July 18, 2024

Schlafly Honored, Hundreds Turn Away

The University of Washington honored one of its own when Phyllis Schlafly was presented with an honorary doctorate degree at today’s commencement.  Unfortunately, the ceremony was marred by students and faculty who turned their backs to her while the award was being presented.

Some applauded while Schlafly was hooded. But about a third of the graduating students draped in the school’s green and black robes turned their backs to her, along with some faculty members sitting on the stage behind her. Many family members in the audience also took part.

Three faculty members made the extra point of walking off the stage and then turning their backs from the audience.

Marshall Thompson, a Ph.D. graduate in political science, said he thought the white armbands should have sufficed for protesters to show their dissent. But he thought the turning of backs was "a bit overboard."

"It’s not the right way to voice your displeasure," he said

The protest was childish and about what I’d expect from a batch of undergrads who are still wet behind the ears.  If the students who disrespected Schlafly understood her writings and political activities, that would be one thing.  But lacking that, their protest is simply a knee-jerk reaction and of no value whatever.

It’s also petty, considering Ms. Schlafly’s age and the contributions she’s made to American society.  And it’s a familiar story in another respect:  protected students and faculty failing to respect the views and free speech rights of conservatives on campus.

Even so, I’m not sure I agree with Thompson.  The U.W. protest was calm, orderly, and non-violent – everything a public disagreement should be. 

I think the perpetrators were wrong, ethically, to deny Schlafly the respect she’s earned and wrong intellectually in regard to many of their disagreements with her.  But they conducted their protest in the finest tradition of civil disobedience, and that’s something for people on all sides of the debate to be proud of and learn from.


Marc is a software developer, writer, and part-time political know-it-all who currently resides in Texas in the good ol' U.S.A.

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