Video: Notre Dame’s students respond to Obama honor

posted at 1:05 pm on May 12, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

A presidential speech at a commencement confers a substantial amount of prestige onto a university, at least under normal circumstances. This Sunday, though, Notre Dame students believe the university will damage its prestige and its mission as a Catholic university by honoring President Barack Obama with a doctorate in his appearance.  They have mobilized to protest the award and the invitation, and in the process the students and faculty may be teaching Notre Dame instead of the other way around:

In defense of the unborn, we wish to express our deepest opposition to Reverend John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.’s invitation of President Barack Obama to be the University of Notre Dame’s principal commencement speaker and the recipient of an honorary degree. Our objection is not a matter of political partisanship, but of President Obama’s hostility to the Catholic Church’s teachings on the sanctity of human life at its earliest stages. Further, the University’s decision runs counter to the policy of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops against honoring pro-choice politicians. We cannot sit by idly while the University honors someone who believes that an entire class of human beings is undeserving of the most basic of all legal rights, the right to live.

Additionally, Fr. Jenkins has put some of his students into a position of moral dilemma as to whether they should attend their own graduation. Many pro-life seniors, along with their families, now feel personally conflicted about participating in the commencement. The lack of concern for these devoted sons and daughters of Notre Dame, who love this University and the Catholic principles on which it was built, is shameful.

As a Catholic, I’m less concerned about the invitation to speak at the campus.  Universities exist to debate issues great and trivial, and opposing points of view should be welcomed, but also challenged.  Obama’s commencement speech will probably not touch on abortion and the sanctity of life, especially after this controversy, but if it does, the university will have no structure in place to challenge Obama’s rhetoric on the subject.

The honoring of Obama with a doctorate is what gives Catholics offense.  The US Conference of Catholic Bishops had just warned about honoring politicians who support abortion as antithetical to the church’s core value of the sanctity of life.  It trades a momentary boost in prestige against serious damage to that core mission, on which most of the social-justice efforts of the church rely after all, if human life has no sanctity, then why bother with the poor and hungry?  Honoring Obama after his life’s record of opposing even the most broadly-supported restrictions on abortion, such as the Born Alive Infant Protection Act’s Illinois equivalent, is shameful indeed.

I’ll be traveling on Sunday and will probably miss the Notre Dame protest, but from the looks of this video, the activists have the resources and skills to gain national attention.  It could be a tremendous teaching moment if ND Response can pull it together.


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Comment pages: 1 2

I am not Catholic however I do feel sorry for the grads and their families who are facing this avoidable situation. Imagine for just a moment after you have spent 4-6 years of your life and a ton of money to get your degree you now have to make a moral choice wether or not you are going to attend your own commencement. My heart goes out to them and their families. I will never understand how tough this weekend is going to be for them. My wish is for all of them to stand united and walk out.

milwife88 on May 12, 2009 at 2:55 PM

Don’t they know he is the first black dope smoking prez

steviedfromnc on May 12, 2009 at 2:56 PM

I don’t think that I need to be lectured, by you, about Iwo Jima…
…I don’t need your lecture.

OhEssYouCowboys on May 12, 2009 at 1:42 PM

Then why did you make the analogy?

That’s what I wondered when you first made it.

Before you go off again, my father-in-law was an LVTA4 commander there. Every place on that island was dangerous, but if you know about LVTA’s you know just how bad that spot was.

To compare pro-choice vs. abortionists who battle on ideology to soldiers fighting in a war is comparing ideology to duty.

If that’s what you want to do, fine. Just be prepared to get the lectures, or defend your position.

I don’t mean to sound harsh, but its the comparison you put out.

cozmo on May 12, 2009 at 2:59 PM

Don’t they know he is the first black dope smoking prez

steviedfromnc on May 12, 2009 at 2:56 PM

yeah…because our “first black president” brought it to his lips twice but never inhaled.

Fighton03 on May 12, 2009 at 3:00 PM

I’m just so impressed to find out that Notre Dame has this level of Catholic identity in our day and age. The diversity police must be gnashing their teeth at the very idea of a “Catholic university.” Not as infuriating as a “Jewish state” I’ll grant you, but still a mighty bitter pill to swallow.

