Scott McDonald and Mike Pappas decided to go to the meeting anyway in hopes they would be allowed in with a video camera. But the tall white door to the Fordham president's inner sanctum was slammed shut in their faces, despite Scott's attempts to explain why he and his cameraman (Mike) should be allowed in. They were turned away with a "Have a good day," and escorted out by Security.
After Scott and Mike were barred from meeting with Brennan, Fordham students
went to the main entrances on the Bronx campus, where they began distributing
orange ribbons (symbols of Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, and other torture sites) and
pamphlets on Brennan. Students handed out 2,000 information pamphlets outlining
exactly who Mr. Brennan is, why his policies and actions are not in line with
Fordham's Jesuit values, and why students would be protesting at the
commencement exercises. See an image of the pamphlet below...
Students also handed out 1,000 orange ribbons to students, alumni, family, and friends of the Fordham community. And during Mr. Brennan's address, 10 to 15 people stood and turned their backs, including one Fordham family of four.
Too Clever By Half
The protest of Brennan and the policies he stands for gained so much recognition on campus that he found it necessary during his commencement address to try to dismiss the protesters with a sarcastic comment:
"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."President Joseph M. McShane, S.J. also dedicated a large portion of his own speech to putting the best face on the administration's ostensible openness to dialogue on the thorny issues provoked by the invitation to Brennan. An article posted on Fordham's website dutifully reported:
"In his own address, Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham, noted that he and Brennan met that morning with faculty members, students, and members of the Board of Trustees to hear and respond to concerns that had been raised about Brennan's selection as speaker."
As one can see from the points made above, President McShane's statements were not only highly misleading, but betrayed the Potemkin-village nature of the meeting with Brennan. It was hardly a gathering that just any student could attend, nor one that remotely held Mr. Brennan accountable for what he said -- whatever that turned out to be (we have no way of knowing). Clearly, this was just a PR stunt pulled by McShane and his courtiers, in a transparent attempt to create a better image for Fordhan in the public eye.
So much for transparency.
While Mr. Brennan, did offer to come back to Fordham for a discussion with Fordham students next year, it is an open question as to how open free any dialogue would be. Based on the experience at commencement, a return visit will likely be equally opaque if Fordham's McShane and Barack Obama remain incumbent presidents, and Brennan keeps pushing drones and other methods of summary execution with nary a nod to the Bill of Rights.
* Scott McDonald graduated Summa Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa in 2012 with a Bachelor of Science in Physics and a minor in mathematics. Scott plans to attend law school in 2013 and eventually practice law in the public interest.