An Administration at War With Our First Freedom

Thursday, March 1, AD 2012

“Enlightened statesmen will not always be at the helm.”

James Madison, Federalist 10

The video above is from the Heritage Foundation and incisively sets forth how ObamaCare is at war with religious liberty.  The Founding Fathers made it clear that they viewed freedom of religion as being at the core of the framework of what they were seeking to accomplish:

 

“We have abundant reason to rejoice that in this Land the light of truth and reason has triumphed over the power of bigotry and superstition, and that every person may here worship God according to the dictates of his own heart.  In this enlightened Age and in this Land of equal liberty it is our boast, that a man’s religious tenets will not forfeit the protection of the Laws, nor deprive him of the right of attaining and holding the highest Offices that are known in the United States.”

George Washington

 

 

 

“That religion, or the duty which we owe to our Creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence; and therefore all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience; and that it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forbearance, love, and charity towards each other.”

Patrick Henry

 

 

 

 

 

The Religion then of every man must be left to the conviction and conscience of every man; and it is the right of every man to exercise it as these may dictate. This right is in its nature an unalienable right. It is unalienable, because the opinions of men, depending only on the evidence contemplated by their own minds cannot follow the dictates of other men: It is unalienable also, because what is here a right towards men, is a duty towards the Creator. It is the duty of every man to render to the Creator such homage and such only as he believes to be acceptable to him. This duty is precedent, both in order of time and in degree of obligation, to the claims of Civil Society.

James Madison

 

 

 

“Without morals a republic cannot subsist any length of time; they therefore who are decrying the Christian religion, whose morality is so sublime and pure (and) which insures to the good eternal happiness, are undermining the solid foundation of morals, the best security for the duration of free governments.”

Charles Carroll of Carollton

 

 

Pope Benedict recognizes the threat to religious freedom that exists in our country:

In the light of these considerations, it is imperative that the entire Catholic community in the United States come to realize the grave threats to the Church’s public moral witness presented by a radical secularism which finds increasing expression in the political and cultural spheres. The seriousness of these threats needs to be clearly appreciated at every level of ecclesial life. Of particular concern are certain attempts being made to limit that most cherished of American freedoms, the freedom of religion. Many of you have pointed out that concerted efforts have been made to deny the right of conscientious objection on the part of Catholic individuals and institutions with regard to cooperation in intrinsically evil practices. Others have spoken to me of a worrying tendency to reduce religious freedom to mere freedom of worship without guarantees of respect for freedom of conscience.

Here once more we see the need for an engaged, articulate and well-formed Catholic laity endowed with a strong critical sense vis-à-vis the dominant culture and with the courage to counter a reductive secularism which would delegitimize the Church’s participation in public debate about the issues which are determining the future of American society. The preparation of committed lay leaders and the presentation of a convincing articulation of the Christian vision of man and society remain a primary task of the Church in your country; as essential components of the new evangelization, these concerns must shape the vision and goals of catechetical programs at every level.

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32 Responses to An Administration at War With Our First Freedom

  • “One of my ancestors died at Bunker Hill to establish this Republic and I intend not to see what he fought for ended in my lifetime.”

    “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants. It is its natural manure.”

    I pray that this does not mean the inevitability of civil war, but the liberals are not going to give up without a fight.

  • I do not think that it will come to that Paul, but it is important that we all speak out now and act to defeat an Administration that is at war with traditional American notions of liberty.

  • I pray that this does not mean the inevitability of civil war, but the liberals are not going to give up without a fight.

    Hugh Thomas’ histories of the Spanish civil war include accounts of Spanish political life immediately prior (1931-36) and the mentality of the bourgeois republican parties depicted therein (and manifested in the figure of Manuel Azana) is disconcertingly familiar.

  • I pray that Donald’s optimism proves true and Art’s analogy false. (No offense intended, Art.)

  • It seems Pharaoh is intent on denying Americans unalienable rights enumerated in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

    Seems as if the “general welfare” and “commerce” clauses, and social justice are being used as alibis for tyranny.

  • Pingback: Religious Liberty: Obamacare’s First Casualty « Circle or Line under Most Beautiful Absolute
  • “Seems as if the “general welfare” and “commerce” clauses, and social justice are being used as alibis for tyranny.” Yep – for about the last 75 years. See “FDR’s New Deal.”

    “Social Justice” is a straw man, propped up by Progressives to underscore their collectivist philosophy. Christianity, and by default the Church, can be concerned only with Individual Justice. Salvation is not offered to “Society.” It is offered to each man, woman and child as individual creations in and of God’s image. Anything that lumps people together into a faceless blob is dehumanizing and derogatory; in and of themselves two qualities that are inherently unjust.

    This is why the government is inherently unjust. It does not see individuals. It Socializes everything, and now it has come this far.

    I fear Paul may have the most prescient point of view. This election will tell the tale.

  • The Senate vote to kill the Blunt Amendment today 51-48. This amendment would have killed the HHS Mandate. Three Democrats voted against tabling the Blunt Amendment: Manchin, Casey and Nelson. One Republican, the worthless pro-abort Olympia Snow who just announced her long overdue retirement, voted in favor of tabling the amendment.

    Here is how each of the Senators voted:

    kaka (D-HI), Yea
    Alexander (R-TN), Nay
    Ayotte (R-NH), Nay
    Barrasso (R-WY), Nay
    Baucus (D-MT), Yea
    Begich (D-AK), Yea
    Bennet (D-CO), Yea
    Bingaman (D-NM), Yea
    Blumenthal (D-CT), Yea
    Blunt (R-MO), Nay
    Boozman (R-AR), Nay
    Boxer (D-CA), Yea
    Brown (D-OH), Yea
    Brown (R-MA), Nay
    Burr (R-NC), Nay
    Cantwell (D-WA), Yea
    Cardin (D-MD), Yea
    Carper (D-DE), Yea
    Casey (D-PA), Nay
    Chambliss (R-GA), Nay
    Coats (R-IN), Nay
    Coburn (R-OK), Nay
    Cochran (R-MS), Nay
    Collins (R-ME), Nay
    Conrad (D-ND), Yea
    Coons (D-DE), Yea
    Corker (R-TN), Nay
    Cornyn (R-TX), Nay
    Crapo (R-ID), Nay
    DeMint (R-SC), Nay
    Durbin (D-IL), Yea
    Enzi (R-WY), Nay
    Feinstein (D-CA), Yea
    Franken (D-MN), Yea

    Gillibrand (D-NY), Yea
    Graham (R-SC), Nay
    Grassley (R-IA), Nay
    Hagan (D-NC), Yea
    Harkin (D-IA), Yea
    Hatch (R-UT), Nay
    Heller (R-NV), Nay
    Hoeven (R-ND), Nay
    Hutchison (R-TX), Nay
    Inhofe (R-OK), Nay
    Inouye (D-HI), Yea
    Isakson (R-GA), Nay
    Johanns (R-NE), Nay
    Johnson (D-SD), Yea
    Johnson (R-WI), Nay
    Kerry (D-MA), Yea
    Kirk (R-IL), Not Voting
    Klobuchar (D-MN), Yea
    Kohl (D-WI), Yea
    Kyl (R-AZ), Nay
    Landrieu (D-LA), Yea
    Lautenberg (D-NJ), Yea
    Leahy (D-VT), Yea
    Lee (R-UT), Nay
    Levin (D-MI), Yea
    Lieberman (ID-CT), Yea
    Lugar (R-IN), Nay
    Manchin (D-WV), Nay
    McCain (R-AZ), Nay
    McCaskill (D-MO), Yea
    McConnell (R-KY), Nay
    Menendez (D-NJ), Yea
    Merkley (D-OR), Yea
    Mikulski (D-MD), Yea

    Moran (R-KS), Nay
    Murkowski (R-AK), Nay
    Murray (D-WA), Yea
    Nelson (D-FL), Yea
    Nelson (D-NE), Nay
    Paul (R-KY), Nay
    Portman (R-OH), Nay
    Pryor (D-AR), Yea
    Reed (D-RI), Yea
    Reid (D-NV), Yea
    Risch (R-ID), Nay
    Roberts (R-KS), Nay
    Rockefeller (D-WV), Yea
    Rubio (R-FL), Nay
    Sanders (I-VT), Yea
    Schumer (D-NY), Yea
    Sessions (R-AL), Nay
    Shaheen (D-NH), Yea
    Shelby (R-AL), Nay
    Snowe (R-ME), Yea
    Stabenow (D-MI), Yea
    Tester (D-MT), Yea
    Thune (R-SD), Nay
    Toomey (R-PA), Nay
    Udall (D-CO), Yea
    Udall (D-NM), Yea
    Vitter (R-LA), Nay
    Warner (D-VA), Yea
    Webb (D-VA), Yea
    Whitehouse (D-RI), Yea
    Wicker (R-MS), Nay
    Wyden (D-OR), Yea

  • The fact that Casey voted against it is really no surprise. I know some had high hopes for him but it was never to be.

    Knowing how liberal northeast Catholics from Pa tend to be it was probably more popular for him to vote against the Amendment.

    Regarding this whole situation, I for one really wish the Church leadership would take this opportunity not just to rail about general notions of “religious” liberty, but stand firm and bold and explain why contraception is immoral. This is the opportunity given to them to proclaim the Truth!

    Instead it’s been left to Santorum to discuss contraception in a medium not best suited for this fight. He has earned my immense respect, for he is essentially the lone voice talking about the evil of contraception and being clobbered for it.
    Our Catholic leadership has been given a perfect opportunity and it is being squandered. I keep hearing “it’s not about contraception, it’s not about contraception”, but it’s about “religious liberty”.

    Well, for our President and his minions it’s about contraception…

    It’s like

  • Actually Chris a no vote was in support of the Blunt Amendment, so Casey the Lesser voted in favor of religious freedom. I have no doubt that Reid allowed this vote to get to the floor without a filibuster only because he knew that he had the votes to kill it. The Republicans should bring this back to the floor every week and make the Democrats vote over and over again against religious liberty.

  • If I’m a D, I vote with D’s – virtue and life don’t belong in the Party mindset.

  • thank for this list! the three states of most interest to me.. Iowa- the 2 senators cancelled each other, as usual; South Dakota, the 2 senators cancelled each other, but Nebraska was totally pro -life.

    My concern is that Non Resident Nebraskan Bob Kerrey is running for Nelson’s seat. I believe he is swooping down from his high perch in the East, to forward his ideology– not to represent the good people of Nebraska.

  • I do wonder whether Obama’s father in fact came from Kenya.

    Judging by the way he’s acting, he came from Zimbabwe – and that despotice president Mugabe is Obama’s role model and hero.

    It really staggers me that so many Americans think that all this is okay. They are so blinded that they cannot see an assault on their freedom???

    And this, of course, is the thin end of the wedge – surrender once, and you’re going….going…..GONE.

  • Actually Chris a no vote was in support of the Blunt Amendment, so Casey the Lesser voted in favor of religious freedom.

    My fault, very suprised he voted that way. Would like to give him the benefit of the doubt on no ulterior motives via Reid, but I think you have it right……

  • Even more striking: it appears that more Catholic Senators (13) voted AGAINST the amendment than for it (11)!

    http://www.ncregister.com/blog/pat-archbold/catholics-vote-against-their-own

    The breakdown as enumerated in the above story:

    Catholics who voted for Freedom (i.e. to NOT table the amendment) include Kelly Ayotte (R-New Hampshire), Pat Toomey (R-Pennsylvania), Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia), Bob Casey, Jr. (D-Pennsylvania), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Marco Rubio (R-Florida), David Vitter (R-Louisiana), Susan Collins (R-Maine),John Hoeven (R-North Dakota), Mike Johanns (R-Nebraska),Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska)

    Catholics voting to table the amendment (thereby voting AGAINST the Church in this case) were: Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Maria Cantwell (D-Washington), Richard Durbin (D-Illinois), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), John Kerry (D-Massachusetts), Mary Landrieu (D-Louisiana), Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri), Bob Menendez (D-New Jersey), Barbara Mikulski (D-Maryland), Patty Murray (D-Washington), and Jack Reed (D-Rhode Island).

    The latter list, of course, reads like a roundup of the usual suspects when it comes to Catholic Democrats voting pro-abortion and all that. What does it say when Baptists (including Sen. Blunt himself) and Methodists were more “Catholic” than the Catholics were on this issue?

  • I wonder how many of these Catholic Senators sent their kids to Catholic schools. Schools that are now in jeopardy of closing.

  • The latter list of Catholic Senators voting against the amendment includes 4 who are up for re-election this year: Cantwell, Gillibrand, McCaskill, and Menendez. Just FYI for residents of the affected states… don’t forget the Senate race on your ballot!

  • I have one word for the USCCB: “excommunication.”

    Those people are liberals not Christians. One cannot serve both masters. They have chosen the secular over the eternal.

    Salvation and doing the heavy lifting for the despicable party of envy, hate and murder are mutually exclusive.

    They deploy social justice as the alibi for every mortal sin in the Book.

  • T. Shaw, it would be good for the sake of the confused faithful and uninformed youth to have some word from that authority on how to think through the onslaught of the liberal legislation. By November, if there is no concise word to counter their rhetoric, we will be shamed before God. Right now, on EWTN, there is a special program with its CEO on Women of Grace live discussing the situation of spinning contraception.

  • It seems to me that no one is mandating that the Catholic CHURCH, or Catholic individuals to do anything against their belief system. It is businesses administered by Catholics, that are being required to follow the law. Businesses who accept government funding are required to follow the laws. Businesses run by Catholics, are considered Tax- exempt due to a ruling in 1959 about church-related businesses, on a par with 501(C) 3 non-profits. Catholic Hospitals and churches pay NO taxes (corporate welfare), build their buildings with the help of government-funded bonds; and Catholic Hospitals accept government patient funding in the way of government insurances- Medicaid and Medicare. I suggest if the Catholic Bishops do not want to follow the rules of laws by the government, that they stop taking government benefits and become totally private unto themselves. Sell private insurance to people who do not want contraception, or any other objectionable treatment, and only want to be treated in Catholic Hospitals.This might be an appropriate time to look again at those tax exemptions, anyway.

  • “It seems to me that no one is mandating that the Catholic CHURCH, or Catholic individuals to do anything against their belief system. It is businesses administered by Catholics, that are being required to follow the law.”

    Rubbish. Businesses are made up of individuals. My law firm is me.

    “Businesses who accept government funding are required to follow the laws.”
    No, the HHS Mandate is not limited to businesses who accept government funding. In any case you cannot strip individuals of their constitutional rights simply because Uncle Sam decides to purchase services from them.

    “Catholic Hospitals and churches pay NO taxes (corporate welfare),”

    Catholic hospitals and churches and schools provide far more in charitable services than the taxes that could be squeezed from them. Calling this welfare merely indicates you do not have any idea what you are talking about.

    “I suggest if the Catholic Bishops do not want to follow the rules of laws by the government, that they stop taking government benefits and become totally private unto themselves.”

    Hilarious. Catholic schools receive no assistance from the government, and the impact of all those students suddenly going to public schools would be immense. The free care provided by Catholic hospitals to the poor is an immense saving to the taxpayers in this country each year.

  • Something Donald wrote caused me to start thinking. I had always believed that Catholic institutions shouldn’t accept money from the Government because it makes them beholden to Government. But really, isn’t the onus on the buyer, not the seller, hence the warning, “Buyer beware”? Let me explain.

    If Government gives money to Catholic institutions because of the educational or charitable work that they do, then Government is in effect the buyer. If Government doesn’t like what it is buying, then it needs to stop buying. It has no right to force the seller to give a different product or the same product in a different way. So regardless that Government might have given Catholic institutions money, it did so ostensibly for the educational or charitable work that those institutions provide which Government demonstrably cannot provide.

    Now the only exception to this thumb rule or principle is when we are dealing with things like nuclear energy (US NRC), or aircraft structures and engines (FAA), or medical instrumentation and controls equipment (FDA). For example, in my industry, the Government gets to tell my company what our nuclear products will do when installed, how they will operate, and how they are made, inspected and tested. It does this by regulation promulgated from the US NRC (i.e., 10 CR 50), and because of the overriding need to ensure public health and safety, no one here would want that process to be any different [ unless you would prefer to glow in the dark while sterile 😉 ]. None of that, however, applies to any Catholic institution.

    If Government buys a charitable product, then Government needs to shut up on how that product is provided. Stupid godless liberalism, however, says differently.

  • I forgot to add something in my analogy above. Issuing regulation to protect the public and the environment from radiological releases does not equate to issuing regulation to provide free contraception so that men and women may immorally titillate their genitals without fear of unintended pregnancy.

    In the first case, regulations are issued to ensure the safe use of radioactives (and hence the safe generation of electricity) without threatening human life or the environment.

    In the second case, regulations are issued so that perverts can wallow sexual filth on the public dime without either responsibility or accountability.

    People can die from excessive radiation exposure, but there have been ZERO such cases in 50+ years of commercial US nuclear power in large measure because of intelligent regulation.

    However and paradoxically, the regulations that promote contraception use will result in MORE instances of venereal disease and MORE deaths among the members of the public.

    No one will ever die from sexual abstinence. Yet Obama’s Government wants to shove the hedonist life style of sexual perversion down especially the Catholic Church’s throat. He’s going to find that that throat is a part of the Body of Christ before whose Head he will one day find himself standing – and wanting (God forbid!).

  • No!

    It is not about the First Amendment.

    It is not about birth control.

    It’s about distracting your attention and energies from 100,000 failures the regime has accomplished.

  • If Government gives money to Catholic institutions because of the educational or charitable work that they do, then Government is in effect the buyer. If Government doesn’t like what it is buying, then it needs to stop buying. It has no right to force the seller to give a different product or the same product in a different way. So regardless that Government might have given Catholic institutions money, it did so ostensibly for the educational or charitable work that those institutions provide which Government demonstrably cannot provide.
    All taxes remain the property of the taxpayer even while being administered by the adminstration. For the administration to return some of the taxes to the tax payer is absolutely legal. Government in and of itself can own nothing, because we the tax paying citizens own the government. Eveything belongs to each and every citizen in joint and common tenancy.

  • Originally posted as a response to THE WHITE HOUSE HOPES FOR A SCHISM. This post belongs here as it is about religious freedom, which comes from God our Creator, not from the state. Can the state create your immortal soul? Your conscience? Your intellect? your free will? The duty of the state is to protect and defend, virginity, innocence and the citizens’ civil rights. How does Obamacare protect virginity, innocence or civil rights?
    Sovereign immunity is that shield from the state’s penetrating into one’s immortal soul and taking God-given freedom from a person, sucking the marrow from his constitutional bones. The Catholic Church has been compliant with rules and regulations to help the state, such as incorporating as a non-profit or as a religious institution. This is in good will. The Church does not need to do this. The state cannot, in reality, give the Church a tax-exemption, because the state cannot tax the Church. Therefore, an exemption implies that the state may tax the Church, but is being a nice guy about generosity. Well, generosity is a virtue, a God-given virtue and the practice of religion by the state in rendering the virtue of charity through the God-given virtue of generosity to the Church. And God is left laughing.
    Sovereign immunity, like diplomatic immunity, defines the realm of the Catholic Church as being autonomous in its existence through the Catholic Church’s institution by Jesus Christ, of the Catholic Church’s creation by God, of which the state has had and may have no part.
    In redefining freedom, the state has dissolved the very foundations of its existence as constituted by the sovereign persons who have constituted the state. In violating the will of the people, the state has failed to be the state. In violating the will of God for His Catholic Church and for the people of God, the state has incited the wrath of God.
    Back to the future in the catacombs.
    As President, Bill Clinton wrote an executive order making all free lands and waters the privilege of the president. As President, Obama wrote executive order 13575 Rural Councils, making all private land the object of eminent domain, to be taken at will from all persons, but not FOR all persons, as eminent domain requires. The LOST treaty, not ratified by Congress (only Congress ratifies treaties) signed by Hillary Clinton, secretary of State with the United Nations, an atheistic entity without sovereign authority or immunity since only God gives sovereignty through the immortal soul of man, privatizes all the oceans and seas and the mineral rights under the seas to the United Nations. American citizens will now have to pay to sail the seas. The reason this is of utmost importance, is that now, when Obama nationalizes the Catholic Church and her property, there is nowhere to say Mass. Once upon a time, in Ireland, Mass was said in a goat drawn cart hauled onto the land exposed by the receding tide. This riprarian land was no man’s land. The exiled Catholic Church Mass was free to be said on this land which belonged to God. Obama has usurped what belongs to God and redefined God’s property as his own. There is nowhere for the Catholic Mass to be said, once Obama nationalizes all church property, except the catacombs, once again.

  • wow- very interesting Mary– if what you said is correct, the LOST treaty mentioned is one among the many precipitous actions of the last three years that have escaped much real scrutiny! There seems to be more we don’t know than what we do know about why we so need a new administration.
    How can such (almost subterranean) issues all be made a part of the the national discussion? Who can capture the microphone now so ably held by the counter-Christian culture movers and shakers?

  • This thread is getting far removed from the topic of the post. Stay on topic please.

  • Excuse me please.

  • Obamacare is a blank check. What Congress representing its constitutents signs a blank check? What citizen in his right mind signs a blank check to a government entity? Is informed consent to any contract still valid? Is informed consent to a “mandate” still a necessary part of that mandate? If Obama can demand a blank check from citizens and tell them that it is in their best interest to provide him with a blank check, isn’t giving Obama what he demands like signing a blank contract, leaving it to the seller to supply you with his choice of products not described or offered for sale?

The Constitution Isn’t A Suicide Pact

Monday, July 18, AD 2011

But it is a document that ensures a pesky little thing called religious freedom, something that Herman Cain has seemingly missed.

Herman Cain, a Republican presidential candidate, says Americans have the right to ban Muslims from building mosques.

“They have the right to do that,” Cain said on Fox News Sunday, expressing his concerns with Sharia law. “I’m willing to take a harder look at people that might be terrorists.”

Cain’s comments were in reference to a Tennessee town that is attempting to ban a mosque in its community. “That’s not discriminating based upon their particular religion,” he said. “There is an aspect of them building that mosque that doesn’t get talked about. And the people in the community know what it is and they’re talking about it.”

“Our Constitution guarantees the separation of church and state,” Cain said. “Islam combines church and state. They’re using the church part of our First Amendment to infuse their morals in that community, and the people in the community do not like it.”

I’m the last person to deny the perniciousness of many elements within Islam, but this is nonsense on stilts.  The most deliciously ironic aspect of this comment is Cain’s relying on the “separation of church and state trope.”  So Cain doesn’t seem to think that the First Amendment guarantees freedom of religion, which it in fact does, but he does think it guarantees a separation of church and state, which it in fact does not.  And I especially have to laugh at Cain saying “They’re using the church part of our First Amendment to infuse their morals in that community and the people in the community do not like it.”  First of all,  the church part of our First Amendment?  What?  Second, does anyone doubt that if an atheist or hardened leftist (I know, I’m being redundant) had said something like this he would have been excoriated by most conservatives.  Evidently only pre-approved religious viewpoints are allowed to influence people in a given community.  Perhaps Herman Cain would like to share with us which viewpoints are acceptable, this way we can be all clear in the future.

Naturally this has provided an opportunity for people to beat their chests and play “more righteously angry and conservative than thou.”  Because only a hippy could possibly think that it is a dangerous thing to start prohibiting certain religions from constructing places of worship.  This selective application of the first amendment could never be applied to Catholics, right?  No one could possibly fathom using the same precise rationale that Cain has advanced here in order justify blocking the construction of a Roman Catholic Church.

I thought the construction of the Islamic cultural center at Ground Zero was a terrible idea, but that had to do with the symbolic import of the location.  Even then, I thought the way to oppose it was through social pressure, not by the strong arm of the state intervening and prohibiting construction.  The people of the local community can certainly express their displeasure, but once we allow the state to intervene we have destroyed the concept of religious freedom.

And yes, I know that many adherents of Islam do not even believe in the concept of religious freedom.  Certainly there is a political element within Islam that makes it as much an ideology as a religion,  at least in certain quarters.  But are we willing to completely write off all Muslims as deranged fanatics unworthy of constitutional protections?  If you think as Herman Cain does, then that’s implicitly what you are saying.

