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Two weeks prior to its Commencement, Dickinson College has rescinded its invitation to national radio and television host Michael Smerconish to speak at the ceremony.

President John E. Jones sent a message to the Dickinson community on Saturday.

“We hold humility, reflection, engagement and dialogue as the most important values to build understanding of complex issues. As the controversy related to our Commencement speaker, who I have known for many years, developed, I found myself defending concepts that are inconsistent with those values.

“It has become clear that our selected speaker, Michael Smerconish, faced overwhelming opposition from our faculty and students, particularly after recent comments he made. As a result, with the support of our Board of Trustees, I have decided to rescind the honorary degree and invitation to speak at Commencement.”

The controversy erupted when the student newspaper, The Dickinsonian, ran an editorial, “The Class of 2024 Deserves Better Than Michael Smerconish.”

The first-year Muslim-American student wrote that, “In 2004, Smerconish released the book Flying Blind: How Political Correctness Continues to Compromise Airline Safety Post 9/11, in which he argues that in order to keep America safe, the TSA should deliberately target Arabs and Muslims for searches because they look like the perpetrators of past terrorist attacks.” He continued to cite examples from Smerconish writings and wrote, “I’m outraged, frustrated, and disappointed. If Dickinson truly loves and values its students, shouldn’t it honor them with someone who reflects that love?”

The comments to the editorial were split.

“Commencement is a time to celebrate the achievements of the graduating class. It is not a time to honor the work of a commentator who has publicly ridiculed student protestors, expressed xenophobic policy endorsements, and campaigned for the death penalty against political prisoners in Philadelphia.”

“I am surprised Dickinson ever chose Smerconish in the first place. I value free speech but a commencement address by someone who has called for unfair treatment of people goes against what Dickinson claims to stand for.”

“Let Michael speak and you will receive a thoughtful speech relevant to the current state of affairs. He is, by far, the most fair and balanced political commentator in the U.S. He will provide an objective speech with critical thinking that the graduating class will appreciate.”

Upon hearing via email that his invitation to speak was rescinded, Smerconish replied in his newsletter and on his SiriusXM radio program on Monday, expressing his dismay at having his reputation smeared.

“On one thing we agree: I would never want to take attention from the Class of 2024, especially recognizing that COVID robbed its members of celebrations when they graduated from high school in 2020. Dickinson was my fifth commencement invitation.

“So what changed?

“In the last few days, some Dickinson faculty and students raised complaints about a book I published in 2004. That’s not a typo – 2004. They were left uncomfortable after a selective reading from my post-9/11 book through their 2024 lens. Signs at a student encampment this week displayed the demand of my cancellation alongside divestment in Israel.

“This should be a cautionary tale for anyone in America who believes in fairness, common sense, the free exchange of ideas, rational decision-making, and the importance of leadership in the face of hysteria.

“Times change, people change, circumstances change. Statements in books written decades ago, if penned by the well-intentioned with a history of tolerance and advocacy of unity, cannot in a just and rational society be the basis for judging someone’s soul or determining their fitness to be part of the national conversation. And it certainly shouldn’t obliterate someone’s lifetime of reputation and performance. Those students who demanded I not speak had better hope that twenty years from now, when they are looking for a job, no one will look at everything they said and did two decades earlier, yanking it out of context and using it as a weapon of personal destruction.”

No word from Dickinson as to a possible replacement for its Commencement speaker.

Two weeks prior to its Commencement, Dickinson College has rescinded its invitation to national radio and television host Michael Smerconish to speak at the ceremony.

President John E. Jones sent a message to the Dickinson community on Saturday.

“We hold humility, reflection, engagement and dialogue as the most important values to build understanding of complex issues. As the controversy related to our Commencement speaker, who I have known for many years, developed, I found myself defending concepts that are inconsistent with those values.

“It has become clear that our selected speaker, Michael Smerconish, faced overwhelming opposition from our faculty and students, particularly after recent comments he made. As a result, with the support of our Board of Trustees, I have decided to rescind the honorary degree and invitation to speak at Commencement.”

The controversy erupted when the student newspaper, The Dickinsonian, ran an editorial, “The Class of 2024 Deserves Better Than Michael Smerconish.”

The first-year Muslim-American student wrote that, “In 2004, Smerconish released the book Flying Blind: How Political Correctness Continues to Compromise Airline Safety Post 9/11, in which he argues that in order to keep America safe, the TSA should deliberately target Arabs and Muslims for searches because they look like the perpetrators of past terrorist attacks.” He continued to cite examples from Smerconish writings and wrote, “I’m outraged, frustrated, and disappointed. If Dickinson truly loves and values its students, shouldn’t it honor them with someone who reflects that love?”

