Paterno: “The very model of the moral ideal of Western humanism”

I guess you could say the rehabilitation of Joe Paterno has begun:

And that is only the beginning of the testimonies for Joe that will continue to swell all around the country.

When the hundreds of thousands of Penn State alumni hear the name JoePa, they think of moral leadership, of the kind of person they aspire to be. Of his warmth, his fatherliness, his steadiness, and his granite character. Joe Paterno was for hundreds of thousands of alumni the very model of the moral ideal of Western humanism. [Emphasis added]

I’m not exactly sure what that last sentence means, but I’m guessing Michael Novak thinks he’s a good dude. There’s more:

Then, quite suddenly in November 2011, with a huge national scandal erupting, the board suddenly acted as if the burden were on them. They did not weigh their own responsibility, their own inaction, their own failure to get to the bottom of the scandal of five months earlier. In a fit of what to many alumni seems to have been fear for themselves, the board’s members ducked their own responsibility, and in the most ignoble and impersonal way, made JoePa, the moral giant of Penn State, a moral outcast. [Emphasis added]

And more:

What rot — without a hearing, without talking to him man to man, without mentioning the honor and glory and unparalleled service JoePa had given to Penn State, bringing it to such great national eminence, including moral eminence. They dumped, as if in disgrace, an 85-year-old moral giant. JoePa raised the moral tone not only of Penn State, but of the whole, huge American college-football world. [Emphasis added]

There’s even more, but I think you get the point. Novak thinks Paterno is a moral giant. Well, maybe just one more:

There are not many coaches in America who read Virgil in Latin (and used to teach it), and who understand more deeply the ethical traditions of the West, both secular and religious, and who have proven so adept at teaching these codes to raw young football players, changing them for life and winning their undying loyalty. Ask Franco Harris. Ask hundreds of others.

Penn State faithful are no doubt in a state of shock. The Jerry Sandusky scandal has rocked the university to its core, and, on top of that, their iconic coach is not only sidelined, but now he’s dead. So, it’s not unexpected for their emotions to be high and their responses over the top. I think Novak’s qualifies as over the top.

It’s one thing to be a legendary coach who has been at a school for years, won more games than anyone else and has run a clean program. It’s quite another to be labeled the “model of the moral ideal of Western humanism.” Joe Paterno was a good coach, but not that good.

Time will eventually tell how the Sandusky scandal will effect Paterno’s legacy. Sandusky will be tried and I’m sure Penn State will be investigated in a variety of ways. Maybe after these things conclude Paterno’s legacy can be fairly judged.
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