I agree with what was said above about the real problem being the honorary PhD. Was that really necessary? They could have invited this guy–Harvard did–would they have given him a PhD just for showing up?

Does this mean he’s going to get booed?
Upstater85 on May 12, 2009 at 2:42 PM

I certainly hope so. Although I can really see the Notre Damers taking a “we won’t stoop to that level” approach. Maybe something that doesn’t make any noise would be good–like wearing a vacuum hose around the neck? Or a “Roe v. Wade survivor” inked on masking tape on the old mortarboard? I hope they do something, something that will make a devastating photo-op. Ok so it’ll have to be transmitted virally, given that Obamedia will be doing it’s usual sanitation job on the event, but it will still find its way around on zillions of FB walls all over the country. Let’im have ND. Fight on Irish, but this time don’t win one for the Gipper–make this one for the little nipper.

smellthecoffee on May 12, 2009 at 3:11 PM

Ndresponse’s mobilization/protest has been tepid, at best.

Crazy Randall Terry and his ilk plan to bus in protesters. He has a plane flying over the campus with a huge protest banner. Many of Terry’s people have been arrested on campus due to their activities, including Alan Keyes. Babies covered in fake blook in strollers. Trucks are driving through the city with pictures of aborted babies on them.

It’s a zoo. I’m pro-life, completely, but I think crazies like this guy drown out the message.

sheesh on May 12, 2009 at 3:16 PM

Most women who have abortions are average, law-abiding citizens. These are qualities that are prized by pro-lifers.

BobMbx

& most women who have had abortions KNOW W/CERTAINTY that they killed their own baby in their own womb….so they lie to themselves for the rest of their lives…or they get down on their knees & beg God to forgive them.

http://www.foxnews.com/photoessay/0,4644,7197,00.html

lobosan5 on May 12, 2009 at 3:23 PM

Awesome video, very well done and it strikes to the heart of the issue.

Torch on May 12, 2009 at 3:27 PM

NDresponse.com is just another LIBERAL SOCIALIST effort to deflect those protesting NObama away from the Graduation event.

According to my mom and family planning to attend the

REAL PROTEST will be when Notre Dame graduating seniors TURN THEIR BACKS

ON NObama during NObama’s speech.

GO TO THE GRADUATION, see you there with your BLOODY ABORTED FETUS pictures.

thanks

mathewsjw on May 12, 2009 at 3:34 PM

mathewsjw, take your meds.

sheesh on May 12, 2009 at 3:39 PM

I am not Catholic or Christian Right( I’m main stream Protestant)and abortion has never been a principle issue for me EXCEPT: the born alive infant, and the partial birth abortion(or whatever one prefers to call it). That truly horrifies me and it is beyond my comprehension why anyone, anyone at all would or could support it.

jeanie on May 12, 2009 at 3:43 PM

REAL PROTEST will be when Notre Dame graduating seniors TURN THEIR BACKS

That’ll work.

smellthecoffee on May 12, 2009 at 3:43 PM

I would love to see the graduating students stand up and turn their backs on Obama as he is given the honorary degree, or even as he speaks.

Abortion is not the only issue that freedom loving people have against Obama. There are a number of other good reasons to protest his presence at ND.

ksm on May 12, 2009 at 3:48 PM

What kind of arrogant elitest idiot would stand in the way of a university graduate’s chance to walk up and receive their hard earned degree?

The depths of selfishness that Obama displays is in stark contrast to the authentic spirit of these graduates.

The students who choose integrity over their earned family photo-op march to the stage will always have the example of their commitment to themselves, and God to cherish. I wish every grad who is boycotting the speech many wonderful blessings as they leave university. I am heartened to know that these students are off to truly make the world a better place.

caygeon on May 12, 2009 at 3:57 PM

Don’t they know he is the first black dope smoking prez

This has nothing to do with the issue at hand. The argument is over his position on abortion, not on the color of his skin or whether he smoked dope. Bill Clinton smoked dope, too. Big deal, nothing to see here. It’s his policies and politics that suck.

