Why We Shouldn’t Care

Lately we have all heard a certain amount of controversy surrounding Notre Dame University’s choice of commencement speaker…

And by a certain amount of, I mean a hell of a lot…

The opinion is (and in some ways understandably so) that a distinctly catholic university such as Notre Dame should not choose as their commencement speaker one of the most liberal, and more importantly most Pro-choice, politicians in the nation. The opinion is that the priests who are in control of ND should not decide to give the privilege of this speech to a man with such vile opinions on the subject of abortion. The opinion is that President Obama was not the right person to speak at the Notre Dame Graduation.

Here is why that opinion is wrong, in my personal analysis.

As someone who graduated Friday (from high school, not Notre Dame) I consider myself somewhat of an expert on recent commencements. Mine, for example, was a speech looking back at the four years we had spent in high school and what we should do with our future. This is what all commencement speeches should be about.

There’s no reason for someone to go on stage at someones commencement and begin talking about their political views. It doesn’t make sense. So I do not see why a person’s political views should even matter to making them an appropriate commencement speaker, and the certainly should not be a deterrent.

Secondly, I want to announce something that many critics of this may not have heard. Barack H. Obama… is… the President… of… the United States! If he is not qualified to give a commencement speech at a university, then I do not know who is. I realize no one questioned his credentials, but let me put you in a similar situation.

I assume that by your reading this, you are probably assured to be a conservative. Now, imagine if you will (for some of my peers this will not be hard) that you are approaching or have recently had your graduation. Would you not want the opportunity to have President Obama speak at your graduation. I don’t care what his political views are. I know I certainly would want nothing more. So shouldn’t we be thinking more about the wills, needs, wants, desires, and cares of the STUDENTS at Notre Dame before we think about the ethics of the people running it. Just because these people chose to attend one of the nations most prestigious universities, one that happens to be very catholic, does not mean that they chose to let that catholic influence guide every decision that was made in their regard. It should be their opinions, not the conservative base (of which, I will now remind you (so as not to come off too liberal) I am a strong member) which decides who the commencement speaker is at a graduation?

Finally, let me propose a deep thinking question. Who Cares??? Why should anyone, besides the students and faculty of the school in question, honestly care who gives the commencement speech at Notre Dame. It’s  because of the high profile that anyone honestly gives a… darn. If the Fighting Irish had nominated Evan Bayh as their commencement speaker, someone who receives a 100% rating from NARAL, no one would have been surprised, shocked, or offended. I hate to demean my own party (although, while this is not a time for a long discussion on the subject, but I prefer to think of myself as conservative rather than republican) but this is pretty clearly an instance of the Right trying to rag on President Obama for anything and everything they can. It doesn’t make much sense to me that they should make such a big deal out of this issue. Hey, guys, I don’t know if you know this, but he’s a TERRIBLE president. But I guess you’ll keep on focusing on why he shouldn’t be nominated to perform in his strongest form: speaking.

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One Response to “Why We Shouldn’t Care”

  1. republicanrambler Says:

    Dear Rambler:

    This will surprise you, but I agree with part, though not all, of what you said. But there are a couple of things you overlooked.

    It is likely that you are right that we are making far too much of this issue. And to some extent, you’re right that it is not so much our business as that of the Notre Dame community who speaks at Notre Dame’s commencement. And you’re right to say that it’s an honor to have the President speak at your commencement, no matter who you are.

    On the other hand, it’s also an honor to be invited to speak at commencement at one of America’s most prominent universities. It’s not like the Irish took B.H. Obama because no one else would come. So in this case, no offense to the fine academics of Parkway South High, but being invited to speak at Notre Dame is a little more of a big deal than being invited to speak at Parkway South High. And this, in a sense, is where the problem arises.

    You see, the Catholic church is not a democratic organization. Unlike the Baptists, there’s no annual meeting where they elect the pastor. Unlike the Presbyterians, the pastor doesn’t work with an elected session of elders. No, in the catholic church, one guy is in charge, and that guy is the Pope. While he’s pope, he names Cardinals. Then when he dies, the Cardinals pick a new pope, and he runs the show till he dies.

    The Catholic position is that Jesus set up this succession when he said to Simon Peter: “Upon this rock, I will build my church . . . I shall give you the keys to the kingdom . . . and whatsoever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven . . .” As a result of this commission, the Catholic position is that in matters of doctrine, the pope is infallible because he represents a direct line of authority from God through Jesus to Peter and thence to all popes since.

    Now, you will remember that our recently-promoted Archbishop here in St. Louis, Archbishop Burke, took the position that pro-choice politicians should be denied the saraments. To Catholics, that means dying in sin and going to hell. So this isn’t like a slap on the hand. The pope, I’m sure, knew of Burke’s position. So what did he do? He promoted him to head of the Apostolic Curia, the highest Court of the Church. That’s a pretty fair sign that the pope liked Burke’s views.

    It is also fair to say that Obama is not merely a pro-life politician, but the most pro-life politician in the business. Here’s my evidence. There is a federal statute called something like the Born Alive Infants Protection Act. What it does is to say that if an infant sought to be aborted is born alive, it may not be denied medical care. This statute passed the U.S. Senate a few years ago by a margin of something like 87-0. I’m not sure about the 87, but I’m sure about the zero. That means that Diane Feinstein and Barbara Boxer and Hillary Clinton and Teddy Kennedy and all the most liberal politicians in the Senate at the time voted for it. However, there was a similar bill in the Illinois Senate at about the same time, and the Chairman of a Senate Committee on Health Care killed it. That Chairman was Barack Hussein Obama.

    None of this is important except for two small reasons.

    First, the pro-life movement looks to the Catholic church as sort of its ethical and moral progenitor. Whatever else the Church stands for, it stands for the sanctity of human life. All the time. Everywhere. When a prominent Catholic institution says to the most ardent opponent of the pro-life position, “Hey, come on over, and let us honor you,” some see that as a betrayal of the whole concept and of the movement.

    But perhaps even more significant is the fact that, in my judgment and the judgment of others, the sort of moral flippancy that will allow one to say, “Well, this guy opposes our core beliefs, but what the hell, he’s likable and popular, so let’s give him an honorary degree!” is simply a betrayal of morality altogether, and for that matter, an abandonment of ethics. Either human life matters, or it doesn’t. It doesn’t matter until you can get a popular politician to speak at commencement. Because if that’s the standard, then it doesn’t matter to you at all.

    And that’s why people are provoked at the Good Fathers of the Society of Jesus who operate The University of Notre Dame.

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