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90 Responses to The Constitution Isn’t A Suicide Pact

  • Great post! I understand the reservations about building the mosque, but what he and his fellow TN citizens out to do is set up inter-religious dialogue. He might be surprised that Islam and Christianity (which is what I assume he is based on his location) share a lot of morals (family being important, God, modesty, etc). And I highly doubt that the mosque being built is interested in hate-mongering. Most Muslims are very peaceful; it’s the militant few that give Islam such a bad rap.

  • Cain is worse than Palin. That people actually supported him is an argument against universal suffrage.

  • Now that’s a juicy post, ripe for the pickin’! 🙂 I plan to respond after some sleep……and some time out with my daughter tomorrow. Blessings!

  • Herman Cain is a successful businessman who is trying to enter a line of business, politics, he is ill-suited for. He reminds me of Ross Perot in that regard. He said what he said because he is ignorant of the First Amendment and he was too proud to back down when challenged.

    He is right of course that Islam, at least as traditionally practiced in the Middle East, goes well beyond what Westerners understand as a religion. It establishes a code of law and behavior that is all-ecompassing and makes certain that non Muslims, de facto if not de jure, are treated as fifth class citizens in societies where Muslims are a majority. All of this produces a challenge for a society such as ours where Muslim immigration, due to our absurd immigration laws, is on the rise. However, dealing with this problem does not require tossing either the Constitution, or our common sense, out the window.

  • I learned everything I need to learn about Islam on 9/11/2001. I had taken a three credit theology course (got an A) and I was familiar with the orientalist, America/West hating (ignore 1,300 years of invasions, mass murders, and rapine) stuff concerning the murder cult, already.

    That militant “few” numbers several millions world-wide. The terror sympathizers, like Imam Ralph in NYC – “You must understand America deserves it.” number hundreds of millions.

    Cain is better than Obama in every respect. He would not daily incite class hatred. He would set policies that would create jobs and get us out of the poverty and desperation Obama is imposing on the people.

  • Cain should stick to making pizza dough.

  • Good post, I’m very much in agreement.

  • The concept of religious freedom under the Constitution requires the government not to establish a religion as the state religion. Islam demands to be established as the state religion at the point of a sword. Islam is a violent political system, IMHO, disguised as a “religion”. To allow it and it’s followers the freedom to “worship” (?), to build mosques that are centers for subversion and terrorism, that get subsidy monies from Saudi Arabia, is the height of insanity. The people of this country need to stop the building of any mosque anywhere in this country. We also need to deport every last forneign-born Muslim back to their country of origin. Any native-born American who was stupid enough to convert to Islam ought to be forced to register as an agent of a forneign power. Herman Cain, more power to you!

  • Cain is better than Obama in every respect.

    T Shaw, the same could be said for a ham sandwich. But we can do better than a ham sandwich.

    The people of this country need to stop the building of any mosque anywhere in this country. We also need to deport every last forneign-born Muslim back to their country of origin. Any native-born American who was stupid enough to convert to Islam ought to be forced to register as an agent of a forneign power.

    That’s nice, Stephen. I prefer to live in a free country.

  • Before the Constitution, some states had an official religion. During the antebellum years, the states gradually dropped religions from their constitutions. According to the incorporation doctrine, the Supreme Court has applied portions of the Bill of Rights to the states. It is assumed that state churches are unconstitutional.

    Is that right, though? I don’t see anything in the Constitution preventing state churches, and the incorporation of the Bill of Rights through the 14th Amendment has been haphazard and always struck me as kind of shady. I’m sure you’ll find zero support for state churches today, including from me, but I can’t quite puzzle out why they’re held to be illegal.

  • You’re right, Pinky. Up until the 1930’s the establishment clause was not considered to be applicable to the states. A series of decisions over the course of about 30 years changed all that. I think the arguments for incorporation are of dubious merit at best, but aside from Clarence Thomas no sitting Supreme Court justice and perhaps a handful of legal theorists actively seek to do away with it. So unless there is a radical change on the Court, it’s something that is here to stay.

  • I read the quotes above of Cain’s comments and I still can’t find where he said he believes or thinks Muslims, terrorist or not, shouldn’t be allowed to build a place of worship to their god here in the USA.
    I did get it that he seems to know and tried to state WHY the people in that TN. community did want a mosque there.
    Best be careful with putting words in his mouth or we’ll be eating the race card again.

  • Enough about Cain already. The guy ran a big pizza parlor. His claim to fame is that he became a multi-millionaire hawking pepperoni and sausage. Sheesh, does this qualify him to be POTUS? Yeah, I know, Obama didn’t have any cred or gravitas either, which is we’re in the mess we’re in. I got a dynamite ticket for the GOP: Perry-Rubio. Locks up the South and Latin vote and highly electable. Thoughts?

  • Anything short of Ron Paul is basically more of the same, with slightly different octane ratings. Perry-Rubio does nothing for me. Paul-Christie would be interesting.

    Back to main topic: I can’t see how you could prevent the building of a mosque under the Con; I can see how you could shut one down if it contributed to terrorist activities.

  • Perry-Rubio would be an excellent ticket Joe, and something I think likely if Palin decides not to enter the race. Whover the Republican nominee is, I suspect Rubio will be the nominee for veep if he is willing to do it.

    During the Civil War a Union general shut down a church on the grounds that the minister had been preaching treason. Lincoln instantly reversed him.

  • I read the quotes above of Cain’s comments and I still can’t find where he said he believes or thinks Muslims, terrorist or not, shouldn’t be allowed to build a place of worship to their god here in the USA.

    In the first paragraph he clearly states, in response to a question, that Americans should be able to prohibit Muslims from building mosques. If you want a link to the video of the interview, here it is, and you can fast forward to the 3:00 mark where he responds affirmatively to Wallace’s inquiry about any community being able to block the development of a mosque. That sounds like a pretty thorough rebuke of the concept of freedom of religion to me.

    Best be careful with putting words in his mouth or we’ll be eating the race card again.

    Excuse me, but let’s not become like the left where any criticism of a black man is categorized as hate speech.

  • Joe,

    As usual, you are the voice of reason.

    As eminence grise hearabouts, can you help me to understand why Aztec human sacrifice pyramids may not be erected in TN?

    Or, why a National Socialist Party and a Communist Party (that advocate the overthrow of the government) may not be instigated here?

    I think [klaxons sounding] to the the extent Islam advocates the overthrow of the government, the extirpation of other religions and the destruction of our way of life it ought not enjoy First Amendment protections.

    PS: Being from NY and all: that stuff Cain hawked really ain’t pizza.

    PPS/PZ: Do you have a mouse in your pocket?

  • Mr. Shaw…I believe that if Aztec memorials were established in TN, heads might roll.
    As for the NSP and CP, see no reason why they shouldn’t be allowed. A little revolution every now and then is justified. “When in the course of human events, etc….)
    Inasmuch as the Obama regime and others have supported or facilitated the overthrow of foreign despots and governments deemed hostile to U.S. interests, it would seem that turnabout is fair play.
    As for pizza, yes, I merely extended a courtesy to Cain in the interest of civility and generosity. Since leaving NY, I have yet to find a pizza worthy of the name. I once went to an Italian Festival in Milwaukee and it was like eating Chef Boy-ar-dee.
    Finally, my mouse is ever ready to help ply wisdom around the world.
    😆

  • Excellent, Joe!

    Keep the faith.

  • Paul:

    I know I’m not your cup of tea, but I just wanted to say thank you for this refreshingly sane piece.

  • Time to rethink the entire piece Paul! 🙂

  • Oh no, there goes my street cred. 🙂

    In all seriousness, I appreciate that.

  • Folks,
    Now that we have all gotten our feel good talk out of the way, let’s all get back down to reality.

    In EVERY country that is Islamic, Christians (and all other religions for that matter) are persecuted, discriminated against and severely limited in how they can worship. Examples not limited to Pakistan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey, etc…

    In EVERY country that has a sizable Islamic population they show no signs of peacefully coexisting or blending into the greater society. In fact every effort is made by Islamic communities to be a separate entity, establish sharia law and enforce that on everyone else. See France, Denmark and England.

    Other even more sizable minorities resort to outright guerilla warfare (see Thailand, Philippines, Russia, Macedonia, Nigeria and Serbia proper)

    In our own country you need only look as far as Dearborn, Mi where Christian had to go to court after being arrested to preach the gospel on a street corner at an (Arabic- read Islamic festival).

    You cannot name one example where Muslims and Christians peacefully coexist where the majority population is Muslim (no, Malaysia and Indonesia both discriminate against Christians)

    So while we all appreciate the freedom of religion, let’s not be naive. I wish things were different. I wish we could welcome with open arms Muslims like we do Buddhist, Sikhs, Hindus and every other religion, but Islam IS DIFFERENT.

    Sure, many individual Muslims are good people, but taken as a whole, let’s not live in the land of OZ regarding the belief system. We have NO examples of sizable populations of Muslims peacefully coexisting with non-Muslims of any type, NONE.

    Last note, if you lived close the Murfreesboro (I do) The Mosque will also contain enormous living facilities and sports complex, etc.

    The size and scope of this “mosque” is MUCH greater than what the press is leading on to and the needs of the present Muslim community.

    It’s not like they are building a small Mosque comparable to a Church. Within months it will attract hundreds of Muslim families from overseas, who will have no interest in becoming part of culture of the US or Murfreesboro.

    Maybe none of you thought of this or just believe the press, but they are not against a Mosque…. They are against the enormous living structure and facility being built (that happens to also have a Mosque) which will bring in hundreds of Muslim families from overseas and completely and entirely change the landscape.

    They are not a bunch of racist rednecks burning crosses who hate Muslims….
    You just are not getting an accurate picture of the SIZE and SCOPE of this project, which happens to also include a Mosque…..

  • Chris, sounds like you’re making a NIMBY argument more than anything else, which is fine.

  • The reason why an Aztec pyramid for offering human sacrifices cannot be legally erected in TN is that human sacrifice is illegal, regardless of one’s motivation. If a variant Aztec sect wants to erect a pyramid and sacrifice tofu hearts to the sun, there wouldn’t be a problem.

    The scary thing is that many of the excuses for banning Islam used to be trotted out by Know Nothings against Catholics: Loyalty to a foreign potentate, incapable of authentically belonging to a democracy, etc.

    Certainly, we know that Catholicism is true and Islam is false, but one would think that the fact that these accusations get so baldly recycled would serve as a warning that banning religions is simply a business that we do not want to get into.

  • Chris,

    – It’s laughable to suggest that the US is somehow going to become a majority Muslim country and then find itself put under Sharia. It is quite simply not going to happen, and those who try to hold this up as some boogie man only make themselves and the conservative movement they claim to be members of look silly. There is no reason to compromise our American principles in order to stem the alleged thread posed by such a tiny minority on the claim that soon they will out number us and overthrow the republic.

    – Forgive me if the idea that a new mosque might bring in “hundreds” of foreigners fails to scare me. I mean, seriously, my parish has 5,000 families, and that’s in a moderate size town which is not, to my knowledge, majority Catholic.

    What next, this?
    Muslims coming ashore?

  • I do live in this neck of the woods and I honestly have mixed feelings about the mosque.

    It does make me uncomfortable to have such a large complex that could be a magnet for people who do not wish us well. I would hope that police and neighbors would keep an eye and ear open for anything unusual. How far can they go without crossing the line into harassment? I don’t know. I sure wouldn’t want to drive someone on the edge of extremism over the cliff.

    On the other hand, I hear a lot of arguments from opponents about how they are not trying to ban a religion but enforce zoning laws. Frankly I just am not buying that argument. Objectively speaking I’m not sure how this complex will be any different than the local Baptist megachurches.

    I think the fact that this mosque was announced in the middle of the controversy around the Ground Zero mosque connected the two projects in the minds of a lot of people.

    And finally if we give local authorities the ability to ban the building of facilities for religions they don’t like, Catholics aren’t far down that list in these parts.

  • One would wish that so many of the adherents of Islam were not doing their level best around the globe to live down to the worst that critics in this country say about the members of that creed. The Constitution is quite clear that members of Islam enjoy the same religious freedom that the rest of us do in this country. That fact however does not make me happy to see growing numbers of the adherents of that faith in this country since Islam has historically had no concept of living with other faiths on the basis of equality.

    What has been happening in Dearborn, Michigan, with one of the largest Muslim populations in the country, does not make me sanguine as to the treatment that local governments will accord non-Muslims when Muslims begin to wield political power. For now, we have appellate courts to reverse local authorities when they act to infringe on the Constitutional rights of those who do not share the views of their Muslim constituents.

    http://www.thomasmore.org/qry/page.taf?id=19&_function=detail&sbtblct_uid1=910&_nc=a418d5afb14c8f813cb0ca97c4c0520d

  • Jenny makes a good point. There are many cases where religion interests clash with zoning laws, which is why the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) was enacted about 10 years ago. In my neck of the woods three brothers who are Protestant Evangelicals have been trying to build a Bible camp on their property in northern Wisconsin only to be stymied by county zoning regs. The brothers are suing the county in federal court on RLUIPA and constitutional grounds while the county is arguing it has the right to enforce zoning laws that restrict projects on aforementioned property to single-family or recreational only.

    A mountain of briefs have been filed in the past five years. For those not familiar with RLUIPA, here is a link:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_Land_Use_and_Institutionalized_Persons_Act

    There are many interesting cases on record cutting both ways. I saw one where a fortune teller won on religious grounds.

  • I think the picture is an interesting bit of Americana . . . ohh those bad papal alligators (or are they crocodiles). In the background, the adults have children by the scruff of the neck. My question is “Are they feeding the children to the alligators or pulling them away?”

  • Paul, as a descendant of Turkish and Arab Muslims, I want to live in a free country too. That’s why I don’t want them and their mosques in America. Their sharia law teaches them that we are infidels who should b e converted or killed if we reject Islam. We don’t need the headaches that the European countries have because they foolishly allowed Muslims to immigrate in mass. I say, when Christians are allowed to worship freely in Muslim countries without being persecuted or killed because they are Christians, only then should we consider mosque building in a favorable light.

  • This is an interesting debate. If one believes in “perfect freedom,” then it is assumed that one is supposed to support the freedom of Muslims and Nazis to set up their infrastructure (mosque and party headquarters respectively) to spread their murderous hate. (By the way, has anyone noticed that BOTH of those groups hate the Jews?) Let us never mind the fact that supporting the freedom of these groups to spread their hate automatically results in eventual conditions (Sharia Law or political dictatorship) that denies everyone else freedom.

    I have worked with Muslims more and more over the past 11 years. I always wonder why they want to go into high technology fields like nuclear energy or aerospace. It’s true that none of the ones with whom I worked were anything other than gentlemen (and coincidentally there were NO Muslim ladies with whom I worked in nuclear energy – now why is that?). But I don’t trust them and I was relieved when a Muslim who worked beside me recently resigned.

    I don’t like them. I don’t like their religion. I don’t like their Sharia Law and the way they treat women. And I darn sure don’t trust them. They are not all bad, but nevertheless….

    P.S., I don’t trust Nazis or Commies either, and all for the same reasons: their religion of hate.

  • OK, Here’s a test for all of us. Which of the following would you be LEAST comfortable as President of the United States? You can only pick one.
    Here are the choices: (I’m omitting Catholic for obvious reasons)

    1. A mainstream Protestant.
    2. A Mormon
    3. A Jehovah’s Witness.
    4. A Muslim
    5. A Jew.
    6. An atheist or agnostic.
    7. An open homosexual
    8. A multiple-divorced person.

    Comments/explanations welcomed.

  • In order from least to most comfortable:

    Muslim
    Atheist / agnostic
    Homosexual
    Jehovah Witness (non-issue – they don’t participate in politics)
    Mormon
    Multiple-divorced person
    Jew
    Mainstream Protestant

    Chances are, however, that a candidate will possess more than one characteristic, e.g., a homosexual Jew, an atheist homosexual, a divorced Protestant.

    John Jay, first chief justice of SCOTUS, said in his correspondence, “Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty, as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers…Whether our religion permits Christians to vote for infidel rulers is a question which merits more consideration than it seems yet to have generally received either from the clergy or the laity. It appears to me that what the prophet said to Jehoshaphat about his attachment to Ahab [‘Shouldest thou help the ungodly and love them that hate the Lord?’ 2 Chronicles 19:2] affords a salutary lesson.

    North Carolina Governor Samuel Johnston wrote, “It is apprehended that Jews, Mahometans (Muslims), pagans, etc., may be elected to high offices under the government of the United States. Those who are Mahometans, or any others who are not professors of the Christian religion, can never be elected to the office of President or other high office, [unless] first the people of America lay aside the Christian religion altogether, it may happen. Should this unfortunately take place, the people will choose such men as think as they do themselves.”

    I don’t agree with his objection against Jews, but I do agree with his objection against Muslims.

  • I’ll bite.

    I would have to say a Muslim because a traditional Muslim world view is quite different than a Western outlook.

    While I would not be comfortable with an atheist president, most atheists are awash in a Christian world view whether they acknowledge it or not.

    An open homosexual might be fine politically, but how would I explain it to my children?

  • It’s laughable to suggest that the US is somehow going to become a majority Muslim country and then find itself put under Sharia. It is quite simply not going to happen, and those who try to hold this up as some boogie man only make themselves and the conservative movement they claim to be members of look silly.

    That’s a bit condescending, but I forgive. Unfortunately the reality, and we have real life examples, is the opposite. Every Islamic country is either fully Sharia or Sharia based. In fact in Syria the Christian communities are supporting Assad because they know any Islamic government that would come into power would persecute them relentlessly. In Egypt the Coptics are already feeling the effects of the Islamic based Muslim Brotherhood.

    “There is no reason to compromise our American principles in order to stem the alleged thread posed by such a tiny minority on the claim that soon they will out number us and overthrow the republic.

    Please stop this. No one wants to “ban” Islam, ban Muslims and other such things. However Sharia law is INCOMPATABLE with American principles.

    Forgive me if the idea that a new mosque might bring in “hundreds” of foreigners fails to scare me. I mean, seriously, my parish has 5,000 families, and that’s in a moderate size town which is not, to my knowledge, majority Catholic.

    Please, stop it again…. Using the term foreigners implies “were scared of those brown people” or something similar. We’re not a bunch of red necks burning crosses in our back yards…..

    If this was a Hindu temple nobody would care, nobody would say a thing. Pick any other race/ religion you wish. It wouldn’t be an issue. So please don’t imply the “were scared of anyone but us….”

    As a side note, your post was incredibly condescending. Posting that picture, implying anyone who opposes this as racist, scared, bigoted, etc. The only thing that was missing was calling me an islamaphobe.

    I love Muslims, but I completely and totally reject Islam and its implementation via Sharia.

    I would only point out that you should try and get involved in Christians in Islamic Countries. The stories I have heard, notably in Egypt, Iraq and the Palestinian territories are heartbreaking. All the theoretical talk about how we “hope” Muslims may behave as a whole goes out the window when you reality. Next time a Christian Arab comes to your Church to sell goods from Jerusalem. Pull them aside and ask them what its really like. You have to do it privately; the stories will send chills up your spine….

  • Hmm…Muslims in the lead so far. For me it would be a homosexual. I could not abide that.

  • Multiple-divorced person. That tells me that they can’t keep personal commitments. I don’t think I’d mind any of the others.

  • “Muslim
    Atheist / agnostic
    Homosexual
    Jehovah Witness (non-issue – they don’t participate in politics)
    Mormon
    Multiple-divorced person
    Jew
    Mainstream Protestant”

    Left handed lesbian micronesian communist anglicans have always been at the bottom of my list. 🙂

  • C’mon, Don. Make a pick. :mrgreen:

  • I don’t think Don liked it that I actually made a list from most undesireable to simply undesireable.

    “Left handed lesbian micronesian communist anglicans”

    Left handed, Micronesian and Anglican are irrelevant criteria.

    Lesbian and communist are not and should be disqualifiers for public office.

    But I am simply another right wing nut case. 😀

    As long as Obama and his Democrat are defeated, I don’t care. That’s what is important in 2012. Yes, I would vote for a Republican homosexual if it meant that that was the only way to defeat Obama. I would hold my nose and vote accordingly.

  • I realize it’s simplistic to use one piece of info as a litmus test; however, these are significant pieces of information and one can draw some inferences. If the homosexual, for example, were conservative in all other views (not likely but just imagine) and the agnostic was liberal, who would you vote for? In other words, do political and economic views trump all other considerations?

  • “If the homosexual, for example, were conservative in all other views (not likely but just imagine)…”

    Wrong.

    Log Cabin Republicans:

    http://www.logcabin.org/site/c.nsKSL7PMLpF/b.5468093/k.BE4C/Home.htm

    I don’t agree with their homosexuality, but….defeat Obama in 2012.

  • Point taken, Paul; however, I’d still have a hard time voting gay. I think a homosexual president would be a HUGE distraction for the nation. The jokes would never end.

  • Me, too, Joe. That’s a last resort vote.

  • I wouldn’t vote gay either, if you mean something terrible happening in the voting booth.

  • I’d vote for the person who I think will best advance the policy positions I hold. Everything else is trivial.

    A gay Republican president would be less of a distraction than Santorum.

    Let’s reword the question. Who would you vote for?

    1. Jimmy Carter, a mainstream Protestant
    2. Mitt Romney, a Mormon
    3. Dwight Eisenhower, a Jehovah’s Witness
    4. Bush adviser Suhail Khan, a Muslim
    5. Anthony Weiner, a Jew
    6. George Will, an agnostic
    7. Liz Cheney, an open homosexual
    8. Newt Gingrich, a multiple-divorced person

  • Ike with Will as his running mate

  • “I’d vote for the person who I think will best advance the policy positions I hold. Everything else is trivial.”

    Not quite. Character and leadership ability are not unimportant, along with drive. It does little good to elect someone to office with the right policy positions, if they are untrustworthy, couldn’t lead a group of sailors on leave to a bar and have the fighting spirit of a dead gerbil.

  • In answer to RR’s proposals:

    1. Jimmy Carter, a mainstream Protestant

    No. Never. Liberal Democrat nit wit. And an anit-nuke kook to boot.

    2. Mitt Romney, a Mormon

    Maybe.

    3. Dwight Eisenhower, a Jehovah’s Witness

    Yes. Didn’t know he was a JW – I always thought they wouldn’t serve in the military or involve themselves in politics. Wikipedia says he was Presbyterian, described himself as non-denominational, and never joined the predecessor to the JWs: the International Bible Students Association (but he studied under them).

    4. Bush adviser Suhail Khan, a Muslim

    Probably not. Don’t trust Muslims, period.

    5. Anthony Weiner, a Jew

    Nope, he’s a Democrat and a pervert. Facebook photos of his genitals – Heaven preserve us!

    6. George Will, an agnostic

    Well, supposedly he helped Reagan back in 1980 and there was a big controversy over that, but I tend to distrust journalists even more than politicians. So probably not.

    7. Liz Cheney, an open homosexual

    Possibly. She supported Fred Thompson who dropped out of the 08 race, and then Mitt Romney.

    8. Newt Gingrich, a multiple-divorced person

    Possibly.

    None of these choices are ideal. I say Palin – Bachmann 2012! Let’s put the Democrats into fits of apoplexy! 😀

  • Sorry, meant “anti” when referring to Carter as an anti-nuke kook. -10 pts for bad spelling.

  • Don, I include drive and ability in how I evaluate who best can advance my policy positions. I think character is a criterion of limited usefulness. All serious candidates for president are good liars. They wouldn’t be where they are if they weren’t.

  • If I recall correctly, Eisenhower was a JW, but converted shortly before running for office. Ironically, he was a big supporter of adding “under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance.

  • Eisenhower was raise a JW. From what I can gather, he stopped practicing any religion as an adult. He considered himself non-denominational by the time he ran for office. The fact that he wasn’t properly baptized became an issue during the election. He was baptized at a Presbyterian church after he was elected.

