April 28, 2009
Dear Father Jenkins,
When you informed me in December 2008 that I had been selected to receive Notre Dame’s Laetare Medal, I was profoundly moved. I treasure the memory of receiving an honorary degree from Notre Dame in 1996, and I have always felt honored that the commencement speech I gave that year was included in the anthology of Notre Dame’s most memorable commencement speeches. So I immediately began working on an acceptance speech that I hoped would be worthy of the occasion, of the honor of the medal, and of your students and faculty.
Last month, when you called to tell me that the commencement speech was to be given by President Obama, I mentioned to you that I would have to rewrite my speech. Over the ensuing weeks, the task that once seemed so delightful has been complicated by a number of factors.
First, as a longtime consultant to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, I could not help but be dismayed by the news that Notre Dame also planned to award the president an honorary degree. This, as you must know, was in disregard of the U.S. bishops’ express request of 2004 that Catholic institutions “should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles” and that such persons “should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.” That request, which in no way seeks to control or interfere with an institution’s freedom to invite and engage in serious debate with whomever it wishes, seems to me so reasonable that I am at a loss to understand why a Catholic university should disrespect it.
Then I learned that “talking points” issued by Notre Dame in response to widespread criticism of its decision included two statements implying that my acceptance speech would somehow balance the event:
• “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.”
• “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.”
A commencement, however, is supposed to be a joyous day for the graduates and their families. It is not the right place, nor is a brief acceptance speech the right vehicle, for engagement with the very serious problems raised by Notre Dame’s decision—in disregard of the settled position of the U.S. bishops—to honor a prominent and uncompromising opponent of the Church’s position on issues involving fundamental principles of justice.
Finally, with recent news reports that other Catholic schools are similarly choosing to disregard the bishops’ guidelines, I am concerned that Notre Dame’s example could have an unfortunate ripple effect.
It is with great sadness, therefore, that I have concluded that I cannot accept the Laetare Medal or participate in the May 17 graduation ceremony.
In order to avoid the inevitable speculation about the reasons for my decision, I will release this letter to the press, but I do not plan to make any further comment on the matter at this time.
Yours Very Truly,
Mary Ann Glendon
Fr. Jenkins responded, “We are, of course, disappointed that Professor Glendon has made this decision. It is our intention to award the Laetare Medal to another deserving recipient, and we will make that announcement as soon as possible.”
Ummm, now that Mary Ann Glendon has (unlike Notre Dame) correctly set forth the position of the Church, what Catholic could, in good conscience, accept the Laetare Medal – which is given in recognition of outstanding service to the Roman Catholic church and society? I guess we’ll find out.
April 13, 2009
By “de-emphasize the production of ever-more private goods and services, [and thereby] harnessing the economy to achieve broad social goals,” President Obama sets aside the standard logic of economic progress.
April 9, 2009
Mona Charen writes about the Democrats’ continued fascination with left-wing tyrants:
Six members of the Congressional Black Caucus traveled to Cuba last week and were delighted with their reception. They met with Raúl Castro for four hours (including dinner). Three lucky members of the delegation were even entertained by Fidel at his home. As the Miami Heraldreported, the representatives found Castro to be “very engaging, very energetic . . . very talkative.” Imagine. The dictator known for his five-hour speeches. Who could have guessed?
Rep. Laura Richardson (D., Calif.) was impressed that Castro knew her name and her district. “He looked right into my eyes,” she gushed, “and he said, ‘How can we help you? How can we help President Obama?’ ”
In finest useful-idiot fashion, Representative [Bobby Rush (D., Ill.)] Rush said this of 77-year-old Raul Castro, who has served Fidel throughout the 50-year totalitarian siege of the island: “I think that what really surprised me, but also endeared me to him,” he told the Los Angeles Times, “was his keen sense of humor, his sense of history and his basic human qualities….”
Charen refers to these clowns as “useful idiots” – borrowing Lenin’s phrase – and it’s a good idea to use Lenin’s words against his apologists. But the term “idiot” gives commie lovers too much credit – as if they are too stupid to understand the horror that Castro et al. have caused.
April 9, 2009
Phillip Morris writes today in the Plain Dealer that citizens – not just government – have a responsibility to protect neighborhoods:
The city [of Cleveland] has tried periodic gun sweeps and gang patrols to stifle the terrorists who feed on those who remain trapped or loyal to the neighborhood.
But it’s not enough.
Glenville, like so many neighborhoods in this crime-ridden city, needs a militia – a militia of committed, responsible citizens willing to reclaim the streets.
It starts with turning in [a recent murder victim’s] killer.
It also starts with more people exercising their rights to obtain permits to carry concealed weapons and embarking on street patrols. I’m not advocating vigilantism. But if criminals know that armed, law-abiding people are walking the streets, maybe the criminals will stand down.
April 8, 2009
Ronald Weich, who is President Obama’s nominee for assistant attorney general for legislative affairs, claims that the Unborn Victims of Violence Act – which recognizes two victims in federal crimes against pregnant women – “is just one more step in the anti-abortion movement’s methodical strategy to humanize fetuses, marginalize women, demonize abortion providers and make the image of abortion less palatable to the American people.”
April 7, 2009
The largest U.S. foreign aid program fighting the AIDS epidemic has cut the disease’s death toll by 1.2 million from 2004 to 2007 in a dozen hard-hit African countries, researchers said.
The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, started by President George W. Bush in 2003, lowered the AIDS death rate on average by 10.5 percent a year in those countries, said study author Eran Bendavid of Stanford University in a study published online today in the Annals of Internal Medicine.