I was offended and saddened by the churlish silent protest of the brilliant political commentator George Will by so many seniors at the Baccalaureate address in, of all places, the Chapel. I wondered how many of the protesters had firsthand knowledge of the brilliance of his columns over the years: His mastery of English and his knowledge of U.S. history, politics and constitutional minutiae are unparalleled and make most other political commentators look woefully ill-equipped. Week in, week out, Will’s observations are sparkling prose poetry. On top of that, who cannot admire a man whose first love remains baseball and whose annual Baseball Trivia Quiz is an exasperating delight.
The treatment doled out to George Will by turning backs en masse, because apparently one column from 2014 had “offended” some, was itself highly offensive and disproportionate and a stain on Princeton’s commitment to, in the words of President Eisgruber, “civil virtues” such as common manners and a willingness to entertain the views some might find disagreeable. What is most lamentable is the irony of the shunning of Will: I wonder if any of the protesters realize that Will is one of the very few principled conservatives who has consistently taken Donald Trump to task for deviating from bedrock principles of conservatism, calling him out as a charlatan if not ignoramus. To treat a modern-day verbal hero with such disdain and effrontery was a disgrace.