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April 17, 2009

Jonah Goldberg's take on 'Catholic' Georgetown and Obama's requiring the removal of a symbol of Christ (Updated)

Topics: Political News and commentaries, Religion

There's been a lot of discussion in the blogoshere and in the media about Barack Obama requiring that the monogram IHS, whose letters spell out the name of Jesus, and which normally perches above the stage in Gaston Hall where he spoke, be covered over with what appeared to be black wood during his address. This stands in contrast to the fact that he visited the Blue Mosque in Turkey (photos) without a similar request, and even prayed there wearing an Islamic cap.

Today, Jonah Goldberg offers some common sense on the matter of Obama's unnecessarily requiring Georgetown to remove "IHS" - a symbol for the name of Jesus, in the backdrop before his speech:

I don't know that the Georgetown flap is that huge a story, but what I find most striking about it is how unnecessary it was. DC is chock-a-block with venues for speeches. American University and George Washington University are five minutes away from G-town (at least by presidential motorcade). If Obama doesn't want to give a speech with a (vaguely) religious backdrop, he shouldn't speak at Georgetown. If Georgetown wants to be a Catholic university, maybe that should mean losing a forgetable presidential speech every now and then if the president refuses to be seen at a podium with Christian symbols on it.

As for the idea that the President shouldn't speak at such a podium, I think some distinctions should be made. If Obama were to give a major address, say, on the state of U.S. relations with the Muslim world, it would be silly to do it at such a venue. So too bad for Georgetown and other religiously affiliated schools. But the idea that, as a general matter, when the president is speaking about budget and economic priorities, he shouldn't do it if there's a chance someone will see him near a religious symbol, well, that's absurd. Real pluralism means pluralism of institutions. When the living embodiment of the executive branch shows up, that shouldn't mean that all religious images need to be hidden. It means, perhaps, they should be polished.

Interestingly, Laura Bush didn't ask for the symbol to be covered when she spoke there three years ago, although I share Allahpundit's questioning of the relevance. Also of interest is that the Chairman of the DNC denies the Obama administration's request for the cover-up of the symbol, in spite of the request being confirmed by Julie Green Bataille, associate vice president for communications at Georgetown.

As for Obama's visiting the Blue Mosque in Turkey and even praying there while wearing an Islamic cap, it demonstrates that our president is far more comfortable being seen in a mosque than in being seen in anything remotely Christian.

Vehement Reaction to Obama Georgetown Cross Story
Jihad Watch: Jesus symbol covered up when Obama spoke at Georgetown University, a Catholic school

Posted by Hyscience at April 17, 2009 9:12 AM

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