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Cheer for Bush, or face arrest, OSU grads informed.
June 14, 2002 6:03 PM   Subscribe

Cheer for Bush, or face arrest, OSU grads informed. A first person account of how Bush's speech at the Ohio State Graduation today resembled nothing so much as a fascist rally - as graduates who had planned to protest by simply turning their backs to Bush during his speech were informed that if they did so they would be arrested and expelled (no diploma). Inside the stadium, crowds of Bush suppporters had been bussed in from miles away. And everyone was instructed to cheer loudly for the president.
posted by dnash (44 comments total)

 
So an anonymous posting on a discussion board of a radical left web site is now considered journalism? Good grief, man.
posted by ljromanoff at 6:33 PM on June 14, 2002


Any political rally 'resembles' a fascist assembly - hell, even a rock concert does. I have been to two big political rallies:

1)Nelson Mandela, on his fund raising tour in 1991(?) , in Atlanta's Bobby Dodd Stadium.

2) Bill Clinton, 1992, in Decatur High School stadium. This was in the home strech of the '92 campaign, when Clinton had lost his voice from campaigning too hard. Remember that - it hurt him to talk, he had to cut it short...people loved that. He proved that he had fire in the belly; also, he shaded into Frazer's dying king.

Both events (especially the Mandela, with helicopters flying overhead and sharpshooters spread out over the roof of the media pod) were scary as hell, and came to you courtesy of Mr. Albert Speer.

Speer created the mass rally, he was the first to see the possibilities of technique, to coordinate the crowd: the ritual of control and entry into the stadium, the lights, the waiting. The passionate, helpless cry of joy from 20,000 throats when the first chords of Tommy ring into the twilight, or when the Leader takes the stage.
posted by crunchburger at 6:35 PM on June 14, 2002


A big group of the graduates turning their back on the honored speaker during his speech? I would guess that a demonstration this rude would irk the folks in charge even if it wasn't W on the podium. And if I was the speaker and saw folks doing that to me, not only would it make my job of speaking twenty times harder, but I'd be so pissed that I might just stop and go home right there.

It really doesn't surprise me that the adherents of such an inappropriate form of demonstration were asked to leave. And I don't even like W that much, but at least the man deserves a degree of respect from his audience.

My $.02
posted by Jonasio at 6:37 PM on June 14, 2002


I guess they turn their backs so everyone can see what asses look like.
posted by mikegre at 6:40 PM on June 14, 2002


If this really happened, I'm quite shocked. Shocked at how bad of an activist this guy is.

You WANT them to arrest you for disturbing the peace, and if they did that for just turning your back... well, thats the kind of case the ACLU dreams about, its a sure win, and would require damage control from Bush (admittedly, easy damage control, as he could claim no knowledge).

As it is tho, and I say this not in the deragatory manner ljromanoff does above, we have only this guy's word for it, and he Godwin's himself right out of convincing me it went down like he said.

(on Preview: Jonasio, this is absolutely the least offensive form of political protest I can imagine... your accusation of "inappropriate form" bewilders me.)
posted by malphigian at 6:42 PM on June 14, 2002


I really wouldn't call it Fascism. I mean you know, Fascism is responsible for the death of millions... OSU just didn't want a scene.

Believe it or not some people like Bush. Some people wanted to take the bus go see him talk... you know... him being the leader of the free world.

The report made the claim that "a lot of people had the peace signs", but you can't assume that from a biased account the bulk of the student body planned to protest. No matter how many people planned to protest, I don't see it as the time or the place. The OSU wasn't planning on the fact that the protest just consisted of people turning around, they were afraid of a noisy protest that would disrupt the commencement. The students who just wanted to hear the commencement have just a right to hear it as the students do to protest it. That's why if the students who wanted the protest could do so outside the stadium where they were guaranteed to be seen by everyone (unless people were helicoptered in) and the students who wanted to just enjoy the graduation could do so on the inside.

On the same note, Bush should keep his speech as little to do with politics as possible. Did he do that? I can't say but knowing politicians he probably just had a general rah-rah "Go USA" speech.

