Tuesday, June 18, 2013

President Obama Speaks to the People of Northern Ireland.

President Obama Speaks to the People of Northern Ireland. Video. WhiteHouse.gov, June 17, 2013. YouTube. Transcript. Summary with excerpts by Megan Slack at The White House Blog.

Catholics Fire Back at Obama over School Comments: “Anti-Faith, Secular Agenda Shamelessly on Full Display.” By Ben Shapiro. Breitbart, June 20, 2013.

American Catholics for Religious Freedom, quoted by Shapiro:

President Obama’s anti-faith, secular agenda was shamefully on full display yesterday when he told the young people of Northern Ireland that Catholic education and other faith-based schools were divisive and an obstacle to peace.  All Americans of faith should be outraged by these comments which clearly telegraph the President’s belief system and are in fact at their core even anti-American.

Secular progressives like President Obama ignore the truth that faith-based education is a component of the Religious Freedom guaranteed by the Constitution.  He can’t bear the thought that Catholic and parochial schools not only teach important values but consistently produce better educational results at lower cost than America’s failing public schools. The President’s troubling values are showing here in a way that demonstrate just how dangerous this Administration is and how committed it is to eroding the rights of all people of faith.

It’s time Americans stood up for Religious Freedom, for the U.S. Constitution and against President Obama’s radical views about the place of faith in American life.


President Obama’s Belfast Blarney. By Ken Blackwell and Bob Morrison. American Thinker, June 21, 2013.

Barack Obama “Savages” Catholic Education. By Jeannie DeAngelis. American Thinker, June 20, 2013.




Obama:

From the start, no one was na├»ve enough to believe that peace would be anything but a long journey.  Yeats once wrote “Peace comes dropping slow.”  But that doesn’t mean our efforts to forge a real and lasting peace should come dropping slow.  This work is as urgent now as it has ever been, because there’s more to lose now than there has ever been.

In today’s hyper-connected world, what happens here has an impact on lives far from these green shores.  If you continue your courageous path toward a permanent peace, and all the social and economic benefits that have come with it, that won’t just be good for you, it will be good for this entire island.  It will be good for the United Kingdom.  It will be good for Europe.  It will be good for the world.

We need you to get this right.  And what’s more, you set an example for those who seek a peace of their own.  Because beyond these shores, right now, in scattered corners of the world, there are people living in the grip of conflict -- ethnic conflict, religious conflict, tribal conflicts -- and they know something better is out there.  And they’re groping to find a way to discover how to move beyond the heavy hand of history, to put aside the violence.  They’re studying what you’re doing.  And they’re wondering, perhaps if Northern Ireland can achieve peace, we can, too.  You’re their blueprint to follow.  You’re their proof of what is possible -- because hope is contagious.  They’re watching to see what you do next.

Now, some of that is up to your leaders.  As someone who knows firsthand how politics can encourage division and discourage cooperation, I admire the Northern Ireland Executive and the Northern Ireland Assembly all the more for making power-sharing work.  That’s not easy to do.  It requires compromise, and it requires absorbing some pain from your own side.  I applaud them for taking responsibility for law enforcement and for justice, and I commend their effort to “Building a United Community” – important next steps along your transformational journey.

Because issues like segregated schools and housing, lack of jobs and opportunity – symbols of history that are a source of pride for some and pain for others – these are not tangential to peace; they’re essential to it.  If towns remain divided – If Catholics have their schools and buildings, and Protestants have theirs – if we can’t see ourselves in one another, if fear or resentment are allowed to harden, that encourages division.  It discourages cooperation.

Ultimately, peace is just not about politics.  It’s about attitudes; about a sense of empathy; about breaking down the  divisions that we create for ourselves in our own minds and our own hearts that don’t exist in any objective reality, but that we carry with us generation after generation.

And I know, because America, we, too, have had to work hard over the decades, slowly, gradually, sometimes painfully, in fits and starts, to keep perfecting our union.  A hundred and fifty years ago, we were torn open by a terrible conflict.  Our Civil War was far shorter than The Troubles, but it killed hundreds of thousands of our people.  And, of course, the legacy of slavery endured for generations.

Even a century after we achieved our own peace, we were not fully united.  When I was a boy, many cities still had separate drinking fountains and lunch counters and washrooms for blacks and whites.  My own parents’ marriage would have been illegal in certain states.  And someone who looked like me often had a hard time casting a ballot, much less being on a ballot.

But over time, laws changed, and hearts and minds changed, sometimes driven by courageous lawmakers, but more often driven by committed citizens.  Politicians oftentimes follow rather than lead.  And so, especially young people helped to push and to prod and to protest, and to make common cause with those who did not look like them.  And that transformed America -- so that Malia and Sasha’s generation, they have different attitudes about differences and race than mine and certainly different from the generation before that.  And each successive generation creates a new space for peace and tolerance and justice and fairness.

And while we have work to do in many ways, we have surely become more tolerant and more just, more accepting, more willing to see our diversity in America not as something to fear, but as something to welcome because it's a source of our national strength.