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More than one issue

Letter to the Editor | Friday, March 27, 2009

Very recently there was a viewpoint letter which suggested something which normally I would consider very wise. The author suggested that we realize that this is one issue that the Catholic Church disagrees with President Obama on, and that a single issue should not dictate an entire relationship with a political official.

This is a stance I’ve taken many times. After all, there are no perfect candidates. It is impossible to find one who does not disagree with you on at least one issue which matters to you. And from the standpoint certainly of those who either agree with Obama on the pro-life/pro-choice debate, or even those on the fence, would agree that this is just one issue.

What you must understand, however, is that those who believe that abortion is killing an innocent human being do not see it as just an issue. To them it isn’t just about the economy, it isn’t just about how much is spent on Iraq or education, how well the police are paid and how other countries view us. To them it’s a question of killing innocent human beings, and how President Obama is campaigning to make it easier and easier to do this. He obviously does not see these as human beings, from the way he talks about them and his stance on it, but we do.

To us it is not just about an issue; it’s about thousands of lives being lost each day. It’s not just an issue; it’s a form of genocide. To the Catholic Church, having thousands die each day before they are even given a chance to see the light of day is the greatest tragedy in the modern world – a tragedy that we facilitate. So naturally they are upset about President Obama speaking to them, when they consider him to be the facilitator of many of these evils.

But the other side has a valid point too; now that we have invited the President, we cannot simply uninvite him; it would be an amazing insult to him and everyone who agrees with him. Nor can we refuse to give him an honorary degree, because that would be a similar slap in the face. But those who want Obama to speak at commencement should realize that there is a difference between “respecting the office of the presidency”, a good and patriotic thing to do, and heaping honors upon the President; I am perfectly capable of respecting my president without honoring him with awards, especially if I don’t feel he deserves them.

The true problem in the eyes of those against having him speak is that he was invited at all. Now that he’s here, there is nothing to be done. If we don’t all understand that, we need to begin to understand that. President Obama will speak at the Commencement, and he will get an honorary degree. There’s nothing to be done about that now, and talk as radical and ridiculous as lining Notre Dame Avenue with pictures of aborted fetuses is not only counterproductive, but simply inflammatory and demeaning.

But on the other hand, the response from those similar to what is going on at ndresponse.com is also quite reasonable and worthwhile; it’s taking a stand on the issue when there is nothing in our power we can do about it. We must have the president as our speaker; we don’t have to like it or take it lying down. And, as a sidenote, I’d also like to point out that for me, personally, it isn’t about one issue. In fact I doubt that there is even one major issue that I agree with on the president on, as a Catholic, Aristotelian, pragmatist and capitalist. And also, on occasion, someone with a dollop of common sense.

So do not peg us all as simply having one issue with him, whichever issue that may be.

Cavanaugh Hannan


Dillon Hall

March 26