Sunday, May 17, 2009

'Raise her Gold & Blue'

This afternoon we watched the University of Notre Dame distinguish itself as an institution of higher learning, not purely an enclave of indoctrination. Especially as reflected in the introductory address delivered by Father John Jenkins, the university expressed its values with credibility and reason.

Second, we saw Operation Rescue (and everyone else pushing a stroller doused with stage blood) cement its place at the anti-liberty extreme, right along with PETA, Earth First! and Aryan Nations. A free society allows for such speech, of course, up to and including the cartoonish extremes, but it also gives us an opportunity to witness the stark contrast between beliefs and believability.

Which way are you lookin'?
Is it hard to see?
Do you say what's wrong for him
Is not wrong for me?
You walk the streets of righteousness
But you refuse to understand.

Say you love the baby,
Then you crucify the man.
You say you love the baby,
And then you crucify the man.

And third, the President's presence as well as his speech -- which almost was anti-climactic in the wake of the buildup -- served as the latest example of our good fortune in having elected this man who values intellect, embraces differences and engages honestly.

Toward the end of the speech, the elderly gentleman with whom I'd been watching it observed,
"I dunno 'bout you, but I see a lot of similarities between him and Hitler."
I swear I'm not making that up -- those are his words, verbatim.

I didn't respond. I walked away.

The old man is a prisoner of his ideology, shackled by the sort of mindless rhetoric served up by right-wing talk radio. He and his like have spent years trying to inspire fear in others, and now they find themselves poisoned by their own potion.

Thus intoxicated, now he's incapable of seeing his world any other way. To invoke a different metaphor, when you're a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

Today was a bad day for ideologues and a good day for men and women of reason. My policy differences with Pres. Obama aside -- and in the cause of critical thought, I do have the independence to put them aside -- it was a very good day for me, too.

Lyrics from "Which way are you goin'?" (1975) by Jim Croce.