Donald Trump, he of thin-skin who cannot abide criticism, had a week filled with self-inflicted pain last week. However, at the end of the day he found a niche where everybody still loved him and thought he was wonderful: Liberty University. Trump delivered his first commencement address as president to a crowd of 50,000 at the university’s football stadium on Saturday. Apparently the graduating class was so busy with exams and what-not last week that they did not see how big a fool Trump made of himself all week, for they gave him a standing ovation and then briefly chanted: “USA! USA! USA!”. Some even exchanged their mortarboards for red “Make America Great Again” hats.
Liberty was founded in 1971 by televangelist Jerry Falwell Sr. and is now led by his son, Jerry Falwell Jr. Now, both Falwells, senior and junior have been on my list to receive the Idiot of the Week award for quite some time, though I am not a fan of giving the award posthumously, as Falwell Sr has been dead for some 10 years. Nonetheless, Senior earned the award because he once hoped for an end to public education and blamed abortion providers, feminists, and gay rights supporters for secularizing the nation and paving the way for 9/11. Junior because of his almost creepy adulation for Trump, even defending him for the remarks he made about how he had sexually abused women, saying, “I don’t think the American people want this country to go down the toilet because Donald Trump made some dumb comments on a tape 11 years ago,”
Trump’s speech, it is said, was somewhat subdued for Trump, but not without his usual message of contentiousness toward his critics. A few snippets:
“A small group of failed voices who think they know everything, and understand everyone, want to tell everybody else how to live and what to do and how to think. But you aren’t going to let other people tell you what you believe.”
“What will future Americans say we did in our brief time right here on Earth? Did we take risks? Did we dare to defy expectations? Did we challenge accepted wisdom and take on established systems? I think I did … “
“Following your convictions means you must be willing to face criticism from those who lack the same courage to do what is right — and they know what is right, but they don’t have the courage or the guts or the stamina to take it and to do it. It’s called the road less traveled.”
“Nothing is easier or more pathetic than being a critic, because they’re people that can’t get the job done. But the future belongs to the dreamers, not to the critics. the future belongs to the people who follow their heart no matter what the critics say because they truly believe in their vision.”
That’s enough for me … but if you can stomach it, feel free to read the entire transcript.
Trump was, as is custom, awarded an honorary degree from Liberty University.
It was the fifth such honorary degree he has been given, but brings his total only to four, as one was rescinded. Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, Scotland, awarded Trump an honorary doctorate of business administration in 2010 — a controversial move at the time because the Aberdeen community where the university is located was divided over a Trump-led golf course project. When, six months into his campaign in December 2015, Trump called for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States”, the university withdrew the degree:
“In the course of the current US election campaign, Mr Trump has made a number of statements that are wholly incompatible with the ethos and values of the university. The university has therefore decided to revoke its award of the honorary degree.”
The thing that struck me most about Trump’s speech at Liberty University was some of the comments of people after the ceremony:
“Whatever he chooses is probably best for the moment,”
“He’s just very honest and to-the-point. He’s for everyone, not just one group of people.”
One man said he’s frustrated that the media is so obsessed with Comey’s firing, which he agrees with, and the investigation into ties between Trump’s campaign and Russia. “For nine months, they’ve talked about it. At some point, it has to stop,”
“He deserves our respect and admiration for enduring relentless and often dishonest attacks from the media, the establishment on the left and the right and from academia,” Falwell said. “I do not believe that any president in our lifetimes has done so much that has benefited the Christian community in such a short time span than Donald Trump,”
And on that note, I believe I will go drink a spot of ginger ale to try to settle the nausea that has suddenly assailed me.