Blowback generated by remarks made during his recent visit to Northern Ireland help underscore just how divisive President Barack Obama's presidency has been. Obama offended some Catholics with a piece of a speech delivered June 17 in Belfast.
“Issues like segregated schools and housing, lack of jobs and opportunity — symbols of history that are a source of pride for some and pain for others — these are not tangential to peace; they're essential to it,” Obama said. “If towns remain divided — if Catholics have their schools and buildings, and Protestants have theirs — if we can't see ourselves in one another, if fear or resentment are allowed to harden, that encourages division. It discourages cooperation.”
The Scottish Catholic Observer called Obama's remarks “an alarming call for an end to Catholic education.” Catholic World News said the president was declaring that parochial schools were “an impediment” to peace in Northern Ireland. Conservative website Breitbart.com said insulting one of the two communities involved in Belfast's long struggle “is not only a gaffe, but a serious diplomatic error.”
We're not fans of The Great Divider, but those who blasted Obama for his Belfast comments seemed to be straining at a gnat. The president was making the point that when societies are divided and remain that way, it can lead to real problems.