  • Eisenhower’s religious history from Wikipedia – RR seems partly correct; the difference being the Eisenhower himself never joined the predecessor to the JWs:

    When Eisenhower was a child, his mother Ida Elizabeth Stover Eisenhower, previously a member of the River Brethren sect of the Mennonites, joined the International Bible Students Assocation, which would evolve into what is now known as Jehovah’s Witnesses. The Eisenhower home served as the local meeting hall from 1896 to 1915 but Eisenhower never joined the International Bible Students. His decision to attend West Point saddened his mother, who felt that warfare was “rather wicked,” but she did not overrule him. Eisenhower was baptized in the Presbyterian Church in 1953. In 1948, he had called himself “one of the most deeply religious men I know” though unattached to any “sect or organization”.

  • “I think character is a criterion of limited usefulness. All serious candidates for president are good liars. They wouldn’t be where they are if they weren’t.”

    What an ahistorical thing to say. Some of our presidents have been quite truthful men. I would include in that category George Washington, John Adams, James Madison, James Monroe, John Quincy Adams, Andrew Jackson, James K. Polk, Zachary Taylor, Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Johnson, Ulysses S. Grant, Grover Cleveland, William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, William Taft, Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan. Some people would prefer to be ruled by an effective blackguard than an honest weak leader, but I would say either path tends to end badly for a nation. If we fail to ask for character in our Presidents, rest assured we will have none. Or as Saint Thomas More so memorably put it in the play A Man For All Seasons: “When statesmen forsake their own private conscience for the sake of their public duties they lead their country by a short route to chaos.”

  • Vote for whom the MSM hates the most. Go Bachman/Santorem.

    No doubt, the Bishops will have another confusing voting guide and Obama will get > 50% of the Catholic vote again. And Mark Shea will convince many Catholics not to vote for Republicans because they’re for pouting water of terrorists heads.

  • Liz Cheney, an open homosexual

    I think you have confused her with her sister Mary Cheney.

  • “This selective application of the first amendment could never be applied to Catholics, right?”

    Of course it could. Just wait until someone manages to get Catholics labeled as a hate group because of their opposition to abortion and gay marriage.

  • Chris,

    That’s a bit condescending, but I forgive. Unfortunately the reality, and we have real life examples, is the opposite. Every Islamic country is either fully Sharia or Sharia based. In fact in Syria the Christian communities are supporting Assad because they know any Islamic government that would come into power would persecute them relentlessly. In Egypt the Coptics are already feeling the effects of the Islamic based Muslim Brotherhood.

    Arguing that if the US became a majority-Muslim country, it might well use some form of Sharia doesn’t get us anywhere because it is totally unimaginable that the US would become majority Muslim in the first place. We’re talking about a religious minority which currently makes up 1-2% of the US population.

    There’s no point in discussion how to deal with Muslims and mosque construction in the US in any other way than how the vast majority will treat a tiny (and not well liked) minority. My contention is simply that it is un-American (as in, contrary to our principles) to respond to such a situation by seeking to prevent them from building mosques and generally behave as they wish so long as they remain law abiding residents or citizens. If they break the law — there’s a very simple process we can follow: enforce the law.

    I’m sorry if it seems condescending to compare some of these sentiments to the ones which led turn of the century Protestants to portray us as alligators, but frankly, I’m not seeing a whole lot of difference.

  • Dulce Machometis inexpertis.

    Some people are distracted by PC elitist bed-wetting and blinded to the facts.

    Fact: The NYC powers that be (abortionist/elitist bed-wetting/statist yellow dogs, e.g. Mayor Midget Mike, et al) refuse to permit the rebuild of Greek Orthodox St. Paul’s Church at Ground Zero.

    But, it’s a First Amendment Crisis/human wrongs issue if the filthy pagans can’t put up a terrorist recruiting center a block away, or in TN.

    DC: You’re correct. In the Nineteenth Century, no American Catholic committed mass murder, terror or savagery in the name of the Pope. Catholic conspirators were not daily proving Catholics could not be both good Catholics and good Americans.

    Call it what you like. This is the truth. Muslims almost daily do what Catholics were slandered for. Islam is the only “recognized” (so-called) religion with doctrine, theology and legal system that mandate endless war against everybody else.

    It is not difficult to understand, unless you’re a PC liberal nitwit with a slew of useless credentials from some Ivy or ND (Repreated myself three times again).

  • In the Nineteenth Century, no American Catholic committed mass murder, terror or savagery in the name of the Pope. Catholic conspirators were not daily proving Catholics could not be both good Catholics and good Americans.

    Call it what you like. This is the truth. Muslims almost daily do what Catholics were slandered for. Islam is the only “recognized” (so-called) religion with doctrine, theology and legal system that mandate endless war against everybody else.

    Bullshit. The number of real terror plots that have been busted in the last ten years on US soils is pretty small. Of the couple million Muslims in the US, the vast, vast majority are simply ordinary folks who work jobs, pray a few times a day, etc.

    This attempt to turn a religion with a billion adherents into one vast Muslim Peril is both false and bad for all concerned.

    And for the record, there actually were small but noticeable minorities of 19th century Catholics involved in all sorts of nasty doing on US soil — the Mafia, for example. Not to mention the Democratic Party. 🙂

  • Then Darwin, you go work with them in the reactor protection racks or in the containment building at a nuclear power plant. See how safe you feel.

    I don’t trust Islamist because their very own Koran says they can lie to Christians and Jews, and they can subjugate or kill them (i.e., us, you and me) with impunity.

    But I do agree with your comment about the Catholics in the Democratic Party. Their collusion with the murder of 60 million babies since Roe v Wade makes them no better than the worst Islamic terrorist.

  • If they break the law — there’s a very simple process we can follow: enforce the law.

    The propensity of institutions to enforce the law is going to be crucially influenced by elite attitudes, and elite attitudes can be in opposition to popular preference. The example of civil rights law in its effective application is instructive here. Reading news stories about the dynamic between Canadian muslims and their critics as adjudicated by administrative tribunals up north can also be instructive. As long as we have the regime class we do, I do not think conflicts like the one under discussion are going to end well as a matter of course.

  • “Bullshit.”

    http://www.thereligionofpeace.com/

    Weekly Jihad Report
    Jul 09 – Jul. 15 Jihad Attacks: 35

    Allah Akbars: 5

    Dead Bodies: 101

    Critically Injured: 264

  • Of the couple million Muslims in the US, the vast, vast majority are simply ordinary folks who work jobs, pray a few times a day, etc.

    This echoes my experience in commercial aviation. Intelligent, amiable people with a shared experience with me. The discussion is beginning to remind me of this blog entry by Jen from three years ago.

  • I agree with what Jasper said.

    “This echoes my experience in commercial aviation. Intelligent, amiable people with a shared experience with me.”

    This is the same with me in nuclear power. The Muslims are always amiable and nice to your face, but their own Koran allows – even encourages – them to lie to the non-Muslim. I sure as heck was glad when the only Muslim working in the office of my current employer resigned a few months ago. They are amiable and likeable until they commit that terrorist act which their Koran demands that they commit.

    Of all the religions in the world – Hindu, Taoist, Shintoist, Judaism, Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, etc. – it is Islam alone that demands subjugation of the non-Muslim into Dhimmitude. Muslims have been fighting against the rest of the world ever since Mohammed first set across the sands of Arabia from Medina to Mecca. They invaded all the way up to Tours France before they were turned back in the early 700s, and they several times almost took Vienna. It was only by the intervention of the Blessed Virgin Mary that they were turned back at the Battle of Lepanto in 1571 (I think).

    Right now we have the invasion of peace by immigration. As non-Muslims continue to use contraception and abortion, the Muslims will out-populate us and erect Sharia Law by default since they will be more numerous. It’s happening in Germany, France and England right now.

    Yeah, people will now say I am hallucinating. People said that about those who forewarned them when Hitler first got into the Reichtstag: “Oh, he won’t be a dictator”, “He won’t kill Jews”, “He won’t start a World War.” Yes he will, and yes he did.

    How can anyone tolerate Islam knowing full well its anti-Jewish fervor and hatred – the same as Nazi hatred? Muslims will do everything their Koran tells them to do, and that means enslave or murder us.

  • First of all, let me say that I appreciate the discussion here as it it’s been relatively non-acrimonious, so thanks for that,

    I think we’re replaying a bit of a debate that we have had here in previous posts, here, here, and here (as well as I think a few more). It’s the fundamental question that lies at the heart of all this: are the most radical elements of Islam truly representative of the mainstream of Islam? Another way of putting it: is the very term radical Islam a redundancy? For those answering in the affirmative to either query, it naturally follows that we should restrict the ability of Muslims to practice their religion because it is actively hostile to our way of life. And if every Muslim was, as a matter of faith, a terrorist sympathizing jihadi bent on destroying America from within, then calls to halt the spread of Islam by government coercion in our country would be justified.

    But I don’t think you have to be some Ivy League, pc-indoctrinated squish to think that Darwin’s observations are right. Yes, as Jasper helpfully points out, the violent element within Islam is very real, and for many they are living out their faith as they believe it is meant to be lived. But there are over one billion Muslims in the world, and several million in the US. The ones living here especially seem to reject terrorism.

    Now, even some of those who reject violence don’t necessarily disagree with the primary goal of those who engage in terrorism, even if they disagree with the means. But acknowledging these concerns shouldn’t entail backing a rather blanket ban on the practice of a faith in this country.

  • As non-Muslims continue to use contraception and abortion, the Muslims will out-populate us and erect Sharia Law by default since they will be more numerous. It’s happening in Germany, France and England right now.

    Catholics are 25% of the population. Even if only 5% of this number is not contracepting, that means that there are about as many non-contracepting Catholics in this country as there are Muslims. There is absolutely no data to suggest that Muslims will approach a majority or even a plurality in this country anytime in our lifetimes, our children’s lifetimes, or frankly the lifetime of any person born in the next three centuries. Even in the European countries, trends show that immigrant Muslim groups tend to be barely more fecund than the native population.

  • Paul Z.,

    The dialogue and text in this You Tube video differs with your statement:

  • I don’t really think any of that is the crux of the debate. I don’t really like the idea of squelching mosque-building projects, but whenever one comes up people talk about the nation’s founding as it relates to religious freedom, but nobody seems to care that what the founders were really TRULY motivated by was not religious freedom but the right of self governance. What rights does a local community, prejudicial or pig-headed as they may be, to determine what they will and will not allow within their community?

  • are the most radical elements of Islam truly representative of the mainstream of Islam? Another way of putting it: is the very term radical Islam a redundancy?

    I would answer in the negative. One such example, Darwin provided on his own blog.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k-1JUcKpHro

    Interesting, if nothing else. 😛

  • Paul, the video doesn’t counter the main thrust of what I said – namely that there is absolutely nothing to suggest that the Islamic population in this country is going to outstrip the rest of population anytime soon. Europe is a different matter, and I do worry about the future there. But even in Europe Islamic immigrants are not as fecund as Muslims in other parts of the world, if I recall the statistics correctly. I admit I could be mistaken about that.

    I’d also add that just because some fringe group thinks there will be 50 million Muslims in America in 30 years doesn’t necessarily mean that it would happen.

  • I’m not seduced by the “some of my best friends are Muslims” argument in cutting Islam one bit of slack. I suggest you read ‘The Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotage America’ by Andrew McCarthy, which opens with a chapter on Barack Hussein Obama infamously bowing to the Saudi king.

    Non-Moslems are disdainfully viewed as ‘unclean, untouchable pagans’ in the Koran, which all Muslims see as their ultimate guide. McCarthy’s book is a well-documented, eye-opening hard look at how Islam, aided by the left, has but one goal: to use ‘any means’ including jihad, which means ‘armed struggle,’ to achieve its nefarious ends: world domination and subjugation of the infidels.

    Herewith summed up by their mantra:

    Allah is our objective.
    The Prophet is our leader.
    The Koran is our law.
    Jihad is our way.
    Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope.
    Allahu-Akbar! Allahu-Akbar!

  • Thanks for the reply, Paul Z. I don’t even know where to look to get valid statistics of population demographics and birth rates by religious persuasion in European countries. So I wouldn’t know where to begin to validate your supposition or that contained in the You Tube video. But what I do know is that the Koran commands Allah’s subjects to reproduce and subjugate the rest of us (or murder us). Maybe people are right that most Muslims aren’t that way and wouldn’t do that. But such false hopes over Hitler and his Nazis proved misguided at best.

    Perhaps I am too much of a pessimist. 🙁 But anytime fanatics got power (like the Nazis or the Communists), persecution, death, and destruction have been the result. So the question becomes: is someone who is an Islamist by defintion a fanatic? Many here would say no, but the Koran demands otherwise. No other religious book is perhaps as full of hatred as that one is (except maybe Mein Kampf).

  • Here’s an interesting article from Brookings about Islam in France, which notes that the birth rate gap between Muslim immigrants and natives closes pretty quickly. Also note the low rate of mosque attendance.

    http://www.brookings.edu/testimony/2006/0112france_vaisse.aspx

  • None of this would be an issue if we were converting people. Are we even trying anymore? Since when did we give up on that?

  • Now, even some of those who reject violence don’t necessarily disagree with the primary goal of those who engage in terrorism, even if they disagree with the means. …………………. But acknowledging these concerns shouldn’t entail backing a rather blanket ban on the practice of a faith in this country.

    STOP… Go back to the beginning. Did you just say that Herman Cain has said that HE wants or is in favor of a ban on Muslim worship in this country? If yes, you are dead wrong and need to apologize.

  • No Bill. I am speaking more broadly than that.

  • Paul,
    Then in the future when you wish to broadly proclaim your opinions try not to launch on the back of someone’s remarks you simply don’t agree with.

  • The Muslims are always amiable and nice to your face, but their own Koran allows – even encourages – them to lie to the non-Muslim.

    This is all starting to sound way too much like what Charles Kingsley had to say to John Henry Newman.

  • Bill, this thread is some 90+ comments deep. We stopped addressing Cain’s remarks specifically about 70 comments ago.

  • “Mark Shea will convince many Catholics not to vote for Republicans because they’re for pouting water of terrorists heads.”

    My power is limitless! I am invincible! From my Dark Throne I control the Catholic vote in America, making and breaking presidents at my capricious leisure! Even your own Paul Zummo is falling under my Svengali-like seductive sway and you are powerless to stop it! Has ever a blogger so dominated the world as I do? My being crackles with Force Lightning and I hunger to increase my iron grip on the Catholic Church and its shuffling lackeys who do exactly as I command! Mwahahahahaha!

  • “the Koran commands Allah’s subjects to reproduce and subjugate the rest of us (or murder us).”

    Well, we Catholics of all people should know that what a religious body or its authorities “officially” teach or have written in their scriptures doesn’t always comport with what the majority of its followers do in practice. If it did, the Catholic divorce rate would be a lot lower and the birth rate would be a lot higher!

    Does this mean that the only “good” (i.e. non-subversive) Muslims are “bad” (i.e. incompletely observant) Muslims? I don’t know that I’d go that far. Islam is not a monolithic religion with one recognized head similar to the pope or the Dalai Lama. There are many different sects and traditions with their own interpretations of the Quran.

    I’m not an expert on Islam or international terrorism by any means, and I agree that radical Islam is a real and present danger to our national security. Still, to assume that “all” Muslims are itching to become suicide bombers seems to me about as realistic as assuming that all pro-lifers are itching to bomb abortion clinics.

  • ok.

    But, next time one of AG Holder’s ATF-supplied assault weapons kills somebody in America, it’s only fair you twits defend the NRA and 100,000,000 of law-abiding, taxpaying Americans the same way you defend Islam and its 1,500,000 law-abiding . . .

    So much for the free exchange of ideas . . .

  • 👿 Censor this.

  • T Shaw,

    If you can’t comment without malicious personal attacks or insults, you’re going back on moderation. You want to freely exchange ideas, then express ideas, not ad hominems.

  • Hey Shea,

    You did your small part to give us Kagan and Sotomeyer, and Roe for a long time to come. Give yourself a pat on the back.

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First Amendment? What First Amendment?

Tuesday, January 11, AD 2011

The above video is a stirring rendition of a campaign song for Abraham Lincoln in 1860:  Lincoln and Liberty Too, probably the most effective campaign ditty in American political history.  It was sung everywhere by Republicans in 1860, from huge campaign rallies to small gatherings of Lincoln supporters.  Lincoln Wide Awakes would hold torch light processions throughout the North singing the song at the top of their lungs.  The type of enthusiasm generated by the song helped give Lincoln a popular vote plurality in 1860 and an electoral landslide. 

I think the song would probably be illegal under legislation proposed by Congressman Robert Brady (D.Pa). 

“Rep. Robert Brady (D-Pa.) reportedly plans to introduce legislation that would make it a federal crime to use language or symbols that could be perceived as threatening or inciting violence against a federal official or member of Congress.” 

Critics originally took Palin to task for the apparent use of the crosshairs of guns to identify the districts. The controversy re-ignited Saturday after the shooting, since Giffords’s district was included on the map.  

Brady singled out the map as the type of rhetoric he opposed. 

“You can’t put bull’s-eyes or crosshairs on a United States congressman or a federal official,” he said. 

However, a Palin spokeswoman denied Sunday that the image was intended to depict gun sights. Palin offered condolences to the Giffords family and other victims of the shooting on her Facebook page Saturday. 

 Here is the ad from SarahPac that has Congressman Brady so worked up:  

   

   

   

 

   

The crosshairs on the map indicated members of Congress targeted for defeat by SarahPac.  Such targeting imagery of course is commonplace in political campaigns.  Only a moron, or a partisan hack, would think that violence in any way was implied by the use of this image.  As far as American political speech goes, this was pretty tepid stuff. 

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3 Responses to First Amendment? What First Amendment?

  • Liberalism is a psychological disease.

    Would that bill inclusde imprisoning ARTISTS for producing movies about assassinating curent president (Booosh at the time), or a novel covering same murder?

    I probably will be among the first 1,000 sent to the democrat re-education camp of NY Soviet Socialist Republic.

  • If the Congress did pass legislation so manifestly unconstitutional, I can’t imagine it being upheld by the courts.

    You have a higher opinion of the appellate judiciary than I do.

  • I probably will go to jail for the following. But, here goes nothing . . . No, wait! Bombs away!!!

    Obama, Pelosi, Reid, Clintons, the so-called liberals, are foisting a gradual devolution to post-enlightenment collectivism. Enlightenment/modern man once emphasized individual or natural rights, e.g., life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. The liberals’ acts and agendas indicate that their goal is establishing and maintaining the collective, which they will rule. To them the collective is one and indivisible. The individual is nothing more than a part of the collective. The individual functions for the good of the collective, in which he is a small element. Chairman OBama’s regime is out to advance the collective and demote the individual. Health care reform, environmentalism/cap and economic ruin have nothing to do with reform or saving the planet. They are the means to seize control and subordinate the individual to the collective.

    When I was in school, and among the rare times I was thinking instead of drinking, they made us study the “Inquisitioin in the Middle Ages” by Henry C. Lea. The book revealed that, like today’s liberals, the medieval Church made it a crime punishable by life imprisonment or death to believe and/or think differently. The perp didn’t need to do anything to be condemned.

    Lea, “ . . . no one can rightly appreciate the process of its development and the results of its activity without a somewhat minute consideration of the factors controlling the minds and souls of men during the ages which laid the foundation of modern civilization. To accomplish this it has been necessary to pass in review nearly all the spiritual and intellectual movements of the Middle Ages, and to glance at the condition of society in certain of its phases.” Henry C, Lea, Preface.

    St. Thomas de Torquemada, pray for us.

Constitutional Ignorance

Tuesday, October 19, AD 2010

I see that my co-blogger MJ Andrew has already posted about the Christine O’Donnell-Chris Coons debate, and I thank him as that saves me the trouble of having to sort through a whole bunch of links.

I disagree with him, though somewhat reservedly.  Having listened to the entire clip it does seem to me that O’Donnell is questioning whether the concept of the separation of Church and State is in the First Amendment, not the Establishment Clause.  There was some crosstalk at this point in the debate, and it appears to me that she’s just repeating her question with regards to the issue of separation.  It’s debatable, though, and a candidate should do a better job clearly establishing what she’s talking about in such a setting.

That being the case,  I was more intrigued by  Coons’s own response to the question.  While O’Donnell possibly made a gaffe – an unfortunate one if indeed it was a gaffe – Coons’s response is the more troubling aspect of this exchange.

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11 Responses to Constitutional Ignorance

  • I tend to agree with those who think the Establishment Clause does not mandate a strict separation of church and state, and I think Coons gets that bit wrong.

  • Coons believes that the Supreme Court is a perpetual Constitutional Convention which may amend the Constitution as it pleases, the text of the document be hanged.

  • I agree with you, but as MJ points out not knowing at least the gist of the 14th amendment is pretty bad.

  • “I agree with you, but as MJ points out not knowing at least the gist of the 14th amendment is pretty bad.”

    Michael, outside of attorneys who do criminal defense and constitutional law cases, I think many attorneys would have a hard time saying much about the 14th amendment, not to say anything of the Byzantine case law interpreting the amendment. Of course you law school sudents being force fed all of this put us practicing attorneys to shame in this area! 🙂

  • I think many attorneys would have a hard time saying much about the 14th amendment, not to say anything of the Byzantine case law interpreting the amendment.

    It’s true that after what SCOTUS has done to the poor amendment has rendered its meaning unintelligible to all but the wisest of men (obviously those being on the Court), I think knowing that 14th guarantees due process against state infringement and that this is the avenue of incorporation would be nice to know. After all, it’s the through the 14th that SCOTUS has brought its, er, unique modern approach to constitutional interpretation.

  • Substantive due process has been the gateway to practically every dubious Court decision of the past century plus.

  • Israel and Great Britain get along passably without a formally composed Constitution. It sometimes seems ours is just an excuse for our appellate judges to be officious nuisances.

  • I learn something new about the 14th Amendment every time some judge with an expansive view of his or her self worth puts pen to paper.

  • I knew the Constitution pretty well during Con Law class and just prior to taking the bar. After that, not so much. Although I do occassionaly peruse it when a particular issue comes up. God help anyone who has to rely upon my faulty memory.

  • My keyboard quotes marks are not working.

    Meanwhile, Cornell law prof William Jacobson comments: A literal reading of O’Donnell’s comments reflects that she was correct, but of course, the press and the blogosphere don’t want a literal reading, they want a living, breathing reading which comports with their preconceived notions.”

    And, Instapundit: The Constitution stands for things that are good. The things that we want are good. Therefore, the Constitution stands for what we want. QED. How can those dumb wingnuts (like ODonnell) not understand this simple logic?

  • Good catch on Coons – most people have missed it in the frenzy to attack or defend O’Donnell. Whatever one may think of O’Donnell’s views (and I agree with them – though I think she didn’t effectively advance her correct argument), Coons is clearly of that liberal mindset which holds to “if we like it, it’s Constitutional”. On his own ground, Coons is going to be fine – as long as he’s talking to ignorant MSMers or liberal who like the current status of Constitutional law, he’s going to look like a genius…put him in a room with anyone who actually holds that laws are meant to be obeyed, and he doesn’t come off so well.

    We’ll see if O’Donnell can actually do anything with this – Delaware may not be ready, yet, to ditch its liberal Ruling Class…but O’Donnell has dented it, and that’s good enough to go on.

Mosque Opponents: Be Careful What You Wish For, You Might Get It

Saturday, August 28, AD 2010

The debate over the so-called Ground Zero mosque near the former site of the World Trade Center in New York has raised public interest in, and opposition to, other proposed or recently built mosques and Islamic centers throughout the country.

In areas where Muslim migration or immigration has been significant, some citizens have attempted to discourage construction of new mosques. Few come right out and cite the threat of terrorism; more often they seem to resort to time-honored NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) tactics such as creative interpretation of zoning ordinances, claims of decreased property values, or claims of real or potential problems with traffic, noise, etc.

Before I go any further, I want to make it clear that I understand the need to be vigilant regarding the potential for violent subversion, as well as the dangers of taking such a politically correct approach to militant Islam that people hesitate to report obvious suspicious activity for fear of being labeled bigots (as seems to have happened in the Fort Hood massacre case).

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45 Responses to Mosque Opponents: Be Careful What You Wish For, You Might Get It

  • Outstanding article — thank you!!

