Commence This

Our friends at the Young America’s Foundation note that there are exactly zero conservatives among the commencement speakers at Ivy League universities this year, though this shouldn’t surprise anyone by this point.  I have a theory on this: the Ivy League is still reeling from Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s 1978 Harvard commencement address, “A World Split Apart,” which was a fulsome attack on everything that Harvard stands for.  It could well have been called “A World Split Apart—By Harvard.”  If you’re old enough to remember, it caused a huge ruckus.  Won’t ever let that happen again.

So who did Harvard honor at commencement this year?  Oprah.  Need I point out that she’s attained the dimensions of people who only need to be referred to by a single name.  Like Bono.  Or Prince.  Or Cher.   Or Yanni.  Though—sorry—I think Oprah, as a commencement speaker, could well deserve the nickname “Yawnie.”

Anyway, of all the places one would least have expected criticism of Oprah at Harvard, Time magazine would be high on the list.  In fact it wouldn’t have even made my list.  Yet here is Time, suggesting that Harvard is embracing a devotee of “phony science”:

It’s possible to admire Oprah Winfrey and still wish that Harvard hadn’t awarded her an honorary doctor of law degree and the coveted commencement speaker spot at yesterday’s graduation. . .

Oprah’s passionate advocacy extends, unfortunately, to a hearty embrace of phony science. Critics have taken Oprah to task for years for her energetic shilling on behalf of peddlers of quack medicine. Most notoriously, Oprah’s validation of Jenny McCarthy’s discredited claim that vaccines cause autism has no doubt contributed to much harm through the foolish avoidance of vaccines. . .

This vote of confidence in Oprah sends a troubling message at precisely the time when American universities need to do more, not less, to advance the cause of reason. As former Dean of Harvard College, Harry Lewis, pointedly noted in a blog post about his objections, “It seems very odd for Harvard to honor such a high profile popularizer of the irrational. I can’t square this in my mind, at a time when political and religious nonsense so imperil the rule of reason in this allegedly enlightened democracy and around the world.”  . . .  Oprah Winfrey’s honorary doctorate was a step in the wrong direction.

Good for Time.

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