A 1996 Commencement Speech

Salman Rushdie, India (1947)

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A 1996 Commencement Speech

Literal Comprehension: In ‘A 1996 Commencement Speech’ Salman Rushdie talks about human rights. He also suggests not to bow against falsehood and conspiracy. When Jean Kirkpatrick was chosen as a speaker, the American students boycotted his speech and staged a sit-in. while giving the speech, Rushdie remembers the day when he graduated from Cambridge University in 1968. He was denied the degree accusing him of hurling dirty gravy of a bucket on the wall. So, Rushdie had to bow his head to the feet of VC to beg for the degree which was rightfully his. Now when he remembers his past, he can’t forgive himself for his passivity supplication and compromise with injustice. Rushdie also learned that injustice is the business of being forced to beg for what is rightfully yours. Rushdie also suggests his students not to accept injustice and not to surrender in front of inhumanity and falsehood for your rights. He also admires Bard College for offering him refugee on the basis of intellectual solidarity and human injustice. He suggests defying even gods if they limit your thoughts, rights, freedom, and lives. According to him, a person should be guided by his/her best natures.

Interpretation: The writer may be trying to focus on the importance of justice, rights, freedom, and personal thoughts. In his speech, Rushdie suggests the students also not to accept injustice and not to surrender in front of inhumanity and stand up for our rights. He suggests defying even gods if they are injustice and if they limit our thoughts, rights, freedom, and lives. He also views that a person should always keep up his good thoughts and best natures for self-respect.

Critical thinking: Although his essay is interesting, suggestive, instructive and satirical, some ideas of the writer are doubtful. How can we defy gods in practice? Is it good to be sarcastic of the university from where we get graduation degree?

Assimilation: I am very much affected by this speech of Rushdie. It reminded me of my own past. I have also bowed down my head to the feet of injustice many times in the past to get what was rightfully mine. But this speech made me feel regret for what I have done. Is also inspired me not to accept any kind of domination, injustice, and inhumanity.

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