    Question (and please forgive this social-networking-backward-participant!):

    Why doesn’t American Catholic enable readers to SHARE this via Facebook? (Maybe I’m flunking the IQ test and missed the link??? I just did a “copy & paste” on the link above on my FB page . . . Sad to say, I am still trying to figure out this RSS stuff!!!)

    Thank you!

  • Elaine,

    You raise some very valid points. But, did Catholicism, or the perversion therof, and Catholics or any Christians for that matter murder 3000 innocents on September 11? Or have Catholics or Christians committed bombings in recent years or pose threats of bombings around the world?

    I think the problem here is that the Muslims who have proposed this mosque have displayed absolutely NO sensitivity to the families of victims of 9/11 while demanding all the tolerance in the world from those 9/11 families,as well as other citizens. These “moderate” Muslims claim that they want to build bridges but all they are doing by forcing the building of this mosque at this partiular ultra-sensitive location is burning bridges. Why is this location so important when there are over 100 mosques located in NYC already? How is this mosque being funded? By terrorist organizations or not? I believe in order for the community as a whole to benefit from this mosque our government and our citizens must be as certain as possible that this mosque is not funded by terrorist organizations and will not be used as a terrorist training center under the guise of religious freedom. If the mayor and others would be willing to look into the mosque’s financial funding I believe that this would allay many peoples’ fears.

    I do understand that the people behind the building of the mosque has a right to be built according to civil law. But, as Charles Krauthammer pointed out, if zoning laws and aesthetics can trump one’s right to build why could the sensitivity to those families who had loved ones killed by a single act of war trump one’s right to build?

    As to the issue of this mosque being two blocks away from the primary ground zero site: Would you agree that wherever the planes hit or any of its part on 9/11 should be considered Ground Zero? If so, then so should the Burlington building since a part of the plane hit that building.

    I think this whole controversy could have been avoided if the NYC commission had shown some prudential judgment and declared the Burlingtion building as a historical landmark.

  • I agree that it wasn’t a good idea for the mosque/Islamic center to be built so close to Ground Zero. I see nothing wrong with encouraging them to build elsewhere. The $64,000 question, however, is whether or not the local government has a right to explicitly FORBID them to build at the site. That’s where the danger of setting a bad precedent comes in.

  • Elaine a ban on construction of new places of worship would be clearly unconstitutional and would not stand up in court longer than the time it takes a Chicago alderman to pocket a bribe. No one has been disputing the right of the Flim Flam Imam and his Cordoba Initiative (Dhimmis Always Welcome!) to build this Mosque, but whether it is right for them to do so. I am keenly aware of the frequent divergence of a legal right and a moral right. My opposition might well not exist if a local group of Muslims had wished to put up a Mosque for local worship. I think the Flim Flam Imam clearly has an agenda that has little to do with worshiping Allah, and quite a bit to do with furthering his Cordoba Initiative which has one message for gullible Western elites and another message for his backers in the Middle East.

  • I thought this post by Bob Murphy about the Glenn Beck rally today was a propos:

    Of course Mr. Beck and his fans have every legal right to hold a rally in front of the Lincoln Memorial on the anniversary of the “I Have a Dream” speech.

    Nonetheless, we are asking that they hold their rally a few blocks away, and on a different date. There are 364 other days in the year; what’s wrong with them?
    Now look, we know full well that Mr. Beck and his supporters claim that they are trying to heal racial division. Intellectually, we black Americans know that just because we have been brutalized by angry white conservative males for as long as we can remember, that doesn’t mean that all angry white conservative males pose a threat to our physical safety.

    But this isn’t about logic or rationality. This is about sensitivity to our feelings. Surely Mr. Beck can understand why a majority of American blacks wouldn’t appreciate him holding a rally on the anniversary of Dr. King’s famous speech. If he goes ahead with his plans, he won’t promote racial unity. So we ask him to hold the rally in a different place, on a different date.

  • Teresa – Did you seriously just say that Christians have not bombed or killed significant numbers of people? Check the stats on our current wars sometime.

  • As usual, Blackadder mistakes cuteness for substance. By now Blackadder is aware that the objections to the Mosque are not grounded in a general objection to anything at all being built near Ground Zero.

  • “Teresa – Did you seriously just say that Christians have not bombed or killed significant numbers of people? Check the stats on our current wars sometime.”

    Our wars being the equivalent of Bin Laden’s murder of 3,000 innocent men, women and children? Moral equivalency: the opiate of the politically correct.

  • While I agree with Donald that the proposed ban shouldn’t pass constitutional muster (there’s a case that states you can’t ban all forms of religious speech-I think it’s Rosenberger v. Rectors & Vistors of UVA), you are absolutely right in stating that the opposition to the mosque establishes a precedent that is far more dangerous to Catholics than to Muslims insofar as some are advocating legal means to interfere with the building of the mosque.

  • “I think the Flim Flam Imam clearly has an agenda that has little to do with worshiping Allah, and quite a bit to do with furthering his Cordoba Initiative which has one message for gullible Western elites and another message for his backers in the Middle East.”

    Donald, I agree.

    Blackadder,
    If Alveda King has no problem with the rally I don’t see why any other person, of any color black, white, red, brown etc., should have a problem with Beck and others honoring Martin Luther King Jr’s message of equality for all. Yeah, and if he didn’t do anything honoring Martin Luther King the Left would make accusations about no person caring about blacks and spreading King’s message, so Your “damned if you do, and damned if you don’t” according to liberalism.

    Martin,
    First, is that an admission that our nation is rooted in Christian values?

    Second, Did we really go to war as “Christians” or as a nation fighting against terrorism and for our nation’s national defense?

    Third, I didn’t know that a group of Christians not associated with the U.S. government went off on their own and specifically targeted a building or another location just to murder Iraqi inocents? I think your the person who is a little confused with reality, Martin.

    Fourth, Please name me one war in history that has had no civilian casualties?

  • I’m with Gen’l. (Vinegar) Joe Stillwell, “Don’t let the bastards wear you down.”

  • It isn’t even a matter of where the mosque is being built – replace the entire WTC site with the biggest mosque in the world, no problem – PROVIDED Islam changes its ways.

    I realize all the 1st Amendment issues involved here – but until I am no longer considered such subhuman filth that I cannot enter the precincts of Mecca, then I’m going to hold that Moslems must be curbed in what they do in the United States. Not stopped – not expelled; just carefully curtailed to ensure that everyone, especially in the Moslem world, knows that we have not lost our back bone.

    Tolerance does not mean going along happily with whatever someone wants to do – it is a two way street and it requires some compromise. We can easily tolerate a mosque in Manhattan – but we can’t tolerate it hard by Ground Zero…not now, and not until Islam changes its tune.

    Mark Noonan

  • Blackadder,

    I wonder if the author of that piece can find even a single black man brutalized by a conservative white man in the past 40 years.

  • We might just consider the possibility that these local pols want to limit the quantum of non-taxable property in that particular locality. Piggy, but unsurprising.

    It is not a novelty for houses of worship to face zoning tangles. Given the size of the metropolitan New York area, you will have to excuse me if I suggest that prohibiting the placement of a 13 story building of a particular character at a historic site of modest dimensions is a measure different in kind than prohibiting all construction of houses of worship in a given municipality.

    Martin:

    As far as I am aware, the Marine Corps does not have an icon of St. Michael on their weaponry and al-Qaeda does not do civil affairs projects.

  • Here’s my $64,000,000.03 question.

    If religious freedom/tolerance requires a $100 million mosque over the WTC site. How is religious liberty/tolerance served by denying the rebuild of THE Orthodox Church that THE muslim terrorists destroyed on 11 Sep 2001?

    AD:

    No! It’s much worse than that! USMC heroes wear (gasp) US flags on their uniforms.

    Re AQ civil affairs projects: They’re helping make Americans good. They believe the only good American is a dead American.

  • Lot of assumptions in this post; the assumption that the REAL motive folks have is fear of terrorism, and that they can’t possibly object for the reasons they give:

    zoning ordinances, claims of decreased property values, or claims of real or potential problems with traffic, noise, etc.

    Evidence for this claim? I know that the blog Beers with Demo did the research to show a pattern of harassment against a church in his area, but a blanket claim that 1) Mosques are being unusually opposed and 2) it is because of fears of terrorism is a claim that requires more than just a claim to be taken seriously.

    There’s also the issue of using charged terms inaccurately. NIMBY, while meaning “not in my back yard,” also implies that something is not opposed in general. (Example, opposing wind power generators in your area while promoting wind energy in general.)
    People who are worried about Islamic terror risings from Mosques are going to be bright enough to remember the home mosques of the 9/11 terrorists were far, far away, and would appose them in general, not just specific.

    Your notion of equivalence between “there shall be no non-profit organizational buildings in our district” and “no, you may not build a triumphalist religious center on the ruins created by said religion” is mind bending.

  • Martin-
    Go troll someplace else.

  • Wow. Far-ranging discussion.

    First, the First Amendment states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” The religion piece really has no bearing on the discussion over the Cordoba Mosque proposed for Ground Zero.

    How many mosques are there in Manhattan? About a hundred? Sounds like pretty free exercise of religion to me.

    Second: I challenge any black person who reads this blogs, or any black person who’s a friend of someone who reads this blog, to tell me the date of Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech. I had to memorize parts of it as a child (stand down, racialists: I’m Black). Never knew what day it was given; barely knew it was in August. Glenn Beck planned this rally (which I wish I had had time to attend)for the last Saturday in August. An lo and behold, what date did that happen to fall on? Why, August 28! August the 28th, which happened to be an anniversary of Dr. King’s speech!

    Why should a mosque be built at the site of a murder committed by people motivated by Islam? Why should a church of any type be built at the site of the murder of hundreds of thousands of Jewish people (and others, including Catholic Saints)? Why should the Japanese in Hawaii build a temple at the site of the sunken USS Arizona?

    Answer? None of them should. Because it’s disrespectful. Why is this so hard to grasp? And what does it tell those who truly hate us about whether we will truly resist them?

    It is not un-Christian to stand up for common politeness.

  • Gee, RR, why didn’t you link to this much more recent article on those idiots?

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/08/nyregion/08hate.html

    Those morons were accused of racial hate crimes and seem to be gang related. Notably, not “conservative white men”– just idiot gang members. (is that redundant?)

  • What are you trying to prove by arguing that white people no longer attack black people? For one, it’s a sad, callous, and absurd battle to fight. Do you, like, remember this one time, in, like, 1992 in LA where, like, some white cops beat up this black guy named Rodney King? White on black violence occurs a lot, as does black on white, white on white, black on black, brown on black, brown on white, brown on brown, white on brown, black on brown, etc, etc, etc.

    Also, please STOP calling it a mosque. A mosque is specifically a Muslim holy place where only prayer can be conducted. This is a Muslim community center, similar to a YMCA. It will have a culinary school, basketball courts, etc. With a prayer room on one or two of the fifteen or so floors.

    I can think of Catholic terrorism pretty easily: the IRA. And that was specifically religio-nationalist.

    It is utterly absurd to demand that “Islam” renounce its terroristic ways before the community center is built, as Mr. Noonan said. A religion cannot change its ways. People can change their ways, but abstract nouns cannot. And the people behind this community center have no terroristic tendencies to modify. Furthermore, there is no central authority for Islam as there is for Catholicism. In fact, some radical sects of Muslims hate opposing Islamic sects more than they hate America. Like al-Qaeda. Bin Laden hates America not “for our freedoms” but because we prop up the (in his mind) heretical Saud monarchy in Arabia.

    Quite frankly, it’s astounding that a debate over a Muslim community center is occurring in 21st century America. As someone who would never have voted for George Bush, I will say that I am so grateful that he modeled Christ’s love to American Muslims by not targeting them after 9/11, as seems to be occurring now.

  • Pingback: Opponents of mosque may soon see tables turned | Holy Post | National Post
  • I would like to ask everyone – Do you think that Islam can be a “moderate” religion? I am not saying Muslims cannot be moderates, but can the religion itself really ever be considered moderate since it follows Sharia law?

    If Sharia law is one of the precepts of Islam then why wouldn’t Sharia law fall under the guise of religious freedom and challenge the constitution in several capacities and force all of us citizens to respect and follow Sharia as well? Is Sharia law and the Constitution really compatible?

    If those who believe in the “letter of the Constitution” instead of the “spirit of the Constitution” with regards to religious freedom truly believe that religious freedom is absolute without taking into account our national security interests (as it seems to me) how could one deny Muslims the “right” to follow their “moderate” religion that includes Sharia Law which would also impose Sharia Laws on the non-Muslim citizens when that clearly clashes with our Constitution?

    You might want to look at a some things that Sharia law demands:

    1 – Jihad defined as “to war against non-Muslims to establish the religion” is the duty of every Muslim and Muslim head of state (Caliph). Muslim Caliphs who refuse jihad are in violation of Sharia and unfit to rule.

    2 – A Caliph can hold office through seizure of power meaning through force.

    3 – A Caliph is exempt from being charged with serious crimes such as murder, adultery, robbery, theft, drinking and in some cases of rape.

    4 – A percentage of Zakat (alms) must go towards jihad.

    5 – It is obligatory to obey the commands of the Caliph, even if he is unjust.

    6 – A caliph must be a Muslim, a non-slave and a male.

    7 – The Muslim public must remove the Caliph in one case, if he rejects Islam.

    8 – A Muslim who leaves Islam must be killed immediately.

    9 – A Muslim will be forgiven for murder of: 1) an apostasy 2) an adulterer 3) a highway robber. Making vigilante street justice and honor killing acceptable.

    10 – A Muslim will not get the death penalty if he kills a non-Muslim.

    11- Sharia never abolished slavery and sexual slavery and highly regulates it. A master will not be punished for killing his slave.

    12 – Sharia dictates death by stoning, beheading, amputation of limbs, flogging and other forms of cruel and unusual punishments even for crimes of sin such as adultery.

    13 – Non-Muslims are not equal to Muslims and must comply to Sharia if they are to remain safe. They are forbidden to marry Muslim women, publicly display wine or pork, recite their scriptures or openly celebrate their religious holidays or funerals. They are forbidden from building new churches or building them higher than mosques. They may not enter a mosque without permission. A non-Muslim is no longer protected if he commits adultery with a Muslim woman or if he leads a Muslim away from Islam.

    14 – It is a crime for a non-Muslim to sell weapons to someone who will use them against Muslims. Non-Muslims cannot curse a Muslim, say anything derogatory about Allah, the Prophet, or Islam, or expose the weak points of Muslims. However, the opposite is not true for Muslims.

    15 – A non-Muslim cannot inherit from a Muslim.

    16 – Banks must be Sharia compliant and interest is not allowed.

    17 – No testimony in court is acceptable from people of low-level jobs, such as street sweepers or a bathhouse attendant. Women in such low-level jobs such as professional funeral mourners cannot keep custody of their children in case of divorce.

    18 – A non-Muslim cannot rule even over a non-Muslims minority.

    19 – H***sexuality is punishable by death.

    20 – There is no age limit for marriage of girls under Sharia. The marriage contract can take place any time after birth and consummated at age 8 or 9.

    21 – Rebelliousness on the part of the wife nullifies the husband’s obligation to support her, gives him permission to beat her and keep her from leaving the home.

    22 – Divorce is only in the hands of the husband and is as easy as saying: “I divorce you” and becomes effective even if the husband did not intend it.

    23 – There is no community property between husband and wife and the husband’s property does not automatically go to the wife after his death.

    24 – A woman inherits half what a man inherits.

    25- A man has the right to have up to 4 wives and she has no right to divorce him even if he is polygamous.

    26- The dowry is given in exchange for the woman’s sexual organs.

    27 – A man is allowed to have sex with slave women and women captured in battle, and if the enslaved woman is married her marriage is annulled.

    28 – The testimony of a woman in court is half the value of a man.

    29- A woman loses custody if she remarries.

    30- To prove rape, a woman must have 4 male witnesses.

    31 – A rapist may only be required to pay the bride-money (dowry) without marrying the rape victim.

    32 – A Muslim woman must cover every inch of her body which is considered “Awrah,” a sexual organ. Some schools of Sharia allow the face and some don’t.

    33 – A Muslim man is forgiven if he kills his wife caught in the act of adultery. However, the opposite is not true for women since he “could be married to the woman he was caught with.”

    The above are clear-cut laws in Islam decided by great Imams after years of examination and interpretation of the Quran, Hadith and Mohammed’s life. Now let the learned Imam Rauf tell us what part of the above is compliant with the US constitution?

  • Ryan-
    who are you talking to?
    NO ONE was talking about “whites never attack blacks”. Blackadder posted a quote of someone claiming that “angry white conservative males” have been brutalizing blacks for “as long as they can remember,” and someone else challenged him to find a single case of a white conservative assaulting a black person. RR then posted an article that implied but did not claim anti-Dem motives, and which five minutes of research showed to just be gang idiots.

    Secondly, go yell at the Cordoba House proponents, and even the initiative itself; half the time, they call it a mosque. (Generally when they want to drum up the religion side of it; when it’s more flattering to emphasize the “community center” side, it becomes a building that includes a mosque.)

    If the reading comprehension and careful consideration of the argument you’ve shown in this post is standard for you, no wonder you can’t see how this is a topic for valid debate. Straw men with only a nodding acquaintance to the topic aren’t very good aids to understanding.

    A wise lady once told me that if you can’t argue the other side of something, you have no business arguing your own side because you clearly don’t know enough about the topic. I try to keep it in mind, maybe you should try it?

  • In response to jihad etc…

    I am not sure where you are getting your information on what jihad and sharia is….but you have incorrect information. Jihad and sharia is much more complex then what you have stated. As I have reserached this extensively I will just point out very plainly and in layman terms what jihad is. Jihad means “struggle”.
    More commonly known in the Muslim world as an internal spiritual struggle to be better and serve God. It can also mean warfare where one needs to defend themselves when attacked- so it has two meanings to it. There are a lot of inaccuracies in your e-mail and I do not have time to go over them now…but one just to correct one is that bride money is not given for sexual organs. Bride money is called “mehr” and it is an obligatory gift that the groom must give his wife so that she is not left with nothing if he decides to leave her. It is the right of a woman and not a man. Actually in researching Muslims I found that there are a lot of similaries to Catholicism…and then there were differences as well. An interesting bit of information I came across was “Marriage helps men and women to develop along natural lines and head towards development and success through mutual co-operation. Marriage prevents immorality licentiousness and irresponsibility. The spouses in marriage agree to share rights and responsibilities to develop a happy family”….doesn’t that sound like something Catholics believe in as well? What happened on 9/11 was plain WRONG. I have friends who are Muslims and they beleive it is wrong…they say that the people who did this are crazy. So I have to think before I judge anyone and encourage you to do the same.

  • Sandy-
    please do not misrepresent your study, which seems to have been of the more modern and mild forms of Islam, as representative of Islam in general.

    Also, your definition of “mehr” is incorrect, (In Canada, it often functions like a pre-nup– often enough that a basic google will bring up a LOT of legal help boards.) as is your characterization of Jihaad.
    (links to understanding-Islam.com, which is affiliated with Al-Mawrid Islamic Research foundation out of Pakistan.)

  • Foxfier, white conservatives can’t be in gangs?

  • RR,

    Gangs are color neutral, but I’m having a hard time picturing how a conservative could be in a gang since gang life and activities run counter to conservative values. My guess is that you’re perhaps angling toward skinheads because the media like to call them conservatives. However, conservatives have about as much appreciation for neo-nazis as they do racist gangs/parties typically associated with the left, which is to say none.

  • “Gang life and activities run counter to conservative values”

    Well, it goes without saying that violence, vandalism, drug use, other criminal activity, and intimidation of non-members go against conservative values (and probably even the values of most moderates and liberals I know).

    But, isn’t it true that gang membership, especially among urban teens, basically takes the place of the families they don’t have — giving them a structure, culture and sense of belonging that they don’t get from absent or incarcerated or unknown fathers, mothers who change boyfriends as often as they change clothes, being shuffled from one relative to another, etc.?

    So in that sense, gang membership does express (albeit in a perverted or distorted fashion) one very important “conservative” value: the absolute primacy of the family as the basic unit of society, and the consequences that result when it is undermined or destroyed.

  • I can think of Catholic terrorism pretty easily: the IRA. And that was specifically religio-nationalist.

    True to some extent. But it wasn’t expansionist.

  • Actually I think in a number of areas there are limits on, if not the building of churches, at least the size of churches. Where I once lived this limit made it impractical to build a Catholic Church as the size limit was too small for what was required to meet the needs of the Catholic population without building multiple small churches. Those restrictions were placed in the 90’s as I recall. No big First Ammendment concerns have been raised. Perhaps they should.

  • Mary Margaret Cannon,

    Thanks for bringing this to my attention.

    Until recently, WordPress.com did not allow this function (WordPress.org does I believe).

    But today I noticed this option was now available and I have just finished adding this particular function.

    Enjoy!

  • Hey, why not make a page, too? You can set it up to autopublish your blog with the “notes” feed, or us
    e http://apps.facebook.com/blognetworks/newuser1.php

  • Foxfier,

    We have ‘something’ on Facebook, not sure what.

    I’m going to investigate and get this set-up/streamlined for greater social-networking-optimization (SNO).

  • Scott Gentries might want to take a look at this:

  • …Might strike home if the primary arguments weren’t specifically related to the history and culture of Islam, Ryan.

    Fail.

  • RL, if conservatives can’t be in gangs by definition then sure there are no white conservatives in gangs. There are no Catholics in gangs either then.

  • i would like to point out that the proposal only bars new buildings, and not changing the use to of already constructed ones. the mosque near to us was once a church, a church was previously a synagogue, and the nigerian christian group uses a clothing warehouse.

  • Teresa, half of what you said is inaccurate / disinformation. if the USA followed the other half, maybe they wont have millions of inmates that the taxpayer has to support.

  • I would just like to point out a couple of things that are on point:

    1. It’s not a mosque. It’s a community center, and you can read here: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/08/opinion/08mosque.html?_r=1&src=tptw the words of the chairman of the project, stating that one of the many goals of it is to include prayer centers for those of Christian and Jewish faiths in hopes that this will strengthen interfaith relations.

    2. I’m not usually a fan of Charlie Brooker, but he hit one point straight on the head when he said that being a 2 minute walk and around the corner is not at all the same thing as being AT the same location. He said something like, he’s used a bathroom 2 minutes away from Buckingham Palace, and has yet to be arrested for defecating on the Queen’s pillow. We’re talking about Manhattan, and if you’ve ever been there, it’s a crowded place. How close is too close, exactly?

    3. To the person who said Catholic/Christian extremists haven’t bombed or killed significant numbers of people in recent years, I ask: Have you ever heard of the Irish Republican Army? Visit Belfast or Glasgow sometime and ask around – just… be careful in which neighborhood you ask and what colors you’re wearing when you do.

  • 4. On the topic of how Muslim women are clothed, ask yourself if you’ve ever questioned the chaste garb (and lifestyle, for that matter) of nuns and priests. I bet you just take it as a matter of course, because it’s what you’re used to. Of course, there is spousal abuse and other unsavory activity that goes on among members of the Islamic faith, but again, look closer to home. Surely you cannot insist that no Catholic or Christian has ever abused another human being.

  • Brian,

    Strawman.

    The IRA is a nationalist organization. To be more accurate, they are a violent Marxist nationalist organization looking to impose communism under the guise of being “Irish” and “Catholic”.

    Being Catholic has nothing to do with it.

    They don’t espouse anything Christian AT ALL.

    You’ve never heard them saying they are dying in the name of Jesus. Only in the name of Ireland.

    You need to do better than that to espouse your anti-Christian bigotry around here.

  • Brian,

    Again your bias is grossly revealing itself.

    Religious wear their clericals as a choice, not in being imposed.

    Whilst on the other hand Muslims force women to wear burkas, regardless of their religiosity.

  • Brian, you’re exposing your ignorance or willful blindness– the folks building it called it a mosque until their PR guys realized that was not so good. They also called it the Cordoba House, until word got around what that indicated, especially with the 9/11/11 opening date.

    Also, you’re pointing to an opinion piece in the NY Times. Not exactly hard, unbiased facts– I notice you didn’t bother to do the research Powerline did about another time that “chairman” spoke in the NYTimes.

