The point is that getting the IMF’s managing director disinvited from a college commencement ceremony brings us not one millimeter closer to either goal. Making that progress would be hard — enormously harder and less instantly gratifying than a passing act of cathartic moral posturing. To be done right, it would require expertise in numerous specialized subject areas and not just the admirable but utterly insufficient desire to make the world a better place.
And that’s what might be the most disheartening thing of all about this year’s commencement protests — how each of them grows out of a longing to simplify the world, to wish away our conflicts and deny the need to get one’s hands dirty. Fighting for the rights of women can be morally messy. The same can be said of serving as America’s leading diplomat. And overseeing the global economy.
The Smith students haven’t learned this lesson yet. They’re too young to have seen the need to put away their childish things.
The same cannot be said of the administrators and faculty members who played a prominent role in the ugliness on all three campuses this year.