Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has backed out of a commencement speech at Rutgers University. (Via U.S. State Department)
This, following protests by some students and faculty over her role in the Iraq War.
PROTESTERS: "Condi Rice has got to go."(Via MyCentralJersey.com)
In a statement posted to Facebook Saturday, Rice said her invite had become a “distraction,” writing: “I understand and embrace the purpose of the commencement ceremony and I am simply unwilling to detract from it in any way.”
The university's board of governors had voted to pay Rice $35,000 for her speech, scheduled for May 18. She was also slated to receive an honorary Doctorate of Law degree from the university.
But for months, students have called on the university to disinvite her — which it refused to do. Carrying signs with slogans reading, ““No Honor for War Criminals” about 50 Rutgers students recently staged a sit-in. (Via MyCentralJersey.com)
One of the organizers told the student newspaper the protest was "not about politics, rather an issue of human decency." (Via The Daily Targum)
But many conservative pundits on Twitter saw the outcry over Rice as an issue of free speech. Here’s Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson. (Via Twitter / @AriFleisher, Twitter / @jimgeraghty, Twitter / @JebediahBila)
CARLSON: “She's basically being shouted down by a small group of angry people. that's not a good precedent. If you don't want to hear someone's position, you just prevent them from talking?.”
Rice's Rutgers withdrawal follows similar protests over her invitation to speak at the University of Minnesota and controversy over her appointment to the board of directors at file-sharing firm Dropbox. (Via National Review, The New York Times)
Rutgers released a statement shortly after Rice's saying it respected her decision to pull out of the ceremony. The university now has two weeks to come up with a replacement speaker.
Maybe Snooki's available. In 2011, Rutgers took some heat for paying reality TV star Snooki $32,000 to give a speech— $2,000 more than it paid Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morisson to speak that same year. (Via ABC, Google)