Janet Napolitano Heckled at Commencement Speech


The National Guard

'Tis the season for boycotting commencement speakers. The latest mover-and-shaker to get the cold shoulder from the Class of 2014 is former Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano.

The student government of Laney College, a community college in California, first "approved a resolution calling for Napolitano," who is currently the head honcho of the University of California system, "to be disinvited." She came anyway and was poorly received, and not only by students.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports:

Booing and at one point turning their backs on her, dozens of students, faculty and supporters in the audience objected to remarks by the former chief of Homeland Security, who has been faulted for her stance on immigration issues during her time with the Obama administration. Many pumped their fists as a gesture of defiance.

"No one could hear her as she was speaking, the whole time," said Yvette Felarca, one of the organizers of the protest. "It was a very proud day for Oakland—we made it clear that she was not welcome at Laney College. It was an insult, it never should have happened."

This incident has been marked with conspicuous silence compared to other boycotts of high-profile speakers like Bush-era Secretary of State Condaleezza Rice and International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde. This graduation season there's been debate about whether the kids are vigorously exercising their own free speech or if they're just childishly plugging their ears from new ideas. Perhaps people aren't talking about Napolitano because they're already jaded to the commencement debate. Or perhaps people have far less sympathy when the person being snubbed has deported a record number of immigrants, suggested that veterans pose a right-wing terror threat to the U.S., and instituted "enhanced pat downs" of the genitals of air travelers.