Campus speakers: Double-standard?
Rocco has a Providence Journal story about former GOP congressman (and former Catholic, I believe) and outspoken immigration opponent Tom Tancredo not being allowed to speak at Dominican-run Providence College.
A PC spokesperson, Pat Viera, indicated the student group asked late in the semester and that the groups, ”Youth for Western Civilization” (need we know more?) is “not an officially recognized group.” Vieira added that Tancredo’s views on immigrants, legal or not, contrast sharply with those of Providence Bishop Thomas J. Tobin (who is having no problem generating his own headlines):
“The Bishop of Providence…is a member of the college’s Board of Trustees,” Vieira said in a written statement. “If a similar request to host a speaker on this topic is made in a future semester, the college will encourage and facilitate a format that allows for multiple points of view to be expressed.”
Tancredo will apparently give his speech outside the college gates tomorrow (Wednesday), but anti-illegal immigration advocates are angry and note that abortion rights advocates Senators Ted Kennedy and Sheldon Whitehouse have spoken on campus.
I don’t know when or in what context Kennedy and Whitehouse may have come to PC, but the problem with that argument–and one that points up an important aspect of the Obama-Notre Dame furor–is that I doubt the senators went to Providence College to promote their views on abortion rights, unlike Tancredo, who was coming specifically to promote his views on immigration. Similarly, Obama is not going to Notre Dame to promote the view that abortion is fine. This all raises the issue of whether one particular opinion or policy position–out of many–can disqualify a person from speaking or being honored at a Catholic campus, especially is it is for an entirely different issue than the one Catholic officials would object to.
That said, my preference is for open debate, and all things being equal, it would be good to have Tancredo’s views, noxious as I find them, out there and discussed in light of Catholic teaching, as Viera indicated they could be. Double-standard? Not.