New Yorker Editor Tells SU Grads How America Is Racist, Mysoginist, Homophobic

Remnick SU

New Yorker editor David Remnick delivered the commencement speech at Syracuse University Sunday morning. It took him a while to get to his point, but finally he did. America is still a very racist, homophobic and misogynist place. Oh yeah, and Republicans are immoral cowards.

And yet, if the world is on such upward trajectories, aren’t you just free to pursue your own private lives and tend your private gardens? Needless to say, my triumphalist description of global advance is full of holes and gigantic, horrifying exceptions. If you think racism in America is disappeared, you know nothing of Trayvon Martin. If you think racism in America is disappeared, you haven’t tried to drive or hail a cab while black or brown. If you think sexism is dead in America, you haven’t taken note of the unbearable maleness of corporate boardrooms in New York or Silicon Valley. If you think sexism in America is dead you haven’t noticed that women are still paid markedly less than men for comparable work. If you think homophobia is dead, you are not watching the last round of Republican primary debates when a gay combat soldier in Afghanistan asked the candidates about his rights in the military and members of the crowd booed him and the candidates, cowards one and all, failed to stand up for him.

Ah, but then comes the part about how all of these new graduates can do something about all of these wrongs. I’m surprised Remnick didn’t tell them to vote for Democrats, but as he might say, that is self evident.

But all of that is self evident. I said I wanted to speak of the demands on you of vision. What I mean is that the rate and the way the world advances is dependent on us and now most definitely as of this day on you. Nothing is inevitable. If this day means anything, it means that you are now in the contingent of the responsible. You must be kind, yes, but you must also look beyond your own house. We’re depending on you for your efforts and your vision. We are depending on your eye and your imagination to identify what am wrongs exist and persist, and on your hands, your backs, your efforts to right them.

You can read the whole thing if you want, but it doesn’t get any better. Unless you need a reminder about slavery, want to hear that the Catholic church invented waterboarding, or that gun owners are bad.

Naturally Remnick didn’t mention anything about how politicians are reckless with our tax dollars, or how difficult it’s going to be for these graduates to find jobs and pay back their student loans. Not a word was mentioned about the national debt, which will be a drag on the economy for all of these young graduates’ working lives. I guess that would have been too much of a downer.