Forgive trespasses? Alan Keyes and 21 others arrested at Notre Dame

Alan Keyes.jpgThe perennial fringe candidate of the Republican right, Alan Keyes, was arrested today along with 21 others who entered campus to protest Barack Obama’s commencement invitation and refused to leave. As Chicago Breakng News reports:

Keyes was among a group of 26 protesters, some of them pushing baby carriages with dolls covered in fake blood, who entered the campus and were greeted by Notre Dame police, said university spokesman Dennis Brown.


Strollers and fake blood–nice touch. As Kaitlynn Reily reports at, Keyes criticized Notre Dame students for not joining him in protest.

“If they were in fact well-educated, this is where they would be,” he said Friday. That’s not the best way to win over students who just spent a week studying for finals.

Some students have in fact been protesting the choice of Obama as Commencement speaker, but they are choosing to do it in a dignified way. ND Response, a coalition of students and student groups at Notre Dame, has organized a series of events for Commencement weekend to prayerfully protest Obama speaking.


Keyes is generally regarded as on the lunatic fringe with Randall Terry (who was also arrested last week), but I’ve always seen him as more of a clown whose antics undermine his causes. One of those causes is of course his own political future; he ran unsuccessfully in 2004 against Obama. No surprise he lost. But in a post at First Things earlier this week, Father Edward T. Oakes, S.J., who teaches theology at the seminary for the archdiocese of Chicago, reproduced some extended excerpts from Obama’s autobiography, The Audacity of Hope. The point of Father Oakes’ essay was to expose what he thinks is a guilty conscience in Obama on abortion, and thereby a glimmer of hope for his “conversion” on abortion.


But it is Keyes and the anti-abortion movement he represents for many that comes off worst in Oakes’ selections:

“There was no doubt that the man could talk,” Obama writes. “At the drop of a hat Mr. Keyes could deliver a grammatically flawless disquisition on virtually any topic. On the stump, he could wind himself up into a fiery intensity, his body rocking, his brow running with sweat, his fingers jabbing the air, his high-pitched voice trembling with emotions as he called the faithful to do battle against the forces of evil.”

“Unfortunately for him, neither his intellect nor his eloquence could overcome certain defects as a candidate. Unlike most politicians, for example, Mr. Keyes made no effort to conceal what he clearly considered to be his moral and intellectual superiority. With his erect bearing, almost theatrically formal manner, and a hooded gaze that made him appear perpetually bored, he came off as a cross between a Pentecostal preacher and William F. Buckley.”


“Moreover, that self-assuredness disabled in him the instincts for self-censorship that allow most people to navigate the world without getting into constant fistfights. Mr. Keyes said whatever popped into his mind, and with dogged logic would follow over a cliff just about any idea that came to him. Already disadvantaged by a late start, a lack of funds, and his status as a carpetbagger, he proceeded during the course of a mere three months to offend just about everybody. He labeled all homosexuals–including Dick Cheney’s daughter–“selfish hedonists,” and insisted that adoption by gay couples inevitably resulted in incest. He called the Illinois press corps a tool of the “anti-marriage, anti-life agenda.” He accused me of taking a “slaveholder’s position” in my defense of abortion rights and called me a “hard-core academic Marxist” for my support of universal health care and other social programs–and then added for good measure that because I was not the descendant of slaves I was not really African American.”

But I suggest reading the autobiography, for one thing, or at least all of Oakes’ essay, which shows Obama as the far more thoughtful Christian. Perhaps it is Keyes et al who need converting.


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posted May 8, 2009 at 10:48 pm

The anti-Obama bishops, [about 54 so far]say their target is ND but their words betray them. Now they seem to have stirred up Keyes, a Loser to Obama and a loser in other ways. Carriages and bloody dolls!!!!.. what’s next to build an anti-Obama crowd on Commencement Day?
Maybe A/B Burke as Chief Canon lawyer in Rome could research diocesan dispensed ‘indulgences’.

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Peter Turner

posted May 9, 2009 at 1:50 am

I heard Dr. Keyes on Relevant Radio two days ago saying that he wasn’t going to Notre Dame specificially to get arrested, but he wasn’t going to sit down and let Randall Terry rot in jail alone. He said this was NOT his first course of action in situations like this. But we, many hundred thousand, conscientious Americans are up against a wall; we know something terrible is about to occur and are powerless to do anything about it.
Alan Keyes is not only a man of integrity, he has guts too and he’s right to criticize the students on campus IF they didn’t come out to join him. Some things, namely human life, are much more important than finals.
Also, there’s no way anyone can call Dr. Keyes a loser to President Obama (he had about a month to prepare his campain), or a perennial candidate (if so you can call John McCain and John Edwards perennial candidates). I just came to this website to check out Bishop Burke’s speech, too bad the Catholicism here is so lacking I don’t think I’ll be coming back.

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posted May 9, 2009 at 2:09 am

Seeing a photo of Dr. Keyes being placed in plastic cuffs led me to a web search of photos of another well known civil rights advocate, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Yes, civil rights are what we are talking about. How is it that we have become so desensitized to the advocacy of the unborn? Strollers and spattered theatrical blood don’t even effect us, and are used only because discussion about the atrocity that is killing the children of an entire generation has become “cliche”…
I think some of us are forgetting what a milestone Dr. Keyes’ actions may be. A former presidential candidate who ran against the current sitting president of the United States was arrested for fighting for the civil rights of the unborn! Some will look back in years and possibly just look to this as a moment when we realized the cost for defending the dignity of the unborn as a nation, and we as a people began to be willing to pay that price.
This is not a stunt or grab for media attention. This is a people doing the best they can, where they can to say “enough.”
I was born in the summer of 1973, among the first of the survivors of this great American abortion tragedy. Almost 50 million human souls since have not survived. Dr. Keyes witness may not be perfect or even polished, yet whose witness is? He is first and foremost faithful to defending the dignity of our unborn brothers and sisters, and that speaks more for him than the sum of any of his faults.

