By now, you’ve likely seen the countless media reports about Vice President Pence having students walk out of his commencement speech this past weekend at the Notre Dame Commencement. The mainstream media feverishly covered it, as though this was a large scale protest indicative of growing opposition to the Trump-Pence Administration. In reality, that just wasn’t the case.
In reality, that just wasn’t the case.
A longtime staffer of mine was present for the graduation ceremony, and her recollection of the event was nothing like what the media portrayed. She mentioned a small group walked out – small enough it was barely noticeable – and as folks near the back realized what was happening, they booed the protesters. Simple as that. The vast majority of the graduating class conducted themselves with grace and dignity and listened respectfully to the Vice President, regardless of whether they support his policy positions or not.
I think we can pull two valuable lessons from this ordeal: first, in the era of Trump, we have to be ever-wary of some in the mainstream media blowing situations out of proportion and misconstruing them to the American public. The media plays a significant role in our democratic republic, but it too needs checks from time to time – and that comes from ordinary citizens like you and I saying – wait a minute, that doesn’t sound right.
After years of glossing over Obama-era scandals such as Solyndra, the IRS targeting scandal, and the Operation Fast and Furious gun running scandal, many in the liberal-leaning media jump to any opportunity to impugn the Trump/Pence administration. Take for example the widespread coverage of the cost of Trump’s travel to be with his family some weekends in Mar-a-Lago. Suddenly, The New York Times discovered fiscal conservatism about taxpayer dollars?
Unfair press coverage aside, the substance of Vice President Pence’s speech was perfectly well-timed for this moment in history. He spoke about the importance of freedom of speech (which does include that handful of individuals’ right to walk out of a commencement ceremony). He also warned about the dangers of political correctness. Once a beacon for freedom of thought, speech, and ideas, college campuses have turned into “safe speech zones” where individuals value their right not to be offended over their constitutional and fundamental right to express their opinion and hear those of others.
I’ve got news for recent or soon-to-be college graduates: There are no safe spaces in the workforce and disrespecting those in authority isn’t a way to get ahead.
Vice President Pence gave an eloquent defense of the importance of free speech and of not falling victim to political correctness. Oddly enough, those who likely would benefit the most from hearing his speech were probably the ones who couldn’t be bothered to stay.
— Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) represents North Carolina’s 11th District. He is also Chairman of the House Freedom Caucus.