As I sit here before you, I must admit I am truly exhausted from a full day. I've read the thread about Ohio State on LBN, and I am here to tell you it is true...and then some. I'll try to hit all the details.
And what happened to us is truly unbelieveable.
We arrived at Ohio Stadium at 6am. A rally was scheduled at the Jesse Owens memorial site for that time, and the graduates were to be at their places by 630am. Family and friends were permitted to enter at that time as well.
I didn't get close enough to the 6am rally, but in my search for an organizer of Turn Your Back On Bush, I did indeed hear the announcement. Graduating students were told that they would be expelled and arrested if they turned their backs. they were alerted that dozens of staff memebers and police officers would be watching the stands, as well as the Secret Service. A few students asked for the definition of expulsion....did it mean removal from the stadium or refusal of their diplomas, or both? One of the persons at the front said "Both. And what will your parents do when they are paged from the crowd to bail out their son?" I do not know if this person had an official capacity with the Ohio State University or any police department.
I must say, I did not hear that exchange. I was informed of it later when I found outside the stadium protesting. To tell these ADULTS that after 4 years and 80,000 dollars that they would be tossed aside if they didn't face a certain direction?????
I began to wonder how many of those students went to find their friends who were graduating pre-law.....
We entered the stadium later with family and friends, and similar statements swirled around the crowd. "Please make sure you stand and loudly cheer our President. Our graduates have been requested to do the same, and have agreed to give a loud cheer for Mr. Bush", etc.....
Once inside, we decided that it might not be a good idea to be too close to the front. We saw the lines of people waiting to get in the stadium.....and yes, we saw the yellow buses that carted them all in. I asked one of them where they were from. The woman replied "Upper Arlington". However, she could not provide a zip code when I asked her for it (the main zip code for UA is 43221). Figuring on the masses of bussed-in people, we knew it might not be wise to be up front.
We went behind the graduates and looked for peace signs on the mortar boards (a sign that was meant to ID the Turn-Your-Backers). It was really difficult to get an accurate count, but there were a LOT of peace signs. I was sure that we weren't the only ones counting peace signs.
It didn't take long for our stomachs to turn....the first speaker (I believe teh OSU President) began spouting about how proud they were to have Bush there. He said "We have a long tradition of inviting great men and women to speak at our commencements." I quickly responded "but since we couldn't get one, here's Georgie".
That got the attention of the state trooper in front of us. His eyes were on me the rest of the time.
The speech continued to mention that Chimpy was "a tireless worker in the field of education" and "a man who unified this country after the terrible events of 9/11". It was interesting to note that it took a LONG time for the 9/11 applause to turn into a standing ovation....they held out for that one, not continuing the speech intentionally.
About 10 minutes later, Shrub was introduced to speak. Before he even got to the stage, we did our about-face. I looked over my shoulder to see how many graduates were doing the same. However, everybody was standing at that point, and in pure black robes, it was impossible to see who was facoing what direction. Furthermore, over that same shoulder, I saw one of Columbus' Finest heading our way.
We never got to see how many students participated. We were being led out of Ohio Stadium. To the officers' credit, he realized there was a 3-year-old in my arms and was not at all hostile. I asked him if I was under arrest, and he did not answer me. When we reached the exit, I asked the SS man why we had been ejected, and he told me we were being charged with disturbing the peace. If we chose to leave, the charges would be dropped immediately.
With our daughter in mind, we chose not to fight it. I am sure we will regret it someday when Bush's fabulous economy strikes us and we need a few million in a lawsuit. But our daughter did not need any more irritation on this day.
On this day, June 14th, 2002, I came to the realization that we no longer live in a free society. This is rapidly heading in the same way Nazi Germany headed. Questioning our leaders is no longer the most outrageous crime you can be charged with. Not paying attention to them is.
As you take in this message I give to you, I would like to add a footnote. Next time, I will not leave quietly. Next time, I will not allow you to intimidate my fellow Americans who wish to speak out. Next time I will not be so blind when I confront you. Next time we meet, I will have more people with me to oppose you. Next time, I will have brought voter registration cards for people whose eyes I will open to your oppression.
And next time, I will have a babysitter.
Source: http://www.democraticunderground.com/cgi bin/duforum/duboard.cgi?az=show_thread&om=27823&forum=DCForumID35
Changed President-- or a New Repression?
