Sunday, May 17, 2009

Time to Commence

Today's the day for President Obama's commencement speech at Notre Dame's graduation, amid the protests of the small, but vocal anti-abortion activists.

Despite the media attention given to the "controversy" over his commencement, the reality is that the student body and a majority of Catholics do not oppose Obama's appearance at the university. Media Matters highlights the hypocrisy in Barack Obama, Notre Dame, and the Casey myth:

President Obama is scheduled to speak at Notre Dame's graduation ceremony this weekend, after more than a month of complaints from a small number of anti-abortion rights activists who have received media attention far disproportionate to their numbers.

Since the announcement on March 20 that Obama would speak, The Washington Post alone has addressed the controversy in 11 articles and columns. The New York Times has dealt with it in eight columns and articles. And as for television news segments, there have been too many to count.

Notre Dame's class valedictorian also dismissed the so-called controversy, noting in a Huffington Post piece, Obama Practices Catholic Values:

"This issue has not divided the campus by any means," says the Catholic, pro-life biology major who will be attending Harvard Medical School after graduation.

. . . Bollman stressed that her peers do not view the president's overall values as inconsistent with Catholicism. In fact, Bollman says Obama is practicing Catholic values in his administration. Like Jesus, Bollman says, Obama is trying to invite "everyone to the table."

A group of esteemed liberal Catholics have taken out a full page ad in the local South Bend paper welcoming the President. And, in what can only be seen as a show of support to the President of Notre Dame for asking Obama to be commencement speaker, the Class of 2009 chose him as Senior Class Fellow:

The University of Notre Dame’s Class of 2009 has selected Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., the University’s president, as the Senior Class Fellow.

Voted on by seniors, the award is an “accolade traditionally given to a member of the Notre Dame community who has had a significant impact on the graduating class,” according to W. Joseph Brown, senior class president.

Media Matters also focuses on the irony of the protests, since Democrats have been criticized for years about former PA Governor Bob Casey:
For nearly 17 years, the media have told us that the Democrats' refusal to allow Casey to speak at their 1992 national convention because of his opposition to abortion was an exclusionary, closed-minded stunt that drove away potential supporters.
Adding to the irony is the fact that Casey's son, PA Senator Robert Casey Jr is the commencement speaker at King's College today as well and his appearance there has drawn the ire from Scranton Bishop Martino. King’s College’s invitation draws Martino’s anger. Casey, like his father, is a strong anti-abortion advocate. His real sin (besides being a Democrat) is the fact that he has supported President Obama.

The Catholic Church has always been against contraceptives and other forms of birth control (other than the mommy-inducing rhythm method), as well as abortion. Yet, it is only in the past few years that it has become the Church of the Anti-Abortion Faithful. It has an all-defining and all-consuming issue for the Church, overwhelming any other creed or article of faith that was once part of the Church's teachings.

This can be seen in the clergy's reaction to Obama's selection at Notre Dame. As the Rude Pundit notes, Why Is This Pro-Choice Commencement Guest Different Than the Others?:
As bullshit protests begin to build over President Barack Obama's upcoming speech at the graduation ceremonies of the University of Notre Dame, as the froth is whipped into a rich, thick foam by self-aggrandizing pro-life activists and desperate-for-relevance Catholic bishops, perhaps a bit of history of graduation activities at Notre Dame is in order:

In 1980, the commencement speaker was Carter administration Attorney General Benjamin Civiletti, a supporter of abortion rights.

In 1987, an honorary degrees were given to the pro-choice Coretta Scott King, Alan Simpson, and Rosalyn Carter.

In 1991, an honorary degree was given to Jane Pauley, a pro-choice supporter.

In 1992, protesters lined up as pro-choice Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan was given the university's Laetare Medal, "the oldest and most prestigious honor awarded an American Catholic," according to the Washington Post. President George H.W. Bush, giving the commencement keynote, went out of his way to praise Moynihan.

In 1993, an honorary degree was given to pro-choice judge Alan C. Page.

In 2000, the commencement speaker was then-U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who supports all kinds of family planning programs, including those where abortion is allowed.

You get the idea here? The Catholic Church: stinking with rank hypocrisy since Peter stood on a rock. And Catholics: the group that really puts the sheep in the flock.
I think that William Lindsey of Bilgrimage explains the real problem that underlies the Church's stance, in Notre Dame, Anti-Abortion Extremists, and the Pastoral Failure of the U.S. Catholic Bishops:
I read about the activities of the “pro-life” extremists seeking to embarrass Notre Dame University for inviting President Obama to its commencement, and I am more than ever convinced that those staging such protests have little interest in cherishing life at all. That's not their game. That is not what this is about, the baby carriages filled with dolls covered in stage blood delivered to Fr. Jenkins’s door, the life-sized images of twelve-week fetuses placed at strategic locations around campus, the airplanes streaming giant photos of an aborted fetus.

This is about intimidation, about seeking to use fear, awe, shock as a technique to control others. It is about control, about a clearly identifiable sociological group who want to represent themselves as the voice of conscience for everyone, who sense that their control of others is waning, and who are willing to use fear as a way of reasserting their control. It is about a minority seeking to impose their will on the majority. It is about those who have for centuries claimed the right to write scripture and interpret scripture for the rest of us, continuing to assert that right in the face of claims that undermine the right.
As always with these things, it's about power & control. Or, as I've said before "Pay, Pray, Obey."


The commencement address will be live at 2 PM (EST) on the University of Notre Dame website.

1 comment:

Marie said...

I felt like the Obama/Notre Dame "controversy" was somewhat manufactured. He could speak anywhere and draw protesters, just as he could speak anywhere and draw supporters. it's just what the media wants to focus on.