College Prof on May 12, 2009 at 4:02 PM

Our objection is not a matter of political partisanship, but of President Obama’s hostility to the Catholic Church’s teachings on the sanctity of human life at its earliest stages.

I’m Pro-Life… I think Obama is an unmitigated disaster… I’m glad people at ND object to his pro-infanticide position… but why should any elected official or judge give a tinker’s dam what the RCC teaches on anything?

mankai on May 12, 2009 at 4:04 PM

Wouldn’t that be great if about half of the people graduating stood up and walked out as he was announced?

jeffn21 on May 12, 2009 at 4:09 PM

…my hope is that they would simply stand and quietly walk out. All of them…leaving Obama at the podium before an empty auditorium, except for the media, of course. Now THAT would be an ‘un-scrubable’ moment for the MSM…and what a memorable national moment of protest!

I’m not Catholic, but we love the same Savior. I weep for the babies… This protest is for them.

LEBA on May 12, 2009 at 4:17 PM

To compare pro-choice vs. abortionists who battle on ideology to soldiers fighting in a war is comparing ideology to duty.

cozmo on May 12, 2009 at 2:59 PM

So, wars aren’t based on battles of ideology? Now I understand why you are incapable of understanding the context of my post.

Wars not involving ideology. I guess that Nazism had no ideology. I guess that the Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere had no ideology.

My post involved the absurdities of either scenario. Emphasis on ABSURDITY.

War without ideology. Wow.

Oh, and for the record … the “pro-choice” ARE the “abortionists.”

OhEssYouCowboys on May 12, 2009 at 4:18 PM

Sadly, the teaching moment will hopefully come when alumni no longer send in their money to support ND.

RobertInLexington on May 12, 2009 at 4:24 PM

Never said wars weren’t based in ideology. Those who fight them do it for duty. To think that every soldier fights for (or even knows)the ideology of their political leaders is ignorant.

I understood your context, and reject it as false. It wasn’t just absurd (which was your intent), it made no difference between duty and ideology.

Using your context, you are in favor of genocide. Just like every US cavalryman who fought the Indians.

Every Confederate soldier was pro-slavery

Every Union soldier believed in big government

Every German soldier was a Jew hating Nazi, even the Jewish ones

Every Japanese soldier was a racist imperialist murderer

Dad-in-law fought those Japanese, he also respected them and met with them after the war. They were doing their duty for their country.

The last part was my mistake. It should have read
pro-life vs. abortionists.

The rests stands and is ignorant of history at best.

Those who believe in duty work to change hearts and minds and laws.

Ideologists bomb abortion clinics.

cozmo on May 12, 2009 at 4:42 PM

Dad-in-law fought those Japanese, he also respected them and met with them after the war. They were doing their duty for their country.

cozmo on May 12, 2009 at 4:42 PM

And they were killing Marines on Iwo Jima, by the thousands. Hence, the ABSURDITY of the Marine Corps making one of them an Honorary Marine.

You really are incapable, aren’t you?

OhEssYouCowboys on May 12, 2009 at 4:46 PM

P.S. My dad always said – Never play poker with a drunk.

I profess to never engage in continous debate with the incapable.

OhEssYouCowboys on May 12, 2009 at 4:48 PM

ND invited President Bush as a commencement speaker in 2006. Was Pres. Bush awarded with a honorary degree? (I don’t think he was, but I’m not certain.)

I like the idea of hacking into Pres. Obama’s teleprompter. But I think the altered text should be the “Hail Mary” or “Hail, Holy Queen.” After all, “Notre Dame” is “Our Lady.” ;)

March Hare on May 12, 2009 at 4:54 PM

P.S. My dad always said – Never play poker with a drunk.

I profess to never engage in continous debate with the incapable.

OhEssYouCowboys on May 12, 2009 at 4:48 PM

Since you didn’t listen to the advice and took offense to two folks who didn’t agree with you, maybe you should have listened to the one about not going to a gunfight without ammunition. Since the comparison seams to be very important to you regardless of its incompatibility with the facts.

