Friday, May 26, 2017

Notre Dame Grads Walk Out On Pence Speech

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Last Sunday as Vice President Mike Pence came to the podium to give the commencement speech at Notre Dame University, a good number of graduates and their families stood and walked out.

Pence's speech encouraged the grads to keep their religious faith and value the freedom of speech---promising, "The future is yours."

Divisive? Hardly.

It wasn't his words. It was his personal beliefs and his associations. And the spirit of rebellion, self centeredness and deception that is pervasive in our "open minded" institutions of higher learning.

Is this what freedom looks like?

Did those whom we memorialize this Memorial Day weekend give their lives for this?

By all accounts, Vice President Mike Pence is both soft spoken and well spoken---someone who typically would not cause people to feel "unsafe"---a word often used in regard to conservatives on college campuses--by his mere presence or his scripted comments.

He was invited to speak at Notre Dame after students and faculty objected to a prospective invitation to President Trump, who would have been the 7th US President to give the commencement address.

Pence appeared unfazed by the walkout, proceeding to give his prepared speech.

He said, "This university (Notre Dame) is a vanguard of the freedom of expression and the free exchange of ideas at a time, sadly, when free speech and civility are waning on campuses across America."

The rest of his speech focused on faith and conservative principles like protecting Notre Dame and other groups from having to go against their religious beliefs to offer birth control coverage to employees under Obamacare, for example.

He said, "Just as Notre Dame has stood strong to protect religious liberty, I'm proud that this president just took steps to ensure that this university and the Little Sisters of the Poor could not be forced to violate their consciences to fully participate in American life."

"Notre Dame is exceptional," the Vice President said, "This university stands without apology for human freedom and the inherent dignity of every human person, and holds fast to the faith that gave it birth."

Isn't this what everyone in America wants---life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness---including religious liberty?

Isn't that what so many of those whom we remember this weekend gave their lives for?

Well, not exactly. Along with other values and virtues, freedom---freedom of religion and freedom of speech--- has been redefined by some in this enlightened generation.

Pence said, "While this institution has maintained an atmosphere of civility and open debate, far too many campuses across America have become characterized by speech codes, safe zones, tone policing, administration-sanctioned political correctness---all of which amounts to nothing less than suppression of the freedom of speech---These all-to-common practices are destructive of learning and the pursuit of knowledge, and they are wholly outside the American tradition."

This may be the point where some would begin to feel "unsafe" because "education" has more to do with so-called "social justice" than it does about actual learning.

The New York Times was quick to quote Luis Miranda who graduated from a master's program.

Miranda says, "Of course we welcome and support free speech on campus....", but Mr Pence's role in graduation was particularly unsavory for some students and their families---including gay people and immigrants---who have been hurt by the policies favored by the Trump administration.

Miranda, who was one of the walk out organizers, says, "If it was just five of us, we would have thought we were successful because we were doing the right thing. The fact that so many people showed up was mind blowing."

This walkout was not lost to the foreign press either.

Al Jazeera, the Muslim organization, said in their report after identifying Pence as a "religious social conservative", "The protest comes amid mounting controversy over what constitutes free speech at college campuses since the election of President Donald Trump in November, with students objecting to appearances by divisive conservative figures. Some schools have canceled events."

Luis Mirada's "mind blown joy" was not limited to his interview with the New York Times.

He and Aniela Tyksinski appeared on CNN Monday following the intrusion of Vice President Mike Pence.

Tyksinski explained to CNN's Brooke Baldwin, "The walkout was in response to the fact that members of our own community felt unwelcome, uncomfortable, and even unsafe."

Wow. No one should ever have to experience such hardships.

Miranda said he didn't know if campuses were too liberal---but he definitely supports free speech--"It's a very important thing and that we shouldn't be shutting it out."

He supports "free speech" despite being one of the organizers of the walkout on VP Pence's speech.

I'm not a fan of CNN, but to her credit, Baldwin asked this pair of freedom lovers "but how can you be welcoming if you are not respecting---despite the fact that you totally disagree with his views..."

George Washington once said, "Guard against the impostures of pretend patriotism."

Abraham Lincoln defined our culture in his time as a "House Divided"---drawing from Scripture to illustrate the importance of his point. The point being, a divided house will not remain divided, because one view will ultimately prevail over the other.

Those whom we remember this Memorial Day weekend---many of whom who gave their lives for a cause greater then themselves, most likely at some point in their fight to sustain freedom felt "unwelcome, uncomfortable and even unsafe."

Washington State's own Congressman Doc Hastings said a few years back, "137 years later, Memorial Day remains one of America's most cherished patriot observances. The spirit of this day has not changed--it remains a day to honor those who died defending our freedom and democracy."

My favorite poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote these words as he looked out over the rolling green acres of grave markers: "You silent tents of green, We deck with fragrant flowers; Yours has the suffering been, The memory shall be ours."

Years later, in 1984, Lee Greenwood recorded the hit "God Bless The USA," repeating the sentiments of Longfellow: "And I'm proud to be an American, where at least I know I'm free. And I won't forget the men who died, who gave that right to me..."

Have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend---And keep the memories alive.

Be Free. Be Blessed.