Friday, April 17, 2009
Whether wittingly or not, Georgetown University this past Tuesday let itself be used by the President of the United States.
The President's major economic policy speech, delivered this past Tuesday, April 14th, at GU's Gaston Hall, had no strict need of an association with the University. The President's request to use the University's space is not really explicable, except as betrayal of a desire to have the University's identity and prestige associated with the speech.
That the university should allow itself so to be used were not, ipso facto, inappropriate, though to be thus used, and so blithely, for the purposes of advancing a politically much-controverted agenda is not easily defensible.
The University further allowed the President to cloth the stage so as not only to exclude, but deliberately to cover, i.e. to hide, the cross and signage of the university and the religious society that founded it, from the holy and illustrious tradition of which the university claims continued inspiration.
This is simply unjustifiable.
If the President desired a setting like that, which he has had for other policy speeches, then he might have made the speech from the White House Press Room or the Oval Office, or some other suitably familiar setting.
The President wanted the prestige of Georgetown University, and the Georgetown University authorities gladly lent him the prestige, even as they hid the expressions of their storied and much beloved institution's very lifeblood, as though they were ashamed.
Did the President say something that would bring scandal upon the Cross and the Holy Name? If so, then why was he allowed to use the university's space?
Did the President find the Cross and the Holy Name, the sign of infinite love and the word by which Wisdom made Flesh may be invoked, rather too limiting of his appeal? If so, then why did he quote scripture in his remarks?
The President specifically desired the esteem in which the nation and the world generally hold that traditionally Catholic institution of higher learning, though he did not want anything to do with the place's tradition of Catholicity.
I do not begrudge the president's request, but I disapprove the use he made of the place and the name.
The supine willingness with which Georgetown's authorities sought and succeeded in accomodating the President's calculated desires, is frankly despicable.