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“We should use our opinions to start discussions, not to end them.”
BY MARIA POPOVA
As I was preparing to deliver my Annenberg commencement address, restlessness of a very different kind and caliber was taking place on the other side of the country.
When Scripps Women’s College announced that former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright — a person with whom I disagree politically on many counts — was invited to deliver the 2016 commencement address, student protests broke out across campus. Some had hoped for a woman of color as the graduation speaker, some went as far as calling Albright a war criminal, and there was a general outrage centered around her politically charged remark that “there’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other.”
Unlike Villanova University, which sixteen years earlier had disinvited legendary journalist Anna Quindlen after students protested her liberal political views (with the result of Quindlen’s spectacular undelivered commencement address going “viral” long before social media), Scripps proceeded as planned. Albright traveled to campus early to meet with the students and faculty and hear out their dissent in order for them to accept her as a speaker. Even so, some of the faculty refused to participate in the ceremony.