May 26, 2004


Doctorow Booed After Anti-Bush Speech (Associated Press, May 26, 2004)

Author E.L. Doctorow, who penned "Ragtime" and "City of God," was stunned when his commencement address at Hofstra University was booed by some students angry at his criticism of President Bush.

"I thought we were all supposed to speak out," he told The Washington Post in Tuesday's editions. "Isn't that what this country is about?"

In a 20-minute address to graduates at the Long Island school on Sunday, the novelist criticized Bush's tax cuts, anti-terrorism policies and the Patriot Act, but focused mainly on what he called Bush's "untrue" stories about the war in Iraq.

"One story he told was that the country of Iraq had nuclear and biological and chemical weapons of mass destruction and was intending shortly to use them on us ... but it was not true," Doctorow said.

"Another story was that the Iraqi dictator, Saddam Hussein, was in league with the terrorists of al-Qaida, and that turned out not to be true. But anyway we went off to war on the basis of those stories."

That led to a torrent of boos and catcalls that forced Doctorow to stop talking.

Just because the Left thinks Iraq is Vietnam doesn't mean the rest of us are stuck in the 60s.

Doctorow's Malpractice: Hofstra students use boos responsibly. (PEGGY NOONAN, May 25, 2004, Wall Street Journal)
Newsday said many parents and relatives of the more than 1,300 undergraduates were "livid" over the address. Frank Mallafre, who had traveled from Miami for his granddaughter's graduation, said, "If this would have happened in Florida, we would have taken him out" of the stadium. Bill Schmidt, 51, of North Bellmore, N.Y., shared the outrage. "To ruin my daughter's graduation with politics is pathetic," the retired New York police captain told the paper.

On Sunday night a Hofstra official said that while Mr. Doctorow had the right to his views, he violated the unwritten code that college commencement speeches should inspire and unite a student body. But a Hofstra faculty member came to the fore, defending Mr. Doctorow. "I thought this was a totally appropriate place to talk about politics because that's the world our students are entering," sociology professor Cynthia Bogard told Newsday. "I only wish their parents had provided them a better role model."

Wow. Think of what a role model Prof. Bogard is. What a fool. What a snob.

I want to explain to Ed Doctorow why he was booed. It was not, as he no doubt creamily recounted in a storytelling session over drinks that night in Sag Harbor, that those barbarians in Long Island's lesser ZIP codes don't want to hear the truth. It is not that they oppose free speech. It is not that the poor boobs of Long Island have an unaccountable affection for George W. Bush.

It is that they have class.

The poor stupid people of Long Island are courteous, and have respect for the views and feelings of others, and would not dream of imposing their particular views on a captive audience that has gathered to celebrate--to be happy about, to officially mark with their presence--the rather remarkable fact that one of their family studied and worked for four years, completed his courses, met all demands, and became a graduate of an American university.

This indeed is something to be proud of.
The Heckler Heckled (George Neumayr, 5/26/2004, American Spectator)

When E.L. Doctorow urged graduates at Hofstra University to question authority, he didn't expect them to question his. The fiction writer accused George Bush of launching a fictitious war in Iraq and was heckled into silence. In a moment the liberal elite must regard as an alarming illustration of the Red-Blue divisions of America now even bleeding into academia, students and parents booed Doctorow while the liberal faculty stood to cheer at the end of his speech. Booing a speaker into silence wasn't the vigorous free speech and activism Doctorow had in mind when he extolled agitation earlier in his speech. How dare the mob turn on its visionaries. Notice the suggestion (in the Newsday story about Doctorow's speech) that peasants were responsible for the heckling -- the booing "came mainly from the crowd in the stands." This is reminiscent of self-appointed populist Michael Moore blaming boos at the Oscars two years ago on lowly stage hands and hooligans in the cheap seats.

The distinction between civility and incivility in the liberal mind is very fine indeed: If a liberal commencement speaker calls the president of the United States a liar, that's civility; if the crowd boos the speaker calling their president a liar, that's incivility.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 26, 2004 8:03 PM

And the booing came from students and parents in what is supposedly one of the bluest of Blue statesm as opposed, say, to E.L. getting heckled off the state at the University of Utah.

Posted by: at May 26, 2004 9:26 PM

It has a Republican governor and Guiliani can pick his next office. It's not that Blue. Nowhere is but DC.

Posted by: oj at May 26, 2004 10:11 PM


You keep forgetting about Illinois. As Blue as DC? No, but bluer than anything else.

Posted by: BB at May 27, 2004 12:40 AM

OJ --

Long Island and Westchester always have been Red spots in the sea of blue that is New York City (minus Staten Island), and upstate New York has trended Republican over the years if for no other reason than to spite the city's Democraticpower base. But that's not how the media has played New York over the past year -- conventional wisdom in the media says John Kerry could march through the city with a "Yankees Suck" banner in mid-October and still win by 30 points, because at least the downstate region is sympatico with t he senator in its anti-Bush mindset.

That's why the booing is a surprise, not so much because it proves there's sanity on Long Island, but because it goes completely against what is being said about the political outlook in the NYC metro area. The closeness of the California polls are another example of news that is contrary to what everyone is being led to believe about the closeness of the election in Blue State America.

Posted by: John at May 27, 2004 12:54 AM

It's nice to see the leftists victims of their own tactics.

Posted by: jd watson at May 27, 2004 3:44 AM

How many people on Long Island, do you suppose, work in downtown NYC? How many of them worked at or near the Trade Center on 9/11? How many knew someone who didn't come home that night?

No surprise here.

Posted by: Mike Morley at May 27, 2004 6:14 AM

>The distinction between civility and incivility
>in the liberal mind is very fine indeed:

And can be summed up in a one-liner:


(Insert background sound of fists banging on playpen floor and pee & poop spurting into diaper...)

Posted by: Ken at May 27, 2004 1:05 PM

The Democrat and Repulican parties have officially flipped sides. Remember when the Democrats were for the "crowd in the stands", the "stage hands and hooligans", the "little guy"? Remember when the Democrats were the party of country music and stock-car racing?

Posted by: Robert Duquette at May 29, 2004 2:35 PM


Before the Civil Rights acts

Posted by: oj at May 29, 2004 5:57 PM

Depends what shade of Blue, or Red. George Pataki or Rudolph Giuliani could probably not be elected dogcatcher in Kansas, based on their stand on the issues, they would be to the left of most Democrats in those states. Besides, you can't get far in the Republican party if you're pro-freedom (pro-choice, as some people call it) or profess tolerance of gays (or even stay over in their homes, as Rudy has been doing). The problem with the radicalization of the Republican party is that it excludes some good candidates that way. Zel Miller may not be presidential material, but Guiliani is. Too bad. Unless of course we agree that issues don't matter, and it's all about image. Arnold Schwarzenegger is a perfect case in point.

Posted by: chris at September 30, 2004 4:56 PM