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posted May 9, 2009 at 8:16 am

Are any of us brave enough to be arrested for something we believe in?

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posted May 9, 2009 at 3:55 pm

What next, burning Obama in effigy? Do these protesters realize that they are not gaining any converts to their way of thinking by being outlandish? I don’t think it is right that they were arrested though. Just let them carry on until they wear themselves out. After all, it is a free country. Abortion is an important issue but when pro-life people get crazy they end of sending people to the pro-choice (pro-abortion) side. I think that is very unfortunate. To me the most important thing is to decrease the number of abortions not create a circus.

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posted May 9, 2009 at 5:20 pm

What do theatrical props and personal idiosnycracies have to do with the validity of the message?

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posted May 9, 2009 at 9:46 pm

David I hope you are not saying you are Catholic… if so you must be very old… stuck in the 60’s rebeliousness… your breed of Catholicism is dying with your generation.
Yuck, what a sick site… please change the title to remove Catholicism…
As a person who helped pay for an abortion and watched my girlfriend, who was a medical doctor, deteriorate afterward, I am profoundly aware of abortion’s repercussions on both women and men. There has been no greater mistake in my life, and I believe there has been no greater mistake made by the office of the Notre Dame than to honour abortion this way. This issue will not go away by handing honours to abortionist advocates or by muting those who object. That is no way to appease the conscience.

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Your Name

posted May 10, 2009 at 8:31 am

When innocent children are being slaughtered and womenand men are sitting in theraphy for symptoms of cutting, eating disorders, suicide attempts, alcoholism, drugs,promoscuity, we have a real problem as a society. Abortion was suppose to solve a crisis pregnancy. Instead it hurts worse than rape. New York State law states that for each abortion you must fill out a fetal death certificate. Who dies? It is enough! 50 million babies exterminated and it is those aborted women and men who will say NO MORE>

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posted May 10, 2009 at 8:27 pm

David,I am sorry, but I don’t think you get it. I wish that you would broaden your world view and try to understand what this whole ND controversy is really about.
This not about politics…or what is tacky or embarrassing or uncool…
This is serious stuff. It is about the fundamental question of who we are as a people and who we want to be.

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Kelly Thatcher

posted May 10, 2009 at 9:09 pm

Sorry, but I can’t see the logic in relating this blog to the Catholic Church.

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Irish II

posted May 10, 2009 at 10:53 pm

Shame on you, Alan Keyes. And to think, you had my vote back when.
John Paul II met with Arafat. Christ heard even the criminal on the cross next to Him, and promised him paradise that very day.
How sad this tragedy is for Notre Dame.

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posted May 11, 2009 at 1:56 am

As congress debates fixing Americas current private for profit healthcare disaster, global embarrassment, and national disgrace. The question is not weather we will have a public option. But rather what kind of public option we will have.
America is the only country in the developed world that has a GREED DRIVEN! PROFIT DRIVEN! IMMORAL! UNETHICAL! PRIVATE FOR PROFIT! healthcare delivery system.
As a result, hundreds of thousands of you are needlessly killed by your healthcare delivery system in America every year. And millions of you are crippled and injured. America is the only country in the developed World that does not have a NOT FOR PROFIT, PATIENT PROTECTING, government managed healthcare delivery option for all it’s people.
America currently has the most costly health care system in the developed world. And the lowest quality of healthcare in the developed world. And the most dangerous, deadly, and FEARED! healthcare delivery system in the developed world.
America is the only healthcare delivery system in the developed World that does not cover all it’s people automatically. And America has the most difficult healthcare system to access in the developed World.
Contact your representative and tell then that a single payer, government managed healthcare option is a must for everyone that wants it. Tell them that you demand that the public option be the finest in the World.
Tell them it should be available to everyone that wants it as a HUMAN RIGHT! Tell them it should be the easiest to access in the entire world. Tell them it should have the highest quality, with the greatest patient protections in the entire world. Tell them coverage should be automatic for everyone that wants it unless they choose to opt out. Tell them it should be the most affordable in the World. And tell them that NO ONE in the public option is to be reported to a credit agency, or driven into bankruptcy for unpaid medical bills just because they got sick, for FREEK’EN SAKES!
Tell them, none of the requirements above are negotiable. Tell them, that we are prepared to remove them from office. Tell them, we will rain down the political FIRES OF HELL! on any of them that would betray the American people. Or continue to compromise the life, health, safety, and National security of the American people for the GREED DRIVEN, PROFIT DRIVEN! private for profit Healthcare Industry.
God Bless You

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Robert R.

posted May 11, 2009 at 10:04 pm

Reading the comments here, I feel like I have been visiting Bellevue.

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posted May 12, 2009 at 9:33 pm

Yeah, sure. Obama is a poor misunderstood, sensitive abortionist. Keyes lacks the diplomacy Oakes prefers so he is the bad guy, even though he courageously opposes abortion along with the rest of the Catholic Church, but Obama is the good guy (never mind all the dead babies). What rubbish.

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