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May 13, 2009

Stepping into Quicksand at Notre Dame

ND Students on Obama1 Notre Dame officials have their hands full these days with alumni and friends, both Catholic and Protestant, who have a problem with having a pro-choice President like Barack Obama give the commencement address at this year's graduation exercises in South Bend, Indiana. As our readers know by now, it's a story that doesn't die.

No doubt, President Obama will try to give a speech that pours cool waters on this fire of controversy. But what is interesting here is how little deference is paid to the feelings of those thousands of Notre Dame supporters who find this whole incident so distasteful. We live in an age where the Pope himself feels obliged to quickly exit the stage when anti-Semitic talk takes place in his presence. Good for him! Yet when traditional Catholics' sensitivities--and on their key social issue--are bruised, few in the mainstream press seem to care at all. 

In fact, we're already hearing from the hard left that this is just a shabby show of political posturing and "hysteria" on behalf of the pro-life cause. Perhaps, deep down, the chattering classes know that the only way they can win against convictions is to decry the manner in which the protesters are stating their case.

All the more reason for the Notre Dame protesters to continue to take a page out of the playbook of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., being both wise as serpents, and innocent as doves (Matthew 10:16). If the protesters can state their case with as much eloquence as Obama will try to do as commencement speaker, then people will take note of their cause.  

It would be unfortunate for the protesters to allow the President to play the martyr before the country. That could set the pro-life cause back, not advance its aims.

Thankfully, with only a few exceptions, the protesters have engaged in a very civil confrontation with Notre Dame's foolish administrators who, wittingly or unwittingly, caused this unnecessary brouhaha. The amount of money lost from the Notre Dame Foundation this year should be brought up by savvy members of the school's Board of Trustees when their President, Rev. Jenkins, has his contract up for renewal.

(Image courtesy of WSBT)

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Jason Taylor

I'm not sure he can play the martyr. The PR advantage in such situations is usually with the opposition. Does anyone ever remember a President who managed to convince the public that he was persecuted by protestors? Of course Obama is popular in the press. But the press is fickle and has less respect then it thinks it has.

Dave the Swede

Good post, Stephen.

I had an interesting chat with a young person yesterday who was sporting a Notre Dame sweat shirt. I asked her if she went there, and she said no, she was still in high school but wanted to go to Notre Dame very badly.

I asked her if she were Catholic, and she replied, "Very."

so, naturally, I asked her opinion about Obama speaking there.

Her response was, i think, right on: "Well, he's the president of the United States, and Notre Dame has had other presidents speak there before. So I don't mind that he's speaking there. But the University really shouldn't give him an honorary degree. That's the real problem."

I agree. Civil discourse good. Awarding radically pro-abortion politician with an honorary degree at a Catholic university, bad. Real bad.


I agree with the above. He is the President so doors should be open for him to speak anywhere. The award is where they get into trouble.

My prayer is that the president will hear and receive truth as he awaits his turn to speak. What an opportunity to share truth with him as he sits captive on platform.

Jason Taylor

Well, doors should not exactly be open ANYWHERE: "An Englishman's home is his castle, though rain and sleet may enter, the King of England may not."

The President may have doors open to him at any government institution(such as a service academy). His speaking at a non governmental institution exists on sufferance, which as it happens is usually granted out of courtesy. So in one sense that is true: the President should usually be welcome but we should not forget our own perogatives.

In the British Parliament there is a convention that when the Queen of England comes she has to meekly request to enter. Which request is always granted but it is a pleasing ceremony.


One of the articles reprinting the apparent text wording of the honorary Law degree to be given to Pres. Obama at Notre Dame--this is how the award is supposedly worded:

"A community organizer who honed his advocacy for the poor, the marginalized and the worker in the streets of Chicago, he now organizes a larger community, bringing to the world a renewed American dedication to diplomacy and dialogue with all nations and religions committed to human rights and the global common good.

"Through his willingness to engage with those who disagree with him and encourage people of faith to bring their beliefs to the public debate, he is inspiring this nation to heal its divisions of religion, culture, race and politics in the audacious hope for a brighter tomorrow."

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2009/05/14/text-obamas-notre-dame-honorary-degree-irks/ May 14 article by Joshua Rhett Miller...

YOU decide how well (or BADLY) this statement conforms with observable reality today!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

jason taylor

Uh, Michael Corleone had a dedication to diplomacy. Being dedicated to diplomacy is not a big deal.

And all nations and religions are committed to human rights and the common good. It is honoring commitments that is the problem.

And isn't the propriety of the State deciding what our audacious hope for a brighter tomorrow is to be, for us rather dubious?

And how do you have non-divisive politics? Is that something like a non-competitive football game?

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