Bush, in his address to the graduating class of the U.S. Coast Guard Adcademy, accused Europe of hindering efforts to end Africa’s hunger problem. His argument posits that Europe’s ban on genetically modified food has deterred African countries from using this technology and therefore deprived these countries of the benefits of modified high-yield crops. To try and place the blame for Africa’s famines on Europe’s doorstep is censurable and seems to indicate a certain lack of self-examination on the part of the U.S. administration. Perhaps Mr. Bush would do well to read some of Amartya Sen’s work. To say that increasing the food supply would end Africa’s hunger is a gross oversimplification. Even more reprehensible is the disingenuousness of trying to hide the economic interests of big industries behind the guise of humanitarianism.
Over in Illinois, NYTimes rerporter Chris Hedges was also giving a commencement speech. He opened by saying ” I want to speak to you today about war and empire…For we are embarking on an occupation that, if history is any guide, will be as damaging to our souls as it will be to our prestige, power and security.” He went on to criticize the U.S.’s recent foreign policy, which should not have come as a surprise to anyone familiar with Mr. Hedge’s past work. What was surprising perhaps, was the reaction of the graduates of Rockford College, a small liberal arts college known mainly for being the alma mater of social activist Jane Addams. During the course of his speech, Mr. Hedge’s microphone was unplugged twice, he was interrupted by heckling and chanting from the audience, several students tried to rush the stage, and one student threw his cap and gown on the stage before leaving. What ever happened to insitutions of higher learning as places for fostering the exchange of ideas?