Archive for the ‘Carrie Prejean’ Category

Obama at Notre Dame: A Good Fit?

May 16, 2009

As the nation slowly makes its way beyond the scandals of beauty pageant contestants, we find ourselves now engulfed in an even more tense and controversial situation. Namely, the protests against Notre Dame University for asking President Obama to speak at their graduation ceremony. The reason behind the protests? Notre Dame is a Catholic institution, and in theory dedicated to the preservation of life in all its forms, including unborn children. Obama, however, is Pro-choice and does not share the Church’s strong feelings on the abortion issue. Therefore, several students have risen up in protest against the President’s appearance, which is being called a violation of Catholic values.

I’m of two minds about this issue, and no that’s not a sign of weakness. Rather, it’s a sign that I refuse to give myself over to limited partisanship. The moment you give yourself so completely to an ideology, liberal or conservative, is the day you’ve stopped thinking.

On the one hand, I am disappointed in Obama’s stance on the abortion issue. As a bishop recently put it, people fought for Obama’s right as an African American to be free and equal in our nation. Now that he is in a position of power, Obama turns his back on the most vulnerable of our society. In many ways, he resembles our founding fathers who yearned for independence…but only if slavery was permitted to continue. Having rights for yourself should not mean denying the rights of others.

Everyone was once a fetus (trust me, it’s science ūüėČ ) and we are all here because someone made the choiceto give us a chance at life. Ironically, so many who have benefited from that choice now fight to take that same chance at life away from others. Obama is an intelligent man, and I hope someday he is able to reconsider his position on this issue. However, I still respect him as a fellow human being and wish him well. Jesus did not reject those who disagreed with him, quite the contrary (more on that later).

I admire the Notre Dame protesters for speaking their mind even when the law and society are against them. Whether you’re liberal or conservative, it’s rarely a good idea to adopt a “my country, right or wrong” attitude. Sometimes your country is wrong and when that happens, you must speak up. Frankly, it has never been popular to be Catholic in America. Celebrities like to think¬†they’re gutsy for ridiculing the Catholic Church, when in reality, it’s probably the safest, most acceptable thing¬†in the world to do. Interestingly, according to the recent Gallup poll, more and more Americans say they are opposed to abortion. I do believe this is due in part to the brave protestors over the years who dared to spread the word and never give up.

No, America is not perfect. Still, one of the reasons we have to be very proud of our little nation is our emphasis on free speech and civil exchange of ideas. At times we take this privilege for granted, forgetting that so many citizens of the world can only dream of such a right. As I said in my entry regarding the Miss California controversy, we ought to be able to have serious discussions and disagreements in a respectful manner in the spirit of camaraderie, without declaring war on each other. This is a lesson both liberals and conservatives continually need to learn.

I admire liberals for preaching the values of free speech and equality. But sadly this¬†often only¬†seems to apply to those who agree with them. The words “liberal” and “partisan” seem like automatic contradictions, yet ironically they are all too frequently seen keeping company.

By the same token, I admire The Catholic Church for its undeniable dedication to charity and education over the years (I went to Catholic school my whole life and was always taught evolution, thank you ūüėČ ). However, it often has a somewhat “our way or the highway” attitude which makes it comes across as¬†overly authoritarian and needlessly intimidating (two things you can never accuse Jesus of being ūüėČ ).

You know what, though? I think Notre Dame’s graduates can learn from both President Obama and the Pro-life protesters. And now I’m going to shock all of you. I honestly appreciate Obama’s agreeing to appear at a prodigious Catholic college like Notre Dame, despite knowing he disagreed with many of its policies. He could have just as easily brushed the invitation off. Instead he chose to realize that Catholics are a part of this nation too, and deserve his respect and support as President of the United States. Just as Jesus befriended the dreaded tax collectors, so should Notre Dame welcome those who respectfully disagree. To do otherwise would indeed be a violation of Catholic values. ūüėČ

By the same token, the Pro-life student protesters have shown that we are a nation that prizes free speech, free thinking and the ability to critique our leaders (civilly of course ūüôā ). Ah protestors, as an early ’90s “Cotton – Fabric of Our Lives” commercial once put it, “With steadfast stares, the people cry, brave future…new world…” ūüėČ

Furthermore, these brave souls¬†are standing up for the rights of those who cannot speak for themselves. It’s an American tradition, and not something to be discouraged. As long as they conduct themselves in a civilized manner and not give the naysayers a reason to discredit them. Here I’m reminded of the words of another group of young protestors from the 1992 classic Newsies, “If we get violent, it’s only playing into their hands.” ūüėČ

So in conclusion, I hope and pray President Obama and Notre Dame’s Pro-life protesters can find it in themselves to provide a good example for the graduates of 2009 and for all of our nation. New ideas don’t come from stagnation, they come from exchange. We need it now more than ever.

Miss California Controversy: Enough!

May 6, 2009

I’ve been very disappointed as of late. No, disappointment doesn’t even begin to cover it. There are no words for the outrage and bitterness I feel. I’m talking about this recent controversy regarding Miss California’s comments on gay marriage, and the aftermath that has sadly ensued.

