Obama: Turning Away Campus Speakers 'Misguided'

May 16, 2016

President Obama used part of his commencement speech at Rutgers University Sunday to criticize those who discourage or seek to block controversial speakers from appearing on campus. Specifically, he referenced the 2014 protests at Rutgers over the selection of Condoleezza Rice, U.S. secretary of state under President George W. Bush, to be commencement speaker. Amid the protests, she withdrew.

The president's words on the subject, which received applause:

"I know a couple years ago, folks on this campus got upset that Condoleezza Rice was supposed to speak at a commencement. Now, I don't think it's a secret that I disagree with many of the foreign policies of Dr. Rice and the previous administration. But the notion that this community or the country would be better served by not hearing from a former secretary of state, or shutting out what she had to say -- I believe that’s misguided. I don't think that's how democracy works best, when we're not even willing to listen to each other. I believe that's misguided. If you disagree with somebody, bring them in -- and ask them tough questions. Hold their feet to the fire. Make them defend their positions. If somebody has got a bad or offensive idea, prove it wrong. Engage it. Debate it. Stand up for what you believe in."

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