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May 19, 2009
Obama at Notre Dame
President Obama and his fuzzy logic would have a hard time making it out of my freshman-level Composition and Research courses with a passing grade.
Though well known for his power of pathos when reading those teleprompter speeches, in Sunday’s commencement address Obama’s use of logos (the soundness of an argument) and ethos (credibility or reliability of the speaker) left much to be desired.
I wasn’t sure if I was more bothered by the president’s illogical presentation or the student body’s 20 applause interruptions. Did these recipients of prestigious degrees pay attention to the fallacies or were they just cheering their celebrity guest? I hope their $150,000 education included at least one course in argument.
The president talked at length of this generation and the responsibility bestowed upon it. He spoke of how the 2009 “class has come of age at a moment of great consequence … a privilege and a responsibility afforded to few generations.” However, his stance on abortion has supported the death of millions of other potential Americans who could have been joining in this charge to improve our society by investing in our economy, adding new voting blocs, or contributing to social security. The president has repeatedly endorsed, through the influence of his words and the magnitude of his voting record, the death of so many young people that could have gone on to successes like those attained by the very class he was addressing.
It’s difficult to endorse a generation while simultaneously approving the elimination of a significant portion of it.
President Obama continued this disconnected rhetoric by urging this generation to “decide how to save God's creation from a changing climate that threatens to destroy it.” Strangely, though, the president seems okay destroying one of God’s other creations. Only in a liberal’s mind would saving the planet carry more value than saving a life.
Obama went on to charge this new generation of graduates as “the one that must find a path back to prosperity and decide how we respond to a global economy…where greed and short-term thinking were too often rewarded.” Mind you, this was not a community college in East L.A. or a high school in South D.C. These students come from some of the most affluent families in the nation, many benefiting from the same prosperity the president condemns. The donations that flow into this private institution from powerful churches and prominent CEOs support the tuitions, resources, and facilities of the very people to whom the president spoke. Though certainly not every student comes from wealth, all students are prospering from the wealth of the institution. I think these students are probably quite pleased that private prosperity has played an important role in their lives.
By the way, Notre Dame President John Jenkins earns over $432,000 per year. Looks like he doesn’t need a “path back to prosperity.”
President Obama not only caused great confusion with his words for this generation, his moral relativism should cause great concern for people of all generations. He assumes that truth is relative because we may all passionately hold beliefs that are diametrically opposed.
When Obama advocates for all opinions and deems all perspectives valid, he is implying that no ultimate truth exists. It’s as if one person can say that stealing is okay while another condemns it, and they will just have to agree to disagree. There is an inherent wrongness in stealing that cannot be avoided. The abortion controversy is also one of those moral discussions with no gray area in which a support for innocent life and a support for the destruction of innocent life can co-exist.
When we reach a point in which anything goes, everything will. According to the president, as long we feel strongly enough, we can never be wrong. Unfortunately, terrorists would make the same argument. The protection of innocent life and the preservation of the inalienable right to life are not to be bargained by lawyers, grandstanded by politicians, or debated by emotional activists. Life is life. Morality is morality. There is no wavering or reinterpretation of this.
President Obama concluded his speech by encouraging his audience to employ the following during controversial discussions: “Open hearts. Open minds. Fair-minded words.” I think this is something both the religious and secular can agree upon. However, when the president says that abortion is a “heart-wrenching decision for any woman,” many of us wonder if a woman’s decision to have sex in the first place is equally as “heart-wrenching” or if her decision to avoid giving the newborn child to a loving adoptive family is “heart-wrenching” as well.
Have abortion supporters truly been “open” and “fair-minded” like the president implores of the opposition? I haven’t heard many liberals leaning towards abstinence and adoption, the only factually legitimate ways to eliminate the need for abortion, in an effort to be open and fair.
The president even had the audacity to compare abortion to the civil rights struggle. The inalienable rights and ultimate truth of freedom and equality among people of all races are what prevailed decades ago. Will the president let the inalienable rights and ultimate truth of freedom and equality among people of all life stages, from embryo to elderly, prevail as well? Will he bring an “open heart” and an “open mind” to that discussion?
Amazingly, President Obama closed his speech with the Golden Rule and hoped his audience would respond to the call to treat one another as they wish to be treated. If only babies were given such an opportunity.
In closing, those in the audience who silently protested the president’s positions by not clapping or by decorating their mortar boards with pro-life messages deserve our respect for privately proclaiming their convictions. On the other hand, those in the audience who disrupted the president by yelling during his speech deserve our condemnation. Trying to shout down the President of the United States is selfish, unacceptable, and the exact opposite of employing Christian strength. I was glad to see them removed, and such inappropriate vociferousness adds nothing to our cause.
So the cause remains. And it will remain until President Obama acknowledges the existence of ultimate truth and the right to life that lies within it. As a politician, he may be able to fool America, but as Christian, he is only fooling himself.
I don’t need a degree from Notre Dame to know that.