View Full Version : Hofstra Graduation: Author booed for anti-Bush Rant

05-24-2004, 01:17 AM
Hofstra Graduation: Author booed for anti-Bush Rant

May 24, 2004

E.L. Doctorow, one of the most celebrated writers in America, was nearly booed off the stage at Hofstra University Sunday when he gave a commencement address lambasting President George W. Bush and effectively calling him a liar.

Booing that came mainly from the crowd in the stands became so intense that Doctorow stopped speaking at one point, showing no emotion as he stood silently and listened to the jeers. Hofstra President Stuart Rabinowitz intervened, and called on the audience to allow him to finish. He did, although some booing persisted.

Doctorow, who spent virtually all of his 20-minute address in Hempstead criticizing Bush, told the crowd that like himself the president is a storyteller. But "sadly they are not good stories this president tells," he said. "They are not good stories because they are not true." That line provoked the first boos, along with scattered cheers.

"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," he said. "That was an exciting story all right, it was designed to send shivers up our spines. But it was not true.

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

Those lines provoked an outburst of boos so loud the "Ragtime" author stopped the speech. Rabinowitz approached the podium and called for calm. "We value open discussion and debate," he said. "For the sake of your graduates, please let him finish."

Some students and most of the faculty responded with a standing ovation, and Doctorow resumed speaking. He attacked Bush for giving the rich tax breaks, doing "a very poor job of combating terrorism" and allowing the government to subpoena libraries "to see what books you've been taking out."

Many parents and relatives of the more than 1,300 undergraduates were livid over the address, saying afterward that a college graduation was not the place for a political speech. "If this would have happened in Florida, we would have taken him out" of the stadium, said Frank Mallafre, who traveled from Miami for his granddaughter's graduation.

Bill Schmidt, 51, of North Bellmore, shared the outrage. "To ruin my daughter's graduation with politics is pathetic," the retired New York Police Department captain said. "I think the president is doing the best he can" in the war against terrorism.

Many students also called Doctorow's speech inappropriate. Peter Hulse, 24, of Manchester, England, said, "He's a bit like Michael Moore," the documentary director who provoked booing at last year's Oscars' ceremony by criticizing the war in Iraq.

But some defended Doctorow's speech. "I think he's entitled to his opinion and he's as American as anyone else," said a Hempstead resident who identified himself only as Frank and whose daughter was graduating.

One Hofstra official said Sunday that while Doctorow had the right to say what he did, he violated the unwritten code that college commencement speeches should inspire and unite a student body. Provost Dr. Herman Berliner said he has been to numerous graduation ceremonies during the past 30 years and "I cannot remember a commencement speech that was as divisive as this commencement speech was." The university did not know the content of the address. It is not Hofstra's policy to screen commencement speeches, officials said.

Berliner said it was relatively common during the Vietnam War, but "extraordinarily uncommon" in recent times for a speaker to have to stop speaking.

Still, it has happened recently. Last year, New York Times reporter Chris Hedges was booed off the stage when he tried to deliver an antiwar speech at Rockford College in Illinois.

Some Hofstra professors said Doctorow was on target in discussing the war. "I thought this was a totally appropriate place to talk about politics because that's the world our students are entering," said sociology professor Cynthia Bogard. "I only wish their parents had provided them a better role model."

05-24-2004, 09:25 AM
Anti-Bush journalists and writers exist? I am shocked

05-24-2004, 10:25 AM
It's getting to where a good Democrat can't go on a hate-filled rant anymore without embarassing himself and his party and getting booed off stage. What's this world coming to?

05-24-2004, 11:01 AM
It's said that the liberal left is so desperate to attack their enemies that they will stoop to ruining the graduation ceremonies of many for their own selfish purposes. While certainly Doctorow has the legal right to express his opinion, I wholeheartedly believe that it was highly unethical to do so in a comencement speech which should have been about and for the graduates. A speech criticizing John Kerry would be equally inappropriate. What a hypocrit that college president is. For the sake of the graduates he should have called for the booing to stop but also for Doctrow to stop his hate filled and polictical rant at a time which should be a joyous celebration for graduates. Of course ethics has always been a low priority for the far left, so I guess it should come as no surprise.

05-24-2004, 07:18 PM
I was at my son's graduation this weekend at UTAustin and the town and school are notoriously liberal. The commencement speaker didn't mention anything political but one of the valedictorians (there was two ceremonies) boardered on some political comments, there was only a few silly statements like voting democrat,etc. But a murmur started in the crowd and he almost was booed.

