John McCain Booed at New School Commencement
Senator John McCain was booed and otherwise rudely received at New York’s New School University, where he delivered a commencement address at the invitation of its president, Bob Kerrey, his former colleague and fellow Vietnam veteran.
Senator John McCain of Arizona received a cantankerous reception during his appearance at the New School commencement Friday, where dozens of faculty members and students turned their backs and raised signs in protest and a distinguished student speaker pointedly mocked him as he sat silently nearby.
“Sen. McCain, you have much to teach us,” Kerrey said to a smattering of boos and hisses. He urged students to exercise the open-mindedness he said was at the heart of the university’s progressive history.
But Kerrey’s remarks were immediately overshadowed by those of Jean Sara Rohe, one of two distinguished seniors invited by the university’s deans to address the graduates. Beginning by singing a wistful folk tune calling for world peace, Rohe announced she had thrown out her prepared remarks to address the McCain controversy directly. “The senator does not reflect the ideals upon which this university was founded,” Rohe proclaimed to loud cheers, with McCain sitting just a few feet away.
The heckling continued when Mr. Kerrey returned to the lectern, with one audience member shouting, “You’re a war criminal!” Mr. Kerrey, a Medal of Honor winner, has admitted to leading a mission that resulted in the deaths of 13 to 20 unarmed civilians.
McCain handled this rude treatment with good humor.
“When I was a young man, I was quite infatuated with self-expression, and rightly so because, if memory conveniently serves, I was so much more eloquent, well-informed and wiser than anyone else I knew,” McCain said. He added that he would have been right at home in the opinionated world of blogs.
After yesterday’s event, Mr. McCain told reporters he felt “fine” about his reception. “I feel sorry for people living in a dull world where they can’t listen to the views of others,” he said.
Such rude behavior toward an invited guest of the university, especially as it also marred a special day for those in attendance, is simply despicable. College commencement ceremonies are meant to be solemn occasions, where graduates and their families reflect on what has been accomplished and what is yet to come. Aside from the fact that he had recently delivered almost the same speech at Liberty University, there was nothing particularly controversial. McCain’s speech was largely apolitical and contained much of the normal platitudes expected on such occasions.