Spring Commencement at Adrian College will occur on April 29 at 3 p.m. In following the newly established tradition of gathering all graduates on the mall for ceremonies, the College has invited Pat Boone to address this year’s graduating class. The selection is not without merit: Boone has numerous accomplishments including Top 40 and radio hits, more than a dozen Hollywood roles, and selling multimillions of albums world wide. Following his tremendous success in the entertainment world, Boone has come to national attention for promoting his political views. It is the former that has gotten the attention of many students on campus.
Students from both sides of the political isle have expressed their views on the speaker, and have utilized social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and blogging sites to voice their stance regarding Boone. President of the AC Conservatives and AC senior Zack Ritchie posted in a Facebook group titled ‘Pat Boone We Want You @ AC’ stating that he would be honored to have Boone on campus, and he is not alone as the number of members in the group has grown consistently since it’s inception.
Conversely, other students have felt strongly about Mr. Boone’s appearance on campus. Another group titled ‘Keep Pat Boone off Adrian College’s Campus’ is promoting peaceful protest against Boone appearing for the commencement ceremonies. They assert that he supports views of racism, sexism, homophobia, and religious intolerance. Further, they contend that his blog analogizes liberals as Jihad terrorists and furthers bigotry in general.
The piece which has garnered Boone all of this criticism is a 2008 submission to World News Daily, in which he makes a series of inflammatory statements.
“What troubles me so deeply, and should trouble all thinking Americans, is that there is a real, unbroken line between the jihadist savagery in Mumbai and the hedonistic, irresponsible, blindly selfish goals and tactics of our homegrown sexual jihadists. Hate is hate, no matter where it erupts. And by its very nature, if it’s not held in check, it will escalate into acts vile, violent and destructive,” Boone wrote.
The goal of this article is not to support or defame the efforts of the student body, but merely to raise awareness of a growing controversy regarding one of the most important events the College puts on for each graduating class. Hopefully, Boone will refrain from using this event to further his own political agenda, or even worse to instill fear within sexual minority groups. Regardless of his political ideology, Boone is a qualified individual that may have gems of wisdom for the departing seniors to inspire them and motivate them as they venture into the next chapter of their life.
However, it is important to note that wherever hatred and fear dominate the rhetoric of an individual, intolerance and subjugation are never far behind. I encourage all students to attend commencement and listen attentively to Boone’s words. Not for protest or support, but rather for education: Carefully examining views that contradict one’s own enables the individual to further articulate their own and form a reasonable counterargument.
It is my personal opinion that speakers for events such as Commencement should be chosen based on academic merit or for contributions to humanity in general. Certainly, a compelling argument can be made for Boone’s qualifications to present at ceremonies. Without doubt, it is fair to raise inquiries about his political ideology and the means by which he chooses to spread them. What my main contention with Boone is, that while his achievements in music and film are noteworthy, he lacks the credibility and respect that would accompany a presenter whom had, say, defended their doctoral thesis or championed the rights of disenfranchised social groups. What I mean to say is that for all of his accolades and supposed insight he may offer the class of 2012, there are a myriad of other candidates who could fill the role. Mr. Boone, if you so happen to read this, stick to the narrative of your story when you speak and refrain from political commentary.