Get Politics OUT of Commencement Addresses

By Thornton Crowe
Published on Salisbury News

A graduation is a right of passage into adulthood. It’s a serious occasion! The commencement address is one of the most important parts of the ceremony, second to getting handed that empty folder with the promise the real one is in the mail!

Matt Damon at MIT
Matt Damon at MIT

Matt Damon delivered a commencement speech at prestigious MIT over the weekend and instead of commending the graduates on their hard work and fortitude, he took the time to bash Trump. Obviously, he disrespected the graduates because he was more interested in his own politics than their accomplishments for which the graduation was supposed to be celebrating!

What’s gotten into people and their commencement speeches over the last few years? Why do they view this as a place to do their personal politicking? Obama bashed Trump at Rutgers and Michelle bashed America during her speech. What does that say to the people who have worked hard to get through college? Does that really celebrate their hard earned success?

In most young people’s lives, their college graduation is a time of celebration after the huge last semester crunch. Anyone who has earned their degree knows the last month is probably one of the most stressful times in their young lives. Many sacrifices. Many late night study jams and last minute edits to 30+ page papers. Practically ODing on Red Bull and other stimulants to stay awake, cramming for their exams. What’s the reward?

Going to graduation with your family and friends, only to be met with the most negative commencement speeches, preaching doom and gloom. If I were a parent or a graduate, I would get up and walk out. Screw that, as I didn’t work my rear off for months (if not years) to get that black gown and stupid ill-fitting square hat. That’s a moment to HONOR the students not pontificate about some ideological disagreement.

Jane Fonda AKA Hanoi Jane
Jane Fonda AKA Hanoi Jane

Every time I see another celebrity spewing about their politics, I can’t help but think about Hanoi Jane and all the unrest that came with. Many saw her as a traitor, so much so that even to this day, many Vietnam veterans refuse to watch any Jane Fonda films or TV shows.

I find it hard to believe, after she was blacklisted by many producers¬† who saw her as ‘box office poison,’ these celebrities’ managers don’t warn them that these rants about dangerous subjects like religion and politics, could present the kiss of death to a career. And certainly at a graduation – a somber but celebratory event, it should be forbidden.

A graduation is for the graduates and the people who supported that graduate – not a time for personal politics by celebrities or politicians. Colleges need to start taking that into account before inviting people to give a most important speech, designed to celebrate success not damn it!

How say you…

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