Rice takes high road while bowing out

Give credit to former secretary of state Condoleeza Rice for choosing to step aside from delivering the graduation address at Rutgers University on May 18. While we don’t agree that someone who served the nation well should be shunted aside, we honor her display of class.

Faced with students protesting her appearance, Rice stepped aside, saying that commencement “should be a time of joyous celebration for the graduates and their families.”

She said her choice as speaker had become a distraction to Rutgers, so she announced Saturday, via Facebook, that she was stepping aside as speaker.

The student groups aligned against Rice were holding the Iraq war against Rice, or more specifically, the conduct of interrogations and the approval of waterboarding as a tactic to gain information in the war on terror.

We note the irony that the very freedoms the secretary worked to preserve were used against her in a free and vocal university community. We’ll also note the robust protest movement is again alive and well on college campuses if the Rutgers student sit-in is any indication.

“I am honored to have served my country. I have defended America’s belief in free speech and the exchange of ideas. These values are essential to the health of our democracy. But that is not what is at issue here. As a professor for 30 years at Stanford University and as its former Provost and Chief academic officer, I understand and embrace the purpose of the commencement ceremony and I am simply unwilling to detract from it in any way,” Rice wrote.

Eloquent and elegant, done without animosity or more undue publicity.