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viewpoint

Don’t invite Donald Trump to commencement

| Friday, May 19, 2017

Fr. Jenkins,

It has been years since I last read an Observer article, and even longer since I wrote a letter to the editor, but today I found myself, drawn back, through social media: Friends had shared an article about whether Donald Trump would be invited to speak at the 2017 Commencement. As a student and as an alumnus (and, in fact, until the results of this election), I was proud of the University’s tradition of inviting the sitting president, regardless of party, to speak. Now, I am terrified of associating Donald Trump with the best traditions, let alone the intellectual and moral life, of our University.

There is so much to say about the reasons not to pick Trump — much of it said during the course of the presidential campaign. Rather than repeat the innumerable scandals and embarrassments, I want to focus on three things which I’m sure you look for in a commencement speaker: inspiring Notre Dame’s newest alumni, commending the value of higher education and furthering the unique mission of Notre Dame.

First, and most basic, can you imagine Trump inspiring the class of 2017? Can you even imagine him saying anything of value, at all, to a graduate? When you ask students, faculty, staff, trustees, Holy Cross priests or other trusted friends, can they imagine it? He speaks at a lowest common denominator level, playing to fear and insecurity, trading on innuendo and conspiracy theories.

Second, Trump may be among the worst people to uphold the value of higher education among our recent graduates. That may sound hyperbolic, but this man has utter distain for any sort of learning or expertise, as he demonstrated by claiming to “know more about ISIS than the generals do,” and that that his “primary foreign policy consultant is myself” because “I have a very good brain.” Learning should inspire humility about the limits of one’s own knowledge; as Socrates reflected: “The ancient Oracle said that I was the wisest of all the Greeks. It is because I alone, of all the Greeks, know that I know nothing.” Who can picture Trump ever betraying a hint of ignorance about anything? That, after all, would be a sign of weakness.

Third, and finally, Trump’s words and conduct are antithetical to Notre Dame’s unique mission. As a student, I was inspired by the University’s commitment to teaching the whole person, to promoting a moral and spiritual, as well as intellectual, education. Trump represents no kind of moral or spiritual life. Everything that Trump says, everything that he does, is in service of himself and his ego. The things he likes, the things he does, are the best; he says kind words about those who support him or treat him well, and no one else. Those who oppose him are liars, failures or losers. I am not saying that our commencement speaker must be Catholic, or even Christian, but Trump’s conduct provides no evidence of any guiding moral principle, beyond pride.

Fr. Jenkins, I can think of no worse commencement speaker than Donald Trump. It is prestigious for the University to have presidents speak at commencement, but surely prestige alone cannot drive this decision. What shall it profit the University to have Donald Trump as a speaker?

Mike Romano

class of 2004

Dec. 7

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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  • Apathy In USA

    Notre Dame used to be a distinct and unique university. As the church has become more progressive in its globalist bent so has Notre Dame. The student at Notre Dame are no different than the politically correct snowflakes that believe that freedom of speech is for everyone as long as they agree with the progressive liberal Marxist view and that any speech in disagreement with this view is relegated to a free speech zone. If a commencement speech is the springboard to inspiring a successful career then just skip the (4) years of indoctrination. When US Presidents are not welcome to speak on University campuses because they don’t meet our personal expectations then we are headed to a place where all speech will be controlled. The religious universities will no longer enjoy the same freedoms guaranteed by the 1st Amendment. Donald Trump may not be everything we expect but he still is the President.

    • disqus_PBnOP0sXke

      Cuck.

  • BCSWowbagger

    Unfortunately, the Rubicon was crossed with President Obama. Notre Dame is now committed to the principle that any president — even a cheerleader for the killing of millions — must be invited to speak at commencement.

    President Trump is thoroughly unpleasant and unworthy in all the ways the letter-writer describes… but he has not participated in crimes against humanity with the gravity or scale of President Obama. Yet President Obama was invited anyway. Therefore President Trump must be as well.

    In a perfect world, we would invent a time machine, go back to 2008, and get rid of this silly policy before the school committed to it.

    • disqus_PBnOP0sXke

      What is your issue with Obama? Obama was the best president in a long time.

      • BCSWowbagger

        As everyone at this Catholic college is aware, President Obama actively enabled, promoted, and fought for the killing of unborn children by the hundreds of thousands, both in America and overseas. He participated in an atrocity. Pres. Obama was not the first U.S. President to do so — Jackson killed Indians, FDR interned the Japanese, Buchanan protected slavery — but that’s no excuse. A Catholic institution has no business giving an honorary degree to a man with the blood of deliberately murdered children on his hands.

