In case you haven’t noticed, there’s a vast right-wing conspiracy brewing on campus.
With the news that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton will be the Class Day speaker this year, it seems some of the more vocal right-wingers, reactionaries and Republicans on campus have taken their cause to the streets, decrying the selection. Some have even gone so far as to urge a boycott.
To this I simply say: Get a life.
What is it about the Clintons that inspires such hatred from the right-wing elements of this great nation and even our own campus?
I’ll be damned if I ever understand it. Ten years and countless partisan investigations since the Clintons emerged onto the national scene, the revulsion and loathing directed at that couple is still as extant as it’s ever been.
Although I personally could not imagine a better commencement gift than being able to partake in my Class Day festivities without having to suffer the contrarian antics of the campus right wing, I believe the idea of a boycott of Clinton’s speech is a stupid, ignorant and childish thing to do.
It seems my counterparts on the Republican side do not see it quite the same way. Howard Clark, former president of the Yale College Republicans, stated in the Yale Daily News, “You better believe there isn’t going to be one conservative Republican showing up … I will think much less of Yale in future years.”
Sarah Maserati does Clark one better. Maserati claims Clinton is “a disgrace to women” for standing by her husband during the Lewinsky scandal. In addition, she has the audacity to call Clinton a “rapacious, power-hungry figure, whose shady money deals … have cast a long shadow of corruption over Washington, D.C.”
Clark and Maserati are both wrong, but for very different reasons.
Clark seems to take offense at the fact Class Day will have a liberal speaker this year. Clark would rather have a speaker with no opinions than one whose opinions are politically offensive to him. Only conservatives are appropriate speakers for Class Day, according to Howard. Apparently nobody told Clark and his fellow College Republicans that their four years at this august institution were to be a time of expanding horizons and challenging long-held ideologies when they were accepted to Yale.
But Maserati’s argument is more toxic and far more important to address. It seems Maserati takes offense at the idea Yale has chosen a public figure of low moral character, one enveloped by the clouds of unflattering scandal and accusation. She urges the Class Day Committee to aim higher.
Maserati’s comments perplex me. Apparently, only saints are allowed to speak at Class Day. Ironically, she lists Margaret Thatcher among her own recommendations to the Class Day Committee. Pardon me, but I can list at least a dozen morally indignant things Lady Thatcher did while she was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
Continuing in her criticism, Maserati declares that Clinton represents everything wrong with today’s American woman. Ambitious, zealous and opinionated, Hillary is the antithesis of what women should aspire to be, according to Maserati.
For Republican women like Maserati, it’s often difficult to admit it was trail-blazing women like Hillary Clinton who paved the way for women like her to attend Ivy League universities. It was women like Hillary Clinton who suffered the slings and arrows of many misogynistic men during the equal rights struggle so today’s modern woman could speak her mind and open new doors of opportunity.
Hillary Clinton is no saint. She’s made her fair share of mistakes. She’s admitted when she’s wrong and often been ignored when she’s right. She has stood strong as she’s been crafted into the Republican bogey-man over the last 10 years.
Most importantly, she supported her husband during her family’s darkest hour. Maserati calls this action a disgrace to women. I call it one woman’s battle to hold together her family, a private issue of which neither Maserati nor I have any right to stand in judgment.
In addition to Clark and Maserati, I’ve been troubled with the other conservative commentary I’ve heard about the Clinton selection. Just listening to it, you’d think Hillary was some kind of abomination, a cross between a serial murderer and a pedophile. No one seems to respect the fact she is a United States Senator and, if for that reason alone, worthy of our respect and courtesy when she arrives May 20.
In conclusion, one might ask, was Hillary Clinton my personal choice for Class Day speaker? No. When I filled out my questionnaire, I listed Garry Trudeau, Jodie Foster and Jimmy Carter as my personal preferences. But I am still excited that Clinton will grace our campus and send us out into the world with a few pearls of wisdom. Clinton is a wonderful speaker who, as a prominent public figure and an accomplished Yale alumna, meets all the criteria set forth by many of my fellow classmates in their Class Day surveys.
So I say to all my right-wing critics out there (and I know you’re reading this column in the same perverse way I regularly watch The O’Reilly Factor), suck it up, get over it, grow up and come to Class Day on May 20 to hear the speech of a visionary and remarkable woman of our own time.
Who knows? You might even learn something. Better late than never.
Jim DiTullio is a senior in Jonathan Edwards College. His columns appear on alternate Wednesdays.