Having had several friends and family graduate from bachelor’s and master’s degree programs over the last several years, I’ve yet to hear a commencement speech that truly inspires and leaves graduates with one last message of wisdom, truth, and hope for those who have been trained to become leaders in our community. From everything to “Go party and live it up”, to “Conquer and take no prisoners”, it seems a trend with secular universities to drag in a run-of-the mill humanist, ask them to deliver a thought-provoking message on squishy flower-power ethics, and then slap the grads on the butt as they head out the door.
Today at Missouri Western, it was unfortunately no different. Because for the May 12, 2012 commencement exercises, Dr. David W. Tushaus delivered the following, “I challenge you to expand your dreams to a more just society. A society where we are all judged by the content of our character, as Dr. King once dreamed. Not by the color of our skin, not by the house we worship in, not by our class, our sexual orientation, or our gender. You need empathy to seek justice for others, and you don’t have to go far to seek justice for all. Justice really begins at home. Creating a peaceful home for your family and friends may be the most important kind of justice you can seek. But I know you can do more. Seeking justice on the basis of race, gender, class and orientation is also important for you to do…’with liberty and justice for all’ is not a destination our country has reached. It’s a charge for us to take up, using the talents and education we have.”
So let me get this straight. Since when did justice and the understanding of law become a personal matter? Is Tushaus suggesting anarchy? Or does he merely believe justice and the defining of law is yet again one of those nebulous concepts that mob rule can decide upon based on social fashion and whatever the whim of the moment decrees?
But Dr. Tushaus unfortunately wasn’t finished, and chose to end his speech by taking a swipe at American history, our Founders, and the foundational beliefs of our nation by saying, “Our nation’s greatness is not based on where we started in this journey for justice. It is the result of how far we have come. We can add to that greatness. You can add to that greatness…Seek justice for all in your own way.”
The Graduates deserved better, and the weak applause after Tushaus’s speech confirmed the audience thought so too. But no doubt someone high in the Missouri Western food-chain wanted a good back-scratching, and so Tushaus ended up with the gig – proving once again that despite the following qualifications, a fancy resume rarely conveys common-sense brilliance: “Tushaus was recently selected for a Fulbright Award to research and teach at Banaras Hindu University in Varanasi, India, this fall, one of only about 800 Fulbright U.S. scholars sent abroad for a semester. Tushaus began teaching at Missouri Western in 1999. Before that, he worked 14 years at Legal Aid of Western Missouri. Tushaus received a bachelors degree in sociology from the University of Missouri-Columbia, and both a masters degree in urban and regional planning and his law degree from the University of Iowa.”
If you would like to contact Missouri Western State University and politely let them know that you believe their criminal justice professors (and future commencement speakers) should have a foundational understanding of where justice comes from, and the truth of law, please see the following:
Kent Heier, Assistant PR/ Marketing Director for MWSU
Phone: 816-271-4124, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. David W. Tushaus, Professor of Legal Studies, Department Chair (B.A., University of Missouri-Columbia; M.A., J.D., University of Iowa)
Phone: 816-271-5627, Email: email@example.com