The comments to the editorial were split.

“Commencement is a time to celebrate the achievements of the graduating class. It is not a time to honor the work of a commentator who has publicly ridiculed student protestors, expressed xenophobic policy endorsements, and campaigned for the death penalty against political prisoners in Philadelphia.”

“I am surprised Dickinson ever chose Smerconish in the first place. I value free speech but a commencement address by someone who has called for unfair treatment of people goes against what Dickinson claims to stand for.”

“Let Michael speak and you will receive a thoughtful speech relevant to the current state of affairs. He is, by far, the most fair and balanced political commentator in the U.S. He will provide an objective speech with critical thinking that the graduating class will appreciate.”

Upon hearing via email that his invitation to speak was rescinded, Smerconish replied in his newsletter and on his SiriusXM radio program on Monday, expressing his dismay at having his reputation smeared.

“On one thing we agree: I would never want to take attention from the Class of 2024, especially recognizing that COVID robbed its members of celebrations when they graduated from high school in 2020. Dickinson was my fifth commencement invitation.

“So what changed?

“In the last few days, some Dickinson faculty and students raised complaints about a book I published in 2004. That’s not a typo – 2004. They were left uncomfortable after a selective reading from my post-9/11 book through their 2024 lens. Signs at a student encampment this week displayed the demand of my cancellation alongside divestment in Israel.

“This should be a cautionary tale for anyone in America who believes in fairness, common sense, the free exchange of ideas, rational decision-making, and the importance of leadership in the face of hysteria.

“Times change, people change, circumstances change. Statements in books written decades ago, if penned by the well-intentioned with a history of tolerance and advocacy of unity, cannot in a just and rational society be the basis for judging someone’s soul or determining their fitness to be part of the national conversation. And it certainly shouldn’t obliterate someone’s lifetime of reputation and performance. Those students who demanded I not speak had better hope that twenty years from now, when they are looking for a job, no one will look at everything they said and did two decades earlier, yanking it out of context and using it as a weapon of personal destruction.”

No word from Dickinson as to a possible replacement for its Commencement speaker.

Email:

Two weeks prior to its Commencement, Dickinson College has rescinded its invitation to national radio and television host Michael Smerconish to speak at the ceremony.

President John E. Jones sent a message to the Dickinson community on Saturday.

“We hold humility, reflection, engagement and dialogue as the most important values to build understanding of complex issues. As the controversy related to our Commencement speaker, who I have known for many years, developed, I found myself defending concepts that are inconsistent with those values.

“It has become clear that our selected speaker, Michael Smerconish, faced overwhelming opposition from our faculty and students, particularly after recent comments he made. As a result, with the support of our Board of Trustees, I have decided to rescind the honorary degree and invitation to speak at Commencement.”

The controversy erupted when the student newspaper, The Dickinsonian, ran an editorial, “The Class of 2024 Deserves Better Than Michael Smerconish.”

The first-year Muslim-American student wrote that, “In 2004, Smerconish released the book Flying Blind: How Political Correctness Continues to Compromise Airline Safety Post 9/11, in which he argues that in order to keep America safe, the TSA should deliberately target Arabs and Muslims for searches because they look like the perpetrators of past terrorist attacks.” He continued to cite examples from Smerconish writings and wrote, “I’m outraged, frustrated, and disappointed. If Dickinson truly loves and values its students, shouldn’t it honor them with someone who reflects that love?”

The comments to the editorial were split.

“Commencement is a time to celebrate the achievements of the graduating class. It is not a time to honor the work of a commentator who has publicly ridiculed student protestors, expressed xenophobic policy endorsements, and campaigned for the death penalty against political prisoners in Philadelphia.”

“I am surprised Dickinson ever chose Smerconish in the first place. I value free speech but a commencement address by someone who has called for unfair treatment of people goes against what Dickinson claims to stand for.”

“Let Michael speak and you will receive a thoughtful speech relevant to the current state of affairs. He is, by far, the most fair and balanced political commentator in the U.S. He will provide an objective speech with critical thinking that the graduating class will appreciate.”

Upon hearing via email that his invitation to speak was rescinded, Smerconish replied in his newsletter and on his SiriusXM radio program on Monday, expressing his dismay at having his reputation smeared.

