No Civil Rights without Civility
When Betsy DeVos stood up to speak at Bethune-Cookman University's 2017 commencement in Daytona Beach, graduating students booed and turned their backs. It was despicable behavior. The president of the school rebuked the students and defended his guest, but to no avail. This should raise in all of our minds this question: what in the world are they teaching them at that school?
Until the last few decades, black Americans were taught by our parents to show hospitality and civility. It was "yes sir" and "yes ma'am." We addressed our parents and their friends with "Miss" or "Mister" in front of the name. All people were to be treated well when they entered your home. Civility was a cultural mandate.
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King reflected this in his dignified approach to the civil rights struggle. Unlike Malcolm X, King made no violent threats, lobbed no insults, and never engaged in name-calling. He was leading a revolution that would turn the nation upside-down, yet he never personally attacked anyone. Some of this is rooted in the Christian ethic "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Manners used to be intrinsic to black culture.
What we witnessed at Bethune-Cookman University, a southern historically black college, was further proof of widespread cultural deterioration. First, Betsy DeVos is a dignitary holding high office. Her position should have been respected even if she was not. As much as I disagreed with President Obama and his policies, I would never have treated him or any member of his Cabinet disrespectfully. Apparently, the students of Bethune do not believe that Mrs. DeVos deserves such courtesy. What has happened to the culture of the black community, that young people feel justified in behaving so abominably? It is the disease of leftist extremism and intellectual quackery that is ravaging most American universities. In college graduating classes, one expects to see mature individuals ready to make their way in the world, and we are presented instead with spoiled brats having temper tantrums and acting like mobs. It was a sad day in the history of B-CU, and it will take a long time to erase the stain.
Those students who dishonored the secretary and their school did not study her biography or what she has done with her life and resources. All they know is that she is an appointee of President Donald Trump. President Trump, they have been told, is a racist. Therefore, Betsy DeVos is a racist, and there is no point in hearing what she has to say. They have accepted slander and shibboleths as truth. It is not their fault that the far left seeks to indoctrinate them, but it is their fault when they believe everything they are told.
What happened to four years of rigorous intellectual exploration and debate? The once sacred halls of academe are being defiled by groupthink and propaganda. HBCUs are not immune to the decline of academic standards and the rise of what George Orwell called "the thought police." We must all think alike, and if anyone dares contradict our way of thinking, he must be silenced and punished.
Ironically, they were booing and insulting a woman who has done more for black children in America than any liberal ever will. That includes the National Federation of Teachers, the Florida Education Association, and the present iteration of the NAACP, all of which expressed outrage that she was invited to be commencement speaker. What exactly is their contribution to a better education for inner-city kids? The once effective NAACP has become nothing more than a subsidiary of the morally bankrupt Democratic Party. The teacher unions have no interest in improving education for black students. Their goal is to keep students captive to failing public schools so the unions can continue to collect dues on teacher salaries. They serve money and power, not students.
Betsy DeVos, wealthy heiress who could be squandering her time in luxurious pursuits, has spent decades trying to ensure that children in failing schools get a good education. She is one of the heroes trying to stop politicians, bureaucrats, and union hacks from jamming poor children into schools that do not teach them reading, writing, history, science, math, or critical thinking. For teacher unions and their allies, Betsy DeVos is the most dangerous woman in America because she dares to expand educational options for black students.
If those Bethune-Cookman grads understood who Secretary DeVos is and what she has been trying to do for the better part of her adult life, they would have given her a standing ovation instead of turning their backs.
Institutions of higher learning ought to inoculate students against indoctrination, but that seems unlikely any time in the near future. In the meantime, perhaps they could at least manage to instill some civility.