The 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 PoliticsDaily.com, 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.