    As Teresa pointed out above, a building destroyed by chunks of the plane on 9/11 is part of ground zero.

On Media and Mosques at Ground Zero

Saturday, August 14, AD 2010

One of the interesting (by which I mean dull, predictable and repetitive) aspects of the 24 hour news cycle is that all forms of media have incentives to magnify and actively seek out controversy. Not only does this increase ratings/page views/newspaper sales, it provides media outlets with something – anything in a slow news month – to talk about. I can’t help but feel that the recent outburst of commentary about the construction of a mosque near the site of the 9/11 attacks is the type of story designed to increase media consumption and accomplish little else. The First Amendment is not in dispute here; freedom of religion is well established and protected by settled case law. Furthermore, the proposed mosque is to be constructed on private property, and there is no legal reason to challenge its construction. And so most of the discussion revolves (and frequently devolves) around taste and symbolism.

Continue reading...

44 Responses to On Media and Mosques at Ground Zero

  • I take your point about media generated controversies, but I’m not sure I’d place the mosque controversies at least entirely in that category. I find the following aspects of this controversy to be very remarkable and worthy of reflection:

    1. The legal right of Muslims to build houses of worship has been called into question.

    2. Islamic terrorists are being conflated with all Muslims.

    3. It’s being proposed that Islam really isn’t a religion.

    I really see our country at a crossroads right now. The increased presence of Muslims challenges our national narratives (e.g., we’re a Christian nation) and the extent to which we value are willing to extend religious liberty. This controversy is forcing us to ask ourselves who we are, and that question is as serious as anything.

  • I suppose, in turn, I take your point Kyle. There are important issues connected to the controversy (although points 1 and 3 strike me as rather fringish, self-marginalizing ideas). I think it is a matter for serious concern that so many voices on the right have picked this particular battle. At the same time, I do not see why it is a national, rather than a local, issue. There is no legal basis for challenging the mosque’s construction, and there is virtually no chance of that changing in the near future (barring a cataclysmic series of events). I am glad that liberals have stated these truths and criticized the over-heated rhetoric from the right, but I still see this more as a controversy-of-the-day, rather than a matter of significant national import.

  • John Henry,

    There are a lot of things I can say about your perspective, and few of them would be very flattering. I’ll limit myself to this: as a Catholic, you ought to have a better understanding and appreciation of the symbolic. To dismiss the importance of symbolism in the manner you have seems rather crudely materialistic to me. Symbols are generally representations of real things.

    “there is little reason for anyone else aside from the families of the victims of 9/11 or residents of that area of New York to comment”

    And yet here we are, in a free society, in which people don’t need reasons deemed acceptable by others to engage in public discourse. Don’t let it burn you up too much 🙂

    Kyle,

    “1. The legal right of Muslims to build houses of worship has been called into question.”

    It has not. And someone ought to question the wisdom of the builders.

    Moreover, people have a right to make legal challenges if they like. It doesn’t mean they will succeed, and they may even be charged with the court cost if their case turns out to be frivolous.

    Finally, some suspect that the mosque is funded by a man with ties to terrorism.

    “2. Islamic terrorists are being conflated with all Muslims.”

    No, I think it is more accurate to say that Islamic terrorists are being portrayed as consistent Muslims, while the “moderate” Muslim is being portrayed as inconsistent, given the clear teachings of the Koran on the relations between Muslims and infidels. You won’t find anything like that in the New Testament.

    “3. It’s being proposed that Islam really isn’t a religion.”

    Yes, I don’t see the point in that. It isn’t a religion like others, to be sure, but in the West we tend to think of religion as something different (though not entirely unrelated) from politics, and from science, a legacy we can thank the Church for. These distinctions are what enabled Western society to advance far beyond others, I believe.

    Then again, I believe communism is a religion, just a secular one. Environmentalism is also fast becoming a religion, neo-pagan for some, secular for others.

    “challenges our national narratives (e.g., we’re a Christian nation)”

    We are a Christian nation, if for no other reason than that the majority of Americans are Christians. If you mean in the substance of our policies, well they rest upon a Christian legacy anyway.

    In Lebanon, Islam “challenged the national narrative” of a Christian nation by repeatedly attempting to slaughter all of the Christians. Only God and the impenetrability of the mountains of Northern Lebanon saved them from that fate.

    Now I’m not saying that the Muslims who live here now either desire such a thing for the United States, or that they could do it if they did. I do wonder however how the picture will change if/when they become 20% of the population or more. This isn’t an observation limited to Islam either: ANY group with ANY ideas will seek to impose them more and more as their numbers grow. That’s just rational human political behavior, it is universal.

    Perhaps looking at Europe’s experience we would be wise to take certain precautions sooner, rather than later.

  • To dismiss the importance of symbolism in the manner you have seems rather crudely materialistic to me. Symbols are generally representations of real things.

    Symbols can be important, but they can also be ambiguous or frivolous. I wasn’t categorically rejecting arguments about symbolism; just saying that this particular one wasn’t particularly fruitful given that there are very few repercussions for public policy.

    And yet here we are, in a free society, in which people don’t need reasons deemed acceptable by others to engage in public discourse. Don’t let it burn you up too much

    This is silly, Joe. Saying that I don’t think a particular controversy is very valuable is hardly the same as saying I am upset that people are free to have it. I’m consistently on the side of freedom here – whether it be of religion or speech.

  • A commenter on a friend’s facebook page remarks that Muslims have the right to practice their religion in their own countries, but not in ours. I’d say that qualifies as denying the religious freedom of Muslims in the U.S. Teresamerica asserts that the sensitivity of the 9/11 families is grounds to refuse the building of the “ground zero” mosque. She’s not just questioning the wisdom of the building planners, but their legal right to build in that location. I can also point to the opposition the president has received in response to his statement that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as we all have. As for lawsuits: Exhibit A.

  • Cordova House: Why don’t we start a $100,000,000 fund to build a cathedral dedicated to St. Perfecto, a Spanish martyr murdered for the faith in Cordova during the 700 years the mass murderers held Spain?

    You geniuses will see how this plays out in November.

    Meanwhile, you will see a representative sample of 80% of US at 2PM on 11 September.

    You insensitive America-hating geniuses . . .

    Practicing their religion . . . flying large airplanes into tall buildings.

  • Regarding jihad, Adams states in his essay series,

    “…he [Muhammad] declared undistinguishing and exterminating war, as a part of his religion, against all the rest of mankind…The precept of the Koran is, perpetual war against all who deny, that Mahomet is the prophet of God.”

    Confirming Adams’ assessment, the late Muslim scholar, Professor Majid Khadduri, wrote the following in his authoritative 1955 treatise on jihad, War and Peace in the Law of Islam :

    “Thus the jihad may be regarded as Islam’s instrument for carrying out its ultimate objective by turning all people into believers, if not in the prophethood of Muhammad (as in the case of the dhimmis), at least in the belief of God. The Prophet Muhammad is reported to have declared ‘some of my people will continue to fight victoriously for the sake of the truth until the last one of them will combat the anti-Christ’. Until that moment is reached the jihad, in one form or another will remain as a permanent obligation upon the entire Muslim community. It follows that the existence of a dar al-harb is ultimately outlawed under the Islamic jural order; that the dar al-Islam permanently under jihad obligation until the dar al-harb is reduced to non-existence; and that any community accepting certain disabilities- must submit to Islamic rule and reside in the dar al-Islam or be bound as clients to the Muslim community. The universality of Islam, in its all embracing creed, is imposed on the believers as a continuous process of warfare, psychological and political if not strictly military.”3

  • Kyle,

    Well, frankly, the cited examples all strike me as fairly marginal views. Your Facebook friend isn’t in favor of the First Amendment (and likely hasn’t really thought much about the history of Catholics in the United States); Teresaamerica is proposing manipulation of a city zoning requirement protecting landmarks to prevent the construction of the mosque, which is a rather startling example of using a facially neutral requirement for discriminatory purposes. As to lawsuits, they are unlikely to make it past summary judgment, if they even make it that far. As I said, there are important questions connected with this controversy, but for the most part these conversations involve issues more significant than – and distinct from – whether or not New York has another mosque.

    I should add, though, that I appreciate you taking the time to provide examples. It may be that I’m wrong about the significance of this particular controversy, or have chosen a poor example to illustrate the point I was trying to make.

  • T. Shaw – the purpose of this thread is not to debate the place of jihad within Islam; please try to provide comments that relate more directly to the topic of the post.

  • Right.

    “Taste”: I would use “sensitivity” or “sensibilities.” I know where your “head” is on this.

    Of course, the media actively magnified the immaterial, tragic events of 11 September 2001 (the boring History Channel mini-series they air each September need to cease and desist, too), so widows and other survivors have their evil bowels in an uproar over the religion of peace building a pacifist training camp two blocks away from where their little eichmann’s got it for liberating Kuwait from Saudi Arabian bases and supporting Israel.

  • “Muslims have the right to practice their religion in their own countries, but not in ours. I’d say that qualifies as denying the religious freedom of Muslims in the U.S.”

    This is one of the most laughable statements posted here in quite some time.

    All over the Muslim world, Muslims are denied the right to practice as they see fit. No whirling Dervishes if you are in Saudi Arabia. Want to wear a burqa in Turkey? Have fun in jail. Surely the hundreds of thousands of Muslims arrested each year on charges of “crimes against Islam” reveal the claim as absurd?

    And, with regards to Muslims not being able to practice in the US, what could your Facebook friend POSSIBLY mean by THAT allegation? Is she suggesting that opposing the building of a mosque at Ground Zero represents an absolute bar to the practicing of Islam in New York City or the United States as a whole? If so, she has lost her furry little mind.

    Whether one agrees or disagrees with opposing the building of Cordoba House at Ground Zero, we shouldn’t jump on the victimized bandwagon just yet. Lets face it, Cordoba House isn’t the first mosque to be built to praise Allah for a great victory… The Blue Mosque in Constantinople is.

  • John,

    “I wasn’t categorically rejecting arguments about symbolism”

    That wasn’t very clear originally. I thank you for the clarification.

    Kyle,

    Your link is just a link to people who want to stop the construction of one mosque. That is a far cry from arguing that “Muslims don’t have a right to practice their religion.”

    You know, we deny a lot of different religious groups the right to certain practices. We prosecute Christian “scientists” who refuse to give their children medicine when they are sick, for instance. So this idea of absolute religious freedom is as detached from history and reality as those who proclaim an absolute right to free speech. I don’t claim that there are grounds at the moment to deny certain aspects of Islam, but they could well arise at some point.

    My compromise would be this: today, right now, before 10% of our population is Muslim, we pass state or even federal constitutional amendments forever barring the implementation of Sharia law at any level. We make resolutions to avoid what has happened in Europe and some of the commonwealth countries, in which “culture” or “religion” has been used in courts of law to defend honor killers and rapists. We subject Islam to the same scrutiny that Christianity is subjected to in the public school system, and we stop these ridiculous charades in which children are forced to act like Muslims for a week as part of “cultural awareness.” It’s absurd.

  • G-Veg, I think your comment reflects a misunderstanding. Kyle’s FB friend was expressing their view of what should be rather than what is. Obviously, there are a lot of problems with his friend’s desired state of affairs and that (fortunately) is not currently the state of things in the U.S.

  • The constant invocation of Cordoba itself reeks of mealy-mouting of Catholics and the Christian faith in general. The legends of Al-Andalus and the alleged tolerance of Muslims for other religions have been amplified beyond caricature by Jews who couldn’t forgive Catholics for the expulsions and fabulists such as Borges and Fuentas who projected their fantasies onto a mideaval past. The strange thing is, Muslims themselves never cared for the comity of Cordoba, one can hardly find references to that aspect in their earlier writings; bin Laden wasn’t rueing for the Cordoba of fantastic memory. The remaking of Cordoba into some kind of wonderland was the work of (a few) Jews, thus it is no surprise that Bloomberg is taken in. I look forward to the day when the very same boosters, complain when some Sheikh or other compares Jews to monkeys at Cordoba House.

  • Pauli’s link makes my point in an indirect way. What was the need for that anti-Catholic bigot Foxman to invoke the Auschwitz nuns to frighten off CAIR, when the salient comparison to the destruction of the WTC is in fact Pearl Harbour? It seems as though he wants us to forget that Catholic Poles in their hundreds of thousands perished in that camp. Is McGurn a Catholic? If so, he needs to stop drinking the ADL Kool-Aid.

  • I agree that symbolism is important. That’s why I think the efforts to stop the building project are so awful.

  • I wouldn’t try to stop them through the courts, but I would impress upon them how much they will rightfully be resented for failing to respect the wishes of the people. To do something simply because one can is hardly a persuasive argument.

    There are a thousand and one good ways to foster better relations between Muslims who wish to disavow the violent teachings of the Koran, and Christians in the United States. This is not one of them.

  • Pingback: Religious Freedom vs. Theocratic Dictatorships « Vox Nova
  • I would impress upon them how much they will rightfully be resented for failing to respect the wishes of the people. To do something simply because one can is hardly a persuasive argument.

    I agree. Muslims don’t “do” persuasive argument. Never have. Why should they? They like their methods better. From passive aggressiveness all the way up to not-so-passive, that’s where they excel.

    In many ways I’m glad they are building this at ground zero to show their absolute smugness and insensitivity. It will further expose their nature.

  • Pauli,

    I think such generalizations are unfair, dangerous, and inaccurate when applied to a group of 1 billion people. A disturbing pattern is found in many long-running feuds/persecutions: 1) a group of individuals is lumped together on the basis of a distinguishing feature (whether it be race/religion/nationality/etc.) and identified as ‘the other’; 2) that group is then accused of having various negative characteristics to an unusual degree (e.g. greed, stupidity, or guilt for certain crimes); 3) these negative characteristics are then used as a pretext for denying rights to this group that other citizens enjoy. I am concerned about the implications of your comments.

  • I should have written “Muslim leaders” rather than merely “Muslims”. That’s my point. Islam doesn’t have one billion leaders. One billion people are not building a mosque. I can “generalize” about these leaders based on their past and present behavior. They don’t show the kind of sensitivity of the Holy Father in the link I posted.

    John Henry was wise to delete his former comment where he compared me to a Klan member and a jihadist.

  • John Henry was wise to delete his former comment where he compared me to a Klan member and a jihadist.

    My point was about language and the structure of your argument; to say language is similar is not to say the people are similar. Substitute Catholics/blacks/Israelis for Muslims in your comment above, and the similarities in language are quite striking. Btw, I frequently re-write my comments multiple times to try and make them clearer within the first few minutes after they post.

  • I frequently re-write my comments multiple times to try and make them clearer within the first few minutes after they post.

    Mmmmm, I see. That also provides a benefit that those subscribed to the comment thread get to see what you really think before your discretion kicks in and you self-censor. Maybe you should just write your comments down on scratch paper first and read them out loud to yourself. That’s what I do.

    Let me clarify my views further WRT the smugness and insensitivity of the Muslim leaders behind the building of the ground zero Mosque. I don’t think I would say the same about black leaders in general, Israeli leaders in general or Catholic leaders in general, and my proof for the third is in the link I provided earlier. This rules me out as a Klansman if there was any further question.

  • Pauli – you seem to be missing the point. I wasn’t saying that you feel similarly about Catholics/blacks/Israelis, etc. I was observing that your comment above about Muslims is very similar to the type of statements that the Klansmen of yore made about Catholics and Blacks, and radical Muslim groups today make about Israelis. You’ve said now that you were only speaking about ‘Muslim leaders,’ but I think, again, your statement still reflects a disturbing prejudice.

  • John Henry, here’s a question. Can you think of other comparable situations involving different religions other than Islam? Keep in mind that this project will be large costing millions of dollars. If I am prejudiced against Islam, then I have overlooked all the other times a different religion has done something comparable.

    Prejudice means to prejudge, to judge someone before you see any of there actions. For example, I see a black person and I think, “That person is probably a lazy bum, because blacks are lazy.” If I think this, then I am prejudiced. But what if I am able to observe a black person for several months and note many instances of laziness? Then I can state “He is lazy” without prejudice, can I not? This would only appear to be prejudice to a third person who didn’t know that I had many occasions to observe the laziness and who then made an assumption that the reason for my judgment was my own prejudice against blacks. This third person would himself be guilty of prejudging me.

    So give me some comparable situations throughout history to the ground zero mosque. Otherwise this word substitution exercise you are proposing smells like a red herring.

  • I really see our country at a crossroads right now. The increased presence of Muslims challenges our national narratives (e.g., we’re a Christian nation) and the extent to which we value are willing to extend religious liberty. This controversy is forcing us to ask ourselves who we are, and that question is as serious as anything.

    There are some disputes about the proportion of the population which is Muslim. (Robert Spencer offers that the most valid estimates appear to place that population at 3,000,000, or 1% of the whole). I do not think a minority that size ‘challenges national narratives’. (The appellate judiciary and the public interest bar have insisted on the adoption of enforced secularization, because that is the preferred policy in the social circles in which they run).

    Both you and John Henry might consider the possibility that past is not prologue, and that a muslim minority might eventually prove tragically incompatible with the general population, and that such an outcome is more likely if elite policy rewards rather than ignores (or penalizes) aggressive postures on the part of novel minorities.

  • The remaking of Cordoba into some kind of wonderland was the work of (a few) Jews

    http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/04359b.htm

    “Owing to the peace which the Christians of Cordova then enjoyed, some knowledge of their condition has been preserved, among other things the name of their bishop, Joannes, also the fact that, at that period, the citizens of Cordova, Arabs, Christians, and Jews, enjoyed so high a degree of literary culture that the city was known as the New Athens. From all quarters came students eager to drink at its founts of knowledge. Among the men afterwards famous who studied at Cordova were the scholarly monk Gerbert, destined to sit on the Chair of Peter as Sylvester II (999-1003)”

    I suppose it’s possible Jews infiltrated the Catholic Encyclopedia’s editorial board.

  • Yeah, those silly martyrs didn’t know when they had it good!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martyrs_of_C%C3%B3rdoba

  • restrainedcatholic, the article you linked to in its entirety, shows that Catholic scholars were not among those going gaga over Cordoba. The quote does not accurately convey the thrust of the article. By the sheer dance of things, there is bound to be a period when Christians and Jews enjoyed a measure of peace living among Muslims. This by itself is not sufficient to inspire the paens to Cordoba. Where for example is the equivalent Christian city? We know that there were Christian monarchs in the Iberian peninsula who were tolerant by the standards of that era. Yet no one is concerned to inflict their saga on us.

  • sorry I should have addressed the above to restrainedradical..

  • Donald, you should substitute the phrase “female African slaves” for “martyrs” in your sarcastic remark. How’s it sound then? Answer: very disturbing.

  • Let us assume that those financing Cordoba House are sincere in their desire to present the most tolerant face of Islam possible and that harkening back to an enlightened period of the Cordoban princes is meant to be a signal of the kind of tolerance they seek in America. Let us further accept the claim that the proximity to Ground Zero is meant to give voice to moderate and modern Islam – as an answer to the kind of religious extremism that brought the towers down and the world’s economic Goliath to his knees.

    It was surely possible to be a practicing Christian or Jew in Cordoba at various points. We have fairly modern examples to suggest that a calm, judicious application of the Koran and the Hadith to the interactions between religions leads to some degree of stability and freedom of worship. However, at its very best, this isn’t anything approximating Freedom of Religion. This is because Sharia law absolutely requires Theocracy. It presumes that Islam is right on a host of human interactions that allow for no deviation. However “tolerant” of other religious teachings an Islamic state seeks to be it cannot permit deviation on critical issues such as the nature of God, the duty of man to his family and to the community, and how work is organized. In even the most tolerant of Islamic states (indeed, I would argue that this is true of ALL theocratic states and that we are concentrating on Islamic states because they are the last of this old order), no Christian can be allowed to evangelize because, at its core, tolerant Islam nonetheless requires absolute adherence to basic Koranic doctrine as expressed through the Hadith. This is to say that the Spanish Caliphates may have been “tolerant” but only so long as the other faiths knew and stayed in their place. (This shouldn’t be surprising. There was a reason for the brutality and vindictiveness of the Spanish Inquisition and I doubt it was “payback” for six centuries of Islamic FAIR treatment.)

    Bringing my point back to Cordoba House: even IF those financing the project intend to signal the kind of “tolerance” that was supposedly exhibited under Muslim rule in Cordoba, that kind of “tolerance” is nothing akin to Freedom of Religion. Further, it “feels like” building a mosque so close to the place where the American economic model of a hundred years was destroyed is a sort of “victory dance” or, at least, a shrine to thank Allah for victory. My guess is that our ancestors felt the same way about the conversion of the Basilica at Constantinople into the Blue Mosque.

    If this is not what is intended… if the Cordoba House builders are honest in their desire to forge bonds and further understanding, they have picked a damn awful way to do it. Appearances DO matter.

    One final note: please do not interpret my writing to suggest that I believe that the engines of law ought to be brought to bear to prevent the building of the mosque. Indeed, even if it were called the “Usama Bin Laden Victory Mosque” and have individual shrines to the 911 “martyrs,” I would not want the state to act in an unconstitutional way. However, I take great exception to those who suggest that protesting the building of the mosque is un-American. Nothing is more democratic than to stand up for one’s views and to speak for oneself – not expecting the government to intervene

  • G-Veg: If this is not what is intended… if the Cordoba House builders are honest in their desire to forge bonds and further understanding, they have picked a damn awful way to do it. Appearances DO matter.

    Yeah, this is pretty much how Michael Medved phrased it today on his show. Either it’s a victory dance which means it’s horrible, or it’s an extremely poor and insensitive attempt at reconciliation.

  • Should you be glad that it’s named after a place that became exclusively Catholic?

  • Wow, why didn’t I think of that? Cordoba as a backhand compliment to Ferdinand and Isabelle; tell the hardhats its alright, they must get to work. Expedite the construction.

  • Good Morning restrainedradical,

    I’m not sure I follow you because I didn’t think we were talking about what I would do if I were going to sponsor a religious community in a place that would deeply offend. For this conversation, it is enough to articulate why I am offended and how the decision to build this mosque in a place where it appears to glory in misery is inappropriate.

    I’ll range farther though to say that I understand the impulse of the victor to raise monuments – to celebrate victory in a way that visits new injury on the defeated every time they are forced to accept and contemplate their impotency. It is a basic and base impulse. I mentioned the Blue Mosque as an example but there are many others such as the obelisk at the Vatican (doubly so if Wiki is right in noting that the obelisk was the center-point of the Circus Maximus).

    Monuments are built to channel human vision such as the Smithsonian and to inspire the way the Statue of Liberty does. They are built to control the divine (Stonehenge) or to refocus culture such as St. Petersburg. Sometimes they are merely the extension of man’s feeble attempt to control what happens after death (Pyramids at Giza). Often they are build to “immortalize” conquest such as Trafalgar Square and to put a face on a particular victory such as Admiral Nelson’s monument at Trafalgar. There are a lot of reasons to put mortar to stone and not all of them are base and mean.

    It is a fair question as to why those who seek to build Cordoba House at Ground Zero choose that location. The explanation given – that they seek to put a moderate face on Islam and to answer the extremism of September 11th with the understanding and tolerance of a thoroughly modern and moderate Islam – is difficult for many people to accept. I am one of them.

    I look at the speeches of its lead spokesman, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, and wonder how a man who believes that America invited the 911 attacks through its policies over the previous century can simultaneously believe that the building of a mosque on the site of those attacks would be perceived as other than a victory monument by extremists. The questions about funding further alarm me since our culture is accustomed to look with skepticism upon projects whose funding is hidden. I admit to looking with jaded eye on attempts to present the Koran and Hadith as purely religious – i.e. having no pre-requisite political, legal, and economic structure – strictures.

    Cast against this backdrop, calling the project “Cordoba House” and then withdrawing that name when confronted about its implications appears to me to be revealing. It suggests that the name choice was more illuminating about the hidden agenda of those building the center than they wished it to be.

    In many ways, the rise of Islam in the Americas presents a unique challenge to both Muslims and the broader society. Primary in the challenges is recasting the political, social, and economic structures inherent in the Koran and, particularly, in the Hadith as idealized analogies rather than divine order. Stated more simply, the Koran and the Hadith are incredibly specific as to how society as a whole, family life in particular, and the daily lives of individuals are to be organized. While it is true that the burqa and other such trappings of modern Islam are not ordained in the written word, it is fair to note that the vast majority of religious, economic, and political obligations are spelled out.

