The coming public relations disaster for the Right wing at Notre Dame has finally started to put a little bit of common sense in the conservative movement.
After calling Notre Dame "immoral," "Satan's tool," "no longer Catholic," "supporting murder," and "having betrayed the Church" one right wing group, NDResponse, has decided to deal with the Devil to save its own skin.
While NDResponse hardly stood apart from the rhetorical extremism of Notre Dame critics, they are now working hand-in-glove with the University to keep off campus those pro-life voices deemed "off-message."
NDResponse has negotiated with the University the exclusive right to be the opposition voice to the President. With the cooperation of Notre Dame campus security, they are banning any person they consider "disrespectful" or "not constructive" to their message. They will have veto power over any sign or image not in keeping with the tone and message they have set and Notre Dame security will enforce their decisions.
This is not expected to eliminate "off-message" protesters, but will keep them off campus to the degree University security is able to enforce this agreement with NDResponse.
This writer has to say she is pleased with this development. While not opposing Notre Dame's invitation to the President, I have always felt a respectful and constructive witness to life while he visits the campus is appropriate. I congratulate those who are willing to take the time to make that witness in the fashion described.
It also has been clear that the Right-wing has so whipped up its camp followers that the unleashed extremism was creating a very ugly face of conservative Catholics. A small circus was in the making and it was not going to benefit their cause. They were looking crazy, rabid and hateful.
On the other hand, this may be a day late and a dollar short. The more extreme element will not go away. One can imagine what they will say to the moderates for using University security to enforce the exclusion of those these wish to "censor." Randall Terry and Alan Keyes already have indicated they expect to be arrested. A civil war among the Right-Wing could emerge as the bigger story (expect the far right to compare the moderates to Jews cooperating with the Nazis). We will see. But for now, it appears that at least an element of the Catholic Right has acknowledged their problem, which is the first step on the road to recovery.