This from a self-described liberal/Progressive blog. The posting first describes the debate at BYU, and then draws parallels to Methodist and faculty opposition to the Bush complex at SMU. Although this is not a reason of itself to oppose either Cheney’s commencement address or the coming of the Bush complex to SMU, it’s amazing to me how loathed Bush and Cheney are across this country, even in the heart of supposedly “Red” America.
Dick Cheney is catching heat this week from what many progressives may view as an unlikely source, students, parents, alumni, faculty, and others affiliated with Brigham Young University. Why has an invitation for Cheney to speak at the university’s graduation next month been met with criticism from members of an institution that appears to be the embodiment of conservative morality?
As the leading university of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS), Brigham Young University (BYU) in Salt Lake City, Utah is, in many respects, a conservative institution. Wikipedia asserts that 98% of its students are LDS members, and, as a condition for admission to the university, students commit to an honor code that forbids sex outside of marriage, mandates traditional standards of dress and grooming, and imposes other requirements consistent with the conservative strict father worldview. However, as the dissent expressed by some members of the Brigham Young University community illustrates, it is not solely a conservative institution.
An article in Utah’s Daily Herald provides a revealing quote from a professor at BYU’s Marriott School of Business, Warner Woodworth:
“Cheney’s coming here is a contradiction of what we’re trying to do,” he said. “We represent an institution of peace, he represents an institution of war … an institution of deception and outright lies.”
The posting turns briefly to the SMU debate. The author mischaracterizes SMU, lumping us in with BYU as a “religious educational institution that also reflects conservative values.” I hope that we’re not perceived that way by the general public, even though I appreciate his larger point about how self-identified progressives shouldn’t write places like BYU off:
In both the opposition to Cheney’s planned commencement address at Brigham Young University and the protests against the proposed Bush library at Southern Methodist University, we find expressions of progressive values from people who have chosen to join religious educational institutions that also reflect conservative values. Many of these people may apply conservative values in some areas of their lives, but their progressive values are no less valid. Turning the country in a positive direction requires us to activate the progressive worldview in and work with people whose lives are guided largely by religious principles and values, which have both progressive and conservative dimensions. The future of our country depends on it.