Sunday, June 7, 2009

Hypocrisy at Notre Dame

I've tried to let it go, but I am just unable to do so. I am very honored to say that I have graduated from the University of Notre Dame. I am proud to follow in the traditions of Fr. Hesburgh and the countless others that have made their impact on the world. A few weeks ago, President Obama came to Notre Dame to be the commencement speaker. He came to Notre Dame in the face of controversy because of his views on abortion. I was almost ashamed at the way Notre Dame was being portrayed in the media. I firmly believe that the majority of the protesters were not students, but others trying to advance their agenda. I feel like the majority of the campus was very supportive.

Before I finish my tirade, I must digress. The premise of my point is centered around previous commencement speakers at Notre Dame (see the list below).
2008 : Theodore Cardinal McCarrick Commencement address
2007 : Jeffrey R. Immelt Commencement address
2006 : Mary McAleese Commencement address
2005 : Vartan Gregorian Commencement address
2004 : Alan Cedric Page Commencement address
2003 : Richard Green Lugar Commencement address
2002 : Timothy John Russert Commencement address
2001 : President George W. Bush Commencement address
2000 : Kofi Annan Commencement address

I think that people who rallied because Obama is pro-choice and speaking at and receiving an honorary degree from Notre Dame are hypoctitical because, in my experience, there isn't a litmus test to speak at Notre Dame. Did we ask Jeffrey Immelt, the CEO of GE, what his views on abortion were? No! It was irrelevant. Why should it matter what President Obama's views are? Isn't the point of going to an institution like Notre Dame to learn tolerance and how to be empathetic to others viewpoints?

I think we can learn a lot from a Notre Dame legacy, Fr. Ted Hesburgh. Fr. Hesburgh is well known for standing up in the face of adversity and promoting civil rights. He often stood shoulder to shoulder with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He saw the big picture and the need to listen to opposing viewpoints. When I think of the reasons I went to ND, this philosophy was the primary one. (Side Note: When I was a Senior, I present the American flag on the football to Fr. Hesburgh and he kissed me on the cheek, I felt honored and lucky... I don't think I'll ever forget).

While I understand that many people in the ND family are pro-life, we have to be reasonable and we have to be willing to have a conversation.

On a final note... to those of you who, for lack of a better word, are religious fanatics and took it upon your mission to protest this gathers... shame on you! Find a different, more appropriate venue to express your disagreement, don't use an institution built on tolerance and listening as your bully pulpit.

A selection of websites protesting his speech: Notre Dame Scandal, Stop Obama at Notre Dame

No comments: