OTR Interviews

Rule of the 'little fascist students': free-thinking commencement speakers need not apply

The list of speakers disinvited or deciding not to speak at college graduations because of protests is growing


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," May 13, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: The list is growing. First, women's right activists Ayaan Hirsi Ali disinvited from speaking at Brandeis University's graduation. Then former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and now the IMF's Christine LaGarde -- both canceling graduation speeches after students and faculty protests.

So are commencement speakers afraid to speak, even bullied? Former Congressman Allen West joins us. Nice to see you, sir.


VAN SUSTEREN: What do you make of the fact that Christine LaGarde, the head of the IMF, she just pulling out of Smith? She's getting protested and she's pulling out.

WEST: I think what you have is the adults of these college administrations are really not in charge of these colleges anymore. And when you see small little groups of -- let's call it what it is -- these little Fascist students, who are not willing to have the intellectual discourse, who are not willing to listen to any other opinions, perspectives or insights other than what they believe is important or what they believe is the right answers to issues and solutions, then we don't have colleges and universities that are training our young people to be critical thinkers and go out and make proper assessment and analysis of situation by listening to both sides.

Recently, I was up at DePaul University in Chicago to talk about the Middle East and Israeli situation. And there were about 30 students, and I knew they were the pro-Palestinian side, that were sitting there, and I thought that maybe perhaps we would finally have that important discussion. About 15 minutes into it, they obviously had set their watches and they all stood up and walked out. I really thought that was more so cowardly because they did not want to have the exchange.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, I have been fortunate enough and been in North Korea three times. And as a practicing lawyer, I represented demonstrators at the White House going back decades. I'm a big -- I love protests. I think it sets us apart from other nations and I love them. However, I think the university students are making a big mistake on this. Frankly, it's also a big sacrifice on the part of most speakers. You have to write the speech and give up your weekend. And you do that because you enjoy being there with the students, having the exchange of talk, meeting them on this big day. But it's something that I'm actually surprised. And it's not just the students. A lot of the faculty members are joining in. They don't want the domestic diverse opinion and the rigorous debate.

WEST: I remember seeing the video of General Petraeus being viciously harassed by students up there in New York City as he was going to, you know, prepare to give his lecture. You think about a person like General Petraeus, the sacrifice he gave in his life and almost losing his life as a commander in Fort Campbell, Kentucky. And yet you have students egged on by a very radical professor there at the school that wanted to taunt him. And that's not really training and teaching our kids to be the next generation of leaders. That's just teaching the next generation of radicals and protesters. I think it's important that we have free speech and free expression. But we can't have one singular direction.

VAN SUSTEREN: I don't know. I'm not so sure, with what's going on now, why anyone would volunteer or accept a graduation speech, because if you have gotten certain part -- certain stage of your life, if have you ever been part of some controversy -- I don't know, you are always going to find detractors. But anyway, it's disappointing that we have now sort of try to shut down different viewpoints. But I do love protests.

But anyway, Congressman, I'm taking --


WEST: It's very disappointing but I think we need to have the adults step up and take charge. That means the college presidents and the board of trustees.

VAN SUSTEREN: Don't hold your breath.

Anyway, Congressman, nice to see you, sir.

WEST: I won't.

VAN SUSTEREN: Because I don't think that's happening soon.

WEST: Pleasure, Greta.