[Marxism] In Season of Protest, Haverford Speaker Is Latest to Bow Out

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed May 14 10:03:23 MDT 2014


(This is great. Robert Birgenau was the "star" of Frederick Wiseman's 
documentary on U. Cal, Berkeley. What a loathsome creature, oozing 
sanctimony about his liberal values while cracking down on student 
protests.)


NY Times, May 14 2014
In Season of Protest, Haverford Speaker Is Latest to Bow Out
By RICHARD PÉREZ-PEÑA

Haverford College on Tuesday joined a growing list of schools to lose 
commencement speakers to protests from the left, when Robert J. 
Birgeneau, a former chancellor at the University of California, 
Berkeley, withdrew from this weekend’s event.

Some students and faculty members at Haverford, a liberal arts college 
near Philadelphia, objected to the invitation to Mr. Birgeneau to speak 
and receive an honorary degree because, under him, the University of 
California police used batons to break up an Occupy protest in 2011. He 
first stated his support for the police, and then a few days later, 
saying that he was disturbed by videos of the confrontation, ordered an 
investigation.

Those at Haverford who objected to his being honored asked Mr. Birgeneau 
to apologize and to meet a list of demands, including leading an effort 
to train campus security forces in handling protests better; he refused.

Mr. Birgeneau bowed out a day after Smith College said that Christine 
Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund, had withdrawn from its 
commencement because of protests. Condoleezza Rice, the former secretary 
of state, said this month she would not deliver the address at Rutgers 
University after the invitation drew objections. Last month, Brandeis 
University rescinded an invitation to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Somali-born 
activist, over her criticism of Islam.

Such reversals, whether initiated by the school or the speaker, were 
once rare, but have become more common in the last few years.

Campus activists on the left have long objected to appearances by more 
conservative figures like Ms. Rice, though usually the events proceeded 
despite the protests. What is far more unusual is to see them block 
appearances by figures like Ms. Lagarde, a trailblazing woman usually 
seen as a centrist, who faced criticism over I.M.F. policies toward poor 
nations that predated her tenure; or Mr. Birgeneau, who was known for 
liberal policies toward students who were gay or not authorized to be in 
the country.

Michael Rushmore, a Haverford senior who was one of the authors of an 
open letter to Mr. Birgeneau, said his critics were not setting an 
unfairly high standard, though, “I think that’s a fair concern.”

“We recognize that we can’t like every single thing about a person,” he 
said. “But this was something that touched a lot of us very directly 
because we were at Occupy events. There was some solidarity there that 
we felt we had to act on.”

On Tuesday, Daniel H. Weiss, president of Haverford, sent a message to 
students and staff members that Mr. Birgeneau had pulled out of Sunday’s 
event. Mr. Weiss wrote that while he appreciated the views of the 
protesters, “it is nonetheless deeply regrettable that we have lost an 
opportunity to recognize and hear from one of the most consequential 
leaders in American higher education.”




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