Upon preview it looks like everyone kept a common sense approach about this and no obvious Bush jokes... I'm shocked.
posted by geoff. at 6:44 PM on June 14, 2002


No, ljromanoff. However, I'd consider this Washington Post article (link via Crunchland) journalism:

Bush was invited to speak at the Ohio State commencement by representatives of the graduating class. But immediately before class members filed into the giant football stadium, an announcer instructed the crowd that all the university's speakers deserve to be treated with respect and that anyone demonstrating or heckling would be subject to expulsion and arrest. The announcer urged that Bush be greeted with a "thunderous" ovation.

While I would agree that shouting down a speaker during a graduation ceremony would be extremely disruptive, I'd hardly call the planned silent protest "disturbing the peace."
posted by MegoSteve at 6:46 PM on June 14, 2002


In fascism, the central authority dictates to the corporations. We have a sort of inverse of that, a kind of Trotskyite mercantilism. Or whatever.
posted by crunchburger at 6:48 PM on June 14, 2002


fas·cism (fshzm) n.

1. A system of government marked by centralization of authority under a dictator, stringent socioeconomic controls, suppression of the opposition through terror and censorship, and typically a policy of belligerent nationalism and racism.

2. A political philosophy or movement based on or advocating such a system of government.
Oppressive, dictatorial control.


Granted the source is not good at all but if it were true it is most definitely fascist, and more importantly it is a violation of the first amendment. The fact that OSU would bully its students to stand in line and click their heels for the president just makes me happy that I didn't go to college.
posted by velacroix at 6:49 PM on June 14, 2002


Here's a link to the site where the protest was announced and planned: http://www.turnyourbackonbush.com/ I would have included this in the original post but I wasn't aware of it.
posted by dnash at 6:55 PM on June 14, 2002


But to deny an earned diploma for turning your back on the president? Wow, that's pretty tight.
posted by ( .)(. ) at 6:57 PM on June 14, 2002


Also, it's an interesting contrast that Clinton faced loud, vocal heckling when speaking at OSU in 1996, but rather than having them arrested and removed he instead encouraged their expression of free speech.

"I welcome anyone to these rallies, and I welcome you to theirs. I hope you will never go to theirs and stop them from speaking. I believe in free speech at every university in America."
posted by dnash at 7:00 PM on June 14, 2002


who the hell let (.)(.) post again? what this place needs is some order...
posted by crunchburger at 7:22 PM on June 14, 2002


rather than having them arrested and removed he instead encouraged their expression of free speech.

So you're saying that OSU made the announcement at Bush's request? There's no proof of that. Maybe OSU didn't want the sort of disruption like they had the last time a president spoke - a disruption so intrusive that the Clinton had to mention it in his address.
posted by ljromanoff at 7:29 PM on June 14, 2002


Different set of mams, this one. Note the wider, more ample breasts, and the odd inward-pointing nipples. Perhaps a poor augmentation job.
posted by cortex at 7:31 PM on June 14, 2002


There's no proof of that.

True. But what's the point? You and rushmc often use this positivism (in rushmc's case, a very strict distinction between fact/opinion) in debate. What would count as proof to you? A link? Witnesses who agree? Other witnesses would disagree, so would other links.
posted by crunchburger at 7:36 PM on June 14, 2002


So an anonymous posting on a discussion board of a radical left web site is now considered journalism? Good grief, man.

So skepticism from a more or less anonymous radical right wing conservative is now considered the voice of reason?

Oh yeah lj, the site is brimming with Clinton-Love. Radical Clintonistas. Not "radical left" holmes.
posted by crasspastor at 7:45 PM on June 14, 2002


What would count as proof to you?

I won't be particularly picky. I'd even take the Washington Post's word on it.

So skepticism from a more or less anonymous radical right wing conservative is now considered the voice of reason?

