From CBS News:
President Barack Obama’s planned commencement address at Notre Dame has prompted outrage from students and activists upset that the Catholic university has invited a pro-choice politician to its campus. The controversy has generated headlines and with them consistent debate in the media about whether or not the president should show up at all.
But the situation is less controversial than it may seem from all the chatter over the past few weeks. Indeed, it seems that the most vocal opponents of the president’s visit only represent a small minority of the college community.
On a national level, a new survey finds a markedly similar response: A majority of Catholics, some 60 percent, say that Notre Dame should not rescind its invitation to Mr. Obama, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll released Thursday. Thirty-four percent of those surveyed thought the university should go back on its decision.
The numbers are nearly identical among the general population. Fifty-six percent of U.S. voters say the invitation should stand while 31 percent believe that it should be pulled. The similarity would suggest the opposition to the president’s address is grounded more in ideology than religion.
While conservative groups and abortion rights opponents have gobbled up the lion’s share of attention around the invitation, the announcement that the president would speak at graduation has been well received by the majority of students.
The student groups who do plan to demonstrate against the university’s decision are pledging to be decorous in their protests. The most dramatic actions are mostly consigned to outside agitators such as Alan Keyes, the conservative political activist, and Randall Terry, the author and anti-abortion activist.
At the root of the protests is Mr. Obama’s support for abortion rights and, to a lesser extent, embryonic stem cell research. The strongest objections are being voiced by the most partisan members of the Catholic community; other Catholics, both on campus and throughout the country, are less doctrinaire in their positions on those issues than the coverage of the controversy might have led one to think. Many students who were enthusiastic about the president’s visit to campus said that while they disagreed with the president’s views on abortion, they felt that his policies, particularly those relating to social justice and poverty, were reflective of their faith’s emphasis on humanitarianism.
Catholic leaders have been divided over the proper response to Mr. Obama’s speech. Most voiced opposition to the president’s position on abortion, but others lauded him for voicing support for finding ways to reduce the number of abortions that take place each year. On CBSNews.com’s “Washington Unplugged” this week, James Salt, communications director of Catholics United, and Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, clashed over the Obama invitation. Both men believed that Mr. Obama should be allowed to speak, but Donohue, whose group has opposed to Notre Dame’s decision, felt that the university should have refrained from bestowing an honorary degree on somebody who differed with the church on abortion.
“I don’t think it’s possible to find somebody who’s a greater champion of abortion rights,” said Donohue. “He’s diametrically opposed to the Catholic Church’s teachings on an issue which we consider to be intrinsically evil.”
Salt agreed with Donohue’s opposition to abortion, but said that such a stance ignored the work the president was doing to try to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and reduce poverty.
Salt and Donahue [sic] were both relatively restrained compared with the anger expressed by Randall Terry, who has been in Indiana since April with a group he organized called Stop Obama Notre Dame. He says that he is committed to turning the graduation into a “circus.”
Never one for understatement, Terry says that he believes that the university’s decision to invite the new president is a crime and that conferring an honorary degree on Mr. Obama is a sin. To show his displeasure, he and other protestors have been picketing university entrances while holding graphic images of aborted fetuses. Both Terry and Keyes have been arrested; they say that they hope they will be able to not just disrupt the ceremony, but to get Notre Dame to cancel the speech.
Though they are bound to attract media coverage, it’s important to note that Terry’s protests are completely divorced from the ones being organized by campus groups.
Side note: The diary was put together last night, before the speech. I’m by no means an Obama cheerleader, but I watched the speech today, and it was excellent.
Another side note: When I copy a movie from the internets, I crop it to get rid of the borders. Then I will usually size it so that it’s either 475, if I’m going to add a border, or 500 pixels. The length is determined proportionately by Photoshop. When I cropped this one, it measured 666 pixels high! 😈