I want to thank Regent Weiser for his eventual apologies, including his words today, and I hope he becomes a frequent vocal leader for civility in our society, especially in the political arena. But although I believe in redemption and forgiveness, they are not mutually exclusive from consequences.
The comments by Regent Weiser were misogynistic, divisive and reckless. I was sickened to see the Republican Party Chair refer to our state’s three highest elected officials, and my friends, as “witches” to be “burned at the stake,” and for the audience to cheer in support.
These statements are at odds with everything this great University, our state, our country and good people hold sacred. Degrading and inflammatory speech by any public official is inexcusable and should not be tolerated by good people.
It saddens me to say these things about a colleague. Although we hold very different political beliefs, I’ve known Regent Weiser to be an exceptional regent, completely dedicated to the University and its noble mission.
I know Regent Weiser loves the University of Michigan. He has been extremely generous to the University’s three campuses and hospital. His gifts have transformed the lives of hundreds, if not thousands, of our students and patients of all genders. It is not an exaggeration to say his gifts to Michigan Medicine have saved lives and will save countless more in the future.
I do believe in redemption and try to practice forgiveness. I am troubled by the inclination to condemn an individual for an unfortunate slip of the tongue or word choice, and I believe we should not judge a person by his worst days or define him by his worst moment.
But, particularly at this moment in our history when such extreme rhetoric from too many political leaders has been normalized and sewn deep division in society, hurt individuals, and threatened our democracy, I can only come to the conclusion that any official who would unrepentantly engage in such speech should not remain in public office, especially at an institution like the University of Michigan, which so values upholding gender equality and protection of women’s rights.