Looks like we’ve found our commencement address theme of the year: intellectual curiosity! (Close second: “making a difference.”) Both President Obama and former president Bill Clinton have experienced the hardships of dealing with an increasingly polarized and partisan nation, and both want the next generation to be more open-minded about opinions and viewpoints that differ from their own. Here’s what Obama told graduating University of Michigan students on May 1.
“Still, if you’re someone who only reads the editorial page of The New York Times, try glancing at the page of The Wall Street Journal once in awhile. If you’re a fan of Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh, try reading a few columns on the Huffington Post website. It may make your blood boil; your mind may not often be changed. But the practice of listening to opposing views is essential for effective citizenship.”
And yesterday, a short while after being rear-ended on the highway (“Everybody in the passing lane slowed down, and we all slowed down, and one person didn’t. It happened to be the person behind us,” he explained), Clinton hit on a similar theme in his speech to graduating Yale students.
“The only place where we’re bigoted now is we only want to be around people who agree with us. You think about it. And in our media habits, we go to the television sites, we go to the radio talk shows, we go to the blog sites that agree with us, and it can have very bizarre consequences …. I force myself to listen to people who disagree with me, and to try to get into a fact based mode.”
We don’t know, this sounds a lot like the liberal brainwashing that our step-uncle’s chain e-mail warned us about.