Skip to comments.bell hooks Spews Anti-American Tirade in Commencement Speech
Posted on 06/06/2002 9:01:49 PM PDT by VinnyTex
bell hooks Spews Anti-American Tirade in Commencement Speech at Southwestern University in Georgetown, TX
By Marc Levin
FrontPageMagazine.com | June 7, 2002
RADICAL SOCIALIST Professor bell hooks' (sic) commencement address last month sent shockwaves through Southwestern University, a liberal arts college in Georgetown, TX, a place that?s hardly known as a haven for left-wing activism. Unlike most commencement speeches that are optimistic and unifying, hooks' condemned many members of her audience, urged them to disregard the future because caring about the future is a capitalist construct, bemoaned the so-called patriarchy, slammed the war on terrorism, and equated conservatism with murder. As a result, she was widely and repeatedly booed by a stunned audience of parents and graduates.
Although her diatribe was littered with outrageous statements, perhaps the most asinine was, "The radical, dissident voices among you have learned here at Southwestern how to form communities of resistance that have helped you find your way in the midst of life-threatening conservatism, loneliness, and the powerful forces of everyday fascism which use the politics of exclusion and ostracism to maintain the status quo. Every terrorist regime in the world uses isolation to break people's spirits." While hooks described conservatism as murderous and equated it with global terrorism, she provided no evidence whatsoever for this outlandish assertion.
hooks, a self-proclaimed lesbian, repeatedly denounced the so-called patriarchy. In fact, she blamed men for virtually every evil in the world, including the U.S. war on terrorism, which she roundly condemned. hooks stated,
"Indeed our nation's call for violence in the aftermath of 9/11 was an expression of widespread hopelessness, the cynicism that has been at the heart of our nation's ongoing fascination with death. Any society based on domination supports and condones violence. Yet as that violence wreaked havoc in our own hearts and in the lives of our loved ones and fellow citizens, many Americans experienced for the first time a moment of clarity when they knew without a doubt that to choose life, we must stand against violence, we must choose peace. And yet that moment of collective clarity was soon obscured by the imperialist, white supremacist, capitalist, patriarchal hunger to show the planet our nation's force, to show that this nation would commit absolute acts of violence that will wipe out whole nations and worlds. The world was held spellbound by our government's declaration of its commitment to violence, to death. Yet just as the violence of the terrorists who slaughtered the innocent on 9/11 does not lead us closer to justice, to reconciliation or peace, the violence acts of imperialist aggression enacted in the name of bringing an end to terrorism have brought us no closer to reconciliation, to peace, to justice."
It is difficult to know where to began in deconstructing hooks' many anti-American falsehoods and fallacies. First, perhaps she should explain to the millions of Afghans who now enjoy food and freedom thanks to the toppling of the Taliban that U.S. action has not brought us closer to reconciliation, peace, and justice. Moreover, what are the U.S. acts of "imperialist aggression" to which she refers? Hooks evidently is unable to grasp the concept of self-defense. There is not much imperialism here either as the U.S. has facilitated the reestablishment of a legitimate post-Taliban, multi-ethnic government run by Afghans themselves.
hooks also fails to substantiate her charge that U.S. military action is motivated by the patriarchy. In fact, polls show that women are equally supportive of the war on terrorism. hooks' hyperventilating reached a crescendo when she accused the U.S. of "wiping out whole nations and worlds." Of course, the U.S. war on terrorism has not wiped out a single nation, but is helping to rebuild one in Afghanistan. There is only world, so it is not clear which "worlds' hooks is referring to - perhaps those that only exist in her deranged mind. In her imaginary peacenik utopia, hooks apparently envisions that, instead of dispatching the military to attack terrorists, the U.S. should send pacifists professors to sing Kumbaya with Osama bin Laden.
In fact, hooks said later in her speech, "All thought of domination, control, force, and violence must be abandoned. We are told in the sacred writings of
spiritual teachings from all the great religions of the world to recognize love as the transformative force that will enable us to choose against death."
hooks then bizarrely equated terrorism and overeating, stating, "There is no life to be found in violence. Every act of violence brings us closer to death. Whether it's the mundane violence we do to our bodies by overeating toxic food or drink or the extreme violence of child abuse, domestic warfare, life-threatening poverty, addiction, or state terrorism." At this point, graduates and the parents must have had a truly uplifting feeling on this momentous occasion.
