Damned if you do…

Let me see if I’ve got this straight. We don’t want Obama to speak at Notre Dame, because we don’t want the Church associated with his support for abortion. So we’re outraged about that. But we do want him to give a speech in front of a plaque representing Jesus, and so we’re outraged about that, too.


  1. Lisa R.

    Was there a strategic reason for delivering this speech at this particular venue? Why not some neutral place where nothing had to be covered? At best, it’s an odd choice that was bound to stir up controversy with some group or another.

  2. Alan C. Mitchell

    Lisa R.,

    Presidents speak at Georgetown all the time. It is a regular occurrence. They like the venue. I do not know this for sure, but I suspect that they like addressing young people in such a setting. If people would accept the truth about what happened, they would see that there was no expectation that President Obama’s speaking at Georgetown would stir up controversy. The controversy came when a blogger fabricated a lie about why the signage and symbol was covered up. The willful, malicious people who oppose the President and Georgetown spread the lie all over the internet. Even though they consider themselves to be exemplary Catholics they seem to have forgotten that calumny is a serious sin.

  3. Robert Mitchell Jr.

    People who support abortion should not be given a pulpit at Catholic institutions. Seems pretty clear to me. They are welcome at our House, but they are not to be given the place of honor at the head of the table. That someone would be given that honor and then demand that any sign of God be censored it beyond parody.

  4. Molly Roach

    “How come only the unborn have the right to life?” (quoting Barbara Kruger here). I am observing a group within the Roman Catholic Church who are pleased to enjoy intense indignation. Having read Rene Girard and Gil Bailie, I have come to recognize how seductive and destructive such indignation is. And its logic is the target can never be right, never win, never engaged in dialogue with, never really listened to, only endlessly accused.

  5. karen

    would you say more about this tension, Tony?? Say what’s on yer mind? And Alan, could you explain the tautology-who fabricated what lie?

  6. Kevin Cassidy

    Is it fair to say that the public ire is directed at different targets? In the first case, the anger is directed at the Catholic education element that would invite and accept the president speeching when that issue is in contention. In the second case, the anger is directed at the administration for wishing to cover signs of Jesus.

    I submit that comparing the situations otherwise is a false parallel.

  7. Alan


    Tautology? Do all bloggers fabricate lies? A blogger lied about the circumstances of the signage and symbols being covered up. In reality, it was simple matter of how the pediment appeared when the blue curtain was put up, and it was discovered that the curtain was not as high as the stage setters thought it should be. President Obama did not demand that the symbol be covered; he probably had no idea how the stage was being set. The university did not deliberately cover up the symbol to make a statement about the importance of the President over Jesus. The IHS was never painted over. Had the blogger picked up the phone and called the University the simple explanation would have been provided. Rather, the blogger took and opportunity to slam the university and the President. The truth is a lot simpler but not nearly as damaging.


    The anger was misplaced. There is nothing novel about a President speaking at Georgetown, and had the truth been told about why the IHS and the university’s name and seal had been covered, there would have been no controversy.

  8. Malcolm C. Harris


    The focus of contention at Notre Dame is that the University (in many ways the strongest Catholic brand in the U.S.) is honoring President Obama with a Doctor of Laws and giving him a platform of honor.

    This is not a matter of a disagreement of opinion. The University is not inviting him to a debate or dialogue. That would be welcome. By honoring him when his actions (such as forcing taxpayers to pay for overseas abortions) and his promised actions (revoking conscience protections for health providers) are promoting evil, the University is creating scandal.

    Not everyone views abortion and the culture of death as the defining moral issue of our times. Nor did many in the 1850s view slavery the defining moral issue of those times. (Chief Justice Taney didn’t nor did the electors of Illinois who picked Douglas over Lincoln.) History may have a different judgment.

    I do not know what blogger fabricated what lie. (Maybe I should go into my MoveOn.Org emails to see what the party line is.) Giving the President’s handlers what they want for his photo-op is standard operating procedure. True. That is precisely why I found it interesting that Georgetown so willing complied and that they black painted a piece of plywood (apparently on their own initiative) to cover the Jesuits’ representation of the name of Jesus. (I have a picture of Laura Bush speaking at the same place with a backdrop, but the “IHS” still in sight by the way.)

    That we so willingly lend our venues and cover our identities is evidence of how far we have fallen from our republican values. I suspect that both James Madison (no lover of Catholicism) and John Carroll would agree.

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