Saturday, May 16, 2009

Setting the record straight

Obama commencement speech I haven't written a whole lot lately about the controversy concerning President Obama's commencement speech tomorrow at Notre Dame. I'm sure you're all getting an earful, because that seems to be the main story on CNN today, and the media circus seems to have reached the point of fullblown frenzy this weekend. Ken is off tomorrow, and I think we'll be watching the proceedings peacefully in our own home!

I'm disturbed by much of the coverage I'm seeing, because I don't believe it's giving a true picture of what is happening, or of our community. South Bend has its problems, just like every other town, but it's still a pretty good place to live, and it's my home, dammit. The impression being given is that we're a bunch of intolerant, hateful people who don't want the President here. That couldn't be further from the truth, and our county actually went to the President in last fall's election. Of course, there are people who didn't vote for him and don't like him, and probably are pissed off that we're spending money on security. But the majority of people here support his visit, and are excited that he's speaking at Notre Dame. (No, I didn't attend Notre Dame, but since I was born and raised here, I'm a fan of the university in many ways--sports, academics, research, and what they contribute to our city.)

The protesters who are being arrested are people coming in from out of town. They're shipping in busloads of people from Chicago, St. Louis, and Detroit, and I think Randall Terry and Alan Keyes aren't just from out of town...I think they live on another planet. The Notre Dame students who disagree with the invitation are protesting peacefully and respectfully, with alternative speakers and a prayer vigil at the Grotto. Terry and Keyes and their minions are the ones fueling the fires of the controversy, by flying banners over campus and hiring trucks to drive around town showing offensive pictures that are seen by children. Their most recent efforts included a truck with a large photograph of a black man in chains, and the truck drove through several black neighborhoods. They were supposedly equating abortion with slavery, but I think they were just using outrageous tactics designed to generate anger and dissent. Not cool, people, not cool at all.

Father Jenkins In the meantime, the graduating seniors have honored Father Jenkins (the President of Notre Dame and the one who issued the invitation) by choosing him as their Senior Class Fellow. One senior said that at the ceremony, Father Jenkins received a standing ovation. Although he turned down requests for an interview from the AP, Father Theodore Hesburgh, one of the most beloved and well-respected figures associated with Notre Dame, talked to one of our local TV stations and said that he approves of our new President's visit. He spoke of the various Presidents that have spoken at Notre Dame over the years.

None of them have agreed with us on all issues, but I think just coming here and seeing another point of view...that will have an effect on them. We're not a place that hides out in the corner and says we believe this and that's that and we're not going to talk to anybody that doesn't agree with us. We say, 'Hey, we know we disagree on things. Let's get together and talk.'

He also spoke about universities in general:

It's like a common place where people who disagree can get together, instead of throwing bricks at one another, they can discuss the problem and they can see different solutions to difficult problems and those solutions are going to come out of people from universities. They aren't going to come from people running around with signs.

Yay, Father Ted!

Golden Dome In the meantime, South Bend passed a new emergency ordinance that took effect on Thursday that anyone being arrested a second time on a misdemeanor cannot post bond and get out of jail; they must stay in jail until a judge can hear their case. This was announced on Friday. Alan Keyes was arrested for the second time on Friday, for trespassing on campus (private property, and they can enforce no trespassing if they choose to), and will spend the weekend in jail until a judge can hear his case on Monday, and decided if the bond needs to be raised. The Chief Judge said this has nothing to do with Notre Dame, and it's something they've been thinking about for a long time. I think the Judge is being a tiny bit disingenuous! But I don't care, because Keyes is not a representative of our community, cares nothing about it, and only wants to disrupt a peaceful commencement tomorrow. He has been duly charged, and I'm sure he's well-represented. His rights have not been violated.

It's very irritating--in fact, it's irritating as hell--to think that there are those around the country who think that these nutjobs are representative of our community. I may not have a huge audience here, but at least I can make sure a few people know that they don't speak for me. I hope if you watch any of this coverage tomorrow (apparently all the major networks will be here), you'll keep that in mind and not think too badly of South Bend...or its inhabitants!


  1. Maybe CNN will do a feature on you:

    Beth and Ken: The Non-Crazies of South Bend.

    By the way, what do you call yourselves? South Bendies???


  2. I, for one, have no thoughts whatsoever that the citizens of South Bend are responsible for the unrest surrounding President Obama's speech. I feel that most thinking people (emphasis on "thinking") realize that outside agitation is the culprit in this case. South Bend is a wonderful town that supports Notre Dame and reveres all the good things it's brought to the community. As a citizen of a town that takes it's share of unwarranted maligning, I understand your irritation.

  3. I'm sure the residents aren't anything like they are making out. Maybe it will all be over soon.

  4. I know the feeling of getting a bad rap, my city's been in the news ALOT lately, and NOT for the beautiful flowers grown here!! I still love my community too!!

  5. Funny thing is, for those of us who live here, the subject just does not come up. He is the president, he is speaking, not unusual for ND. Condi and George Bush are speaking this summer at the Economic Club as well.

    The outies are just a bunch of asswipes :o)

  6. Hi Beth,
    Not to worry ... I never completely believe what I see on the news, anyway.

  7. I know who you are. I recognize the name Obama. And I've heard of South Bend and Notre Dame. But I don't know who those other jokers are and I don't give a damn.

  8. I'm guessing President Obama will be mighty disappointed not to see Alan Keyes Sunday, as I'm sure Keyes was finally ready to concede defeat in the 2004 Senate race.

    Alan Keyes, the gift that keeps on giving.

  9. I agree with you & Ken. Hugs, Teresa

  10. I am pro-life but believe that he had the right to speak at the school.

    There is no different set of rules for the president than there is for the common citizen in this regard. Many people who support abortion have stepped foot on campus and you can be sure that they've had debates in the classroom. It is a college university after all.

    As for your comment above, you're just a funny guy ;)


  11. I am looking forward to you keeping me up to date whith what the President says tomorrow Beth, as we won't hear anything over here.
    (We have enough trouble at the moment with our representitives I expext you may have head ?)
    Love Sybil xx

  12. Notre Dame didn't have to call in the civil authorities. Alan Keyes is a Catholic and he came to witness in accordance with his faith. Norma McCorvey is a Catholic, and she too could not take the kind of "I don't care" attitude you explicitly adopt regarding disingenious judicial reasoning.

    As for the similarity between slavery and abortion issues -- the Supreme Court ruling in Dred Scott case was wrong in denying personhood of black people. Roe v Wade is wrong too.

  13. I feel bad that South Bend is getting a bad wrap..........

    But intelligent people see beyond the horizon and see the truth..........we ignore the numb nuts!

    I agree, CNN should interview you! You would be great!

    Hugs, Rose

  14. I'd with you on being irritated as hell.

  15. Watched a report on the BBC about this event earlier. Pleased to report that the BBC gave about half its airtime over to explain who's coming in from out of town to protest. It even intimated that ~42% of American Catholics polled are pro-choice.

    The corresponding web report is here:

    Those noisy protesting pro-lifers would do well to be reminded that, in a democracy, the best way to get your voice heard is to get elected. If you can't do that, you simply can't expect to have things your own way. ;)

  16. Beth, please accept my blog as I meant it. No offense to you what so ever. I guess I was more defending my position as the one who has to pay. I thought Obama did great on his speech. I do value your opinion, and thanks.


I'm funny how, I mean funny like I'm a clown, I amuse you?