While plenty of leftist commencement speakers have gone relatively un-criticized for the last eight years, media-driven anti-Trump fervor is practically turning some graduation ceremonies into circuses.
Just in recent weeks, students stood and turned their backs to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos at a commencement address she gave to graduating seniors, as they protested the work DeVos is doing with the Trump administration to reduce federal involvement in education.
This week it was Pence’s turn to be disrespected – but the “protesters” could not have even known how ironic their walk-out was.
An estimated 150 students, family members, and other audience members stood up during the ceremony and left as Vice President Mike Pence began his address to Notre Dame’s Spring 2017 graduating class.
After the walk-out, participants were primarily spoken for by the LGBT media group, GLAAD.
GLAAD, a non-profit that advocates for LGBTQ rights, streamed remarks from some of the students who left the ceremony.
“Graduates around the country deserve commencement speakers who inspire them to propel our diverse country forward, and these Notre Dame students bravely told the world that Vice President Pence’s anti-LGBTQ actions fly in the face of unity and inspiration,” GLAAD president Sarah Kate Ellis said in a statement.
It is crazy enough students would expect anyone other than a conservative to speak at a commencement for the Catholic university they chose to attend.
One would hope students would realize, at some point, in the four years it took them to earn their degrees, Catholic universities are typically pro-traditional values.
Almost no one in the United States is more well-known for their desire to protect traditional values in recent years than Vice President Mike Pence.
Being the former governor of Indiana, where Notre Dame is located, and an advocate for Christian principles, most considered Pence to be a perfect fit for a keynote speaking position there.
Again, most people are not sure why liberal students would bother protesting him in this context.
But this is not even the true irony of the protest.
The real kicker to the whole situation comes to the actual contents of Mike Pence’s speech.
Pence’s address focused heavily on issues of free speech as he expressed his concerns that universities are not doing enough to encourage students to listen to alternate viewpoints.
Vice President Mike Pence said Sunday that attacks on freedom of speech on college campuses, including “administration-sanctioned political correctness,” are on the rise and “should not be met with silence.”
“This university is a vanguard of freedom of expression and the free exchange of ideas at a time, sadly, when free speech and civility are waning on campuses across America,” he told the graduating class during a commencement speech at the University of Notre Dame.
“While this institution has maintained an atmosphere of civility and open debate, far too many campuses across America have become characterized by speech codes, safe zones, tone policing, administration-sanctioned political correctness — all of which amounts to nothing less than suppression of the freedom of speech,” the vice president added.
The former Indiana governor encouraged the graduates to speak up against “the increasing intolerance” toward opposing views, which he said are “destructive of learning.”
“As you, our youth, are the future, and universities, the bellwether of thought and culture, I would submit that the increasing intolerance and suppression of the time-honored tradition of free expression on our campuses jeopardizes the liberties of every American,” Pence said.
“This should not — and must not — be met with silence.”
Not only were the students participating in the walk-out engaging in the exact intolerance for Pence that the left claims to have “zero tolerance” for, but they were unable to hear his understanding for their actions that would follow under his statements about freedom of expression.
In keeping with Pence’s observation that Notre Dame’s “atmosphere of civility” stands out, it was at least noticed that students left the ceremony quietly.
Perhaps for now, as groups like Antifa don masks and light campuses on fire to protest mere speeches by personalities like Ann Coulter, a quiet exit is the best conservatives can hope for from the left.
But if enough college students would start actually listening and analyzing other viewpoints, just as college was originally intended to give them the opportunity to do, maybe we can someday expect much better from the next generation.