As for capable, you seam to not be capable of understanding the difference between ideology and duty. and to compare them belittles duty.

Which brings us back to your original comment where you equated the ideology of Obama to the duty of a Japanese soldier. That is giving the honor that goes with duty to ideology. Insulting to those who believe in duty, and complimentary to those who believe in killing the unborn, and not so unborn.

If such an offer were to be made(doubtful since marines understand things like duty), the Japanese soldier would politely turn down the offer. Something else that makes the Japanese soldier more honorable than Obama.

cozmo on May 12, 2009 at 5:12 PM

What would be a devastating response is for the administrations at Catholic High Schools to declare that they will provide no recommendations to students for Notre Dame. I could see this happening here on Long Island where schools like Chaminade and Kellenberg send 50 to 60 kids (combined) to NDU a year. Those schools are run by the Marianists, one of whom, Fr. Philip Eichner, is the president of the Catholic League for which Bill Donahue is the spokesman.

xkaydet65 on May 12, 2009 at 5:17 PM

ND invited President Bush as a commencement speaker in 2006. Was Pres. Bush awarded with a honorary degree? (I don’t think he was, but I’m not certain.)

Yes, he did.

I did some digging on this a while back. Although Notre Dame often used to have educators and religious leaders serve as commencement speakers, including using one particular bishop several times, in recent years (past few decades, i think) they’ve leaned toward using “notable” people… and they seem to traditionally give those folks (the commencement speakers) honorary doctorates.

The thing is that I cannot think of what Bush did, particularly as President, that would constitute an action that directly opposed a core Catholic belief. Even on something like the death penalty, the Church leaves wiggle room on the position (its use can be justified)… plus, I’m not sure President Bush acted to increase the use of the death penalty while president (although I’m pretty sure he did not oppose it while governor).

In contrast, Obama made it a priority of his administration to increase the availability of abortion in this country and abroad and acted on that promise (made during his campaign) within a few weeks of taking office. Abortion, unlike the death penalty, is never acceptable… even the “life of the mother” exception is really about it being ok to remove the fetus, not kill it. In other words, if the fetus has to be prematurely delivered before term, you are still obligated to try to save its life.

And, of course, the USCCB’s statement came out after Bush was honored at ND.

I’m not saying you’re arguing that there’s an equivalency, but others do and in my opinion that is not a valid argument.

Y-not on May 12, 2009 at 5:20 PM

EXCEPT: the born alive infant, and the partial birth abortion(or whatever one prefers to call it). That truly horrifies me and it is beyond my comprehension why anyone, anyone at all would or could support it.

jeanie on May 12, 2009 at 3:43 PM

How sad is that? You don’t have a problem as long as the child is hidden away completely inside its own mother’s body. The mother that is supposed to protect the child….something scary and goulish about your attitude. Hey at least you are not alone…there are plenty of sick people out there that feel the same. Sleep well.

Jamson64 on May 12, 2009 at 5:59 PM

Hmmm abortion…the child is innocent

Cannot say so much so with the death penalty. At least there the “victim” gets a trial.

Jamson64 on May 12, 2009 at 6:00 PM

I think ND could leave this debate aside for one day and deal with the issue at hand, which is celebrating the graduates’ accomplishment.

This man is the President and people should respect him even if they don’t agree with him on every issue, even a core issue. I was no Bush supporter but I, like a lot of people here, would be honored for any President to address me on graduation day. Many of the professors at ND are not Catholic and some are not religious at all, but the institution is still thriving and probably stronger for having to confront those viewpoints.

Greef on May 12, 2009 at 6:32 PM

If I could make the scene, I’d be there with a lot of Red Bull and my voice on!

Cybergeezer on May 12, 2009 at 6:35 PM

This man is the President and people should respect him even if they don’t agree with him on every issue, even a core issue.

Greef on May 12, 2009 at 6:32 PM

While it’s true that Notre Dame has a large secular identity and mission, the president and quite a few of its board members are members of the Roman Catholic clergy and the university markets itself as a Catholic institution…. so the wishes/instructions of the Church need to be front and center.

