What to Tell This Year's Graduates About Life
College commencement speakers, tell the kids to keep their noses to the grindstone.
In late 1941, during the most difficult months of World War II, when the outcome was still very much in doubt, Winston Churchill delivered a speech at the Harrow School in which he advised the graduating students: “Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never — in nothing, great or small, large or petty — never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense.” Churchill’s remarks deserve to be quoted by college-commencement speakers around the country this month — and they probably would be if he were not a “dead white male.”
Though student activists today have little understanding of “good sense” or “honor,” they have demonstrated plenty of resolve. Indeed, they are much better at never giving in than the administrators and faculty members who are charged with educating them.
Student protesters have offered a never-ending stream of demands for free tuition, gender-neutral bathrooms, the removal of historic names from buildings, the censoring of professors, the disinvitation of speakers, and the resignation of administrators. But this year, things have taken a violent turn. The riots at Berkeley over Milo Yiannopoulos, the attack on Charles Murray, and the threats against Heather Mac Donald, along with other similar incidents, suggest that the time may have arrived for a different response.
Which is why commencement speakers this spring have a different responsibility from that of their predecessors. The politicians, businesspeople, and entertainers charged with giving advice to 21-year-olds usually tell graduates....
James Piereson is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. Naomi Schaefer Riley is a senior fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum.
This piece originally appeared in National Review Online