Danielle Crittenden professes to admire Glendon, but says that her decision not to speak at Notre Dame is “anti-democratic” because it “suggests” that American Catholics should not recognize Obama as their president. Yes, well, our dual loyalties have been much discussed, haven’t they?
But they have been discussed more intelligently. Crittenden has nothing to say about Notre Dame’s conferral of an honorary degree on Obama, about how Notre Dame’s status as a Catholic institution might affect its role and responsibilities–about, that is, the substance of the dispute. Instead she writes that “engagement with one’s opponents and the passionate debate of ideas should be at the very core of every college education. Notre Dame realizes this. Unfortunately, Glendon doesn’t.” But in what sense are Notre Dame and Obama “opponents”? Whether Notre Dame takes its pro-life principles seriously is, again, the very substance of the dispute.
If I wanted to argue this point at the same level as Crittenden, I would say that her insistence that people participate in a ceremony to honor political leaders with which they disagree smacks of authoritarianism. But since that would be idiotic, I won’t.