    In a modern, constitutionalist state such as the United States, there is an assumption that the duties of man to man and man to the broader society are limited by law maintained by virtually universal suffrage. The framework is set by the democratic institutions. The individual actions inside of that framework are set by our personal codes. Religion, in one sense, must accept the overall legal framework in order to be practiced freely. Stated differently, lest I be misunderstood to be saying that religion is subordinate to the State, the modern, diverse culture, the State guarantees a field of contest on which the worldviews can compete without being oppressed by organs of government. So long as those worldviews accept the framework, virtually any can operate freely (Scientology for example) without damaging the State.

    It remains to be seen whether Islam can exist within a constitutional state.

  • G-Veg, similar things can be said of Judaism yet they developed doctrines that allow them to integrate into a pluralistic society. Christianity went through a similar transformation. Even if the Bible doesn’t command certain public policies, it became conventional wisdom that, for example, heresy should be a capital offense. Freedom of conscience didn’t hold as high a place as it does today.

    I don’t think it’s outside the realm of possibilities that Islam can develop doctrines that can allow them to deemphasize teachings that prevent them from integrating. There will still be fundamentalists but they may become a tiny fringe minority with no mainstream support.

    We can aid in this process by supporting the moderates within Islam who are willing to abandon the more radical teachings.

  • It remains to be seen whether Islam can exist within a constitutional state.

    Constitutional monarchy has functioned in Morocco for most the the last 50-odd years. Malaysia has always been a parliamentary state, if an illiberal one. There are several West African countries which have had elected governments for the last 20 to 35 years. The Arab world is peculiarly resistant to electoral and deliberative institutions; outside of that, it is doubtful that muslim societies are more prone to tyranny than other societies at similar levels of economic development.

    A better statement of the question is whether a muslim minority can be amicably incorporated in a society where the judiciary, the social services apparat, the educational apparat, and much of the political class considers the vernacular society of the natives something which needs to be contained and leavened, and makes use of (often rude) immigrant populations in its battles with that vernacular society.

  • Bernard Lewis in his book The Jews in Islam writes,

    “The claim to tolerance, now much heard from Muslim apologists and more especially from apologists for Islam, is also new and of alien origin. It is only very recently that some defenders of Islam have begun to assert that their society in the past accorded equal status to non-Muslims. No such claim is made by spokesmen for resurgent Islam, and historically there is no doubt that they are right. Traditional Islamic societies neither accorded such equality nor pretended that they were so doing. Indeed, in the old order, this would have been regarded not as a merit but as a dereliction of duty. How could one accord the same treatment to those who follow the true faith and those who willfully reject it? This would be a theological as well as a logical absurdity.”

  • Art Deco,

    The Arab world is peculiarly resistant to electoral and deliberative institutions.

    Isn’t there a whole history of colonial (mis)administration here that is being calmly passed over–as though we can leap from the time of the caliphate to contemporary world politics without addressing the serious harms imposed upon the middle east and northern africa by various european powers.

    Even the case of Iran (not Arab, but Muslim country) complicates the situation. We did depose their legitimately elected government and instituted a dictator in his place, as we’ve done several other times in various places.

    My point is that an awful lot of this analysis passes over modern history as though it didn’t have any effect on how Islam first encountered representative systems of government.

  • Most of the Arab world was under colonial rule by Europe for a very brief period from shortly after World War I to shortly after World War II. The pathologies that afflict the Arab world are homegrown. It is representative institutions and the Western concept of human rights which are the legacy from Europe.

    In regard to Iran it is more accurate to say that we deposed a dictator, Mossadegh, and restored the Shah. The Shah was a squalid tyrant, but he gleams as positively enlightened compared to the rulers thrown up by the Shia Revolution.

  • Isn’t there a whole history of colonial (mis)administration here that is being calmly passed over–as though we can leap from the time of the caliphate to contemporary world politics without addressing the serious harms imposed upon the middle east and northern africa by various european powers.

    Even the case of Iran (not Arab, but Muslim country) complicates the situation. We did depose their legitimately elected government and instituted a dictator in his place, as we’ve done several other times in various places.

    I keep having this argument with Maclin Horton’s troublesome blogging partner. I offer you the following inventory.

    European colonization in the Near East, North Africa, and Central Asia was limited to the Maghreb and to a small knock of Levantine territory (the Valley of Jezreel and a portion of the coastal plain running between Gaza and Haifa) difficult to see in an atlas of ordinary scale. In Morocco (and I believe in Tunisia as well), the French agricultural colonies were small (the total number of households being under 10,000), although a good deal of common land was enclosed and delivered to them. Demographically obtrusive colonization was found in Algeria (state supported and enforced) and in the Levant (as private and voluntary immigration financed by the Jewish National Fund, etc). I have seen some figures I do not quite trust that there was quite a bit of settlement in Tripolitania and Cyrenaica as well.

    Egypt, the Sudan, Aden, the south Arabian sheikhdoms, the Trucial sheikhdoms, Bahrain, Kuwait, the Transjordan, and Iraq were all dependencies of Britain or France for periods ranging from 14 years to 72 years. Morocco, Tunisia, Lebanon, and Syria were dependencies of France for periods ranging from 26 years to 75 years. You had a rotating population of civil servants and soldiers and a foreign resident population there for business or missionary work (e.g. the founders of the American University of Beirut). There were, however, no colonists other than the aforementioned population of farmers. Morocco’s agricultural colonies were founded around 1928 and fully liquidated by about 1971.

    You may have noticed that Indonesia has had an elected government for the last 11 years, that elected administration has been modal in South Asia since 1947, and that elected governments are (at this point in time) rather more prevalent in Tropical and Southern Africa than they have been in the Arab world at any time in the last 50 years. The encounter between Europeans and natives was a good deal more durable, intrusive, and coercive in these loci than it ever was with regard to the Arab world.

    You may have noticed the United States had scant involvement in this enterprise of collecting overseas dependencies, and none at all in the Muslim world.

    You may also have noticed that the 9/11 crew were recruited not from Algeria (which did feel the French boot rather severely), but from Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Egypt was a dependency of Britain in a juridically odd arrangement from 1881 to 1922; any complaints about this are not exactly topical. Neither the Hijaz nor the Nejd (united now as ‘Saudi Arabia’) was ever a dependency of any European power. Britain and Russia established some concessionary arrangements with Persia for a period of time (1907-25) in the early 20th century, but it was never a dependency of any European power.

    The four Arab countries which have had the most extensive experience with constitutional government (Morocco, Lebanon, Jordan, and Kuwait) are all over the map as regards the duration and features of their encounter with Europe.

    As for the ‘legitimately elected government’ of Iran, parliamentary executives are generally dependent on the pleasure of the head of state, most especially when they have arbitrarily prorogued the country’s legislature (as Iran’s had been in 1953). Mohammed Mossadegh was no more entitled to rule by decree and disestablish the Persian monarchy (his ambitions) than was the Shah to run a royal dictatorship, but you win some and you lose some. Now, run down the list of states in the Near East, North Africa, and Central Asia which were sovereign for some time during the period running from 1953 to 1978 and identify those which had some measure of competitive electoral politics and public deliberation more often than not. That is a low bar that about 2/3 of the Latin American states could have met. The list will read as follows: Morocco, Kuwait, Israel, Lebanon, Cyprus, Turkey, Pakistan, Libya (perhaps), and Jordan (perhaps). That would be 6 or 8 of the 25 states of the region. It is just not fertile ground for parliamentary government, and a multi-ethnic state with a literacy rate of 8% is not promising material for a durable constitutional order in any case.

    I do not care what bilge Noam Chomsky or John Prados are pushing. The machinations of the CIA are not the reason competitive electoral politics has often been a transient state of affairs here there and the next place in this world (as it was prior to the CIA’s formation in 1947). The only good example of something resembling a democratic political order iced by the CIA would be Jacobo Arbenz’ government in Guatemala in 1954. Personally, I think Arbenz bears more resemblance to Juan Domingo Peron and Salvador Allende than he does to Latin America’s authentic constitutionalists, but it is difficult to find trustworthy histories of his life and times.

  • Muslims don’t “do” persuasive argument. Never have.

    Clarification. I would like to take my second phrase back: “Never have,” which I wrote in ignorance. (Never say never, right?) It turns out that for a time, Muslim thinkers were at one time more reasonable and more at home with the use of reason. I learned that from this excellent piece interviewing Robert Reilly on his new book, the title of which is “Closing of the Muslim Mind”. It’s particularly germane to this discussion and sheds quite a bit of light on the B16/Regensberg thing as well.

    I believe my larger point stands, i.e., currently Muslims do not so much engage in apologetics as they do in a certain type of assertiveness about their beliefs, which is possibly a more useful word than aggressiveness for describing the particular tendency I wish to describe for purposes of this discussion.

Elena Kagan Says It Is Fine If The Law Bans Books

Tuesday, June 29, AD 2010

SCOTUS nominee Elena Kagan has argued before the Supreme Court that it’s fine if the Law bans books.

Her rationale?

Because the government won’t really enforce it.

I’m no legal scholar but this sounds like a 3rd grade argument.

Aren’t our nominees suppose to have better reasoning skills and a solid grasp of the U.S. Constitution?  As well as a fundamental understanding  of such concepts like Freedom of Speech?

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14 Responses to Elena Kagan Says It Is Fine If The Law Bans Books

  • Bibles banned in China – is that what is coming here?

  • So is Elena Kagan willing to support banning pornography magazines and books?

  • Like all the other “brilliant” liberals, Kagan the pagan is incapable of right reason.

  • Scratch the thin veneer of liberal bu!!$#it and you slam into totalitarianism.

    Peace, justice and human dignity: the slaves will enjoy free health care, free lunch, and free fornication!!!

  • But don’t you know that if you don’t want free health care, free lunch and free fornication you are part of the “let them eat cake” coalition?

  • And what’s with the new symbol thingies?

  • Phillip and all the non-gravatar readers,

    I got tired of looking at the random abstract icons, so I switched the default to MonsterID’s in the faint hope that some of you guys will sign up for free gravatar accounts/icons.

    😉

  • And what’s with the new symbol thingies?

    Yeah, Tito. How are we supposed to upload a real picture? I tried registering at WordPress, but it won’t accept any reasonable facsimile of my real name as a user name. Can we upload a pic without registering at WordPress?

  • I kinda like my monster thingie. 🙂

  • I also had the same problem as j. Used multiple variations of my name and said they were all used. Must be a govt. program.

  • Phillip et al.,

    Just so everyone knows, MonsterID links that icon permanently to the email address you provide.

    So if you get tired of it, you have motivation to go over to http://en.gravatar.com/ and sign up for a free account!

    🙂

  • To be fair I am rather doubtful that Kagen wantts to ban books. I am trying to recall the exact sequence of events here . I actually think what started this all this were the ealier comments of the Deputy Solicter that gave the SUp COurt Justices the heebee jeevees and thus Kagen here is trying somehow to recover.

    That being said the Supreme Court can make the most seasoned lawyers look like idiots and also (and this is the problem the GOP will have in her hearings) she is basically just working for the boss. So when these hypos come out that go to the most alarming degree well there is not exactly a easy answer.

  • jh

    Nail! Head!

    She’s going to rubber stamp Obama. She’s a nothing and will continue to do nothing except vote for whatever the boss wants.

    Phil, I’m paying for the free health and lunch. They’re on their own when it comes to fornicking. I’m of the “let them have the opportunity to pursue happiness” coalition.

    My grav seems appropriate!

Supreme Court Rules That Public Universities May Discriminate Against Christian Student Groups

Tuesday, June 29, AD 2010

Back in 1979 I was one of the founding members of the Christian Legal Society at the University of Illinois.  Yesterday, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that the Hastings College of Law at the University of California was within its rights to deny recognition to the Christian Legal Society because the group requires that members agree, among other principles, that sexual activity outside of marriage between a man and a woman is sinful, and that members must be Christians.  Hastings contended that these principles violated the open membership policy of the university, in that it would discriminate against prospective members on the grounds of religion and sexual orientation.  Go here to read the decision.

Justice Alito, joined by Chief Justice Roberts, Scalia and Thomas, wrote a thought provoking dissent.

The proudest boast of our free speech jurisprudence is that we protect the freedom to express “the thought that we hate.” United States v. Schwimmer, 279 U. S. 644, 654–655 (1929) (Holmes, J., dissenting). Today’s decision rests on a very different principle: no freedom for expression that offends prevailing standards of political correctness in our country’s institutions of higher learning.

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23 Responses to Supreme Court Rules That Public Universities May Discriminate Against Christian Student Groups

  • Kagan once said, it’s okay for the government to ban books because the gestapo would be ineffective at enforcing it.

    You have to scratch a liberal just a wee bit to get to the totalitarian essence under the uber-thin vineer of warm and fuzzy bu!!$hit.

    Isn’t there a right, somewhere in the US Constitution, to free association, in addition to the rights to abortion; gay privileges; being fed, clothed and housed by the taxpayer.

    The king denied the Colonists the right to meet. They met anyway – Committees of Correspondence. The king isn’t king of this country. We shall overcome.

  • The pairing of decisions yesterday reminds us that our constitutional rights are basically at the mercy of the whims of Justice Kennedy. It’s truly frightening. Though he seems to have re-discovered some measure of a backbone, on social issues he remains completely inept.

  • Has there ever been a less consequential decision? Gays aren’t going to get elected to leadership positions in CLS.

  • Question: If Hastings is a state institution, thus receiving government funds (from the tax payer), does that not mean it is essentially a politically-funded entity?

    And if so, should we not be surprised that what is politically correct weighs heavey on their policy choices?

  • Has there ever been a less consequential decision? Gays aren’t going to get elected to leadership positions in CLS.

    I think the issue is more that it makes it very difficult for CLS to assemble, hold activities, etc. on campus if theyr’e not recognized as a campus organization.

  • Darwin, CLS can, and probably will, amend its pledge banning gays and the club will continue with business as usual, i.e., without gays.

  • One of the things I find interesting is that the argument that a group should be allowed to keep out people they do not like is being argued by two different groups.

    First, CLS. They say they should be free to have a group which follows the principles they hold dear. Of course, if they were not on a campus, looking for funding and approval to use facilities on campus, I think no one would question such a right.

    However, the second group is the university itself. If CLS has a right to discriminate, why does a university not have that right? To argue in favor of CLS is to argue in favor of the university, as far as I see it. That, I think, is the paradox with this case.

    Can someone show me why CLS can discriminate and not the university? I am in favor of free associations, and I do think a university should encourage such free associations (the university’s policy is wrong), but I also do wonder how a university is not accorded such a right?

  • BTW, I would even agree the university is going against its claims of tolerance to discriminate in this way, however, the question is not whether or not the university is acting bad, but whether or not it is within their legal rights.

  • Eh, you might be right, RR. I guess as an old Boy Scout I figured the organization would stick to its guns and suffer the consequences. 🙂

  • I am not a huge Kennedy Basher but bioth the right and left are right at times he gets carried away with his verbiage. I am amazed that a Catholic Justice basically said that Creed like matters are like Loyalty Oaths

  • Has there ever been a less consequential decision?

    I disagree. Traditional morality is only tenuously tolerated. This further institutionalizes its banishment from the public sphere. It has very little to do with whether CLS admits gays or not; look beyond the legal ramifications to see the cultural narrative. A Christian group, along among others, is singled out for chastisement. This has everything to do with what metaphysical premises are acceptable in polite company.

    “Untenured” at WWWtW said it best (with respect to another story):

    Increasingly, we are seeing secularists posture as though their pet metaphysical and moral committments are some kind of reasonable “default” that everybody would naturally gravitate towards if only it weren’t for the malign influence of religious “indoctrination.” There is a very real movement to portray traditional morality as some kind of “pathology” that is okay to exercise coercion against. Witness, for example, the attempt to make moral objections against homosexuality appear as if they are *no different* from objections to interracial marriage. Even people with philosophical training who ought to know better, like to pretend that this line of reasoning is cogent out of some kind of weird “political solidarity” with “sexual minorities.” They don’t give a darn about intellectual honesty- they want to deny traditional moral beliefs a toehold in the space of reasons, and they will do so by any means necessary. I’ll bet dollars to donuts that we are soon going to see people arguing that there is *no difference* between a homeschooler being taught traditional morality and an underage bride at a Mormon polygamy compounds. Then some arguments, with the pretense of hand-wringing, about how reasonable people have no choice but to coerce these backwards homeschoolers out of existence. For the sake of the children, of course.

  • ” I would even agree the university is going against its claims of tolerance to discriminate in this way, however, the question is not whether or not the university is acting bad, but whether or not it is within their legal rights”

    Henry I think it is clear that the University cannot , as a general matter with exceptions of course) discriminate against viewpoint discrimination.

    Now I realize this is a complicated case and in hindsight I am willing to bet the Justices wised they never took up the case because they discovered it was such a procedural mess and the factual record was clouded.

    That being said while many are saying the Opinion is narrow ( focusing just on this odd unique all comers policy) I am not so sure if it that narrow at all. The comments by some of the Justices on how they got there are perhaps the most disturbing and I am hoping like Justice ALito this si an aberation

  • “Eh, you might be right, RR. I guess as an old Boy Scout I figured the organization would stick to its guns and suffer the consequences.”

    Well the case is not over. They still have a chance to prove that this “all comers” policy was a pretext for unlawful discrimination

  • “However, the second group is the university itself. If CLS has a right to discriminate, why does a university not have that right?”

    I would say that a private university should have that right, but a public university does not. Here we have a governmental institution, Hastings Law School, imposing membership criteria on a private entity, the Christian Legal Society. All Catholics, members of an organization that is looked upon with hatred by many of the elites in our society, should look with alarm at this decision. “The Catholics want to prevent women from being priests? Fine, we will pass a law dictating that no non-profit may have tax exemption unless they sign on to this non-discrimination policy.”

  • I would say that a private university should have that right, but a public university does not. Here we have a governmental institution, Hastings Law School, imposing membership criteria on a private entity, the Christian Legal Society.

    Actually, the problem is the university is saying that, as a public institution, it cannot accept a private society as a student body if it is going with such discrimination. In other words, their argument is if they support the society, they are supporting such discrimination as a public institution. They are not saying what CSL can or cannot do, just what they can or cannot do if they want to be a student group at Hastings. The court, of course, said something unusual, in that it said a university can engage in such rules, but does not have to. It’s really a messed up case, because on every level, there seems to be a kind of self-contradiction involved.

  • “Actually, the problem is the university is saying that, as a public institution, it cannot accept a private society as a student body if it is going with such discrimination.”

    That is a way of saying that the public entity will discriminate against a group based upon its membership policies, unless the private group has membership policies acceptable to the public entity. The implications for Newman Centers on public campuses are clear, along with any groups that are in official disfavor. The true absurdity of this policy of course is that almost all private groups, by definition, discriminate. A staunch Republican like me would not be wanted among College Democrats. If I join a Chess group on campus, I will be expected not to insist upon the group playing checkers. Why this absurd policy of no discrimination in admissions by private groups of course is being implemented on campuses is as a hammer to beat groups that do not sign on to the gay rights agenda. This is governmental action engaging in viewpoint discrimination in order to banish from campuses those groups engaging in heretical thoughts.

  • It’s really a messed up case, because on every level, there seems to be a kind of self-contradiction involved.

    I don’t think I agree or understand what you said before, but I agree with this sentence. Whenever one tries to enforce what SCOTUS said in this opinion is a “viewpoint-neutral” outlook, you run into problems once you have conflicting viewpoints. Instead of ditching the whole flawed approach, the majority here tried to argue “this form of discrimination isn’t really discrimination” by pointing out that CLS can exist off campus (which as a college student I can tell you is a waste of time; w/o events on campus and the funding to throw even small lunches, recruitment is difficult to impossible).

  • Says Kennedy, via the Washington Post: “A vibrant dialogue is not possible if students wall themselves off from opposing points of view.”

    Memo to Kennedy – as an American citizen, I have a right not to engage in dialogue. As an American citizen, I have the right to freely associate with whomever I choose. And the students on that campus, a public campus, have those rights as well.

    The right to associate and exclude on the basis of values may be the only thing that prevents radically different groups from going to war with each other. American governments and courts that think they can force everyone to “dialogue” are going to be in for a rude awakening. This isn’t Europe.

  • “A vibrant dialogue is not possible if students wall themselves off from opposing points of view.”

    Kennedy is always good for a bone-headed quote. This one is hilarious for two reasons.

    First, the clear intent of the Hastings Policy is to quash a point of view that the administration of the law school finds distateful by denying the Christian Legal Society recognition.

    Second, if there is any group more cloistered from opposing views than the federal judiciary, with lifetime appointments, I am unaware of it.

  • Henry Karlson wrote: “If CLS has a right to discriminate, why does a university not have that right? To argue in favor of CLS is to argue in favor of the university, as far as I see it. That, I think, is the paradox with this case.”

    This is exactly what my husband said when we discussed it. He’s pretty libertarian in outlook. His argument is that the university can make whatever rules it wants to for official clubs, that the students are still free to do what they want, but if they take the university’s money and free space, then they have to abide by the rules. He says it’s better for them to do so and believe what they want to.

    Things are coming to a head, and I’m afraid that anyone looking for tolerance anywhere is likely to be disappointed.

  • “His argument is that the university can make whatever rules it wants to for official clubs, that the students are still free to do what they want, but if they take the university’s money and free space, then they have to abide by the rules.”

    It should not be the role of any government entity to set the membership policies for private groups. It is of course especially ironic that this attempt to stifle a viewpoint is taking place at a university, a supposed citadel of intellectual liberty. Of course most universities in this country, as demonstrated by repeated attempts to impose speech codes on students, are as enamored of freedom of speech as they are of cutting their budgets to reduce the exorbitant tuition that they charge.

  • The libertarian outlook sees this case as yet another illustration of the need for separation of Schooling and State.

  • It’s really a messed up case, because on every level, there seems to be a kind of self-contradiction involved.-Henry Karlson

    Seems? (Hint: category error.)

The Obama Administration and Freedom of Speech

Wednesday, October 7, AD 2009

George Washington-Freedom of Speech

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

The Founding Fathers left no doubt which freedoms they held most important.  They inserted them into the First Amendment to the Constitution.  Freedom of speech and of the press come right after freedom of religion.  These freedoms, and all the others set forth in the Constitution, are the birthright of all Americans and a precious example to the rest of the world.  That is why I am bemused by the manner in which the Obama administration appears to be indifferent to attempts to undermine freedom of speech and of the press at the UN.

Hattip to Instapundit.  In an article here at the The Weekly Standard, Anne Bayefsky, writes about the Obama administration signing on to a freedom of expression resolution.

“The new resolution, championed by the Obama administration, has a number of disturbing elements. It emphasizes that “the exercise of the right to freedom of expression carries with it special duties and responsibilities . . .” which include taking action against anything meeting the description of “negative racial and religious stereotyping.” It also purports to “recognize . . . the moral and social responsibilities of the media” and supports “the media’s elaboration of voluntary codes of professional ethical conduct” in relation to “combating racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.”

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One Response to The Obama Administration and Freedom of Speech

  • Two thoughts

    1. I find it interesting that the same resolution that contains “Stresses that condemning and addressing,. . . any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence, . . . .” also contains ” Recognizes that the open public debate of ideas can be among the best protections against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, and related intolerance, and can play a positive role in combating national, racial, or religious hatred”

    2. Given our national heritage and values, how many of us shout “there oughta be a law!” when the “Piss-Christ” is displayed? I do not include in that group people who simply point out the tasteless, offensive, sacrilegious and intolerant nature of the “work of art.”

