The following post I received from Dr. Warner Woodworth, Mariott School of Management, BYU. It is his protest to Dick Cheney’s commencement address at BYU. I am posting it here at his request, exactly as it appeared in his email.
“Tricky Dick” Cheney at BYU Commencement
Dr. Warner Woodworth, Marriott School, BYU
A political firestorm has broken out on the usually peaceful campus of Brigham Young University, long assumed to be a bastion of political conservatism. For whatever reason, BYU has invited surly V.P. Dick Cheney to speak at commencement exercises on April 26. Actually, Cheney’s staff initiated the proposal and BYU agreed to make the offer. Obviously the Vice-President had no where else to go. His public appearances and speeches recently have occurred mostly at secure military bases, or with veterans of the armed forces, crowds where he is still greeted with an air of acceptability, if not respect.
For many members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) worldwide, as well as students, faculty and administrators at BYU, his presence is disheartening. Since they and I are devoted Church members, why do we not support the VP? Let’s summarize a few of the numerous gripes in hundreds of messages sent to my campus office.
Cheney will be the first recipient of an honorary degree at BYU to be undergoing impeachment during commencement ceremonies. An earlier VP, Spiro Agnew, also spoke at BYU and was honored back when I was a college student. Then shortly afterward, he was forced out of office and became convicted of corporate bribery and corruption, matters about which Cheney’s firm, Halliburton, is currently trying to defend itself.
I strongly disagree with Cheney over the Iraq invasion. His defenders whine that the Clinton administration and other nations also suspected that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. Perhaps so. But they didn’t naively launch a war, nor did they begin the decline of American credibility around the world. They didn’t assert, as Cheney did, that we would be greeted as “liberators.” Nor do competent individuals claim, like Tricky Dick did, that Iraq “will be an enormous success story,” or that the “insurgency is in its last throes.” More recently, he has asserted that the conflict is going wonderfully.
BYU stands for peace, not war-mongering. BYU’s Honor Code preaches clean language, not the “F” and “S” words that the VP habitually employs. Our students are taught ethical decision-making, not advocacy of water boarding and other vicious torture methods. Defending mistreatment at the Guantanamo prison, outing a covert CIA official and then having his top assistant, Scooter Libbey, take the fall and eventually be convicted for perjury, lying and obstruction of justice—all point to a culture of corruption, as well as downright incompetence. Add to these such activities as secretive conspiracies which led to spying on Americans, colluding with big oil executives, dumping U.S. Attorneys who objectively try to enforce the law, and the many other scandals of this guy—no wonder many Mormons will oppose Cheney’s arrival on campus tomorrow. His ethics wouldn’t even qualify him to be a Boy Scout!
Just for the record, I need to explicitly state that in the 2006 elections I was a registered Republican and voted for a number of local Republican candidates, as well as Democrats and others. Over the years, I have always sought to consider electoral choices based on their policies, not their party; their issues and not their political entity. Thus, over the years I have voted Republican, Democrat, Independent, Green, Libertarian, and so forth. Other important electoral criteria for me include the candidate’s ethics, the morality of their personal lives, and the extent to which they seek power to enhance their own careers or, alternatively, they seek to empower constituents as American citizens.