For a lot of us the issue is the honorary degree more than the commencement address. Personally, I put this on Father Jenkins and the Board of Trustees and not on Obama. It would be leaderly if Obama would decline the honorary doctorate, but the mistake was Jenkins’ not Obama’s. I don’t fault Obama for accepting the invitation.

I agree with you about the “respect” thing which is why I think they should just skip the ceremony. I think the best solution would be for Bishop D’Arcy to hold a celebratory mass and reception for the graduates off campus, rather than for the graduates and their parents to turn their backs on Obama or even walk out on him. Walking out is a gesture to use when something happens for which you are unprepared but to which you must object, not for a planned speech like this one. Plus, I’m not even sure that security reasons would permit people to move around once the President is at the event.

Y-not on May 12, 2009 at 6:48 PM

John I. Jenkins needs to be removed from the unversity. He has divided the students and faculty at a precious time for the students and their families. This kind of disregard of the Catholic church’s teachings and his dismissal would send a clea message to all Catholics that he and those like him are an embarrassment to the faith.

volsense on May 12, 2009 at 7:40 PM

“This man is the President and people should respect him even if they don’t agree with him on every issue, even a core issue.”

This elected President deserves just as much respect from the Notre Dame crowd as President Bush received from academia throughout his tenure. Additionally, I think the Notre Dame graduates might want to take a lesson from the University of North Carolina and the behavior of *that* campus towards speaker Dan Tancredo, also an elected representative deserving of just as much respect as the Chicago thug.

(Do liberals and Democrats *really* think we haven’t been noticing how they’ve been treating Republicans and conservatives for years and years and years now … and that the goose’s sauce will do equally as well for the black gander?)

NahnCee on May 12, 2009 at 7:45 PM

Will Obama make them cover the images of Jesus when he speaks like he did at Georgetown? If he doesn’t he’s a hyypoctite and if they cover them, they will make a mockery of their religion.

volsense on May 12, 2009 at 7:59 PM

Final Score

Notre Dame 0
Obama U 7

Mormon Doc on May 12, 2009 at 8:35 PM

Fr. Jenkins has put some of his students into a position of moral dilemma as to whether they should attend their own graduation. Many pro-life seniors, along with their families, now feel personally conflicted about participating in the commencement. The lack of concern for these devoted sons and daughters of Notre Dame, who love this University and the Catholic principles on which it was built, is shameful.

For me the choice would be easy. I would walk out on 0bama. A graduation ceremony is just one day. But if I were one of these students who was Catholic and truly valued the teachings of my church, well that is something you will have your whole life, and if I had a small opportunity to make a statement like this one I’d have regret if I did nothing. The university should not have invited him in the first place, so yes, perhaps this will be a teaching moment for 2 parties.

4shoes on May 12, 2009 at 9:19 PM

Wait until he’s introduced… then stand, pull out a cigarette, and walk out for a smoke. Maybe two.

RalphyBoy on May 12, 2009 at 11:14 PM

I’m glad I didn’t go to Notre Dame or I’d be demanding my money back and returning my diploma.
Alumni at Missouri State raised HELL when a poli sci professor required students to protest at PRO abortion rallys to achieve their grades…that professor was FIRED.

nelsonknows on May 12, 2009 at 11:41 PM

…comparison seams to be very important to you regardless of its incompatibility with the facts. As for capable, you seam to not be capable of understanding the difference between ideology and duty. cozmo on May 12, 2009 at 5:12 PM

Hey Cozmoline get your head outta the puddin, straighten your “seams”,then go home and play with your toys! Cuz your ideological claptrap, disguised as DUTY, makes about as much sense as honoring the Japanese for being the Emperor’s banzai kamikazes, or MohahaMADs 911 jihadis for their devotion to virgins!!

“No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country.” George S. Patton

Yes, I concur with the OSU Cowboy too, Honoring Obama whilst knowing of his leftist delusions for murdering innocents, would be on par with honoring the deluded Japanese bastagges that inflicted death on other innocents in other times, including on IWO! And, both honorariums are absurd!

“Let’s Roll”

On Watch on May 13, 2009 at 1:53 AM

Ideological claptrap, huh?