June 17, 2002
President Bush's June 14 commencement address at Ohio State University was a sign of a "revived" presidency, according to Washington Post reporter Dana Milbank. "Bush basked in the adulation of 55,000 people who treated
him to waves of standing ovations in Ohio Stadium as he received an honorary doctorate," according to the paper (6/15/02). "If there was a protest in the stadium, it was not visible to reporters."
In contrast, wrote Milbank, when Bush received an honorary degree last year from Yale University, "he was booed, heckled and greeted with a sea
of protest signs." While pointing out that Yale and Ohio State are different places, the Post reporter asserted that "the real cause of the
difference in reception is the transformation of Bush and his presidency
since the September 11 terrorist attacks."
There may have been no protests visible to the Post reporter, but, as other media reported, there may have been other reasons for this in addition to "adulation" for Bush. According to the Columbus Dispatch (6/15/02), students were warned ahead of time they faced arrest if they showed any signs of dissent: "Graduates had been warned during rehearsal
on Thursday that they faced arrest if-- as was rumored-- some stood up and turned their backs on Bush during his speech." The warning continued on the day of the event as well, according to the Associated Press (6/14/02): "Immediately before class members filed into the giant football stadium,
an announcer instructed the crowd that all the university's speakers deserve to be treated with respect and that anyone demonstrating or heckling would be subject to expulsion and arrest. The announcer urged that Bush be greeted with a 'thunderous' ovation."
And some observers did, in fact, notice protests during the ceremony. As
reported in The Lantern (6/14/02), Ohio State University's campus paper,
"Three graduates and six audience members-- one draped in a Palestinian flag-- actually did turn their backs but were hardly noticed by the crowd of about 60,000." A demonstration held outside the stadium attracted a small group of protesters as well (Columbus Dispatch, 6/15/02).
None of this information made it into Milbank's report.
ACTION: Please contact the Washington Post and ask them why attempts to stifle dissent at George W. Bush's commencement address at Ohio State University were not newsworthy.
CONTACT: Washington Post Michael Getler, Ombudsman mailto:[email protected] 202 334.7582
As always, please remember that your comments are taken more seriously if you maintain a polite tone. Please cc [email protected] with your correspondence.
Fri Jun 14,12:52
by Lawrence L.
Knutson, Associated Press Writer
COLUMBUS, Ohio - President Bush ( news - web sites) urged America's new college graduates on Friday to respond to the challenges of terrorism and war by making "a culture of service" a permanent part of American life.
Delivering the commencement address before 5,500 Ohio State University graduates and degree recipients, Bush renewed the effort begun after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks to involve millions of Americans in purposeful community service.
"Service is not a chain or a chore it gives direction to your gifts and purpose to your freedom," Bush said.
While skeptics believe the spirit of idealism engendered by the Sept. 11 attacks is fading, America's young people have the opportunity to determine whether that spirit is "the break of a wave or the rise of a tide," Bush told the audience gathered at Ohio Stadium.
"You will determine whether we become a culture of selfishness and look inward or whether we will embrace a culture of service and look outward," the president said.
Bush said he is confident of the results.
"Your class and generation understand that the responsibility which begins in your life must extend to your nation," he said. "And so you will make a culture of service a permanent part of American life."
"By sharing the pain of a friend, or bearing the hopes of a child, or defending the liberty of your fellow citizens you will gain satisfaction that cannot be gained in any other way," Bush said.
Bush, who received an honorary doctor of public administration degree during the ceremonies, announced a new clearinghouse feature of the USA Freedom Corps Website. It will allow Americans to type in their zip code and, via links to more than 20,000 service organizations, instantly identify volunteer opportunities just "minutes away from their homes," said Freedom Corps director John Bridgeland.
After the graduation ceremonies, Bush was continuing on to Houston to highlight, by visiting a summer reading camp, the kinds of things volunteers can do.
While in Houston, he was also raising $1.2 million for Gov. Rick Perry's re-election campaign and another $500,000 for the Texas state GOP.
In Ohio, the graduates and more than 55,000 family members and friends listened as Bush spoke of the importance of volunteerism, and opportunities for service offered by the USA Freedom Corps, the Peace Corps and other organizations.
The White House touted the speech as the president's first to a graduating class at a civilian university since Sept. 11. He addressed the class of 2002 at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point on June 1.
Bush was invited to speak at the Ohio State commencement by representatives of the graduating class. But immediately before class members filed into the giant football stadium, an announcer instructed the crowd that all the university's speakers deserve to be treated with respect and that anyone demonstrating or heckling could be subject to expulsion and arrest. The announcer urged a "thunderous" ovation for outgoing university President William Kirwan. Bush, too, was heavily applauded.