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Suggestions for future ND forums

Gregory Barr | Tuesday, October 9, 2007

I have a bold suggestion for future Notre Dame forums: Make them interesting. Frankly, this year’s forum was rather boring. Two of the speakers, Cardinal Mahony and Senator Martinez, contributed almost nothing of substance to the discussion. At least the senator was merely uninteresting.

Unfortunately, Cardinal Mahony’s presence at the forum could end up leading to more than just yawns. It may also be a matter of great embarrassment for the University, as the cardinal’s horrendous handling of the recent molestation scandal comes under ever greater public scrutiny. As for the other two participants, Mayor Barletta was the most entertaining of the bunch but hardly the most articulate advocate of a hard-line stance against illegal immigration that the University could have invited.

There are hundreds of intellectuals, pundits and politicians in this country who could have made arguments more eloquent and profound than the mayor’s. And Governor Napolitano was smart and well-informed, but unfortunately she did not have three equally sharp opponents to spar with. Furthermore, the forum largely consisted of three of the participants arguing against the fourth (i.e. the mayor).

Admittedly, this is an improvement on the forum from two years ago, which featured three of the debaters shadowboxing the fundamentalists of the world. Think of how fun that debate could have been had there actually been a fundamentalist on stage to argue against them. My prescription for future forums: Invite speakers who will disagree sharply, articulately and interestingly.

Gregory Barr

junior

Knott Hall

Oct. 8