Thursday, June 5, 2014

Oh, The Places Graduation Speakers Will Go

It’s graduation season, and time again for memorable and not so memorable speeches to take place at our fine universities throughout the country.  I was driving along, listening to CSPAN when they announced they were going to play Fed Chair Janet Yellen’s speech to the graduating class of NYU. 

If I told tell you that upon first hearing that Yellen would be speaking , that I didn’t let out a little groan, and think about changing the channel, I would be lying.  (Full disclosure, my groan was rather loud.) But, I do regularly listen to points of view that I can not stand, which frankly fuels my writing.  I gave it a go.

Yellen surprised me as she gave the graduates “tools for intellectual growth.’  One of the tools she mentioned was “listening to others.” She said, “These days technology allows us access to a great breadth of perspectives, but it also allows us to limit what voices we hear to the narrow range we find most agreeable.  Listening to others, especially those whom we disagree, tests our own ideas and beliefs.  It forces us to recognize, with humility, that we don’t have a monopoly on the truth.”

Yellen went on in her speech to discuss challenges at the fed, giving students advice to never give up. When The New York Times heard the same speech, the headline they took was “Yellen Tells N.Y.U Graduates To Expect Failure and Learn From It.”  Not surprisingly, the Times glossed over the best point of her speech.

Imagine my surprise, right after the speech from Ms. Yellen, when I heard Bloomberg’s speech to the Harvard graduates.  This time the newspapers had no choice but to address the message of balance.  Bloomberg blasted universities like Harvard, who should be the pinnacle of open debate.   He pointed out how skewed the faculty and staff are, 96% of them donated to Obama’s campaign.    He went on to say that “Today, on many college campuses, it is liberals trying to repress conservative ideas, even as conservative faculty members are at risk of becoming an endangered species.” 

I encourage you to watch Bloomberg’s speech in its entirety, you can do so here:
As many of you know, I have strong opinions about the direction this country should take, but I do follow the advice of Yellen and Bloomberg and stay open to the other side of the debate.  I agree strongly with Yellen (this may be the only point on which we actually agree) that listening to those with whom we disagree tests the validity of our convictions.  It is by reading the New York Times and listening to MSNBC on a regular basis that I actually become a better conservative and a better writer.  Hopefully these recent graduates, and those running our universities will take to heart the words of Yellen and Bloomberg.  This country is counting on it.


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