Condoleezza Rice was born into a bigoted time and place (1954 and Alabama) where her skin color made her a second-class citizen. Now, despite making positive history by becoming the first black woman to serve as U.S. secretary of state, Ms. Rice at times finds herself reflexively rejected by a different type of warped prejudice.
So in response to knee-jerk outrage from a significant number of students and faculty members at the three branches of Rutgers University, she announced on Facebook Saturday that she will not, as previously planned, speak at the May 18 graduation ceremony for the New Jersey schools.
Following a familiar pattern of extreme-left-wing orthodoxy on too many U.S. campuses, sanctimonious professors and gullible students who purportedly champion "tolerance" have shown an appalling lack of it.
The faculty at the main Rutgers campus in New Brunswick passed a February resolution condemning the school's graduation-speaker choice of Ms. Rice, who happens to be a moderate Republican.
The resolution charged that Ms. Rice "played a prominent role in [the George W. Bush] administration's efforts to mislead the American people about the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and the existence of links between al Qaeda and the Iraqi regime," adding that "the lies thus promoted led to the second Iraq war."
Rutgers-Newark English and American Studies Professor H. Bruce Franklin even called Ms. Rice "a war criminal."
Ms. Rice finally, and understandably, decided not to go where she's not wanted by so many ill-informed, ill-mannered academicians.
As she wrote Saturday: "I am honored to have served my country. I have defended America's belief in free speech and the exchange of ideas. These values are essential to the health of our democracy. But that is not what is at issue here. As a Professor for thirty years at Stanford University and as its former Provost and Chief academic officer, I understand and embrace the purpose of the commencement ceremony and I am simply unwilling to detract from it in any way."
Unfortunately, though, those intolerant professors and students have already detracted from that ceremony.
New Jersey Gov. Tom Kean will replace Ms. Rice as Rutgers' graduation speaker - assuming the faculty and students can tolerate that particular moderate Republican. And if Mr. Kean follows form for such events, he will encourage the graduates' best efforts toward their full potentials.
But somewhere in his speech, Mr. Kean should also remind the Rutgers audience that college campuses ought to be venues open to a wide range of views.
He also should stress that regardless of political persuasion, fair-minded Americans have considerable respect for the remarkable - and continuing - accomplishments of Condoleezza Rice.
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