5/20/17 — Dear Father Jenkins, Notre Dame President: You Disgraced ND by Inviting Mike Pence to be Commencement Speaker. Signed, An Alumnus

jenkins and pence

Dear Father Jenkins, the President of the University of Notre Dame,

I read that you were petitioned by many not to invite the illegitimate, immoral, and soon to be proven criminal and even treasonous President Donald Trump to speak at ND’s May 2017 Commencement Ceremonies. You agreed not to invite Trump and invited his complicit, dissembling, and immoral in his own right, Vice-President Mike Pence instead. That’s too clever by half, Father Jenkins. You disgraced yourself today.

Free speech doesn’t mean the University has to give stupidity and immorality societal authority. Let Pence pass out leaflets on the quad. That’s constitutionally protected. A university — especially a university like Notre Dame that claims to be so superior in the art of developing students’ personal characters AND minds —  should have intellectual and moral standards. Have you been thinking TOO MUCH about money, Father Jenkins? Is all the high-minded rhetoric just marketing? Stop worrying about buildings and endowments and return to your spiritual vocation.

You invited a commencement speaker who supports and facilitates cover-ups for treason, the unconstitutional persecution of immigrants, attempts to steal people’s right to health care and rob their lives of decency, and an ugly debasement of our democracy and civic culture. We’re not going to have a democratic discussion with autocrats who hate democracy no matter how much you try to shove it down our throats. I’ve known other priests like you who get to live like the rich by sucking up to them and giving them phony moral cover. Your thoughtless act of giving a platform to the authoritarian and criminal cabal that is threatening our way of life as if they were just politicians who some would agree with and some would oppose is stupid and immoral in and of itself.

And if you are actually a supporter of Trump and Pence, as I suspect that you are, fuck you. Your collar is a joke. Did Pence do you favors while he was Governor of Indiana? Did you trade sanctimonious pleasantries with him at cocktail parties while you ignored the devastating effects of his policies and beliefs?

This is such an unsurprising embarrassment at my disappointing alma mater. I am now just adding it to my other embarrassments related to ND: its conservatism, commercialism, careerism and greed. There are people who take the social justice teachings of the church seriously at ND. My old hall Keenan is a bastion of such thought, for example, and it makes me proud. But the administration of ND uses the same moral compass as the administration of Liberty University. Father Hesburgh (a great liberal President of ND who made the school into a major university) would have handled this much differently. He wouldn’t alienate the conservatives, but he wouldn’t blaspheme Jesus with Pence. The commencement speaker at ND is a big deal and this year the choice was an immoral act. You gave an endorsement of this the legitimacy of this administration for all of American Catholicism. That’s what a Notre Dame commencement speaker invitation does. How could you have such an imprimatur on a man like Pence ?!?

All the well-regarded universities that would never invite Pence to speak — and you make Notre Dame the exception!

I am proud of the students that walked out of the ceremonies today, but you should have never put them in the position to have to do so.

And on behalf of all the non-wealthy alumni of which I am one, thank you for not considering our feelings on this matter, or the circumstances of our lives that are being greatly affected by the depravity that you pass off as mere political opinion.

But then you know where your bread is buttered, don’t you, Father John?

Shame on you,

Richard Thomas, Class of 1977

Copyright 2017 Richard Thomas





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