I have long admitted that, as an academic dweeb, I have long been confused by events after the eighteenth century. However, this story has me entirely perplexed. The University of Missouri at Kansas City has opened a women’s Hall of Fame and was looking for a female leader to open the event. Their choice among the millions of women in this country from generals to jurists to CEOs to governors to journalists to writers? Chelsea Clinton. Not only that, but the university paid $65,000 for Chelsea Clinton to speak only ten minutes under highly abridged appearance restrictions set by her handlers (in addition to other restrictions from a brief period for photos and water specifications).
The money goes to the Clinton Foundation, though critics have charged that the Foundation has served as a surrogate campaign platform for the Clintons (with the hiring of controversial politicos like Sidney Blumenthal) and have funded luxury travel for the Clintons.
The university actually started with Chelsea as the primary goal, but initially was told that she would not do the speech. They then tried for Hillary Clinton but was told that she would cost $275,000. They then considered “other” women besides Chelsea. That list was impressive, including obvious choices like feminist icon Gloria Steinem ($30,000) and journalists Cokie Roberts ($40,000), Tina Brown ($50,000) and Lesley Stahl ($50,000). You know, women who have made huge contributions not just to their gender but to the country. And they were substantially cheaper. What did Missouri decided? Pay more to get Chelsea for a ten-minute speech to tell people about what it is to be a female leader.
For a university to engage in such low-grade celebrity shopping is a disgrace not just to this new hall and the University of Missouri but the academic as a whole. There are literally thousands of women who inspire both men and women with their lives and accomplishments. The University of Missouri reduced the history of female struggle to a cheap photo op with the daughter of a famous couple. They might as well have gone with a Kardashian and left it at that.
Mary Kay McPhee, UMKC Starr Education Committee chair, was thrilled by the choice and the opening ceremony even as many scratched their heads at the choice of Chelsea Clinton.
Of course UMKC is not alone. NBC was subject to withering criticism from journalists around the country for hiring Chelsea Clinton with a lucrative contract to do feel-good stories. The hire was criticized as something pushed by Clinton supporters inside the network; alienating real journalists, and producing dreadful television pieces.
Universities are supposed to be places of substance and intellectual honesty. While UMKC is not the first to take celebrity appeal over substance, this is not some Friday night concert or sports celebration. This is supposed to be a new university component honoring women who struggled and made real contributions to this world. UMKC reduced that moment to a ten-minute celebrity photo op.
Source: Washington Post