Supreme Court Justices and Religion

Wednesday, June 10, AD 2009

To ask some questions is to answer them, and via Commonweal, I see that UCLA history professor emeritus Joyce Appleby has penned a lovely exercise in anti-Catholicism entitled, Should Catholic Justices Recuse Selves On Certain Cases?. Here is an excerpt:

But because of the Catholic Church’s active opposition to abortion, same-sex marriage and capital punishment, it raises serious questions about the freedom of Catholic justices to judge these issues. Perhaps the time has come to ask them to recuse themselves when cases come before their court on which their church has taken positions binding on its communicants…

…Recusal sounds like a radical measure, but we require judges to withdraw from deliberations whenever a personal interest is involved. Surely ingrained convictions exert more power on judgment than mere financial gain. Many will counter that views on abortion, same-sex marriage, and the death penalty are profound moral commitments, not political opinions. Yet who will argue that religious beliefs and the authority of the Catholic Church will have no bearing on the justices when presented with cases touching these powerful concerns?

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46 Responses to Supreme Court Justices and Religion

  • Well, didn’t Scalia say the Catholic judges who are against the death penalty should recluse themselves? hmmm….

  • Pingback: First Thoughts — A First Things Blog
  • Well, John Henry, as you rightly point out, there is a worldview of all the judges.

    What I find interesting is “justice” is not justice in the natural law sense. That is, having American positive laws in conformity with the natural and eternal laws. Alexander Hamilton put it this way: “The sacred rights of mankind are not to be rummaged for among old parchments or musty records. They are written, as with a sunbeam, in the whole volume of human nature, by the hand of Divinity itself; and can never be erased or obscured by mortal power.”

    However, the American sense of “justice” is to uphold the letter of the Constitution and legal precedence. This can pose quite a dilemma. If I’m a Catholic sitting on the U.S. Supreme Court, hypothetically dealing with a case prior to the 1860s regarding slavery, I would be obliged to rule to uphold what is, in fact, not just at all. My very obligation — according to “originalism, as I understand it — would be to to rule in such a way that contradicts the very title of “Justice.”

    Yet, it seems, to lax strict guidelines and open the door to some sort of “judicial autonomy” easily leads to what we call legislating from the bench.

    I’m not sure what the solution should be. Constitutional law is a matter where I’m simply agnostic and hesitant about most positions. To be sure, I do think the comments by Scalia and Thomas–no matter political orientation, or their purposes–are downright scandalous. The my “faith has nothing to do with my rulings” statements though situationally different than legislators reaffirms the separation of faith and life, religion and politics — all of which, I don’t support.

  • “He said they should resign.”

    He’s right. Just according to Catholic teaching. Shouldn’t be automatically discarded by a Catholic judge.

  • Eric

    I think as to Pre- Civil War Judges that were anto Slavery they would be hard pressed to ban slavery since theire power and authority came from an agreement among the States that involved the Slavery issue. It was part of the pact as it were.

    THere has been some talk in recent threads about Scalia and Thomas statements and if they are scandaleous. I really don’t think they are. However I wish they would have fleshed out what they mean more.

    I suggest this article that also has a helpful comment by Rick Garnett as to being what a Catholic Judge is

    http://www.firstthings.com/on_the_square_entry.php?year=2007&month=10&title_link=antonin-scalia-not-a-catholic-

    That article also shows that Scalia had other thoughts that rarely get mentioned as to that statement

    “If he were not a textualist and an originalist, if he thought he ought to rely on substantive moral notions not found in the text, then, Scalia said, his Catholic faith would make a large difference in how he judges cases. Similarly, if he had to judge common-law cases¯cases that do not involve texts enacted by a legislature but only judge-made law, cases of the kind that sometimes come before state courts but rarely come before federal courts¯things would likewise be different. In making common-law decisions, a judge has to make normative judgments about which laws are best, and so the judge’s values are properly in play. So, too, in the voting booth. Indeed, when the question switches from which laws we actually have to which laws we ought to have, then a person properly relies on moral values, whether they be Catholic or anything else.”

    I think this is very correct and there is nothing really un Catholic about that.

    I suppose my question is why are Judges (Catholic or otherwise) criticized for not thinking they have a grant of authority to do X

    FOr instance if we take that standard then why do we not criticize a Pro-Life President for not sending out his Federal Marshals and closing down all the abortion Clinics by Fiat. The reason we don’t is because we know that would be a UnConst power grab. Society can not function in such an environment.

  • One other thought on Sclaia Statements as to State execution. THe media generally does a bad job of covering religious issues. The only thing they do worse is covering Supreme COurt matters and the people on the Court

    From a person that was there:
    I would note one (perhaps self-evident) thing in clarification of the Scalia
    argument as it has been described in this thread: Scalia’s view that a
    Supreme Court Justice should resign if he or she believes the death penalty
    is immoral is dependent on the further assumption, manifest in his speech,
    that a Justice does not (or ought not) bring personal or contemporary moral
    judgment to bear in deciding death cases or in establishing death-penalty
    doctrine: “[T]he Constitution that I interpret and apply is not living, but
    dead; or as I prefer to call it, enduring.” “Bear in mind that I don’t make
    up new constitutional rules.”

    Further from Rick Garnett that was also there

    As I heard him, Justice Scalia was careful to establish, as a premise to his
    “have to resign” conclusion, that his position as a Justice involves him to
    a sufficient degree in the application of the death penalty to make him
    complicit in the wrong done. That is, I don’t think he was suggesting that
    his disagreement, standing alone, required him to resign, but rather, that
    (a) he has a moral obligation not to “cooperate” with evil (assuming that
    the application of the death penalty is, in fact, illicit); and (b)
    participating in death cases constitutes “cooperation” with evil. For my own
    part, it is not clear that a Supreme Court Justice who, say, fails to vote
    to deny a stay of execution, or fails to vote in support of a habeas
    petition brought by a capital defendant is, in fact, “cooperating” with the
    (assumed) evil of the death penalty.

  • What is bizarre about this is its literal unconstitutionality. Article VI, Section 3:

    The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.

    So under the guise of separation of church and state, something never mentioned in the constitution ironically, we are forced to ignore the actual words of the constitution.

  • For those interested I find the transcript of Scalia’s remarks so you see them in the full context

    http://pewforum.org/deathpenalty/resources/transcript3.php

  • jh,

    That was precisely my point. I was arguing that, to begin with, we aren’t even starting with a natural law conception of Justice. It is fundamentally a social contract theory, which itself is the arbiter of what is right and wrong in a legal sense. In other words, I think the lack of natural law orientation profoundly obscures what is true justice and the essence of law.

    My other concern is being complicit. Regardless of judicial philosophy, I would not rule to uphold slavery as the law of the land because it isn’t true justice. I simply cannot imagine allowing such an evil to perpetuate because of such commitment to a particular judicial philosophy, especially, if hypothetically, it was a 4-4 and I was the “swing vote.” I would not vote to uphold it when I know, apart what may be philosophically ideal, when I knew that I could stop an evil immediately. In other words, I find it problematic that our judicial system is more concerned about the letter of the constitution and legal precedence than actual justice.

    I understand why we currently operate like this. There are alternate approaches that I wouldn’t say any better, e.g. the approach that got us Roe v. Wade.

    Even still, I am not satisfied or convinced by Scalias’ argument. I think so far, at least, it may be the do-the-least-harm approach and our best weapon against getting results like Roe, or even worse, Casey with its infamous “liberty clause.”

    If Catholics are right about law, about the nature of law, then the American emphasis on upholding whatever is the positive law on the books as long as its conformity with the framework of the Constitution is problematic, in my view, that is building a system on a false premise of law and justice.

    Thus, I think we should develop a different judicial philosophy. I wish I knew what it was. But with the status quo, I can’t say I am satisfied.

  • “I find it problematic that our judicial system is more concerned about the letter of the constitution and legal precedence than actual justice.”

    Perhaps, I should say more committed to…or more interested in, at the expense of natural law thinking.

    I don’t think Catholics should throw natural law under the bus for positive law. The West profoundly misunderstands law and I wish we currently were operating through some different, more acceptable (in my view) judicial apparatus but we aren’t…

    I suppose the problem is finding a way that one does not get into the “living Constitution theory,” as it is currently promulgated.

  • In other words, I find it problematic that our judicial system is more concerned about the letter of the constitution and legal precedence than actual justice.

    I understand why we currently operate like this. There are alternate approaches that I wouldn’t say any better, e.g. the approach that got us Roe v. Wade.

    I hate to say it, but your approach largely is the approach used in Roe v. Wade, only from a different perspective. The judges in that case thought abortion was a manifest right, the Constitution be damned, and so essentially made a decision based on their conception of what was wrong or right. Your approach is similar, only you’re arguing that slavery is morally wrong. That’s all well and good, but it doesn’t get us very far if 5 Justices happen to disagree with you. So either we follow the written text of the Constitution or we follow the dictates of our conscience (hopefully the two are not in contradiction). 99% of the time the latter approach is the right one, but not when adjudicating in a Court of Law.

  • Eric

    As to Slavery the natural law sometimes must make an accomdation with a evil to help mitigate that evil. It should be noted that as a part fo this aggreement the International Slave Trade as to the USA was abolished. Again back then the theory was to strangle it out and even SOutherners thought it would die out of existance. The problem was people went back on the deal when they wanted it expanded.

    So I think Catholic Justices had no moral problem on the whole. Also lets be real here. Can you imagine if say in 1850 the Supreme COurt would have declared Slavery illegal. Well they would have just been ignored and thus set a dangerpus precedent

    I have no objection to a natural law jurisprudence. But again what is that? I can recall when Justice Kennedy came and taught my Const Law class. He asked a questions about rights and the rights listed in the Bill of Rights

    He said why don’t we have a

    Right to a Job
    A right to Health Care
    etc etc etc

    In fact this is where exactly many people that advocate a Natural Law Jurisprudence from the more Catholic left want to go. That is look at that rights that in the SOcial Compendium and have judges declare it.

    Kennedy pointed out the obvious. If these were “rights” on par with lets say the Freedom of Assembly there would be chaos.The Chaos he was talking about dealt with how in the world would Judges be able to deal with it and frame that right. You would in effect have a mini legislature in the Judicial branch and I suppose Law Clerks with no expertise in all these issues involved in all this.

    From a personal veiwpoint looking at How Federal Judges have run the East Baton Rouge Parish School system for 25 years while it was under the desegration decree I find trheir management skills quite lacking

    I can’t imagine what they would do to the Health system as Federal Judges come in and manage them in order that a “right to Health Care” could be had

  • Paul,

    Well, perhaps I’m liberal after all. Though, in some respect, I am not “reading” stuff in the Constitution that clearly isn’t there and pretending that the text of the Constitution is in alignment with my position.

    I’ll put it this way. In terms of maintaining social order and political stability, the “originalist” position is best, in that, it does the least amount of harm. In the end, I still think it’s flawed and there has to be some ways to address its flaws.

  • Eric

    I would also say as to Natural Law thinking that this could occur in the legislative branch. I am also still open to it in the Judicial branch.

    You might really enjoy this one hour podcast that Arkes had at the Making Men Moral COnference as he explains his attempts to get his Friend Scalia and others to recognize they can use the Natural Law.

    Scroll down to “Closing Luncheon with remarks by Hadly Arkes”

    http://www.uu.edu/events/makingmenmoral/schedule.cfm

    That speech as well as a few others really address what you are talking about especially Arkes

  • “As to Slavery the natural law sometimes must make an accomdation with a evil to help mitigate that evil.”

    The principle of the Double Effect only works if the evil you are tolerating is not objectively evil in and of itself. The argument is basically proportionalist aka. utilitarian aka. consequentialist.

    “So I think Catholic Justices had no moral problem on the whole. Also lets be real here. Can you imagine if say in 1850 the Supreme Court would have declared Slavery illegal. Well they would have just been ignored and thus set a dangerpus precedent”

    That’s consequentialist reasoning. It is like the sin of omission, or not doing what is right because of the consequences that it would render. I’m afraid to say it strikes me like saying that overturning Roe v. Wade would cause a political backlash and cultural division even worse than it is now, thus, one should act to bring change slowly. It is the argument of the “white moderates” who wished to (allegedly) integrate blacks into society over time, as the culture slowly changed.

    The argument is basically pragmatist and only further convinces me that the machinery of our government places Catholics, particularly in this regard, in a dangerous place. You either cooperate with the machine and lose your ethics, or you “legislate from the bench” and cause tyranny.

    And again, I don’t think anyone has seen a natural law jurisprudence laid out because it’s in its early stages. However, I think the debate should be had.

  • Eric

    I don’t think the situation that lets say anti Slavery Catholic Judges found themselves in was at all consequentalist. Again part of the deal was in order for this nation to be formed some of the evils of Slavery would have to be minimized. Therefore the natural law made a accomdation with a evil to minimize it. What made the whole deal go off the rails was the South basically demanding a Right to Nationwide Slave code which was demanded by the SOuthern Democrats at their Dem Convention in Charleston.

    Lets use another example. That is the sex business. The Church has recognized that such things as Prostitution and brothals are evil and bad. Yet the Church has reconzied that such things as regulation of it to mimizew it evils (like red light districts) and such is ok in many regards.

    One can make a arguement as to abortion that a process of chipping away at it slowly and strangling it to death (like Slavery) is the way to go. If there is a all or nothing approach there would never be proress on the issue.

    Also in the end the Court again has no power to tax and really no way to enforce it orders. It must rely on its good name. At times they cash it in. Look at Brown vs the Bopard of Education. But if the COurt was issuing Society changing ruling like Brown every year then I predict they would be ignored. That is for instance the Executive Branch would disover Lincoln’s musings that he had a right to interpret the Const kust like the Court.

    This is one reason wehy for the most part the Court is slow in making dramtic changes

  • “Therefore the natural law made a accomdation with a evil to minimize it.”

    I understand that people made compromises that seemed unavoidable, e.g. compromises like we make on abortion to get as much restriction as possible. However, the natural law does not accommodate evil–it is the moral law of God and the standard of perfect justice. So, the language you’re using is problematic in terms of moral theology, hence I keep arguing against it.

    “Yet the Church has reconzied that such things as regulation of it to mimizew it evils (like red light districts) and such is ok in many regards.”

    Well, I think the Church would say restrict it as much as possible with the intention of ultimately obliterating. I’m not sure the Church would deem such immoral activity confined to a place as “ok in many regards.” As far as I know, there is no constitutional right to prostitution.

    “One can make a arguement as to abortion that a process of chipping away at it slowly and strangling it to death (like Slavery) is the way to go. If there is a all or nothing approach there would never be proress on the issue.”

    In regard to abortion, there is this interesting phenomenon. People who are conservative tend to oppose radical changes while liberals want changes to bring about immediate justice. You get a conservative Catholic and they’ll tell you let’s outlaw abortion. You get a more liberal Catholic, they’ll say we should do it gradually and get a greater social consensus. On the issue of abortion, the two sides flip — for the most part.

    I think the reason we’re not pulling an all or nothing on abortion, as was the case with slavery, is because the machinery of government has us in a tight spot. My only problem with the “slow” process is that meanwhile a great injustice casually continues and with abortion, it’s going at a rate of 4,000 a day and I’m not sure if we have the luxury of time insofar as we aren’t acting so imprudently as to compromise the cause and a swift as possible triumph.

    And Brown vs. Board of Education is a prime example. I think the problem here is I’m emphasizing achieving true justice because doing the good is a moral obligation that should not be considered solely based on the consequences, as that would be a departure from natural law moral ethics; whereas, you are emphasizing the need for stability and keeping social order lest the Court lose its authority and the actual good be lost to the jaws of defeat due to a swift backlash due to a wreckless dash for a short victory.

    My problem is, seeing my strident commitment to keeping natural moral ethics, is that, if in such a system, there is great tension for a Catholic sense of morality, I feel inclined to try to develop a judicial philosophy where Catholic ethics don’t conflict so readily with the process. That’s pretty much my whole deal with your approach. It might be the best we’ve got right now, but I can’t settle with it.

    I must depart for now. Thanks for the discussion…

  • Ms. Appleby is effectively arguing for the recusal of any save the most carefully-vetted agnostics from service as a judge.

    By what feat of special pleading would an Episcopalian not also be forced to recuse him/herself on the same issues? Actually, it goes further than that–any issue of “commitment” would force recusal. Consider the case of a vegan judge in a case involving Eckrich, for example.

  • It is curious that the matter of the Catholicism of Roger Taney was not raised. But Taney is an excellent example of accepting the law as it stands.
    He despised slavery [“those vermin who trade in human flesh”]. But he also recognized that it was lawful under the Constitution.
    Slavery is the great example that Chesterton uses tp point out that democracy is not perfect.

  • No, by the time of the Dred Scott decision Taney was an ardent defender of slavery. His views on “the peculiar institution” had done a 180 from his younger days. His opinion for the court held that slaves, or their descendants, whether or not they were slaves, could never be citizens of the United States, and that Congress did not have the power to ban slavery in the territories. Neither proposition was supported by the text of the Constitution, and are a precursor to the type of jurisprudence that produced Roe.

  • Scalia on Taney: “There comes vividly to mind a portrait by Emanuel Leutze that hangs in the Harvard Law School: Roger Brooke Taney, painted in 1859, the 82d year of his life, the 24th of his Chief Justiceship, the second after his opinion in Dred Scott. He is all in black, sitting in a shadowed red armchair, left hand resting upon a pad of paper in his lap, right hand hanging limply, almost lifelessly, beside the inner arm of the chair. He sits facing the viewer, and staring straight out. There seems to be on his face, and in his deep set eyes, an expression of profound sadness and disillusionment. Perhaps he always looked that way, even when dwelling upon the happiest of thoughts. But those of us who know how the lustre of his great Chief Justiceship came to be eclipsed by Dred Scott cannot help believing that he had that case–its already apparent consequences for the Court, and its soon to be played out consequences for the Nation–burning on his mind. I expect that two years earlier he, too, had thought himself “call[ing] the contending sides of national controversy to end their national division by accepting a common mandate rooted in the Constitution.”

  • Gabriel,
    You are wrong. Dred Scott was wrongly decided for a host of legal reasons, regardless of one’s position on slavery. Basically Taney’s reasoning was a foretaste of substantive due process, which is what eventually led the way to the loose reasoning seen in Roe. Seriously, if you are a constitutional scholar (I taught it at a law school for almost 10 years), I encourage you to carefully read Scott. It is appallingly poorly reasoned. There are cases where judges properly follow the law to make decisions that are either objectively distasteful or distasteful to them. Dred Scott is not an example of this, however.

  • Donald,
    I failed to see your earlier posts. Once again, we are in complete agreement.

  • As usual Mike! Scott is a prime example of the deadly impact a rogue Supreme Court can have on this nation. Taney and his cohorts reignited the slavery issue, convinced many moderate Northerners of a “slave power conspiracy” to spread slavery throughout the nation, strengthened Southern reluctance for any compromise as to slavery in the territories and vastly increased the likelihood that the debate over the question of slavery would eventually end in blood. When the Supreme Court steps in and attempts to act as a super legislature it always stirs up a hornet’s nest.

  • Exactly, Don. As much as I believe that our unborn should be legally protected, I similarly think it would be wrong for the Supreme Court to overturn state laws that permit abortion under some type of contrived right to to life enshrined in some penumbra. The lawmaking power rests with the people acting through their legislators; they cannot avoid this responisiblity by pretending that judges are empowered to do whatever they think is right and best. A judge’s authority is limited; Dred Scott and Roe are both testaments to what happens when he exceeds his authority just because he can.

  • About 2 years ago, I did a post about Taney, which also drew a Taney defender (who was clearly arguing from a misperception, which he later acknowledged) in the combox discussion that followed:

    http://proecclesia.blogspot.com/2007/08/roger-taney-may-get-boot-civil-rights.html

    Catholics need to stop feeling like they have to defend Taney and his egregious, unjustifiable, and activist opinion in Dred Scott.

  • jh Says Wednesday, June 10, 2009 A.D. at 11:37 am
    “I think as to Pre- Civil War Judges that were anto Slavery they would be hard pressed to ban slavery since theire power and authority came from an agreement among the States that involved the Slavery issue. It was part of the pact as it were”.

    Which was Taney’s point. The way to settle the issue of slavery was to change the Constitution. This was done by the 13th Amendment. Thei demonstarted the truth of Taney’s argument.

  • Eric Brown Says Wednesday, June 10, 2009 A.D. at 11:57 am
    “My other concern is being complicit. Regardless of judicial philosophy, I would not rule to uphold slavery as the law of the land because it isn’t true justice”.

    There in lies the nub. Whether slavery is true justice or not, it was the law of the land, of the U.S.

    There is, it seems to me, an idea that the U.S. is a perfect land. It is not. It was not from its beginning. As Jefferson wrote “I tremble for my country when I remember that God is just”.

    Let us forget for the moment the issue of slavery. What about the ongoing treatment of the Indians in our country? the broken promises? the violated treaties?

  • Donald R. McClarey Says Wednesday, June 10, 2009 A.D. at 5:06 pm
    “No, by the time of the Dred Scott decision Taney was an ardent defender of slavery. His views on “the peculiar institution” had done a 180 from his younger days”.

    References?

  • Donald R. McClarey Says Wednesday, June 10, 2009 A.D. at 5:12 pm
    “Scalia on Taney: “There comes vividly to mind a portrait by Emanuel Leutze that hangs in the Harvard Law School: Roger Brooke Taney, painted in 1859, the 82d year of his life, the 24th of his Chief Justiceship, the second after his opinion in Dred Scott. He is all in black, sitting in a shadowed red armchair, left hand resting upon a pad of paper in his lap, right hand hanging limply, almost lifelessly, beside the inner arm of the chair. He sits facing the viewer, and staring straight out. There seems to be on his face, and in his deep set eyes, an expression of profound sadness and disillusionment. Perhaps he always looked that way, even when dwelling upon the happiest of thoughts. But those of us who know how the lustre of his great Chief Justiceship came to be eclipsed by Dred Scott cannot help believing that he had that case–its already apparent consequences for the Court, and its soon to be played out consequences for the Nation–burning on his mind. I expect that two years earlier he, too, had thought himself “call[ing] the contending sides of national controversy to end their national division by accepting a common mandate rooted in the Constitution.”

    Interesting aesthetic but irrelevant [i.e., not to the point] comments by Justice Scalia. I’d suggest that Taney’s unhappiness was caused by his realization that neither side would cede; that the Constitution was a compact with the Devil.

  • Mike Petrik Says Thursday, June 11, 2009 A.D. at 6:48 am
    “Gabriel,
    “You are wrong. Dred Scott was wrongly decided for a host of legal reasons, regardless of one’s position on slavery”.

    Is this an example of the third manner of presenting an argument – bang on the desk?

    Much of the decision’s argument arises from the nature of legal property. Blacks were property, chattel, cattle, if you prefer, that could freely be moved from one state to another. The Dred Scott decision was the bearer of the bad news. Our polity is not the Heavenly City.

  • Donald R. McClarey Says Thursday, June 11, 2009 A.D. at 7:08 am

    “Taney and his cohorts reignited the slavery issue”.

    Not true. The issue of the Civil War was the Union. Could a state secede?

    [I like “cohorts”. Is this akin to fellow conspirators?].

  • Jay Anderson Says Thursday, June 11, 2009 A.D. at 10:48 am
    “About 2 years ago, I did a post about Taney, which also drew a Taney defender (who was clearly arguing from a misperception, which he later acknowledged) in the combox discussion that followed:
    http://proecclesia.blogspot.com/2007/08/roger-taney-may-get-boot-civil-rights.html
    Catholics need to stop feeling like they have to defend Taney and his egregious, unjustifiable, and activist opinion in Dred Scott”.

    I do not have a belief that I must defend Roger Taney [although his attitude and actions in defense of blacks are certainly admirable, as was his refusal to abandon habeas corpus and to knuckle under to Father Abraham, the sole decider of the War].

    I do not defend the decision. I merely examine it; and find that it admirably displays the law of the land at the time. He did not find unmentioned side laws and umbras in the Constitution, as did the justices in Roe v. Wade; and the overreaching justices in Brown v. Board, kin to the overreaching justices in Plessy.

  • On the other matter of whether Catholics should recuse themselves on matters on which the Church has spoken, would this apply to matters of charitable giving, to education, to the whole host of activities in which the Church is active?

    On this principle, should men recuse themselves when an issue of women’s rights is raised? Should blacks and whites [“Caucasians”] recuse themselves in civil rights matters?

    Only in the academy could such non-sense be spoken.

