In his commencement speech last Saturday, Brennan piled on more feel-good sound bites and tried his best to appear magnanimous by alluding to the protesters in this overly clever way:
"Much has been attributed to me over the course of my career. ... And after recently reading some of the things that I reportedly have done, said, or have been responsible for while I was at the CIA and the White House, I must admit that I was deeply torn between giving the commencement address or joining the protesters and petitioners who have so energetically opposed my appearance."
The aforementioned is, of course, a common self-deprecating tactic, which Brennan uses before Arab- and Muslim-American audiences as well. He resorts to a string of rhetorical devices and catchy quotes in order to divert attention from the violent policies and tactics that he supports and implements.
A Matter of Conscience
I don't know how John Brennan can say he rests "peacefully at night," when he knows my fellow Muslims are wrongfully detained, imprisoned, spied on, and literally murdered by his policies.
In Islam, God tells us that an evil person does not always come in the form of the devil spewing outright hatred and condoning mischief; rather, such a person comes to mankind preaching peace and goodness to gain fame through affected charm. John Brennan fits this description quite well.
To this day, he persistently tries to justify the torture, surveillance, and murder of Muslims around the world in the name of making America safer. It is, in fact, making America less safe -- more vulnerable to the increasing number of outraged families mourning the deaths of relatives and friends killed in drone strikes.
Brennan said he calls upon the "life lessons" he learned from his theology, philosophy, and political science professors at Fordham to help him do his job. Consequently, he added -- emphasized -- "I can rest peacefully at night, and I do."
As for Brennan's thanks to his professors for giving him the wisdom to justify what he does, and still sleep well at night, I have no idea whether his former theology and philosophy professors are okay with having Brennan's "life lessons" on their consciences. John Entelis, Brennan's former political science professor and now director of Fordham's Middle East Studies Program, however, is another story. He clearly has no problem with his role in shaping Brennan's worldview.
Entelis was Brennan's sponsor for the honor of addressing commencement and presented him with the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters Honoris Causa degree. As Fordham's advance publicity proudly asserts, it was under Entelis that Brennan became "enthralled" with the Middle East.
Entelis is openly proud of the path upon which he launched Brennan. This isn't surprising considering that Entelis is a past board member and current lecturer at The Center for the Study of Islam & Democracy (CSID), which is an NGO funded by the U.S. State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development.
Essentially, this NGO attempts to use "soft power" (i.e. scholarly engagement) to subvert Shari'ah (Islamic Law) in Muslim-majority countries, in order to influence them to conform to liberal democratic policies. This is the sort of diluted Islam that, in my view, is not authentic in which Brennan would like to see emerge in the Middle East with the help of missiles from drones -- "hard power."
Hence, it should come as no surprise that, before he was killed, Shaykh Anwar Al-Awlaki had spoken out against NGOS like CSID, which are extensively mentioned in the RAND Corporation's Report: "Building Moderate Muslim Networks."
The Road Less Traveled at Fordham
I was pleased that in the midst of this controversy, there were 10 to 15 classmates who stood up for justice during the commencement and symbolically turned their backs on Brennan and what he stands for.
It is not easy to stage a protest at a family event like graduation, but it is often those who take the road less traveled who are on the correct path. If you follow the beaten path, it will often lead you astray.