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Dickinson College cancels CNN commencement speaker to appease pro-Palestinian students

Journalist says objectors ‘grossly distorted’ quotes from his 9/11 book

Graduates of Dickinson College celebrated commencement Sunday without a speaker after the private institution rescinded its invitation to CNN host Michael Smerconish due to complaints from pro-Palestinian students, according to local news reports.

Administrators at the private Pennsylvania college cited “overwhelming opposition” to Smerconish (pictured) from faculty and students in a recent statement.

“As a result, with the support of our Board of Trustees, I have decided to rescind the honorary degree and invitation to speak at Commencement,” President John Jones said in the statement.

The criticism was based on excerpts from the journalist’s 2004 book “Flying Blind: How Political Correctness Continues to Compromise Airline Safety Post 9/11.”

Students said the book supports “racial profiling” and suggests “that anyone who is Arab American or Muslim should be racially profiled,” CBS 21 News reports.

Canceling Smerconish’s speech was one of the demands pro-Palestinian students made when they set up an encampment at Dickinson earlier this month, according to the report.

Responding in a statement on his website, Smerconish said his writings have been “grossly distorted,” and the quotes taken from his book were “surgically selected” to “suit their narrative.”

“The twisting of an uncontroversial book when I wrote it twenty years ago without acknowledgment of the context in which it was written — and the resultant cancellation of constructive graduation remarks — is regrettably a reflection of our times,” he wrote.

Smerconish said many alumni have contacted him to express their disappointment with the college’s decision.

“This should be a cautionary tale for anyone in America who believes in fairness, common sense, the free exchange of ideas, rational decision-making, and the importance of leadership in the face of hysteria,” he wrote.

Smerconish said he wished Dickinson’s president would have done “the honorable thing” and called to “explain his inability to control the unjustified campus sentiment.”

He said Jones also could have asked him to withdraw from the event “in return for a public statement saying that this should in no way be viewed as a negative reflection of my scholarship or work as a journalist.”

This spring, President Joe Biden’s ambassador to the United Nations also was canceled as a commencement speaker at two colleges due to backlash from pro-Palestinian activists.

MORE: Democrats outnumber Republicans as commencement speakers – again

IMAGE: CNN screenshot

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About the Author
Micaiah Bilger is an assistant editor at The College Fix.