Several dozen students stood up and walked out on Vice President Mike Pence as he delivered the commencement speech at Notre Dame on Sunday. In a pre-planned protest, a group of liberal anti-Trump students organized under the name “We Stand for ND” exited the ceremony to a mixture of cheers and jeers from their fellow graduates.
On their Facebook page last week, the student organizers cited Pope Francis as their inspiration to protest Pence’s speech.
“Pope Francis has bestowed upon the world a call to support Syrian refugees, to acknowledge and respect the humanity of sexual minorities, and to bring down all walls that separate us,” the statement said in part.
In an interview with The New York Times, one of the students – Luis Miranda – explained why it was important for more than 100 graduates to throw a public temper tantrum for the world to see.
“Of course we welcome and support free speech on campus,” Miranda said. “But commencement is not a moment for academic exchange or political dialogue. It’s a celebration of all of our hard work.”
Too bad they didn’t stick around, because Pence had a message that they really would have benefited from hearing. In addition to the usual commencement speech platitudes, the vice president told the students and faculty at Notre Dame not to give in to the latest trends in political correctness.
“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,” he said. “These all-too-common practices are destructive of learning and the pursuit of knowledge, and they are wholly outside the America tradition.”
Compared to the way liberal protesters behave at campuses like UC Berkeley, the students who walked out on Pence were practically models of wonderful, adult behavior. But let’s not lower the bar so far that anyone who doesn’t actually riot gets to be praised for their rude, childish actions.
What the students at Notre Dame did was quite silly, and it only ruined their experience of what should have been a joyful occasion. And it’s a great lesson that you can sit and listen to someone you don’t agree with – you don’t have to stomp out and make a big show of yourself. No one cares what you think. You think you’re “doing something,” but you’re only making a fool of yourself.