Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Condi Rice Jeered at Boston College Commencement Ceremonies

Condoleeza Rice, Secretary of State, was at Boston College yesterday to receive an honorary doctorate and speak about "human progress":
Outside Boston College's graduation ceremonies yesterday, some 200 protesters chanted, "Shame, shame!" and "Give her a subpoena, not a degree, for crimes against humanity!"

Protests inside the stadium took a gentle form: About 50 of the 3,200 students seated on the stadium floor turned their backs and held up placards denouncing the war as Rice received an honorary doctorate of law. Some 200 faculty did the same, according to a count by faculty members.
The protest under cloudless skies on the Catholic campus, which has been riven by debate over abortion and gay and lesbian rights this year, was quiet out of respect for the secretary of state rather than from any lack of passionate opposition to the war, some students said.

When Juliet Schor, Professor of Sociology at BC, was on Democracy Now! a couple of weeks ago, she had this to say:
JULIET SCHOR: I think holding office in the minds of many at Boston College is not sufficient criterion for being honored in this way, and we’ve got to look at what the person in office is doing. There are people who hold high government offices all around the world who are not worthy of being honored. Boston College is a values-driven institution. That's the core of its mission, and it’s the way it advertises itself to the world. This was an opportunistic choice, a kind of let's get some star power, even if this person is involved in activities which are not only unworthy of being honored, but are illegal and immoral. I mean, this is a person who, not too many years from now, we may be seeing in front of a war crimes tribunal.

...[t]his is an illegal war. It is an immoral war. This week, the same week that the university made this announcement, the U.S. government was defending itself at a U.N. Commission on Torture, and very much on the defensive. A major report was presented at that commission, showing that the U.S. is involved in “widespread” -- and that's a quote -- torture at U.S.-run detention centers all over the world, evidence emerging about extraordinary renditions. One thousand rendition flights now is the number that people are talking about. So, this is very serious business. There is a whole worldwide community out there, which is, you know, many of whom are taking the point of view that the U.S. is involved in war crimes. And as the university's announcement about this honorary degree recipient notes, the first sentence, she is the major architect of U.S. foreign policy.

....I consider myself, as a U.S. citizen, to -- my highest priority is to deal with the actions of the United States government, so that's what I’m focusing on. And there are tens of thousands of people who have been killed in this war. There are already commissions going around this country talking about war crimes. We are using depleted uranium in this war. We are involved in a widespread network of torture....we as U.S. citizens have a responsibility to deal with what is being done in our name....starting from, you know, Hiroshima and Nagasaki to the Vietnam War to the overthrow of a long list of democratically elected governments to the current wars in Afghanistan and Iraq....the primary objection of faculty to the choice of Secretary Rice is on the policies that she and this administration are carrying out.

I would say a secondary dimension of this is that this is a highly politicized choice. We have a singularly unpopular administration with an extremely unpopular war. They took us to war on the basis of deceptions and distortions. Her own words and activity around selling the war were particularly salient in this regard, and this choice has plunged our community into tremendous divisiveness.

When the Bush administration relegates dissenting citizens to "free speech zones" blocks away from where Bush would have to see them during Presidential events, and when the Bush administration cherry-picks people who are favorably disposed to this President for televised events and removes those whom they believe aren't Bush-Cheney voters from audiences (based on the bumper stickers on their cars), I predict that people will be taking better advantage of the limited opportunities they get to express their true feelings about what these people are doing in our names.

Condoleeza Rice was a disaster as National Security Advisor to Bush, and she's an abomination as the Secretary of State. When Republicans talk about her as possibly their nominee for President in 2008, it's time to put that puppy to bed with a point-by-point analysis of how one of America's top national security officials has a severe problem with the truth.

On January 30, 2006, the NYT reported:
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice acknowledged Sunday that the United States had failed to understand the depth of hostility among Palestinians toward their longtime leaders. The hostility led to an election victory by the militant group Hamas that has reduced to tatters crucial assumptions underlying American policies and hopes in the Middle East.

Was she kidding with that statement? Maybe, like her boss, she doesn't read newspapers. Other NYT stories:
• Jan. 23, 2006: “In a Stronghold, Fatah Fights To Beat Back a Rising Hamas”

• Jan. 13, 2006: “Anger in the West Bank Helps Hamas Win Hearts”

• Dec. 17, 2005: “Hamas Surges In West Bank; Blow to Fatah”

• Oct. 1, 2005: “Israel Kills 2 In Arrest Raid; Hamas Gains In Elections”

• Aug. 21, 2005: “Hamas Pushing For Lead Role In a New Gaza”

• July 4, 2005: “Palestinian Leader Invites Hamas to Join ‘Unity Government’”

• Dec. 25, 2004: “Hamas Surprisingly Strong in Palestinian Election”

There is no question that Rice is reprising her role during the lead-up to the war in Iraq when she lied about WMD, Iraq's capabilities and the imminent threat to the U.S. Now, as then, this administration is committed to war (this time with Iran), and Rice is guilty of dereliction of duty as Secretary of State. Rice admits that she responded to the Iran letter before the U.S. had even translated it.

This woman and every member of the Bush administration should be facing vocal and noisy opposition everywhere they go, every day of the rest of the time that they are in office. After which, they should be facing war crimes' tribunals.

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