's commencement speech at Saint Vincent College in nearby Latrobe, PA. A lot of people are looking forward to his visit. Naturally, the news of the president's acceptance has brought a few worms out of the woodwork:

Some students and alumni have raised concerns about the invitation.

The open letter to Mr. Bush drafted by opponents to his visit said St. Vincent's "mission is firmly rooted in 'the love of values inherent in the liberal approach to life and learning.' We believe your administration's disregard of opposing viewpoints has deeply divided the nation and flies in the face of this approach."

"Your poor stewardship of the environment, policies that favor the wealthy while ignoring the needs of the poor and the sick, and reckless squandering of the lives of our troops by clinging to failed tactics in an ill-conceived, unjustified war are at odds with our values," the group wrote.
On the face of it, this expression of concern seems to be an unusually thoughtful expression of dissent. Read between the lines and you will see that the sentiments expressed in this excerpt have more in common with the cute little slogans displayed by sign-waving fanatics with nothing better to do on a nice weekend than stage a protest. To wit:
  • "values inherent in the liberal approach to life and learning" -- By quoting from the college's mission statement, which makes use of the word "liberal", the BDS folks are trying to put a political spin on things. The word "liberal" is a good, decent word whose traditional meaning has been corrupted by the political sense of the word. America is a liberal country with a liberal constitution. Ironically, most people who call themselves "Liberals" today are socialist progressives. There are more classical liberals on the Right than on the Left. The paper protesters won't acknowledge that, though.
  • your administration's disregard of opposing viewpoints has deeply divided the nation -- When the Left accuses a Republican president of disregarding opposing viewpoints, what they mean is that the Republican is not following the directives of the Democrat Party. Ironically (again), George W. Bush has been far too nice to the Dems. Now that he has a Congress in opposition, he seems to be growing more of a political spine. I never did go in for that "uniter, not a divider' crap. The bozos on the other side don't deserve to be treated nicely.
  • Your poor stewardship of the environment -- This is a trope popular among the politically "green" crowd. What this means is that President Bush does not impose environmental fascism on the American people. The truth is, he is a good steward of the environment, unlike some people who talk the talk but don't walk the walk.
  • policies that favor the wealthy while ignoring the needs of the poor and the sick -- This is one of those areas where the Right is as bad as the Left. Everyone wants to do something about the economy. How about leaving it alone? When the government stops trying to divide its citizens into economic classes, America will be a freer country. Talking about "the poor and the sick" is an attempt to appeal to the religious community. (Saint Vincent is a Catholic college.) Government should not be a charity, and in reality can never be, because government can not "help" anyone without punishing someone else.
  • reckless squandering of the lives of our troops by clinging to failed tactics in an ill-conceived, unjustified war are at odds with our values -- The tactics haven't always worked, but they haven't exactly failed either. If they had, the troops would be pulled out of Iraq and the rest of us would be licking our collective psychic wounds. As for justification, well, perhaps you'd be happier with a Saddam running a country than a George Bush. And as for "our values"...
  • Values that—rather than being unique to Catholicism—are universal. -- This is funny because of what the word "Catholic" means. Anyway, this is quite pompous, for in this sentence, the BDS folks presume to speak for EVERYBODY. At least, I assume that "universal" is supposed to include me. I am not Catholic, and I do not share many Catholic values. While I will agree that many such values are, as they say, not unique to Catholicism, I would not go so far as to say that they are universal. Silly twits.

The anti-Bush people at Saint Vincent have every right to write their letter and to protest the president's visit. One infers from the way that their missive is worded that Mr. Bush is President of the Red States, or President of the Republicans, or just President of something that doesn't include Saint Vincent College. That's BDS BS. He's President of the United States of America. He can go anywhere he feels safe, and more to the point, anywhere he's wanted. He's welcome at Saint Vincent. Perhaps these BDS sufferers might feel comfortable relocating to a country where George W. Bush is not Head of State.

Near the end of the letter, the BDSers state that "Your purposes are not our purposes; your beliefs are not our beliefs" and express a desire that "the College's administration can secure a speaker more in line with the values and heritage of our cherished institution". Hmmm. Rick Santorum is a practicing Catholic. His beliefs, values, heritage, etc. fall right in line with the "cherished institution". I wonder if those people would complain if Rick showed up to talk?

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