Our President was elected under the influence of great anti-war sentiment. He was “the anti-war candidate”. It ought to be disappointing then, for his supporters, to learn that he is decidedly not the anti-war President. In fact, President Obama is actively pursuing the war-on-terror, significantly expanding the Afghanistan theatre with another troop surge. And we shouldn’t forget that President Obama hasn’t pulled the troops out of Iraq yet, and the best estimates are that troops will be in Iraq for 2-3 more years – the same amount of time President Bush would have kept them there. (The article says all “combat troops” will be out of Iraq in August of 2010, but this is misleading. The article goes on to say that there will still be 30,000-50,000 troops there until 2011. The Obama administration redefined people who count as “troops”.) President Obama’s continuation of the war on terror says a number of things. First, the silence of his anti-war constituency indicates that they were not opposed to the Iraq war on principle, but rather opposed to the Iraq war when a Republican candidate was president. In fact, they seem to have a great and newfound tolerance for war now that they like the guy at the helm of it all. It also tells us that the foreign policy of President Bush was not offensive enough for the country to elect a President who would have actually changed things.
Symbols mean things, but they do not necessarily accomplish things in concrete fashion, so they often seem to be a prime source of argument and misunderstanding in the political arena.
Last week, environmental activists throughout the US participated in a “green hour” in which they all committed to turn off all electricity-using appliances in their possession for one hour (from 8-9pm, as I recall). This was supposed to express to the leaders of the G-20 nations the importance of moving to implement regulations to reduce the burning of fossil fuels.
Not being a major devotee of the global warming cause (I don’t think the kind of restrictions that could realistically be passed would do much good if global warming is in fact a man-made phenomenon, so I would be more interested in putting resources into mitigation than regulating power production) this gesture strikes me as a bit silly. If you really thought that reducing power consumption was important, it seems to me you should reduce your power consumption. Permanently, that is, not just for one hour and then go back to normal.
In the same sense, I suspect that the continuing controversy over Notre Dame University honoring President Obama looks silly to outsiders.
There is so much being said and debated in this Notre Dame controversy, and so I want to add one more perspective to the mix. I wrote an essay for my personal website and I don’t want to take up a lot of space with it here, so I will simply provide the link and discussion can take place below.
I know many of you will disagree, perhaps even take offense at what I am saying, though essentially I agree with what most of you have already said (no I will not be defending Obama, or abortion – I am 100% pro-life). I think we should all be mature enough to handle a different perspective. I’m aware of the potential for things to get quite ugly, but I think there is a painful truth that needs to be acknowledged.
If I am truly wrong, so be it – I can be wrong. But if I’m right, or partially right, then it does no good to kill the messenger.
A beautiful picture of a young child receiving Jesus from Papa Bene himself!
(Biretta Tip: Fr. Zuhlsdorf)