While I play with my toys, I suggest you go find a dictionary (as will I, thanks for the spelling correction) and a history book, or two.

Rather than defend why the comparisons were valid, you resort to the left’s tactic of name calling and diatribe.

cozmo on May 13, 2009 at 7:56 AM

It will be interesting to see if the either valedictory or salutatory commencement honorees are allowed to speak truth to power in their addresses, if they want to affirm the Church’s teachings, or if their speeches might possibly be pre-edited by administrators for content.
jon1979 on May 12, 2009 at 1:14 PM

Yes, won’t it though.

Kuffar on May 12, 2009 at 1:29 PM

Where are you getting that information? I’d like to see it because it contradicts what I have been reading.

This is all part of a HUGE propaganda campaign to make Barack Obama acceptable to Catholics and devout Christians. It’s a real shame Notre Dame agreed to be part of it.
rockmom on May 12, 2009 at 2:22 PM

Absolutely!

God, please send a lightning bolt on Sunday!
hip shot on May 12, 2009 at 2:50 PM

:)

That was my prayer for the inauguration. Alas….

rayvet on May 12, 2009 at 2:54 PM

Divorced people who remarry are still not permitted to receive the Holy Eucharist, but it is a different thing to banish anyone from the congregation all together. As long as they come, they may receive grace to amend their ways. Hate the sin, not the sinner. I see nothing hypocritical about that.

It’s a zoo. I’m pro-life, completely, but I think crazies like this guy drown out the message.

sheesh on May 12, 2009 at 3:16 PM

I think I have to disagree with you here. How many years have pro-life advocates been trying to get the message out without ‘offensive’ imagery? While we have had some success, I have to agree with Father Pavone and Priests for Life: “America will not reject abortion until it sees abortion.”

As to student protests, I fear they will fall flat. According to all the reports I’ve read, a majority of the students and faculty on campus voted for Obama. *shocker, I know* I pray I’m wrong, but Notre Dame has not been ‘Catholic’ for a very long time, with well known dissidents like McBrien as heads of Theology dept., promotion of the Vagina Monologues, etc…

Still, the reports say some $8,000,000 in alumni contributions has been lost, so maybe they will get the message. Hope springs eternal, and all…

As a Catholic mom and product of a Catholic (Jesuit) education, I would not send my children to Notre Dame even if they paid me to do it. Of course, I can’t think of a ‘Catholic’ University I would send them to, though I’ve heard good things about Steubenville.

But 71 (at last count) bishops have spoken out against ND’s decision to honor Obama. Not enough, but it is a radical improvement over the what, 6 who spoke up before the election? If nothing else, at least the debate has been ignited. The deafening silence for years was a travesty. I think they have been reading St John Chrysostom.~ “Hell is paved with the skulls of priests.” Wake up, Fr. Jenkins.

xkaydet65 on May 12, 2009 at 5:17 PM

That would be fantastic.

pannw on May 13, 2009 at 9:57 AM

Still, the reports say some $8,000,000 in alumni contributions has been lost, so maybe they will get the message.

pannw,
Do you have a link for that figure?
There’s a fall off across the country in higher ed fundraising (one of the unintended consequences of Obama’s “eat the rich” agenda). I’d be curious to see how their drop in gift dollars compares to the rest of the country and last year’s numbers.

Y-not on May 13, 2009 at 10:55 AM

It often takes great sacrifice to uphold deeply held moral principles. Not attending your own graduation is right up there.

Best wishes to these students as they show Jenkins the true composition of a teachable moment.

unclesmrgol on May 13, 2009 at 12:39 PM

I think I have to disagree with you here. How many years have pro-life advocates been trying to get the message out without ‘offensive’ imagery? While we have had some success, I have to agree with Father Pavone and Priests for Life: “America will not reject abortion until it sees abortion.”

At the end of WWII, the inhabitants of the village of Buchenwald were forced to view the handiwork of which they claimed to know nothing. It was, for most, an illumination of their own studied inhumanity.

unclesmrgol on May 13, 2009 at 12:57 PM

Comment pages: 1 2