Thursday, May 21, 2009

Obama at Notre Dame

I wrote something on this earlier in the week but never got around to posting it. But then last night I heard some more carping about Obama's visit to Notre Dame and decided I needed to post it.

I’m going to comment briefly on Obama’s visit to Notre Dame. First I find it interesting that such a big to do was made about the appearance. Conservative Catholics raised a big deal about this. Funny how this didn’t happen when George Bush spoke at Notre Dame. George Bush who favored capital punishment and started two wars. I guess there’s bad murder and then there murder that’s sort of ok and that’s not protested. I can to some degree get the nuances here. But what I won’t given these conservative Catholics a break on is when they said they were protesting the actions of the university not the president. Adding that this was not political. All I can say is give me a break.

I did see some of the speech and I liked what Obama had to say:

“Is it possible for us to join hands in common effort?” he said. “As citizens of a vibrant and varied democracy, how do we engage in vigorous debate? How does each of us remain firm in our principles, and fight for what we consider right, without demonizing those with just as strongly held convictions on the other side?”

I think the news media didn’t do a very good job of giving a proper perspective on what was going on. There were or at least I should say I didn’t hear on TV the number or protesters that were present on the campus or the number of graduates who boycotted the ceremony. There was of course a huge number of people (360,000) that signed a petition calling for the invitation to be rescinded but I’m not sure how much stock to put in that either. It wasn't made clear if this was petition passed around to people or a petition that was on the internet. Also the major objection seemed not to be that Obama was speaking but that he was getting an honorary degree. But I have to say, again, the media didn't do a good job explaining that one either.

The question has to be put if President Obama should not be welcomed on Notre Dame’s campus where does it stop. Shouldn’t every entering student be asked where they stand on abortion? If they say they are pro-choice, then should they be allowed to attend the university? Should the same question be asked of everyone on the faculty or anyone who has a job at Notre Dame? Where exactly does it stop?

I thought that those were some good questions to ask the people protesting but the media never got around to that either.

In the end I think Obama gave an excellent speech. He acknowledge the controversy and again talked about where the two sides can have common ground. I think that's the approach we need to be taking on many more issues instead of just yelling at each other.

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