Oprah Winfrey speaks during Harvard University's commencement ceremonies in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Thursday, May 30, 2013. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Today is graduation day on my campus. At the University of California and thousands of other schools over the last few weeks, millions of students and their families have been celebrating—and listening (or not listening) to commencement speakers. Fox News has a complaint about those speakers: too many of them are liberals.
“When it comes to selecting a commencement speaker, the nation’s top 100 universities lean decidedly left,” Fox News declared. “Of the top 100 universities listed by U.S. News and World Report, 62 have selected liberal commencement speakers and only 17 selected conservatives.”
“Conservative speakers aren’t welcome on college and university campuses,” says Kevin Hassett of the American Enterprise Institute. In an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times, he reported that no current or former Republican elected official was scheduled to speak at any of the top fifty liberal arts colleges, and only four spoke anywhere in the top 100 universities. Meanwhile Cory Booker, the Democrat from Newark who is running for the senate in New Jersey, gave as many commencement speeches as all current elected Republicans combined.
The evidence seems overwhelming—until you look at what all those liberals are telling the class of 2013 and their families.
Bill Clinton spoke at Howard University. He said “what we have in common is more important than our differences.”
Arianna Huffington spoke at Smith. She said it was time to move “beyond money and power” and focus instead on “wisdom, our ability to wonder, and to give back.”
Michelle Obama spoke at Bowie State. She urged students and their families to “take a stand against the culture that glorifies instant gratification instead of hard work and lasting success.”
The commencement speaker who got the most media attention this season was Oprah Winfrey—at Harvard. I wondered whether her message would be “Believe in yourself”—which you don’t really need to tell those students. In fact what she said was, “There is no such thing as failure. Failure is just life trying to move us in another direction.”