Notre Dame ReSources

Author: Dennis Brown

The following Notre Dame faculty are available for additional comment on these people and events in the news:
p. Clinton : The president “still doesn’t get it,” says Douglas Kmiec , professor of law at Notre Dame. “In his talk to the nation Monday night, President Clinton chose to characterize his refusal to answer questions from the grand jury as a privacy objection. The president deserves his privacy as well as the next man. But no man working for the federal government, in a federal job, in a federal office, on the federal payroll, can call what happens there ‘private.’ And there is nothing private about lying under oath in court. As a matter of law as well as moral responsibility, the president still doesn’t comprehend his duty.” *Contact: Dennis Brown, 219-631-7367;

  • p. Clinton and media : The comparisons between the news media’s coverage of President Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky and the O.J. Simpson trials are disturbing, says Robert Schmuhl , professor of American studies at Notre Dame and director of the University’s Program in Journalism, Ethics and Democracy. “While some analysts draw parallels between this presidential investigation and Watergate, a media watcher is more inclined to use the coverage of O.J. Simpson’s trials and tribulations as a point of reference,” Schmuhl wrote in an op-ed for the Chicago Tribune. “To be sure, there’s a world of difference between a murder trial and whatever Kenneth Starr is probing. But in terms of media mania, comparisons abound. A few years ago, we kept hearing about bloody gloves. Today we can’t escape talk of a stained dress. In both cases, previously unknown people (Kato Kaelin and Linda Tripp come immediately to mind) have become household names ? and butts of late-night laughter ? as they’ve told what they do and don’t know. For our purposes, however, the overall approach of the media to the two stories is most significant. With Simpson before and now with Clinton there’s so much coverage, its sheer volume deserves scrutiny. … Wall-to-wall, all-Monica-all-the-time coverage and chatter produce overload and overkill ? and trivialization through excess. Proportion and perspective get lost in the multimedia frenzy. When a big story becomes the only story for some outlets, is the public being properly served? … Once the smoke clears and Monica’s a memory, people in journalism need to re-consider their role and responsibilities. The new media environment deserves new definitions of news and less predictable approaches to subjects. Ideally, the current chasing after eyeballs and ears will lead to a change of heart?and the mindful realization that moderation is a journalistic virtue worth cultivating.” *Contact: Dennis Brown, 219-631-7367;
  • p. Northern Ireland : Notre Dame’s Seamus Deane is hopeful that the car bomb Saturday in Omagh that killed 28 and injured more than 330 is the last gasp of violence in Northern Ireland. “Omagh may be a watershed,” Deane, the Keough Professor of Irish Studies, wrote in an op-ed for The New York Times. “It may be the end of violence. It may be that the dead and the maimed of that little town will be remembered collectively as the last victims of the Troubles. They died during an attack on the peace process. The least we can do for them is to insure that the process survives the attack and remains resonant with their names and with the appalling sound that took their lives away.” *Contact: Dennis Brown, 219-631-7367;
  • p. Embassy bombings : Notre Dame anthropologist Rev. Patrick Gaffney, C.S.C. , a scholar of the cultures, politics, religions and peoples of East Africa, says the recent bombings of the American embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salam “represent the further escalation of a pattern of international violence that is difficult to categorize. While East and Central Africa face considerable regional instability, the targets of these attacks suggest no link to local tensions. Nevertheless, the actual victims of these assaults are overwhelmingly unsuspecting Kenyans and Tanzanians.” Father Gaffney says he sympathizes with the U.S. government’s insistence that security measures be enhanced, but adds that “the root causes of this horrendous violence must also be considered and addressed. The future safety of Americans abroad and innocent bystanders in the vicinity of American compounds ultimately depends more upon policies which reflect consistent respect for human rights, dedication to nonviolent conflict resolution, and the implementation of effective human development than upon proclamations of righteous anger from Washington and the transformation of its official foreign missions into fortresses.” *Contact: Michael Garvey, 219-631-7367;
  • p. Catholic theologians : Pope John Paul II’s recent apostolic letter, Ad tuendam fidem (“To Defend the Faith”) admonishes leaders and teachers of the Catholic Church against theological dissent and warns that Catholic theologians who publicly challenge “definitive” church teachings “may be punished with a just penalty.” According to Rev. Richard A. McCormick, S.J. , John A. O’Brien Professor Emeritus of Christian Ethics at Notre Dame, the letter represents a “shift in ecclesial climate ? from persuasion to coercion.” In the August 14 edition of Commonweal magazine, Father McCormick notes that Pope John Paul II’s predecessor, Pope Paul VI, “wanted people to be ‘convaincus, pas vaincus’ (‘convinced, not conquered’). This is no longer our climate.” According to Father McCormick, this new, coercive church atmosphere “threatens ministry, sours the laity and divides the church ? the very opposite of what the pope intended.” *Contact: Michael Garvey, 219-631-7367;
  • p. Betelgeuse : A Notre Dame astronomer has developed a new model that details the structure and life span of Betelgeuse, a giant red star that is among the brightest in the winter sky. Grant Matthews , professor of physics, and Notre Dame senior Gregory Herczeg compiled the latest data on Betelgeuse (pronounced Bay-tel-Juice) from the Hubble Space Telescope and inserted it into a computer simulation. They found that the star is roiling with huge eruptions of hot material and is rapidly proceeding toward its eventual explosion into a supernova. “Our model tells us exactly where Betelgeuse is at in its evolution, so we can say what is going to happen next with it,” Matthews told the South Bend Tribune. “When we put in all this new data, we found that Betelgeuse is 16 times the mass of the sun and that it stepped up into its red giant phase only a few thousand years ago.” Matthews’ model indicates the star will erupt into a supernova in slightly more than 1 million years from now, or, as he puts it, “in just an eye blink.” *Contact: Dennis Brown, 219-631-7367;
  • p. Prepare for peace : The old maxim “if you want peace, prepare for war” should be replaced with more effective preparations for peace, a Notre Dame political scientist writes in the new book, “World Security: Challenges for a New Century.” Robert Johansen , interim director of the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, argues in a chapter of the book titled “Building World Security” that the prospects for peace can be enhanced by strengthening international norms and institutions against war and by eliminating conditions that give rise to violence. A world policy designed to serve the human interest and enhance the security of all nations can be based on five basic principles, he says: reciprocity, equity, environmental sustainability, democratization and demilitarization. *Contact: Dennis Brown, 219-631-7367;

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