Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Obama and Notre Dame

So I managed to catch Obama's commencement speech at Notre Dame last Sunday. I opposed this speech and joined many friends and Notre Dame alumni in signing a petition opposing it. I would have opposed it had it even been a pro-abortion Republican like Giuliani or the Governator. Part of me still wanted to give Fr. Jenkins the benefit of the doubt and hear what was actually said, so I tuned in. I was pleased to see Fr. Jenkins lay out some distinctions by making it clear that Notre Dame did not support Obama's policies on abortion and embryonic stem-cell research. Yet, Jenkins still gave Obama a platform and a profound honor, and Obama used it.

The man gives a good speech. Personally, however, we found it patronizing and insulting. Instead of being about the graduating class, it focused primarily on his usual campaign rhetoric surrounding abortion -- no doubt due to all of the fervor that has been generated over the last few weeks and months. He spoke about subjects that have been of great interest to me in the past: The struggle to find common ground, and the movement led by Cardinal Bernardin of Chicago, as well as reducing abortions. Yet, as I thought about it, I simply did not buy Obama's desire to reach common ground on abortion. When has he done this?

We also have to be very careful about what we mean by common ground. When it comes to injustice and threats to human life, common ground cannot and should not be reduced to an excuse to simply agree to disagree. While at times, you have to work incrementally with people with whom you disagree, no group can be expected to cede moral ground. The Civil Rights movement never ever ceded moral ground on the simple fact that racism was wrong. We cannot cede moral ground on the evil of genocide in the world. And here, we are seeking to protect the civil rights of the unborn, effectively what amounts to a genocide. Fundamentally, what Obama has done in his first 100 days in office has furthered the mission of this genocide. This is not a caricature. Is he really interested in common ground? Or is he paying the same lip service to us as he pays to Planned Parenthood?

He also invited everyone to join him on reducing abortions, including this in his mission of common ground. Yes, I'm for that. That's one of the reasons I support groups such as Feminists for Life and other groups. Catholic groups have been doing this for many years. Providing aide for women who seek to carry their children to term, adoptions, important health care, etc. Yet, we've been doing this for years against strong opposition from folks Obama openly supports, namely Planned Parenthood, NOW, and NARAL, which audaciously referred to Feminists for Life as anti-choice. Yet, the whole mission of Feminists for Life is to provide an array of real choices for women. And, abortion proponents have been publically telling us about their desire to reduce abortions for years. Their actions often demonstrate otherwise, as they oppose even the most simple, common-sense restrictions, including parental notification laws and ultrasound requirements. Obama's words don't go hand-in-hand with his actions, as he has sought to throw more government money at abortion, particularly abroad. How does one reduce abortions by making them more easily available at taxpayers' expense? Obama has surrounded himself with abortion proponents at even the highest levels of government. I'm waiting to see what happens with regard to conscience protection for doctors.

As I watched the speech, I felt the same as I felt while listening to his speeches on the campaign trail. You almost feel foolish for believing what he says for five minutes until you realize the reality of the situation. That said, I am quite happy to hear Obama go against his campaign promise to Planned Parenthood and say that passing the deadly Freedom of Choice Act was not his highest legislative priority. Yet, it appears that the Act is moving through in pieces.


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