Even as a kid whose Old Man worked in the steel mills, he told his family, "After high school, I'm going to play football at Notre Dame." Four years after high school, working at the mills himself, the dream is still there when his buddy gives him a Notre Dame letter-jacket. As he puts it on his buddy says:"You were born to wear that jacket." -- That's from the movie "Rudy," based on a true story.
Let's say somebody pokes you in the eye with a stick. You tell the sticker that, as the stickee, you are upset by the blatant disregard displayed for your eyeball. And the response is a lecture. Be open-minded. Be fair. Be tolerant.
As the stickee, you are now the heavy. And the sticker is the saint.
Notre Dame shoved a stick in the eyeball of a sizeable part of the Catholic community when it chose to glorify President Obama with an honorary degree, though his record as a zealous defender of abortion in American culture is pure. He used that zealotry as a linchpin of his Democratic primary campaign and never let it drop in the general election.
There are a lot of Catholics who have spent much blood, sweat and tears in the last 36 years -- since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision imposed abortion on the American conscience -- to win minds and hearts. And they have asked nothing in return, except that America would honor in its laws the sacredness of human life.
Then Notre Dame poked a stick in their eye and complained loudly of the intolerance of it all when some dared to argue that it just wasn't the right thing for a Catholic university to do.
It always seems to go that way. Pro-life Catholics didn't create this controversy at Notre Dame; Notre Dame made the conscious choice to create the controversy. The school poked the Catholic community in the eye, then spewed its own crocodile tears when the controversy began.
Notre Dame insulted the fundamental beliefs of its wider Catholic community, ignored the instruction of Catholic bishops not to honor pro-abortion politicians, and unnecessarily exacerbated tensions and divisions within the Catholic community. Then Notre Dame complained about the unfairness of it all when many Catholics dared to express their outrage. The guy with the stick who began the whole mess never takes the blame.
Be open-minded. Be fair. Be tolerant.
It's easy for Notre Dame. It gets to play the secular saint now, the martyr at the hands of the great Catholic unwashed that wallow in their collective ignorance of what a great university should be. All because so many of those unwashed thought that the word Catholic, that title of dedication to the Blessed Mother in its hallowed name, actually meant something more than just ashes, incense and grottos.
And all the editorialists -- the same who hammer away every day in the pro-abortion propaganda machine -- proclaim the university's heroism against a benighted Catholic hierarchy and their unthinking pro-life sycophants. Be open-minded. Be fair. Be tolerant.
Notre Dame has been a prisoner for a long time of its own public relations. It has always had that reputation as the pugnacious Catholic school of higher learning with friends in low places.
The school was so unabashedly Catholic in its reputation that it had a blue-collar Catholic constituency all over the country. These were Catholics that could never hope for a university degree for themselves. But they had one in spirit because of the very existence of Notre Dame.
No need for Notre Dame to worry about that kind of stuff anymore. Because we will now be open-minded. Fair. Tolerant.
Robert P. Lockwood writes from Pennsylvania.