Luckily his professor told him not to go there and he didn't continue, but it's great to see the country not put up with that crud anymore.

05-24-2004, 07:30 PM
Agreed- a graduation probably isnt the proper place...besides, it would be much better at the Grammys, Oscars, etc..where half the country can hear it at once....

05-24-2004, 09:43 PM
I love it when morons like Michael Moore take it upon themselves to be spokespeople for the left. It makes the whole lot of them look like a bunch of mentally deraged idiots.

(BTW, keep it up Reeds. Conservatives love vocal nutballs like you)

05-24-2004, 10:20 PM
Michael Moore and Me
From the May 31, 2004 issue: An encounter with the Cannes man.
by Fred Barnes
05/31/2004, Volume 009, Issue 36

A FEW YEARS AGO Michael Moore, who's now promoting an anti-President Bush movie entitled Fahrenheit 9/11, announced he'd gotten the goods on me, indeed hung me out to dry on my own words. It was in his first bestselling book, Stupid White Men. Moore wrote he'd once been "forced" to listen to my comments on a TV chat show, The McLaughlin Group. I had whined "on and on about the sorry state of American education," Moore said, and wound up by bellowing: "These kids don't even know what The Iliad and The Odyssey are!"

Moore's interest was piqued, so the next day he said he called me. "Fred," he quoted himself as saying, "tell me what The Iliad and The Odyssey are." I started "hemming and hawing," Moore wrote. And then I said, according to Moore: "Well, they're . . . uh . . . you know . . . uh . . . okay, fine, you got me--I don't know what they're about. Happy now?" He'd smoked me out as a fraud, or maybe worse.

The only problem is none of this is true. It never happened. Moore is a liar. He made it up. It's a fabrication on two levels. One, I've never met Moore or even talked to him on the phone. And, two, I read both The Iliad and The Odyssey in my first year at the University of Virginia. Just for the record, I'd learned what they were about even before college. Like everyone else my age, I got my classical education from the big screen. I saw the Iliad movie called Helen of Troy and while I forget the name of the Odyssey film, I think it starred Kirk Douglas as Odysseus.

So why didn't I scream bloody murder when the book came out in 2001? I didn't learn about the phony anecdote until it was brought to my attention by Alan Wolfe, who was reviewing Moore's book for the New Republic. He asked, by email, if the story were true. I said no, not a word of it, and Wolfe quoted me as saying that. That was enough, I thought. After all, who would take a shrill, lying lefty like Moore seriously?

More people than I thought. Moore's new movie attacking Bush was given a 20-minute standing ovation at the Cannes Film Festival. Moore has described the movie as breaking new ground and revealing new facts, but the accounts by reviewers suggest it merely provides the standard left-wing, conspiratorial critique of the president. Reviewer Lou Lumenick of the New York Post, who gave Moore's previous movie Bowling for Columbine four stars, said the anti-Bush film would be news only "if you spent the last three years hiding in a cave in Afghanistan." Still, I suppose it's not surprising they loved it in France.

In publicizing the movie, Moore has been up to his old dishonest tricks. Just before the screening at Cannes, he charged that Disney had told him "officially" the day before that it would not distribute Fahrenheit 9/11. Moore said this was an attempt to kill the film. He indicated a newspaper article had the correct explanation of Disney's decision: "According to today's New York Times, it might 'endanger' millions of dollars of tax breaks Disney receives from the state of Florida because the film will 'anger' the governor of Florida, Jeb Bush."

Later, in a CNN interview, Moore admitted he'd learned nearly a year ago that Disney would not distribute the movie. By pretending he'd just gotten word of this, Moore was involved in a cheap publicity stunt. And it wasn't the New York Times that said, on its own, that Disney feared losing tax breaks. It was Moore's agent who was quoted as saying that in the Times. Disney denied its president Michael Eisner had told the agent of any such fear. "We informed both the agency that represented the film and all of our companies that we just didn't want to be in the middle of a politically oriented film during an election year," Eisner told ABC News.

Where does this leave us? I think it's time for Moore to be held accountable. In Stupid White Men, he has 18 pages of "Notes and Sources," but he offers no evidence for the sham interview with me--no date, no transcript. How could he, since the interview never happened?

I have just the person to look into Moore's lies and distortions. Al Franken has taken special interest in public liars, writing a bestseller called Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them. Al, the Moore case is now in your court.