Condi Rice and the graduation gag order

Perhaps it’s a sign of progress that a Muslim feminist and torture victim, a famous female French economist, and arguably the most accomplished black woman in American history can be treated shabbily and few people find it sexist. I have a less sanguine view. I think this is partisanship masquerading as intolerance.

Remember when then-unknown Democratic activist Sandra Fluke was slandered by Rush Limbaugh, and how President Obama personally came to her defense? Our first African-American president also inserted himself into the slaying of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin, the minor hassle black Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates had with a white Cambridge policeman, and the racial rantings of NBA owner Donald Sterling and Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy.

We’re still waiting for him to come to the defense of Condi Rice, and if he’d done it earlier, it might have mattered. The commencement bigots at Rutgers apparently were emboldened by their brethren at the University of Minnesota who signed an online petition objecting to Rice speaking at the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act. This is a woman who grew up in the segregated South, whose childhood friend was killed in the notorious Birmingham church bombing, who went to college, learned Russian and classical piano, earned a PhD, became a professor and provost at Stanford, where she teaches today – not to mention that she became the first black woman to serve as secretary of state. Yeah, what does she know that any college senior could possibly want to hear?

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