On Wednesday evening, Karl Rove visited the University of Mary Washington to speak about…well, we're not entirely sure, since tickets to the event cost way more money than we were willing to pay to listen to the self-styled architect of President George W. Bush's disastrous foreign policy. While Karl Rove was inside, student protesters were outside making some noise and reminding the community that right-wing conservatives (see also: Cuccinelli, Ken) are not the only form of active political life in Fredericksburg.
Virginia Organizing campus chapter leaders made some incredibly creative signs and serenaded speech attendees with chants like, “Hey somebody, call the police/there's a war criminal on our street.” UMW administrators instructed the police to keep students confined to a designated “Free Speech Zone,” missing the glaring irony of inviting Karl Rove to give a featured presentation while cordoning of the voices of the very people whose tuition paid for event security and the cleaning crews who swept the auditorium after the event.
Protests like this one are a valuable reminder that the freedom to speak is not only a right but also a moral imperative. Progressives would do well to follow the lead of the UMW students and remind Bush administration officials, at every opportunity, of the price we are still paying for their disastrous foreign and domestic policy. While many of the UMW students were in grade school when the Bush administration began, their adulthood will be defined by the wars and jobs crisis begun under Karl Rove’s reign.
They realize that they’ve been hoodwinked and told Karl Rove to go home, exercising far better judgment than the administrators who saw it fit to invite him.