The Spine of Mary Ann Glendon
posted at 12:02 pm on May 1, 2009 by Tanya
I wanted to use a stronger word than “spine,” actually, but it seemed improper.
Allah linked this yesterday, but I missed it, and the most interesting part seemed to have been missed by all but a few in the comments, as well. I don’t really have a strong opinion about abortion — I leave that fight to people who know more about the argument than I do — but I love it when people stand up for what they believe, no matter what the personal cost to them.
Mary Ann Glendon is one of those people. She’s a former ambassador for the United States to the Vatican, and possibly the most well-connected Catholic woman in the country. And she was scheduled to receive the highest honor awarded by Notre Dame, arguably the most famous American Catholic university. Until she realized she was being used.
In her letter [to Notre Dame’s president, the Rev. John I. Jenkins], Glendon cited “talking points” issued by Notre Dame following criticism of the decision to honor Obama, including that:
(1) “President Obama won’t be doing all the talking. Mary Ann Glendon, the former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, will be speaking as the recipient of the Laetare Medal.”
(2) “We think having the president come to Notre Dame, see our graduates, meet our leaders, and hear a talk from Mary Ann Glendon is a good thing for the president and for the causes we care about.”
Glendon, who is no mortal’s pawn, decided she couldn’t accept the award.
If I may be immature for a moment: Ooh, BURN!
Rather than let the university use her as a “fig leaf” to deflect criticism of the school, from fellow Catholics and the Church, about Obama’s extremely lenient, even encouraging, stance on abortion — or to attempt to cynically counterbalance his beliefs, she turned down the Laetare Medal, flat.
This decision won’t hurt her, really. I’m sure she has no need for medals. And it won’t hurt Obama, or sway his position on the abortion argument. It may have no long-term effect at all. But it’s so gratifying to see someone truly act on her beliefs, instead of simply talking the talk and then caving in and opting to “go along to get along.” (As Notre Dame seems perfectly happy to do.) Obviously, some concessions are necessary in life, and in politics, but not when it’s a question of surrendering your deepest beliefs.