Steve Sanborn, founder of the Crossroads pro-life walk, is sort of my brother-in-law, once removed. His sister Maureen is married to my brother Matt, and while we don’t see each other very often, we do keep in touch sporadically online.
Last year, Maureen made me aware that Steve was putting together a documentary called “Thine Eyes: A Witness to the March for Life.” Since then, I’ve been following along as the film progressed, with filming taking place during this year’s March.
The documentary is now out, and is in its promotional phase. Today, at World Net Daily, the emmy-award winning writer/producer who put together the film, Jack Cashill, talked about some unusual goings on with Notre Dame University during pre-production and filming:
We all agreed that it would add value to track the marchers as they journeyed across country. John Carroll High School of Birmingham, Ala., readily agreed to let us put a camera on one of its busses as did Missouri Right To Life, a non-denominational group out of St.. Louis.
We wanted a college group as well. Sanborn had contacts at Notre Dame University, and they too seemed eager to participate. Given Notre Dame’s status as the iconic Catholic university, we all thought the university’s participation a good idea.
As the Jan. 22 date approached, however, Sanborn started getting mixed signals out of Notre Dame. The administration was proving as unhelpful as his contacts had been helpful.
Just a week before the march, Deborah J. Gabaree, the university’s assistant vice president and counsel, sent us a “memorandum of understanding,” the intent of which seems clearer in these last few weeks.
The memorandum included any number of terms that were simply impossible to meet, all of which served the ostensible purpose of protecting “the University’s character as a Catholic institution of higher learning.”
These included a million dollar insurance policy “with a company acceptable to the University” and the real deal killer Notre Dame’s right to review in advance both the documentary itself and all of its marketing materials lest either “imply endorsement” by the university.
It was as if we were proposing to produce a tell-all exposé titled, “The Real Rudy.”
Considering that the camera on the Notre Dame bus was just one of six we had assigned to the shoot, and that the students on the bus were only loosely tied to the university, the administration’s demands seemed madly presumptuous.
When I asked Sanborn whether the resistance was just routine boilerplate or active obstruction, he said obstruction. As far as he could tell, the Notre Dame administration did not want our camera on the bus.
The reason seemed clear enough even then: The university had no interest in seeing its name publicly associated with something as unblushingly Christian as the March For Life.
Notre Dame’s honoring of the aggressively pro-choice Obama sends another message, namely that beyond the marketing of its football program to “subway alumni,” the university has little use for its Catholic identity.
The image-consciousness seems to have filtered down to the university’s pro-life students, at least some of them. The Genocide Awareness Project (GAP) reports an odd encounter with the Fighting Irish in Washington.
At the March, as elsewhere, GAP sets up vivid displays linking abortion to history’s other genocidal enterprises. A pro-lifer could question the effectiveness of these displays, or even their taste, but not their logic.
The Notre Dame students went well beyond questioning. According to GAP, they approached GAP director Gregg Cunningham and demanded that the signs be removed.
“Is this some kind of joke,” Cunningham asked. “Do you work for Planned Parenthood?”
No, they were from Notre Dame. The GAP newsletter considers it “a bizarre tragedy” that ostensibly pro-life students would use “the exact same evidence-suppressing tactics outlined by Students for Choice.”
GAP here misses the big picture. If a TV camera had picked up a Notre Dame banner passing before an image of an aborted fetus, that might “imply endorsement,” and President Obama might not have consented to honor the university with his presence.
And from Notre Dame’s perspective, an Obama turndown would have smarted even more than the football team’s 15 losses in just the last two seasons.
Something that the Notre Dame Obama Controversy has clearly shed light on is that a strong constituency of devoted pro-lifers exist within the Notre Dame student body. That fact makes Cashill’s observations about the actions of some of those students all the more upsetting. Notre Dame’s actions in regard to the filmmakers of “Thine Eyes” and the members of the Genocide Awareness Project seems to shed even more light on the increasingly tenuous connection of the prestigious university with its once-Catholic identity.