"Knute Rockne - All American" is one of the most famous sports movies of all time, the one that ingrained in the American memory the tale of the death bed request by George Gipp - played in his most famous role by future President Ronald Reagan - to "go out and win one for the Gipper."
His school, the home of "Fighting Irish," has been lionized in other such classic films, such as the feel good biography "Rudy" and is the subject of this week's column.
Universitas Dominae Nostrae a Lacu, or translated from the Latin, the University of Notre Dame du Lac - is undoubtedly one of this Nation's finest universities, challenging the student and faculty alike to strive for an existence of "Life, Sweetness and Hope."
Competitive in enrollment, the school is among the leaders in several areas of academic discipline, research and publication. It is multi-cultural, international, and as of 1972, co-educational.
It is also Catholic. It can be said without the fear of serious challenge that Notre Dame is one of the most visible and notable symbols of the Catholic religion, perhaps second in recognizability only to the Vatican itself. With that as the background, the decision to invite the strongest advocate of unlimited abortion rights to be the Commencement speaker at the May graduation ceremonies is beyond puzzling, to the point of questioning whether the good Fathers of the Holy Cross - Founding Order of the school -have been seriously asleep at the helm.
Barack Obama has been and continues to be unapologetic in his support of abortion on demand, without the restraints of parental or spousal notification, without consideration to time of fetal development, without regards to the survivability of the child from a botched abortion attempt. On these points, he is unequivocal and clear. Equally clear is the worldwide stance of the Roman Catholic Church in its unwavering opposition to that which Obama has so long triumphed. Therein lies the rub.
Just as you would not expect a historically Black College to invite the Grand Wizard of the Klan to deliver the most important address of the academic year, you would scarcely expect the country's premiere Catholic institution of higher learning to honor one who has so consistently espoused that which is at least supposed to be morally repugnant to the sponsor.
Instincts of self respect, not to mention clarity of academic purpose, would command more deliberate decisions. The answer to such an apparent ethical conundrum lies in the phenomenon known as simply as "Obamamania."
It is not inaccurate to say that more than any before him, Barack Obama charmed his way into the White House. His undeniable personal charisma coupled with the historical significance of his election combined to make a story that would deflect the usual scrutiny reserved for those who step forward to lead. Simply put, people like him, and want to be associated with the One.
What he stands for is secondary to how he is perceived, as the knowledge of the voters - what they might or might not know about his policies - scanty at best and totally misinformed at worst - is of no consequence, as we live in the material world, and the WHAT is secondary to the HOW something is done.
Obama is the master at both recognizing and exploiting the superficial aspects of the American psyche, capitalizing on the emphasis of marketing over product integrity. Why else would he lower the prestige of the Presidency by appearing on the Jay Leno show, plugging his latest project like any other celebrity? What's next - the opening act for Carrot Top in Las Vegas?
But it is not about him, lest we fall into the trap of sour grapes over an election long resolved. The problem with the Emperor's absence of clothes is not his, but ours.
If he were appearing at Notre Dame as part of a symposium on a host of possible topics, then it could be argued that the President is there to partake in a dialogue, a noble, accepted and proper role for a university, without regard to the views of the participants.
In fact, it is for the exploration of divergent philosophies that such institutions exist. But such is not the case. The purpose of his trip to South Bend is the same as the Hollywood swing, to promote an agenda, an agenda which in large measure does violence to the essential Mission of his host. But by force of personality, such matters are inexplicably ignored.
Notre Dame cannot now rescind the invitation to speak, nor the offer of an honorary degree, as Lord knows it is better to be polite than morally inconsistent.
For those of us who believe that many of the policies of the Obama administration will bankrupt this nation, not just economically but morally as well, eternal vigilance is required.
Our critical institutions charged with ferreting out the truth - our schools, the mainstream media, our public officials - have been co-opted by the opium of political correctness. We must therefore take up the challenge ourselves. Be not afraid.