Thursday, April 16, 2009

Obama's "Bare Breast of Justice" moment

Got your attention, did I? ;-)

And no, I am not referring to the "Obama girl", in case you're wondering.

Instead, I refer to his recent visit to Georgetown University, in which he asked that a symbol representing the name of Jesus be covered up for the duration of the speech. Despite this story that states that it wasn't just the name of Jesus being covered up, to even ask a Catholic university to cover up its religious symbols - particularly those related to its founder - is offensive. As much as I hate to use that word because it is overused, I still can't think of a more approriate word in this instance. Imagine Obama asking a synagogue to cover up its Stars of David or its menorahs or to ask a Muslim group to cover up its symbols while he gave a speech and see if those groups don't likewise rise up in protest.

The reason I titled this blog entry "Obama's 'Bare Breast of Justice' moment" is because it reminds me very much of the John Ashcroft story from 2002, in which he had the bare breasted statue of justice hidden behind a curtain. Most stories state that he was simply tired of photographers making concentrated efforts to have that statue in the background whenever they photographed him. Even so, why not simply move to another location whenever he had press conferences so that the problematic breast wouldn't be in the background?

And the same with Obama in Georgetown: Why not have the press conference in another location where those antagonizing symbols won't hover in the background teasing him as he spoke? Being that Ashcroft and Obama are very visible public figures, having the bare breasts of statues of justice or to have a religions' symbols covered up can only be taken in the wrong way, and given their level of education along with their length of experience in the public eye, it's amazing that this didn't occur to them. However, if they knew it would be problematic and did it anyway, then this would be worse, because it would then suggest an arrogance that a public official shouldn't have if they are to represent the people. So - this means that Ashcroft and Obama are either appalingly clueless or stupidly arrogant, and I don't know which would be worse.

As bad as it was for Obama to ask Georgetown to cover up its symbols, it was even worse for them to comply! The university should have offered to move the press conference to another location - because a sitting American president has no right to ask a religious faith to cover up its symbols while he's present. This could easily be made into an argument of the State interfering with the matters of the Church, and if it's wrong to breach that wall of separation in one way, then it's wrong going the other way as well. This was poorly handled by all parties involved.

I wish I could believe that this won't happen again, but I'm pretty sure that it will.


Clint said...

Wow. I hadn't heard this. Thanks for posting it, John. I'm all for religious tolerance, but this is ridiculous, and as you say, offensive. I like that you point out that the "wall of separation" should not be just one way.

Ju said...

Obama: There can only be one, 'One'.

Some people have argued that Obama does not want to use religion to further a political ideology. However, Obama did evoke the Sermon on the Mount, at this Georgetown appearance, to further his economic agenda. Although Obama failed to mention Jesus Christ by name for the Sermon on the Mount.

“There is a parable at the end of the Sermon on the Mount that tells a story of two men…‘the rain descended and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house…it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock,’” Obama said.

“We cannot rebuild this economy on the same pile of sand,” he added. “We must build our house upon a rock.”

The last statement is particularly ironic since building your house upon a ‘ROCK‘ means to build your house with Christ as the foundation. Obama decided to blot out the real foundation from the timeless parable.

See the hi-res pictures: