By Dan Gilgoff, God & Country
I've talked to Catholics on both sides of the Obama at Notre Dame debate who are distraught over the controversy overshadowing Graduation Day for the school's class of 2009. Here's a poignant comment posted by a Notre Dame mom:
My daughter is a freshman at Notre Dame. I am concerned with the way "outsiders" have hijacked this year's graduation to promote their own political agenda and how the media have been falsely led to believe that this protest is being supported by the students/alumni who attend(ed) there. The majority of these students voted for President Obama and are outraged that these pro-life groups and fanatical Catholic groups are trying to speak for them. These kids are amazing—intelligent and open-minded and embarrassed that the country thinks "This is ND."
...This is their graduation—President Obama is the speaker they want, and they are fed up with the media reports and the outside fringe groups who are using the ND logo illegally and have no affiliation with the university saying this protest is fueled by the students and alumni. It is not. The kids are so excited about having their president come to their campus, and they need to have their voices heard. The 80,000 signatures on the protest are not from the Notre Dame community—it is "outsiders" using this as a political forum to push their agenda—they are hijacking the kids' graduation to do it, and it would be great if the media could see this and report it from their point of view and shame these others into using their right to protest in a more proper forum than a graduation.
There are plenty of other folks who blame Notre Dame—as opposed to outside conservative groups—for setting off the controversy. They say that the president never should have been invited. And it's also not fair to dismiss opposition to Obama's appearance as a strictly off-campus phenomenon.