Notre Dame Students Walk Out on Fascist Holy Warrior Mike Pence

May 22, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper |



As soon as U.S. Vice President Mike Pence opened his mouth to start his  commencement address at Notre Dame University on May 21, at least 100 graduating students stood up and began walking out in protest.

The students’ action was a significant and bold public protest against this Christian fascist warrior who has devoted his political career to crusading against rights for women, LGBTQ people, immigrants, and oppressed people everywhere (see “Vice President Mike Pence: The Dangerous Holy Warrior Waiting in the Wings”). The walk-out was widely covered in the national and international press and on social media.

Students organized in advance, knowing that this would be a unique opportunity to let the world know there is principled opposition to the anti-abortion theocracy that Pence has been working to bring into being in the U.S. The student group WeStaNDFor said it was calling for the protest because “The participation and degree-conferring of VP Pence stand as an endorsement of policies and actions which directly contradict Catholic social teachings and values and target vulnerable members of the University’s community.” The student group has sponsored previous protests on the Notre Dame campus against the appearance of racist theorist Charles Murray, in support of immigrant communities under attack, and against exclusion of Syrian refugees by the Trump-Pence regime.

At the commencement ceremony, before Pence’s speech, valedictorian Caleb Joshua Pine called on people to “stand against the scapegoating of Muslims.’’ He also voiced his opposition to the plan for a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico.

Because the graduates walked out, they did not receive their degrees or participate in the traditional concluding ceremony. Instead they held their own outside the stadium with supportive faculty and family members. One of the organizers said, “At the conclusion of the ceremony in the stadium, the dean of each college recommends…that graduates of that college be given degrees from University of Notre Dame. I think with your character, with the actions you took today, with the solidarity you’ve shown with one another, you’ve recommended yourselves, I direct you to turn your tassels and celebrate your own graduation.”

A Black woman graduate said the walk-out happened “because we stand with marginalized communities. Because there’s a difference between engaging in dialogue and engaging with voices that are willing and ready to completely stomp you out. It’s one thing to be silent about conversation; it’s another thing to be silent about fascism… It’s another thing to see that someone’s politics literally endanger other people’s lives.”

The deadly brutality underlying Pence’s words was blatantly expressed when, after praising the accomplishments of the graduating class, Pence trumpeted that “most impressive of all,” 38 of the graduates were going on to join the U.S. military. In other words, to become part of the U.S. death machine that destroys so many lives and whole nations around the world. Pence went on to uphold the anti-abortion, anti-women stance of the Catholic university, saying, “I’m so proud that the University of Notre Dame has stood without apology for the sanctity of human life.” In reality, the anti-abortion fanaticism of Pence and the Christian fascists have nothing to do with protecting life—denying women the right to choose when and whether to not give birth is to force them into slavery, and this is part of a whole vicious agenda of enforcing patriarchy and reactionary “family values.”

Pence also spent a good part of his speech trying to turn reality upside down on the very hot issue of campus “free speech.” The fascists have been stung lately by student protests across the country against fascist operatives, especially at the University of California, Berkeley (see The Battle for Berkeley, Why it’s Right, and Righteous, to Drive Fascists Off Campus, Out of Berkeley... and Out of Power!). Pence was fully aware of the walk-out that had been planned against his speech at Notre Dame, and he did not directly mention it. But he tried to portray himself and his fellow fascist leaders and agitators as victims of suppression, talking about “the noxious wave that seems to be rushing over much of academia. While this institution has maintained an atmosphere of civility and open debate, far too many campuses across America have become characterized by speech codes, safe zones, tone policing, administration-sanctioned political correctness, all of which amounts to nothing less than suppression of the freedom of speech… This should not and must not be met with silence.”

The courageous students who stood up and walked out on Pence have not been intimidated or fooled by such double-talk. Their example of active protest right up against the Trump-Pence fascist regime should be emulated, spread, and defended far and wide.



Protest at the Notre Dame Campus Gate: “Drive Out the fascists, before it’s too late, Dump Trump, Dump Pence, the world can’t wait”

From a reader:

While over 100 graduating students turned their backs and walked out of the Notre Dame Stadium to protest Mike Pence’s presence as commencement speaker, there was a spirited protest of a couple of hundred people at the main gate to the Notre Dame campus.

Protesters indicted the Trump/Pence regime on many issues and found creative ways to express themselves. A sharp focus was the attacks on women and LGBT people. Pence has an ugly and vicious history of this as Indiana governor. A woman wore a coat hanger on her head symbolizing the impact of making abortion illegal or inaccessible.

A group of “Handmaids” attired in red robes and white bonnets—evoking the current TV series based on the novel The Handmaids Tale that evokes a future fascist society where biblical law and patriarchal values are brutally enforcedwere highly visible, processing throughout the protest area saying things like, “God be with you.” One “Handmaid” was quoted in the press saying: “If Mike Pence gets his way, this is what our world will be like, where women are just going to be used to reproduce and not have a choice what they do with their bodies.”

Homemade posters included a breadth of anger. “Refugees In—Racists Out!”; No Human Being is Illegal!”; “Warning: Electric Fence Pence”; “Protect Women’s rights, LGBT rights, Black rights, Brown rights, religious rights, Stop Pence/Trump.” Many signs protested the attack on health care. Another focus was Trump/Pence’s moves to radically change the form of governance—“The Only Wall We Need is Between Church and State” and “Stand up for the Constitution.” “In the Name of Humanity, We Refuse a Fascist America” picket signs were visible throughout the crowd. The Notre Dame gate is on a busy street, and many cars honked support for the protest.

Protesters included many people from the immediately surrounding area, as well as people who traveled from farther-away Indiana towns and Chicago. The protest was organized by South Bend Equity, a local Indivisible chapter along with other organizations.

The Chicago Revolution Club marched in and helped focus up the understanding and anger, including focusing up how all this is fascism and connected this to the crimes of the system.

A high point of the demonstration was when some of the graduating Notre Dame students who had walked out joined and addressed the protesters. A Revolution Club member emphasized the role of students in fighting the fascist regime and how their spirit needs to spread.

Refuse Fascism banners were very visible, especially, “Drive Out the Trump/Pence Regime.” Refuse Fascism activists reported that people grabbed up the NO! posters quickly as they arrived, and a crew of youth held one of the banners across the street throughout the protest. Refuse Fascism spoke to the crowd about why the Trump/Pence regime is fascist, and Pence’s role at the head of fascist forces in the regime and society, and why this is a pivotal moment of both danger and urgent need to organize thousands to mobilize millions to drive out the whole regime before it’s too late. Chants that spoke to this were taken up broadly, for example, “Drive Out the fascists, before it’s too late, Dump Trump, Dump Pence, the world can’t wait.”


Volunteers Needed... for and Revolution

Send us your comments.

If you like this article, subscribe, donate to and sustain Revolution newspaper.