        I think Trump is a rotten president, but, compared to President Obama, he is a considerable improvement.

        (Where I give President Obama credit is his personal life. He was, by all accounts, a genuinely decent human being to his family and those around him. Trump is not. But being a nice guy doesn’t justify dead babies, either.)

        • disqus_PBnOP0sXke

          Stop doing drugs.

      • Larry Schlutt

        Obama was a Muslim and he was pro-abortion a pro-abortion president speaking at a Catholic University that’s the issue I had with Obama speaking at Notre Dame

        • disqus_PBnOP0sXke

          Obama was a Muslim? What religion does he have now?

          • Larry Schlutt

            Was a Muslim president. Same today I would guess.. any more questions?

          • disqus_PBnOP0sXke

            FALSE. Obama was a protestant. Do you care to show me ONE occasion in which Obama claimed to be a Muslim? Why don’t you insert your xenophobic alternative facts where the sun doesn’t shine?

          • Larry Schlutt

            Well let me go shine a light on the subject,

            https://youtu.be/tCAffMSWSzY

          • disqus_PBnOP0sXke

            I don’t click on Trumpanzee links. Is that a video of Obama saying “I am a Muslim” or it’s just made up stuff on a far-right channel?

          • Larry Schlutt

            Then shut your mouth If you can’t handle the truth. I heard Obama say it on TV many times that he was muslim. Read the Quran and you’ll see why it upset me when Notre dame invited the guy to speak at ND.

          • disqus_PBnOP0sXke

            You shouldn’t be mistaking your nightmares with reality. Do you seriously believe in what you write? If the USA had universal healthcare, you could have access to free and quality mental care.
            Read Leviticus, idiot.

          • Larry Schlutt

            Oh your too funny. My words are based on facts. Most liberal socialist Marxist idiots today don’t have a clue about anything. They just believe what the media tells them and what actors say. Think for yourself, question Authority. Words to live by.

            I stand by my conviction if you let Obama speak at Notre Dame you let Trump speak at Notre Dame Obama is for murder he’s for abortion plain and simple you obama speak at Notre Dame you let Trump speak if not you’re a hypocrite, that’s a fact. You see that another way, that is your problem. Maybe some drugs I’ll help you see reality

          • disqus_PBnOP0sXke

            “Liberal socialist” is an oxymoron. You like oxyMORONs because they rhyme with what you are.

          • disqus_PBnOP0sXke

            If abortion is murder, then masturbation is genocide.

          • disqus_PBnOP0sXke

            *you’re too funny
            Why is it that Trumpanzees, besides disrespecting women, also disrespect the English language?

          • Larry Schlutt

            Where has he disrespected women? I worry about you guys running the country someday. Get a clue.org.. wtf?!

            Before the election women were being paid to come forward in hopes to derail Trump’s campaign. It failed, the truth came out that the women were paid to say what they said. The video of trunp talking trash was edited. The first few min were cut off where the guy he was with was trying to get trump to talk trash.. talk about bait and switch.

            I really worry about our country if all we have in our youth is you guys to run our country someday.. God help us. Socialism doesn’t work. Not in the USA.. this favoring all that the media says is bs. You guys have been indoctrinated and don’t see it. But for a second of seriousness, if you hate our country and hate capitalism, why not move to another country that is communist or socialist? See how you like it. Reading about other countries won’t do move there, learn the language and lIve off their government for awhile and see how you like it.

          • disqus_PBnOP0sXke

            Paid spammer.

        • disqus_PBnOP0sXke

          1st – PRESIDENT Obama is a protestant. Also, have you read the 1st amendment? It gives the American people religious freedom, which means that, if President Obama were a Muslim, then that would be completely OK. Don’t like it? There are a lot of countries which ban non-majority religions. Try Saudi Arabia, for example.
          2nd – The 1st amendment gives the American people freedom of expression, which means that President Obama can be pro-choice if he wants. Unlike unregistered sexual offender Donald Trump, he doesn’t want to control female bodies. He knows what boundaries are.
          3rd – Not all Catholics are anti-choice misogynist wingnuts like you are. By assuming so, you are being bigoted towards Catholics. Shame on you!

          • Larry Schlutt

            I urge you to read the Islamic Bible called the Koran. I know many people that were at station over in the Middle East the Islamic faith is not a religion of peace that all you idiots think it is. If you think that it is go over to the Middle East go downtown Iraq where all the local populace are at and you see what happens to you and then you report back to me what you think of the Muslim faith. And anyone that’s ever read the Muslim bible knows that the deeper you get into it the more evil it gets. And if you’re going to mock me for saying that I suggest you get online and freaking read it. It’s not okay to have a Muslim president