The Principle of Association

Notre Dame’s decision to award President Obama an honorary degree has had quite an impact. It has influenced everything from people who have decided they can no longer support the football team (one of my family members who grew up in that neighborhood, two or three friends who have been pulling for the Irish for decades) to someone who was to share the platform with the President–but has decided that she simply cannot do it. From First Things, we have Mary Ann Glendon’s letter:

When you informed me in December 2008 that I had been selected to receive Notre Dame’s Laetare Medal, I was profoundly moved. I treasure the memory of receiving an honorary degree from Notre Dame in 1996, and I have always felt honored that the commencement speech I gave that year was included in the anthology of Notre Dame’s most memorable commencement speeches. So I immediately began working on an acceptance speech that I hoped would be worthy of the occasion, of the honor of the medal, and of your students and faculty.

Last month, when you called to tell me that the commencement speech was to be given by President Obama, I mentioned to you that I would have to rewrite my speech. Over the ensuing weeks, the task that once seemed so delightful has been complicated by a number of factors.

Go and read it all. Then realize that there are some people who still stand on principle–despite the fact that doing so does not appear to be in their immediate best interests.