Crasspastor, as usual you get everything wrong. I am neither anonymous, right wing, nor conservative. Would you consider an anonymous post on a right wing web site newsworthy? How is this any different?
posted by ljromanoff at 7:54 PM on June 14, 2002


The commencement speech is designed to allow the *invited speaker* to address the crowd. Surely these people (the protestors) knew that the speaker was going to be the President. Why did they bother to show up at all? Aren't there more effective ways to protest the Administration's policies? They could have just stayed home and had their diplomas mailed to them, all the while composing angry Letters to the Editor.
posted by davidmsc at 8:03 PM on June 14, 2002


When I graduated from Yale last year, it was announced several days before the graduation that George W. Bush would be attending the ceremony to receive an honorary juris doctor and give a short speech. Since Yale does not have speeches at their graduation ceremonies (except for a few notable exceptions: JFK, George Bush Sr.) this was a huge deal. The sky was filled with jets and helicopters, snipers lurked in the spires of Harkness Tower, all the attendees and graduates had to go through searches and metal detectors as we filed in to Old Campus. Several days before, ideas for some sort of protest circulated via word of mouth. As we gathered in our designated locations, some students went around giving small photocopied fluorescent signs bearing various slogans regarding Bush's policies to anyone who wanted them. It was all very casual and treated with a good deal of light-heartedness. The school of Forestry graduates had all constructed amazing little vignettes on the top of their mortar boards, featuring little factories with smokestacks that actually smoked, little forests populated with chirping mechanical birds and teeny animals.

When it came time for Bush to make his remarks, the students who possessed signs stood up and held them high. Some people booed, but it was all pretty low-key. Bush was actually a great sport and made some hilarious jokes about his poor record at Yale, and that if you dropped out of Yale, you only got to be vice president (as Cheney did). He told everyone he was happy to see that we were spirited and voicing our opinions. By the end of his 7 or so minute speech, everyone was laughing and even those of us who had grievances with some of his policies gave him a thunderous round of applause. It was a very positive experience, and very far from the 'fascist rally' that is dubiously described in this 'article'. No one's speech was stifled and no one used the opportunity to disrupt the ceremony which symbolized all we had all worked so hard to achieve. It was a profoundly American moment, and I'm happy to have been a part of it.

The same combination of respect and criticism was shown to Hillary Clinton, who spoke at Class Day during the same week.
posted by evanizer at 8:04 PM on June 14, 2002


I am neither anonymous, right wing, nor conservative.

Duh. There you have it lj. I was simply calling you out on your faulty line of reasoning that the site isn't "radical left". You don't ever notice nuance do you? Cut and dry. Cut and dry. Cut and dry.

You're equally as anonymous, it's worth pointing out, as this self-minted journalist on Democratic Underground, as I wasn't even referring to you as being anonymous. Only just as anonymous as her, by virtue of the medium.

Would you consider an anonymous post on a right wing web site newsworthy?

That would totally depend. I'll reserve judgement. But you see, this is the way grassroots movements begin. Like real substantive updates from the protests in DC or Genoa or Seattle etc. You wouldn't even hardly know any of this was occurring let alone how big, were it not for this medium we're using now.

Crasspastor, as usual you get everything wrong. <----I hope that made you feel better!
posted by crasspastor at 8:12 PM on June 14, 2002


Correction:

I was simply calling you out on your faulty line of reasoning that the site IS "radical left".
posted by crasspastor at 8:14 PM on June 14, 2002


At my graduation, from the Bush alma mater, Dubya's daddy spoke. Most of the forestry school stood and turned their backs, as did a few people throughout the crowd. Their right to dissent was respected, and there were very few comments directed their way. The only reason most of us got upset was that the secret service would not allow people to bring in Champagne. Popping corks, you know. (Though we'd all had plenty of bubbly the day before at class day, when Gary Trudeau - the "one man" Bush said at another date, "I cannot forgive." - spoke.") I think that if an announcement like that had been made, there would have been an uprising, or at least a mass walk-out.

