On Saving a Jesuit University

Loyola Marymount to host the sixth Democratic debate

A few days ago the Democratic National Committee announced that Loyola Marymount University (Los Angeles) will be the venue for the sixth Democratic candidates’ debate. Get ready, it’s set for Dec. 19. Before I say more, it’s time for full disclosure: I practiced my trade, philosophy, at LMU for 40 years. That said, I do have both more to say and questions to ask.

The Democratic candidates, though not without virtues, make it abundantly clear that they share a pair of vices. The first is that they support abortion on demand right up to birth. Whether they all support infanticide in case of failed abortions is not so clear. But such support is “trending.” The second vice? They all endorse the ahistorical and artificial construct termed “same sex marriage” (SSM).

On learning that Loyola Marymount is welcoming the candidates, I posted the University President’s invitation to the debate and a few “cut to the chase” words on my FB page: “This invitation calls to mind what the Mayor of Springfield, Illinois, said when George Wallace declared that he would be visiting the City of Lincoln. ‘It’s enough to make a strong man vomit.’”

Still, the work of saving a Jesuit university isn’t a “chase” so much as it’s a long march. In light of that, I’ll switch genres: from “zinger” to “frank and candid exchange.” To initiate the exchange here are half a dozen questions for LMU’s President Timothy Law Snyder.

First, do you understand that social justice begins with the integrity of the family and that abortion and SSM violate that integrity?

Second, do you recognize that PBS and Politico, the debate sponsors, won’t challenge the candidates’ studied refusal even to discuss the sanctity of human life?

Third, are you ready to overlook that all the candidates demand that those who oppose abortion  nonetheless help pay for it? The University’s own capitulation to medical insurance plans that pay for abortion suggests that you are.

Fourth, does it matter to you that the California candidate consults with Planned Parenthood and that her State Democratic Party led the legalization of euthanasia in California? Perhaps LMU’s medical insurance also covers its cost.

Fifth, when the LMU press release advises us that the University “seeks to model a culture of inclusivity, honoring multiple perspectives and championing civil discourse,” are we to ignore, as you seem to, that the Democratic debates thus far have offered no such model?

And, lastly, since you proclaim that “LMU is a destination for world leaders whose ideas confront humankind’s most challenging issues,” aren’t you promoting a wildly inflated view of your institution? There’s a difference between leadership and PR brand marketing.

Questions come within a context. So having raised a half-dozen questions, let me add to my earlier full disclosure. I ask these questions not as a Republican and a fortiori not as a Trump defender. Rather I am in sympathy with those who seek his impeachment.

Neither Republicans nor Democrats are pro-life for the whole of life. And don’t expect that either party will take to heart Pope Francis’s judgment that even the possession of nuclear weapons is unjustifiable.

So, gentle reader, where does that leave us? Let’s think long and hard about the limits of the reigning political duopoly. Happily, there is an attractive alternative. It’s a party dedicated to economic democracy and the principle of subsidiarity or “Grass roots first.” Check out the American Solidarity Party.


Jim Hanink is an independent scholar, albeit more independent than scholarly!

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