“On one thing we agree: I would never want to take attention from the Class of 2024, especially recognizing that COVID robbed its members of celebrations when they graduated from high school in 2020. Dickinson was my fifth commencement invitation.

“So what changed?

“In the last few days, some Dickinson faculty and students raised complaints about a book I published in 2004. That’s not a typo – 2004. They were left uncomfortable after a selective reading from my post-9/11 book through their 2024 lens. Signs at a student encampment this week displayed the demand of my cancellation alongside divestment in Israel.

“This should be a cautionary tale for anyone in America who believes in fairness, common sense, the free exchange of ideas, rational decision-making, and the importance of leadership in the face of hysteria.

“Times change, people change, circumstances change. Statements in books written decades ago, if penned by the well-intentioned with a history of tolerance and advocacy of unity, cannot in a just and rational society be the basis for judging someone’s soul or determining their fitness to be part of the national conversation. And it certainly shouldn’t obliterate someone’s lifetime of reputation and performance. Those students who demanded I not speak had better hope that twenty years from now, when they are looking for a job, no one will look at everything they said and did two decades earlier, yanking it out of context and using it as a weapon of personal destruction.”

No word from Dickinson as to a possible replacement for its Commencement speaker.

Two weeks prior to its Commencement, Dickinson College has rescinded its invitation to national radio and television host Michael Smerconish to speak at the ceremony.

President John E. Jones sent a message to the Dickinson community on Saturday.

“We hold humility, reflection, engagement and dialogue as the most important values to build understanding of complex issues. As the controversy related to our Commencement speaker, who I have known for many years, developed, I found myself defending concepts that are inconsistent with those values.

“It has become clear that our selected speaker, Michael Smerconish, faced overwhelming opposition from our faculty and students, particularly after recent comments he made. As a result, with the support of our Board of Trustees, I have decided to rescind the honorary degree and invitation to speak at Commencement.”

The controversy erupted when the student newspaper, The Dickinsonian, ran an editorial, “The Class of 2024 Deserves Better Than Michael Smerconish.”

The first-year Muslim-American student wrote that, “In 2004, Smerconish released the book Flying Blind: How Political Correctness Continues to Compromise Airline Safety Post 9/11, in which he argues that in order to keep America safe, the TSA should deliberately target Arabs and Muslims for searches because they look like the perpetrators of past terrorist attacks.” He continued to cite examples from Smerconish writings and wrote, “I’m outraged, frustrated, and disappointed. If Dickinson truly loves and values its students, shouldn’t it honor them with someone who reflects that love?”

The comments to the editorial were split.

“Commencement is a time to celebrate the achievements of the graduating class. It is not a time to honor the work of a commentator who has publicly ridiculed student protestors, expressed xenophobic policy endorsements, and campaigned for the death penalty against political prisoners in Philadelphia.”

“I am surprised Dickinson ever chose Smerconish in the first place. I value free speech but a commencement address by someone who has called for unfair treatment of people goes against what Dickinson claims to stand for.”

“Let Michael speak and you will receive a thoughtful speech relevant to the current state of affairs. He is, by far, the most fair and balanced political commentator in the U.S. He will provide an objective speech with critical thinking that the graduating class will appreciate.”

Upon hearing via email that his invitation to speak was rescinded, Smerconish replied in his newsletter and on his SiriusXM radio program on Monday, expressing his dismay at having his reputation smeared.

“On one thing we agree: I would never want to take attention from the Class of 2024, especially recognizing that COVID robbed its members of celebrations when they graduated from high school in 2020. Dickinson was my fifth commencement invitation.

“So what changed?

“In the last few days, some Dickinson faculty and students raised complaints about a book I published in 2004. That’s not a typo – 2004. They were left uncomfortable after a selective reading from my post-9/11 book through their 2024 lens. Signs at a student encampment this week displayed the demand of my cancellation alongside divestment in Israel.

“This should be a cautionary tale for anyone in America who believes in fairness, common sense, the free exchange of ideas, rational decision-making, and the importance of leadership in the face of hysteria.

“Times change, people change, circumstances change. Statements in books written decades ago, if penned by the well-intentioned with a history of tolerance and advocacy of unity, cannot in a just and rational society be the basis for judging someone’s soul or determining their fitness to be part of the national conversation. And it certainly shouldn’t obliterate someone’s lifetime of reputation and performance. Those students who demanded I not speak had better hope that twenty years from now, when they are looking for a job, no one will look at everything they said and did two decades earlier, yanking it out of context and using it as a weapon of personal destruction.”

No word from Dickinson as to a possible replacement for its Commencement speaker.

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