Suggestions about how I should applaud rankle me. Especially when given by people with power over me. Did any of you have a boss hand you an American Flag pin when we started bombing Afghanistan? It's not a very comfortable feeling.
posted by chino at 8:16 PM on June 14, 2002


Regardless of whose idea the announcement was, it makes this statement rather ironic:

"By sharing the pain of a friend, or bearing the hopes of a child, or defending the liberty of your fellow citizens you will gain satisfaction that cannot be gained in any other way," Bush said.
posted by homunculus at 8:20 PM on June 14, 2002


Aren't there more effective ways to protest the Administration's policies? They could have just stayed home and had their diplomas mailed to them, all the while composing angry Letters to the Editor.

are you joking? do you think you would have heard about it if they had taken your route?

that's a nice story evanizer, but is it related at all? bush's media strategy has changed a number of times since the primaries.

either you believe this story or you don't. if you do i don't see how you can think it's acceptable. if you don't, say so, and why. maybe it isn't true, if someone has reason to think not post that and be helpful.
posted by rhyax at 8:21 PM on June 14, 2002


It's amazing how little some of you seem to understand the concept of a protest.

If this story is true, and I reserve judgement on that, then consider it a sign of what is to come. First they compel the students, then the rest of the audience (no longer a citizenry). Stifling independent thought and political involvement on a university campus...amazing.
posted by rushmc at 8:30 PM on June 14, 2002


Most of the forestry school stood and turned their backs, as did a few people throughout the crowd. Their right to dissent was respected, and there were very few comments directed their way.

That's interesting and illuminating, chino. Was this while Bush I was president, or out of office? And should that make a difference?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:43 PM on June 14, 2002


last year at Yale as discussed here at Metafilter.
posted by darkpony at 9:23 PM on June 14, 2002


Usually we're so good about tracking down false stuff...

I'm not saying that this is or isn't false, but consider this: it happened, and we've heard about it nowhere else by now?
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 10:06 PM on June 14, 2002


Whoops, sorry. My mousewheel goes a little quick sometimes, missed MegoSteve's link.

I've been up too long.
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 10:09 PM on June 14, 2002


Bush I was president at the time. It was actually Memorial Day '91, right after the Gulf War, and I don't even recall a passing reference to war dead. He spent a few minutes reminiscing about his Yale days, and we all laughed. Then he talked about his Texas wildcatting days, and a few less of us laughed. And then he sort of skipped the CIA stuff and became the president. He then spent the rest of his time stumping for Most Favored Nation status for China - Yale has a very active exchange program with China, and many opposed MFN. No one booed, as I remember, though there was some grumbling. I felt like my graduation had been coopted, though looking back, it's a pretty good story to tell.

Turning your back is non-violent, non-disruptive, and a perfect protest. It certainly is not disturbing the peace. I'm also a little bewildered by these MeFi folks that don't understand the nature of protest. I'm also disgusted that law officers could escort people from a ceremony - performed in their honor - for registering political displeasure in a non-violent way.

Then again, there was no question about whether Bush I was legitimately elected, and Daddy tried not to let himself seem thin skinned. As little as I respected him then, I'd cut off a finger to have him in office now instead of his son.

That's probably more of a response than you were asking for, stavros.
posted by chino at 10:10 PM on June 14, 2002


Not for nothing, but....

The Washington Post article (using the same AP filing from Lawrence L. Knutson) differs in it's conclusion...

Washington Post: "Bush was invited to speak at the Ohio State commencement by representatives of the graduating class. But immediately before class members filed into the giant football stadium, an announcer instructed the crowd that all the university's speakers deserve to be treated with respect and that anyone demonstrating or heckling would be subject to expulsion and arrest. The announcer urged that Bush be greeted with a "thunderous" ovation. "

AP filing:"Bush was invited to speak at the Ohio State commencement by representatives of the graduating class. But immediately before class members filed into the giant football stadium, an announcer instructed the crowd that all the university's speakers deserve to be treated with respect and that anyone demonstrating or heckling could be subject to expulsion and arrest. The announcer urged a "thunderous" ovation for outgoing university President William Kirwan. Bush, too, was heavily applauded." (emphasis added)
posted by Tiger_Lily at 10:21 PM on June 14, 2002


No, chino, that's cool, thanks. Me, I used to customarily refer to Bush I as 'the most evil man in the western world', back when he was El Commandante. I'm similarly enamoured of his offspring. But I hear where you're coming from....
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:05 PM on June 14, 2002


"...subject to expulsion and arrest..."

Even if true, what really would have happened? Nothing I would be willing to bet.

