Today’s source of disgust is the fact that Calvin College will be hosting President Bush as the speaker for this year’s commencement (Brits read: graduation) speech, bumping out the previously booked Nicholas Wolterstorff. You can read the official announcement here or media mouse’s report here.
It’s a remarkably divisive move for a college that has been trying to position itself as transcending the narrow confines of the world of “Christian education”. While the honour of being recognised by your country’s president is significant, it is diluted when that president is this divisive, has a track record of excluding people from his events on the basis of their political allegiance, and consistently attempts to co-opt the Christian faith into a narrow partisan agenda. While the appearance of President Bush may shore up support for the college in conservative circles, it’ll hurt attempts to reach out beyond them.
The official announcement makes mention of Jim Wallis’ scheduled appearance at Calvin next month as evidence of “breadth”; a suggestion dripping in irony. While the media may position Wallis slightly to the left of the centre of American politics, the politics he is promoting on his current tour are explicitly centrist. To those of us who can more easily be described as “left-wing” and/or “liberal” it rather reads as: “We’re balanced! We occasionally let centrism into our right-wing outlook”. Very, very sad.