You know the story by now, if you keep up with such things (if not, consider yourself very fortunate!). At a recent Miss USA Pageant, Miss California was asked by judge Perez Hilton her position regarding gay marriage. Miss California politely but unequivocally made her position clear–she was against gay marriage. Mr. Hilton, looking visibly disappointed and deflated, nevertheless admirably maintained his composure. At the end of the night, another contestant took home the crown. The Miss USA pageant was over, everyone went home, brushed their teeth, petted their dogs and went to bed. End of story.

Well…It should have ended there. I mean, Mr. Hilton’s question was well structured and relevant to the lives of American citizens (though perhaps a trifle out of place at a beauty pageant). Miss California’s answer was diplomatic and considerate to the feelings¬†of all concerned (its motivation perhaps a little confused, but I’ll discuss that later). In every respect, this exchange was everything we should hope for in an intelligent exchange between two citizens of the USA debating a hot button issue. It should have been heralded and celebrated as a¬†shiny example of how two human beings can disagree but still respect each other’s¬†feelings.

It should have been all those things…but because we are fatally flawed human beings, this was not the case. Following the contest, Mr. Hilton chose to further fan the flames by going on his video blog¬†and make disparaging and sexist remarks about¬†Miss California for all the world to see.

In the weeks that followed, other media figures joined the fray, insulting Miss California’s faith, intelligence, even physical appearance. Women’s groups weren’t much help; a so-called “feminist” appearing on FOX News made the amazingly catty comment, “She should get a heart transplant, rather than a breast transplant.” (Rowr!) And as if that wasn’t enough, “racy” photos of Miss California have now mysteriously surfaced and could cost her her crown.

To all these people, frankly you need to go back and reexamine what it means to be liberal.¬†It means you stand up for freedom of speech and equality for all. Not just for the opinions you like, but for all opinions. I can understand why Miss California’s views¬†were offensive to you and your ideals.¬†¬†And if you¬†honestly feel an opinion is damaging to the¬†equality you hold dear, by all means you speak your mind.¬†¬†You advocate, you protest, you make your voice heard. That’s what makes you liberal and a vital asset to this country.

But you do not engage in this kind of wanton bullying, hazing and gossip more commonly found in a school playground. You are punishing this young woman, not because she used bigoted or inciteful language (quite the contrary), but simply because you didn’t like her response. It’s wrong…and it’s definitely not liberal. ūüėČ

I consider myself liberal on many issues and I have often engaged people in debate. But no matter how frustrated and annoyed some people make me feel, I always at least try to remain tactful and sensitive, seeing all points of view and using logic to¬†back up my own claims. If I feel like denigrating someone (and let’s face it, we all do sometimes, we’re human), I do it in the privacy of my own home. Not on my Blog, not in a newspaper, not on Television, not anywhere where my emotions could potentially harm the feelings of a fellow human being. That’s not being fake, that’s being an adult.

Now it may surprise you to know that I¬†actually support gay marriage. We make provisions for long-term unmarried heterosexual couples and most importantly their children, and I see no reason why homosexuals shouldn’t get the same consideration. And frankly, while I was impressed with Miss California’s diplomacy, I was not as impressed with her actual answer.

To be specific, I had a problem with this section, “I believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman … that’s how I was raised.” Now maybe I’m being nit-picky, but I wish she’s given a more substantial answer rather than “that’s how I was raised.” If she is honestly against gay marriage, it should be because she honestly believes it, not because she was always told to.

A similar issue was addressed recently on the Tyra Banks Show; young people with somewhat racist views using the excuse “I come from a small town, that’s how I was raised.” Ms. Banks wisely pointed out that nowadays, especially with the World Wide Web (emphasis on World), there really is no excuse for ignorance. As you grow into an adult, it is no longer your parents responsibility to choose your¬†opinions for you. You have to learn to make the choices yourself and live with them. Especially when it comes to issue that could harm your fellow human beings and infringe on their rights. Maybe you’ll end up still agreeing with your parents. Maybe not. Either way, it must be you.

Knowing¬†this, it might also¬†surprise you¬†that I consider myself a Christian (and a Catholic at that!). I believe God cares for all of us and that we’re all here for a reason, hetereosexual¬†and homosexual.¬†And while¬†I wish liberals were just as concerned with the rights of unborn children as they are about gay rights, I try to keep the doctrine of loving my enemy close to my heart. Jesus had many enemies, mainly for the crime of speaking his mind. But he never stopped caring about people.

Now religious people don’t have the monopoly on morality. Religious or atheist, we are all capable of being decent people. It’s not religion or atheism that gets in the way of morality. Time and again, it’s our own flawed humanity. Again, I take you back to that stage of the Miss USA Pageant. Both parties involved are not that different. They’re human beings simply trying to find their way through life and trying to do the right thing. In these uncertain times, sometimes it’s hard to know what that is. But perhaps one thing is certain…

As the legendary Captain Kirk once confidently put it, “We’re the same. We share the same history, the same heritage, the same lives. We’re tied together beyond any untying. Man or woman, it makes no difference. We’re human. We couldn’t escape from each other even if we wanted to….the only thing that’s truly yours is the rest of humanity. That’s where your duty lies” (Star Trek, “Who Mourns for Adonis?”).

It’s not too late. Even if these public figures can’t get their acts together, we can learn from their mistakes. We can disagree. We can speak our minds and express our frustration. But we must never forget that we are all part of this world. As someone once said, either we stand together, or together we will fall.