College graduations are full of acts which might be considered disrespectful by some. I've participated in large ones (Cincinnati) and smaller ones (Yale*) and witnessed at least five others (Penn State twice, Oral Roberts University --okay, maybe that one had no disrespect shown--, U.Conn. and WVU). To suggest that anyone in a crowd of graduates could be singled out during the event is absurd. Any attempted enforcement would be more disruptive than the supposed disruption.

*evanizer: are you sure about the Yale policy on speakers? -- my (at that time tippled) brain recalls we had one. No champagne ban for us, no sir. Well, maybe there was but we would have ignored it.
posted by Dick Paris at 3:43 AM on June 15, 2002


well, i can't believe that you could get arrested because of a pacific and simple protest inside your own alma mater. here in mexico, fox shouldn't go to UNAM because he knows that he could get hueveado (act of receiving throwen eggs). you can't be arrested simply because UNAM is an autonomous university, you can only be punished by the authorities in UNAM.
in the presidential campaigns held in early 2000, no candidate wanted to go to universities cause they know they wouldn't be welcomed… and that is because they know that what they are saying is just retorical crap and they are not really going to fulfill the promises they have made before in the campaign. it seems that fox still thinks he's on campaign, he continues speeching retorical crap
posted by trismegisto at 6:16 AM on June 15, 2002


Of course I'm hesitant to accept the linked post's testimony at face value (and I'm frustrated that the AP version of the story reminds us how hard it is to get the "real" picture of what happened...I would give lots to see a videotape of the proceedings and really hear the instructions to the crowd).

But if it is true that a protest so mild as the simple turning away from the speaker is something that the university forestalls by dint of arrest, removal, and the witholding of an earned diploma, that's stomach-turning and quite un-American. And while I respect the different conceptions here about manners in these situations, I can't conceive of a simpler, less disruptive, and more appropriate way of publicly expressing dissent in the face of public authority.

And, again, if it happened this way: It seems a pity that no one refused the startlingly undemocratic conditions and forced an actual arrest or two. I would have liked to see OSU and the government forced to be accountable.
posted by BT at 7:26 AM on June 15, 2002


hueveado

What a great word!
posted by rushmc at 7:44 AM on June 15, 2002


Correction:

I was simply calling you out on your faulty line of reasoning that the site IS "radical left".


No, no - you had it right the first time.
posted by ljromanoff at 7:49 AM on June 15, 2002


The link text on this post is simply erroneous -- the students were not told to "cheer" Bush. They could simply have remained silent. At all times. If enough of the students had felt this way, Bush's reception would have been decidedly chilly, and the point would have been made.
posted by kindall at 10:01 AM on June 15, 2002


ooooor, they could have just beamed hateful thoughts at him. From home. And made unpleasant faces.
posted by rushmc at 10:49 AM on June 15, 2002


and next time, when they are actually told to cheer. then they can cheer, but with a dark heart... because when you're protesting you have to do exactly what the person your protesting wants... otherwise it's just rude.
posted by rhyax at 11:30 AM on June 15, 2002


You WANT them to arrest you for disturbing the peace, and if they did that for just turning your back... well, thats the kind of case the ACLU dreams about,

I totally agree. The school administration chose to take it to the next level by threatening the students into cooperation. I think the appropriate move would've been to demonstrate anyway, confident that you'd win in court. But that's a helluva hard situation to find yourself in. The administration was smart to make the announcement when they did, giving activists no time to confer or organize a response.

its a sure win,

I should hope so, but I'm almost afraid to find out.

For some reason this is the part that I find the most disturbing:
The announcer urged that Bush be greeted with a "thunderous" ovation.

Were there "observers" in the crowd, monitoring the level of "thunderousness"?
posted by Ty Webb at 12:52 PM on June 15, 2002


Way back in the days of George Bush the First, he spoke at my graduation. My family wore broccoli boutonnieres and were asked to sit up front. But I guess it was okay to protest 10 years ago when we weren't "at [undeclared] war."
posted by ilsa at 1:10 PM on June 15, 2002


OSU also wants to make sure that they don't have a repeat of what went down at the "townhall meeting" with Albright and others in early 1998. [transcript]
posted by gluechunk at 2:06 PM on June 15, 2002


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