On Outrage Mobsters, Harrison Butker and Tradition Haters

AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

Do you remember what your college commencement speaker said? I don’t. I’ve attended multiple graduations. I usually spend more time crowd-gazing when commencement speeches start – but I vaguely remember when Michael Bloomberg told my niece’s 2013 graduation class at Stanford: that there was a flaw in America’s immigration policy that needed fixing. I don’t recall what that flaw was, but Bloomberg spent a good deal of his speech making political statements that he knew the mostly leftist students wanted to hear. 


“Every STEM student should have a green card stapled to their diploma,” he said. 

OK, Mike. 

Bloomberg got around to the “Defense of Marriage Act.” He knew that his condemnation would get applause. He said

In the whole history of the United States, no law limiting the rights of a particular class of people has ever stood the test of time, and neither will [laws like the Defense of Marriage Act]. Marriage equality is the civil rights issue of our time.

The students cheered. Many stood up. The crowd of relatives watching was a little more tepid. Bloomberg had made his political points. He also told the graduates that they needed to make their own way. OK – I agree with that, Mike. 

“Roll up your sleeves every day and get down to work,” he said: 

The secret of success isn’t much of a secret…The American Dream has no shortcuts and no endpoint…It is up to you to embrace that opportunity for yourself.

 America’s strength isn’t in diversity, Mike? How dare you leave that out. No “it takes a village” statement? How dare you! I wasn’t offended. I heard the part about making your own way. Politics aside, that made sense. That always makes sense.  

In the same year that Bloomberg was addressing over 5,000 graduates at Stanford, a tiny college on the East Coast College, a woman spoke to a few dozen graduates at Sweet Briar College. The commencement speaker was Nella Barkley. With a student body of 300, Sweet Briar is a postage stamp of a women's college; yet the commencement speech for 2013 was “controversial,” and it made Forbes' “most controversial” commencement speech list. 


Nella Barkley is a 1955 graduate of Sweet Briar and an accomplished woman. Her speech was lengthy. It offered a lot of terrific suggestions for succeeding in life. The few dozen women graduates would have been well served to listen to her. Nonetheless, it wasn’t her accomplishments or invaluable advice for success that resonated with the disaffected and always offended a few. She had the temerity to say that she wasn’t a “raging feminist.” 

She mentioned she was in “partial sympathy” with the “MeToo” tidal wave, but she added that “I have little patience with the woman who arrives breathlessly at her boss’s hotel room for a so-called conference. What did she think was going to happen?”

Some of the graduates started to squirm. Barkley went on, recalling “University of Virginia men came to look over the freshmen.” She added that she "loves men...I married one.” She also said that she didn’t think it was a “man’s world.”

Her advice for success followed that 30-second-aside, but the outrage mob didn’t listen to the rest of her talk. They didn’t want to know about succeeding. They just wanted to be offended. And, they were.

Forbes reported on the made-up controversy: 

“Sweet Briar should be embarrassed,” wrote one student. Another called the speech “tasteless and insensitive.” Many wondered why a women’s college would invite a speaker who didn’t understand feminism. One said the speech was “shameful and disgusting,” observing that “there were sexual assault survivors in the graduation class today who had to relive horrible memories as Ms. Barkley participated in victim blaming and internalized misogyny.”


Barkley was happily married to the same man until his death. She’s a graduate of Harvard’s Business School. The Barkleys raised three children while Nella built her own business. Barkley is, in fact, the type of “feminist” that graduates should look up to and admire. They should have listened to her. But many didn’t hear her story. 

She doesn’t blame men. Of course, that's a problem. She told the graduating women to make their own way. To grow up. She gave graduates specific steps to follow for success. But the outrage mob didn’t hear that message. They didn't want to hear that message. What they heard was what offended them. 

Last week, the outrage mob dogpiled on Harrison Butker because he had the nerve to say that women, particularly Catholic women can find fulfillment in homemaking and raising a family. The Outrage Mobsters didn’t want to hear that, or the rest of his speech. Why is his speech spending a week in the news cycle? Because the mobsters need more division, more outrage, more talking points to divide. 

My colleague Brandon Morse was spot on when he wrote

Let's be honest about why Butker's message evoked the backlash it did...

...it's because he's right. So right that if women were to look more closely at the data behind all the corporate press articles that encourage women to get into the workplace to be wage slaves, rewarding corporations with a workforce that ticks ESG boxes for more money and gives the government more taxable income, more women would be horrified and walk away from the feminist lie. At the very least, it would begin removing focus from their careers and begin putting them more on raising and maintaining a family. 


The mob sees America losing patience with their nonsense. It isn’t about Butker - he’s just the moment’s figurehead. They hate tradition. They hate American tradition. The idea of a man and woman, with the woman at home, is anathema. The outrage mob hates that--and they hate you. 


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