In an incomplete sentence, hooks also observed, "Because the terror of unjust killing, which has long been rampant in our land taking place everyday when
children are murdered, when women are beaten and raped, when individuals are bombed in their churches, in their homes, when native peoples continue to
suffer loss of their lands." Of course, hooks failed to identify any American Indians that are currently being robbed of their land. Why let the facts get
in the way of another anti-American rant arguing that the acts of terrorists on 9/11 are morally equivalent to our own government's policies?
hooks soon returned to her theme of haranguing the patriarchy. Addressing 9/11 again, hooks groused:
"Their terrorist acts called out the violence undergirding every culture of domination, including ours, unmasked it and compelled it to speak openly its worship of death. No one has gained greater freedom or peace as a consequence of these acts. In their violent wake, these brutal acts have sown the seeds for greater, more destructive violence. They have led us more deeply into the valley of the shadow of death. All over the world, young males and females, schooled in the art of patriarchal thinking, are building an identity on a foundation that sees the will to do violence as the essential way to assert being. We cannot then, turn away from violence without challenging and changing patriarchy, without bringing an end to sexist exploitation and oppression that teaches boys and men contempt for life, rooted in support of dominance and submission, coercion and manipulation, is the appropriate way to express masculine identity."
Remarkably, hooks not only condemned the so-called patriarchy, but also demeaned many of the graduates. She bemoaned, "Many of you have spent your
years at Southwestern indulging in the basic violence of self-betrayal - going along to get along, going along with the crowd, conforming. As a consequence, the years you have spent here have not provided you with the foundation of healthy self-esteem needed to enable you to go forward and forge your own unique identity. By refusing to honor the core of your being, by mindless conformity, you have placed your soul at risk." Can parents ask for a refund now?
hooks also had a message for parents that reflects her anti-capitalist agenda, lamenting, "Many of the older grownups at this commencement remember the college years and grieve the loss of deep, intimate connections, of soul-nurturing bonds they made during those years that they have forsaken that they did not sustain as they moved into a world of nuclear families, of competitive individual quests for success, for opportunities that demand that the high achiever embrace a dominator model of advancement which applauds and rewards disconnection." ]
In hooks' view, institutions such as the capitalism and the nuclear family are apparently evils and paradise is epitomized by the decision of a Massachusetts school not to keep score in basketball games so kids egos are not damaged. hooks' analogy of the traditional family with the business world is nonsensical because the family is one institution that does not operate on a strictly economic basis. Most husbands and wives have joint accounts and do not divide their earnings and itemize the value of their domestic work. Furthermore, having children is incredibly expensive and is perhaps the deepest, the most intimate connection for both parents - far more so than going to college.
However, hooks urged the audience not to concern itself with the future, apparently dismissing parents' traditional aspiration for a better world for their children than they had. In a most unusual and non-idealistic message for a commencement, hooks urged parents and graduates to disregard the future and hedonistically live for today. She bloviated:
"Ours has been and mostly remains a society which encourages us to look to the future, to put our hopes and dreams on what may happen to tomorrow, to work for progress and advancement, all future-oriented goals. Every imperialist, white supremacist, capitalist, patriarchal nation on the planet teaches it citizens to care more for tomorrow than today?..We cease to live in the now. And the moment we do this, we are seduced by the lure of death?.To live fixated on the future is to engage in psychological denial. It is a form of psychic violence that prepares us to accept the violence needed to ensure the maintenance of imperialist, future-oriented society."
hooks, who chooses not to capitalize her name as a form of protest against (presumably patriarchal, imperialist, white supremacist) grammatical conventions, is the Brown Visiting Scholar-in-Residence of Feminist Studies at Southwestern University. Established in 1840 and affiliated with the Methodist Church, Southwestern has 1,320 students and, although not rated as highly as the top small liberal arts schools in the Northeast or the considerably larger Rice University in Houston, is recognized along with Austin College in Sherman as one of the top small private liberal arts colleges in Texas.
In addition to her gig at Southwestern, hooks has been a professor at Yale University, City College of New York, and Oberlin College in Ohio. Her publications include, Ain?t I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism and Feminist Theory, From Margin to Center, Where We Stand: Class Matters, and Feminism is for Everybody: Passionate Politics.
Southwestern University's website has a special link to a profile of hooks on its front-page. Visitors are informed that hooks is "on residence" for six weeks each fall. hooks is described as, a "true public intellectual of our time and "one of the most prolific cultural workers active today." The phrase "cultural worker" is fitting, as it finds its origins in Maoist propaganda.
Marc Levin is President of the American Freedom Center (www.americanfreedom.org) and Vice President of the Texas Review Society. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
They never do. There isn't any.
Worth repeating. I have always wondered where the line was for the liberals. Discouraging that it is so far out but nice to know that they do have one. a.cricket
Like the political correctness thought police causing nation to rise up against nation with perplexity?
I know this b*tch ain't talkin' about abortion. What is she talkin about? I don't even want to know. I would just like the opportunity to throw large heavy objects at her.
Quick! If you're not blind, cover your eyes!
As I was reading this, I was thinking it's a shame that custom of throwing rotten tomatoes at horrible entertainment has gone the way of the dodo.
LOL, I can't help it.... I keep thinking of;
IN A GALAXY
I guess it would be to much to hope that she comes to her senses on of these days and joins us back in reality. :)
Perhaps, it should be revived.
There was a day when a person with such vile ideas would be laughed off her soapbox, rather than granted a podium at commencement.
It was back in those days when being judgmental was considered a mark of discernment, instead of a dirty word.
Bring back the tomatoes!
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