  • Okay, Gabriel. Defend these 2 propositions relying solely on the text of the Constitution:

    (1) That black Americans (regardless of whether they were slaves or not) could not be citizens of the United States, and
    (2) That Congress had no power to regulate “property” in the federal territories.

  • Jay Anderson Says Thursday, June 11, 2009 A.D. at 5:57 pm
    “Okay, Gabriel. Defend these 2 propositions relying solely on the text of the Constitution:
    (1) That black Americans (regardless of whether they were slaves or not) could not be citizens of the United States, and
    (2) That Congress had no power to regulate “property” in the federal territories”.

    This is not a class room. There is a tendency among some posters to believe it is.

    Citizenship depended on the state.

    “Property” is an issue with several hundred years of dispute behind it.

    A further note: Taney in the later Booth case vigorously denied that states had the right to ignore federal laws. Curiously, the Booth case was an abolitionist arguing for secession.

  • This is not a class room. There is a tendency among some posters to believe it is.

    Gabriel:

    You have attempted on several threads on this blog over the past few months to defend Taney’s decision in Dred Scott. If you do not have the sufficient understanding of the issues surrounding the case and are thus unable or unwilling to defend Taney in a meaningful manner, then it would be best for you to bow out of the discussion.

  • Sorry, the above comment was a bit uncharitable. What I am trying to get at, Gabriel, is that we’re having a discussion (partly) about constitutional law and the manner in which Supreme Court Justices ought to approach cases. The very nature of our conversation is therefore, in a sense, “academic.”

    The questions that Jay asked are central to an understanding of the Dred Scot decision, so you can’t just shrug them off if you are going to defend the opinion that Taney wrote and to which his associates signed onto.

  • paul zummo Says Friday, June 12, 2009 A.D. at 2:42 pm
    “This is not a class room. There is a tendency among some posters to believe it is.
    Gabriel:
    You have attempted on several threads on this blog over the past few months to defend Taney’s decision in Dred Scott. If you do not have the sufficient understanding of the issues surrounding the case and are thus unable or unwilling to defend Taney in a meaningful manner, then it would be best for you to bow out of the discussion”.

    Does that mean leave the room or go stand in the corner?

  • paul zummo Says Friday, June 12, 2009 A.D. at 2:52 pm
    “Sorry, the above comment was a bit uncharitable.

    It was not uncharitable. It was dense.

    “What I am trying to get at, Gabriel, is that we’re having a discussion (partly) about constitutional law and the manner in which Supreme Court Justices ought to approach cases. The very nature of our conversation is therefore, in a sense, “academic.”

    Academic, indeed. That was my point.

    “The questions that Jay asked are central to an understanding of the Dred Scot decision, so you can’t just shrug them off if you are going to defend the opinion that Taney wrote and to which his associates signed onto”.

    You have too many “to’s” there. [Sorry, couldn’t resist].

    I have had many discussions over the years with lawyers [Eliot Richardson, for example] and professors [Bernard Schwartz, for example].

    The basic issue is not slavery; it is property. It is a good question whether Taney despised slavers or abolitionists more. I think the latter. He was a strong federal union man. Having been law clerk to the Maryland representative at the Constitutional Congress, he know how difficult it had been to form “the more perfect union”. And how easy it might be to dissolve that union.

    But … that union was not perfect. It was not, and is not, the City of God on earth. It had and has many blemishes. It took a century before the rough equality of blacks was enforced by law. Cf. Douglas Blackamon’s Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black People in America from the Civil War to World War II.

    [A propos, the opinions he cited about blacks were shared by Father Abraham].

    [Another a propos: slavery is not an absolute evil, like abortion].

  • I have had many discussions over the years with lawyers [Eliot Richardson, for example] and professors [Bernard Schwartz, for example].

    Oooookay, and this is relevant how?

    As for the rest of your comment – you’re still not even addressing the issue. Supreme Court decisions aren’t matters of feelings, but rather matters of concrete law. You still have offered no concise defense of the decision, which indicates you obviously don’t even remotely understand the case.

  • Apparently if you want to be on the U.S. Supreme Court it certainly helps to be Roman Catholic (six with the new appointment) followed by some distance by the Jews, and lastly the lone protestant. http://www.adherents.com/adh_sc.html This hardly mirrors the religion membership of the population of the country, but who cares? The Supreme Court is never called upon to resolve the law and religious issues like under the first amendment or equal protection clauses. LOL Does the judicial appearance of fairness even matter in the face of political gains? LOL.
    Should the media discuss this on the Sunday talk shows? LOL

    Learning to Count Is Not a Sign of Bigotry.

    Should this be raised at this time?

    The First cannon of judicial ethics says:

    A JUDGE SHALL UPHOLD THE INDEPENDENCE AND INTEGRITY OF THE JUDICIARY, SHALL PERFORM THE DUTIES OF THE OFFICE IMPARTIALLY, AND SHALL AVOID IMPROPRIETY AND THE APPEARANCE OF IMPROPRIETY IN ALL OF THE JUDGE’S ACTIVITIES .
    RULE 1.01: PROMOTING CONFIDENCE IN THE JUDICIARY
    A judge shall act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the independence,* integrity,* and impartiality* of the judiciary.

    I do not find any fault in the current nominee to the United States Supreme Court for being a woman, a Latino, for having made remarks on her qualifications as superior to the qualifications of any Caucasian. But I do find fault with her appointment violating the spirit of the first cannon of Judicial Ethics, that a judge should appear impartial. Litigants will be hesitant to turn to courts where the Justices appear stacked against them and this undermines the rule of law. Judge Sonia Sotomayor would become the sixth Roman Catholic justice on the Supreme Court. There are only nine of them, so that would mean that two thirds of the Justices, 66+%, would be Roman Catholic in a country where less that 25% of the population practices that religion. That religion predisposes its members, by life long training, faith, and in some cases, rule, to take certain positions that are likely to come up for hearing before the court. Any Appointee will not commit before they go onto the bench what position they may take in a case, but the appearance is there, however they may deny this will influence their rulings. The very appearance of six Roman Catholic Justices on the court gives the appearance to all litigants that if they appear on one side of those issues, be if choice, school prayer, school vouchers or other issues, they will not get a fair hearing. Of course, with the church’s and Popes stand on capital punishment, some might be inclined to support such a person in hopes of abolishing the death penalty. Only one Roman Catholic Justice on some of these issues has taken a position not supported by the church. I believe this is a far more important consideration than any other and should bar Judge Sotomayor from being confirmed by the Senate, no matter how good of a Judge she has been and how worthy of the position she may otherwise be. In fact, I believe it should have prompted her to decline the nomination at this time and should prompt her to withdraw. It is just not the appropriate time to appoint one more Roman Catholic to the court and preserve the diversity of the court in representing the religious views of this country. It appears to threaten the first amendment’s freedom of religion that is so much a bedrock of our society. I know these remarks are politically incorrect but feel they must be made. If you share these sentiments, please pass them on as I believe the general medial is wired not to touch this with a ten foot poll until finally forced to do so by the people.

    I made the following observations at the time of the appointment of Justice Alito in 2005 that I think are even more appropriate here.

    The following statistics are taken from Wikipedia, the free web encyclopedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_the_United_States

    Take a look at the following statistics on the religious demographics of the population of the United States compared to its representation on the supreme court with the addition of Judge Alito. There is no correlation. Given that, together with the fact that at least 50% of the population is feminine and an Alito court will only provide for one female member, or just over 11% of the total court population, and it is clear that the current [Bush] administration has no intention of appointing someone to the court who may be called representative of most of the country or as moving the court to a greater parity of court membership with the population of the entire nation.

    U.S. as a Whole U.S. Supreme Court + Alito

    No Religion 15% 0%

    Christian 79.8% 78%

    Roman Catholic 25.9% 56%

    Other Christian
    54.0% 22%

    Jewish
    1.4% 22%

    Non-denominational
    1.3% 0%

    Muslim
    0.6% 0%

    Hindu
    0.5% 0%

    Buddhist
    0.4% 0%

    Unitarian 0.3% 0%

    Others
    0.7% 0%

    Percentages of Religions and no religions with no representation on the United States Supreme Court 18.8%. Percentages of population represented by Christians other than Roman Catholics that are under represented on the United States Supreme Court is 54% of the population but only about half of its members are proportionately represented. It is clear that the membership of the United States Supreme Court, if each justice should represent approximately 11% of the population, is disproportionately allocated, with the Roman Catholics exceeding their fair representation by three justices with the appointment of Judge Alito. Even if the Jews were to be said to represent all those with no religion and all other religions (something that the Muslims and Atheists might well find objectionable) they only would be entitled to two members by carving into the non Roman Catholic proportions of the Christian religions, that would appear to be entitled to almost 5 members of the court by religious demographics. Now is this fair?? Is it fair to object to the appointment of a new justice because he or she further distorts the Supreme Court’s demographic representations of the beliefs of the population of the United States. Who is the bigot??? Is the Bigot the person who supports this further distortion of the United Stats population religious demographics, or the person who says, let us look to a fair representation of the beliefs of this nation as we can given the number of members we have on the court. It is very fair and unbigoted to object to the confirmation of Justice Alito because of his religion because his appointment does not fairly represent the people of the United States, no matter what his race or political affiliation is

    This is the current religious line up of members of the Supreme Court if the appointment of Justice Alito is confirmed.

    John Roberts (Chief Justice): Catholic
    Stephen G. Breyer: Jewish
    Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Jewish
    Anthony M. Kennedy: Catholic
    Antonin Scalia: Catholic
    David H. Souter: Episcopalian
    John Paul Stevens: Protestant
    Clarence Thomas: Catholic
    Samuel Alito: Catholic

    Supreme Court of the United States, highest court in the United States and the chief authority in the judicial branch, one of three branches of the United States federal government. The Supreme Court hears appeals from decisions of lower federal courts and state supreme courts, and it resolves issues of constitutional and federal law. It stands as the ultimate authority in constitutional interpretation, and its decisions can be changed only by a constitutional amendment.

    Nine judges sit on the Court; the chief justice of the United States and eight associate justices. The president of the United States appoints them to the Court for life terms, but the U.S. Senate must approve each appointment with a majority vote.

    The Supreme Court’s most important responsibility is to decide cases that raise questions of constitutional interpretation. The Court decides if a law or government action violates the Constitution. This power, known as judicial review, enables the Court to invalidate both federal and state laws when they conflict with its interpretation of the Constitution. Judicial review thus puts the Supreme Court in a pivotal role in the American political system, making it the referee in disputes among various branches of government, and as the ultimate authority for many of the most important issues in the country. In 1954, for example, the Court banned racial segregation in public schools in Brown v. Board of Education. The ruling started a long process of desegregating schools and many other aspects of American society. In the 1973 case of Roe v. Wade, the Court overturned state prohibitions on abortion—concluding that the Constitution guarantees every woman a right to choose an abortion, at least during early stages of a pregnancy. The Court’s constitutional decisions have affected virtually every area of American life, from the basic ways in which business and the economy are regulated to freedom of speech and religion.

    The Supreme Court is the final arbiter of all the rules and decisions of the lower Federal courts, the United States District Courts and the Courts of Appeal. All judges look up to these judges. They are the featured speakers in the lucky law schools around the country who can persuade them to visit. The Court, outside of governmental clemency hearings and pardons, is just about the last arbiter on all death penalty cases in the Unite States. The judges are assisted by law clerks, a job that lasts about a year and a position once held, leads to the most prestigious choice of jobs in private practice and government after the clerk finishes his or her clerkship. A long term Justice may appoint 30 to 50 law clerks over the period they are on the bench, thirty to fifty or perhaps even more of the future leaders of the bar, the attorneys, in the United States. These are the people who handle the most influential governmental and private legal matters, may influence the various judicial appointments, making up many of the future judges (The most recent appointment as Chief Justice, John Roberts, besides formerly being a Judge on the Court of Appeals and high civil servant in the Executive branch of the government, was the law clerk of the former Chief Justice). These people set the tone of administration of justice in the United States not only in Constitutional Law, but in all federal law, which includes being the final arbiters in many, perhaps most disputes between citizens of different states and citizens and foreigners, matters concerning foreign and interstate commerce, trademarks, patents, copyrights, Federal taxes customs and duties, Indian (Native American) affairs, laws covering most securities and national banking, and many taxation matters and disputes between the states, such as boundary and water rights, just to name a few example. These are the people who apply or do not apply the law that may or may not be favorable depending on which side may win or loose in the courts. Their decisions dictate how future contracts will be drawn, how businesses will operate to comply with laws, and have an impact on the operation of every other governmental body in the United States. They are the interpreters of these laws as well as occasionally passing on constitutional questions. So you see, the power of the members of this court, while circumscribed as are supposedly the powers of all elected and appointed governmental officials in the United States, is enormous. They can only be removed by impeachment (like an indictment) by the House of Representatives followed by a trial and conviction by the Senate, a very seldom ever used procedure.

    Why doesn’t the media honestly report this very reasonable and certainly not bigoted objection to Judge Alito? We do not ask any one to abandon his or her conscience when accepting an appointment to the Supreme Court, and we should suspect any appointee who infers or promises to set his or her conscience aside when acting as a judge on this body. There are nine justices so we can be assured of a diversity of opinion while each exercises his or her conscience in interpreting, understanding and applying the law to individual cases before the court. We should work to preserve that diversity, fair parity and honesty in representation in that branch of the United States Government. The constitution is capable of many interpretations, as any honest student of history who has read the notes of the Federal Convention, the Federalist papers and the various Anti-federalist papers well knows. We may often not really fathom the original intent of the law as much of the Constitution was a compromise. The words strict construction is a coded political cry that has little to do with reality. what may be a strict construction in the eyes of one will be the most ghastly ;legislation form the bench in the eyes of others. We must go back to the very moral fiber as well as intellectual acumen of the nominees who are to sit on the bench, and their affiliations, including their religious affiliations, as they help us to achieve some parity on the court, are fair considerations for all of us and absolutely necessary consideration for each and every senator who must vote on the nominees and then go back to their constituents and tell them why they voted to confirm lopsided courts by race, gender, ethnicity or religion. No Senator can pass this test and vote to confirm Judge Alito.

    Ed Campbell.

    You may freely share this opinion. Afterthought:

    One would have expected a sensitive Judge would have anticipated this reasonable objection to more roman Catholics on the U.S. Supreme Court at this time and would had declined the appointment for the good of the nation.

  • You may freely share this opinion.

    Only if one wants to seem vaguely unhinged.

    Have you been keeping this standard text going for three Supreme Court nominations, now?

  • Ed’s comment reads like comment spam, and I assume it has been posted at quite a few venues. By the way Ed, in regard to the phrase “First Cannon of Judicial Ethics” in your comment, I assume the word should be “Canon” and not “Cannon” unless there are judicial ethics rules that apply to the use of artillery pieces.

    Are you the same Ed Campbell out in Seattle who is an attorney and does palm reading?

    http://www.edcampbell.com/

    That is a unique combination to be sure! Perhaps some of the Catholic justices on the court are palm readers too? Would that cast a different light on the situation?

    Catholics come in all different shapes, sizes and ideologies as you would quickly find out by reading this blog and then reading the blog Vox Nova. So relax. We Catholics on or off the Court pose no threat to you, unless we are albino assassins, in which case all bets are off.

Marci Hamilton's Crusade

Tuesday, March 31, AD 2009

Several weeks ago there was a rather unpleasant exchange in First Things, between Marci Hamilton of the Cardozo School of Law, and Martin and Melissa Nussbaum of the Diocese of Colorado. Ms. Hamilton supports lifting the statute of limitations for child sex abuse claims, while the Nussbaums are decidedly against the idea. There are reasonable arguments on both sides, and, in this particular discussion, unreasonable arguments on both sides. But I think removing the statute of limitations, as Ms. Hamilton proposes, is likely to provide little benefit in terms of deterring abuse, and myriad opportunities for malicious or frivolous litigation. Furthermore, Ms. Hamilton’s professed concern for children has been rather morbidly focused on the Catholic Church rather than, for instance, public schools, where abuse problems are far more rampant.

I thought at the time I read the exchange that Ms. Hamilton’s name sounded familiar, but I couldn’t quite place it. And then I remembered: Ms. Hamilton was the author of a rather incautiously written book entitled God v. the Gavel, in which she made a case against many traditional religious liberties (noticing a theme in her oeuvre?). I say incautiously because the book contained enough errors and sloppy argumentation to elicit a legendarily harsh book review from Douglas Laycock, one of the field’s most distinguished scholars. The whole review is worth reading if the topic is of interest to you (or if, like me, you enjoy reading rigorous criticism), but here is the conclusion:

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7 Responses to Marci Hamilton's Crusade

  • More children are abused each year in the California Public School System than there are children in the whole US Catholic School System…. Public School teachers are many more times likely to abuse a child than are clergy of any religion, and Catholic clergy are even less likely than all religions…. We are just too big a target.

  • Few things please me more than reading a good negative book review!

  • Yo, Marty (Nussbaum):

    So we don’t get off on the wrong foot here, let me introduce myself. I am a life-long Philadelphia Catholic who values his religion/faith dearly. Married for over 34 years with two special needs daughters..I tell you this because this writer is quite accustomed to speaking up and out and advocating for those who fall victim to the agencies/organizations whose mission it is to serve people and, in this case, Catholic parishioners.

    If your style is anything like the lead counsel to Cardinal Rigali, Archbishop of Phila., then this will be most interesting. I’m sure you have had some communication with the very special William Sasso, and, if not this icon, surely the head of his non-profit group, Mark Chopko (former counsel to America’s Bishops).

    Anyhow, I would like to quote your opening statement from a “First Things” article in 2003. I just love that publication, “First Things”, because it so aptly describes and portrays the US Catholic Church, its leadership, both lay and religious as well as its management and organizational style. In other words, the “first things” we take care of is “ourselves.” No, no, Marty, you don’t understand, Our Lord made it quite clear and the “first things” are the children.

    “Let us stipulate from the beginning, as we lawyers say, that the Catholic scandal is fueled
    by a minority of priests who, mostly from the mid-1960s through the early 1990s, egregiously
    violated their ordination promises; by the bishops who reappointed known perpetrators; and by
    partisans of the left and the right now seeking to advance their pre-existing agendas for Church
    reform.”

    Marty, partisans, left and right, advance pre-existing agendas for Church reform, etc…….Marty, maybe it’s the high altitude in Colorado but you’re making as much sense as the Catholic leader, Cardinal Kaput (yeah, I got it right, he’s over and kaput). See if you can follow this one, I’ll take it slow…….the agenda here is to PROTECT OUR CHILDREN.

    You can jump in anytime and help out if you want. Why don’t you take your high-powered legal expertise and address the sovereign immunity issue regarding sexual abuse of children in public schools. This way, Marty, you take care of the children in the public arena and Marci will take care of the children in the religious arena. Now that sounds like a plan,….what do you think, Marty?

    Back to the original point of this correspondence….I envision a title bout between Marty and Marci……we have the Vegas venue on your end or the Atlantic City venue here. As mentioned, you guys can use the sobriquet “Abusers-Enablers” and Marci’s side will be appropriately called “Children-Survivors” We would have all of the accompanying hoopla as the date/day approaches with the media, press and oddsmakers weighing in on the outcome. We have all of the factors for an interesting bout……age, gender, experience differences and concerns. Height, weight, reach and even, you guessed it, hairstyle.

  • Michael S.,

    You failed to advance any argument for either side. Your comments are neither constructive nor helpful.

    I appreciate the passion on both sides of the debate, but mocking people for taking a position will not be tolerated on this blog.

  • Sir…..satire and what you call “mocking” aside, the only truth that matters here is that “First Things” in our society should be the protection of our children. Marty’s diatribe that is personally directed at Ms. Hamilton and her extraordinary efforts to protect this nation’s children, both now and in the future….now this, sir, is mocking behavior and conduct.
    Mr. Nussbaum, as counsel to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, would do well to obey the court’s directive as part of the settlement agreement and turn over the personnel files…..stop the obfuscation and delay.

  • Michael S.,

    Thanks for clearing that up.

    The comment is back up again.

  • [Comment deleted: Michael, you’ve already made your point; any future comments in this vein will be deleted – JH]

A President Obama Will Silence Catholics

Friday, October 10, AD 2008

Senator Obama has stated that he wants the Internet to be regulated. CNET had this exchange of a MoveOn.org member asking Senator Obama this very question:

He asked Obama: “Would you make it a priority in your first year of office to reinstate Net neutrality as the law of the land? And would you pledge to only appoint FCC commissioners that support open Internet principles like Net neutrality?”

The answer is yes,” Obama replied. “I am a strong supporter of Net neutrality.”

This “Net Neutrality” law would be something along the lines of the Fairness Doctrine. Conservapedia states that the Fairness Doctrine required broadcasters who aired material on controversial issues to provide “equal time” for the expression of opposing views.  The end result was censorship, broadcasters simply refrained from airing public affairs programing.

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17 Responses to A President Obama Will Silence Catholics

  • Tito,

    I think you (or perhaps the author you’re citing) is misunderstanding what “net neutrality” means here — it is largely a technical term in favor of free speech and no restrictions on content:

    Put simply, Net Neutrality means no discrimination. Net Neutrality prevents Internet providers from blocking, speeding up or slowing down Web content based on its source, ownership or destination.

    Net Neutrality is the reason why the Internet has driven economic innovation, democratic participation, and free speech online. It protects the consumer’s right to use any equipment, content, application or service on a non-discriminatory basis without interference from the network provider. With Net Neutrality, the network’s only job is to move data — not choose which data to privilege with higher quality service.

    The counter-position is also chiefly economic — to quote from your own ‘Conservapedia’ source:

    Broadband providers want to manage more actively — and thus profitably — those information bits. They’d like to offer, for instance, new superfast delivery for sites or users willing to pay more (not unlike how FedEx speeds delivery of packages for a fee), or other new services such as online video or telephony.

    Network neutrality would render all that illegal. But why, then, should broadband investors keep building the Web infrastructure needed to keep pace with surging use? Where’s their financial incentive?

    It could be argued that if “net neutrality” were not enforced, internet content providers could effectively slow down or impede access to religious and public-service websites because they were not deemed commercially profitable.

    This is why the USCCB currently situates itself in favor of this principle:

    Bishop Kicanas urged that such protections, termed “net neutrality requirements,” be included in the Communications Opportunity, Promotion and Enhancement Act (“COPE Act”). As approved by the House Subcommittee, the COPE bill lacks net neutrality protections.

    “Those protections have particular importance for religious organizations which must rely on the Internet to convey information on matters of faith and on the services they provide to the public,” Bishop Kicanas said. “The Internet is an indispensable medium for distributing USCCB’s views on matters of public concern and on its religious teachings. The Internet was constructed as a unique medium without the editorial control functions of broadcast television, radio or cable television. The Internet is open to any speaker, commercial or noncommercial, whether or not the speech is connected financially to the company providing Internet access, whether it is popular or prophetic,” he said. “Those characteristics make the Internet critical to noncommercial religious speakers,” Bishop Kicanas said. …

    “That open environment, however, is threatened by a lack of response by Congress to the recent decision by the FCC to end the decades-old regulatory regime which fostered the unique freedom and openness of the Internet,” he continued. “When the FCC classified cable broadband service (and later telephone broadband) as an ‘information’ service, it ended more than thirty years of regulation which prohibited the companies which control the infrastructure connecting people to the Internet from interfering with the content distributed on the Internet. Unless Congress requires telephone and cable companies to act as neutral providers of Internet access, as they had been required to do since the birth and through the spectacular growth of the Internet, those companies will use their control over internet access to speed up or down connections to Web sites to benefit themselves financially.”

    At the present time, radio, broadcast television and cable television are largely closed to religious messages, Bishop Kicanas noted. “Years of deregulation and growing consolidation of the media industry have inevitably led to a hostile environment for noncommercial religious voices in broadcasting, whether in the form of short Public Service Announcements, programs on religious themes, news coverage of religious events, or local public affairs programs featuring representatives of local religious organizations. If the Internet becomes, as it inevitably will without strong protections for net neutrality, a medium where speakers must pay to deliver their messages, religious speech will be effectively barred from the Internet,” Bishop Kicanas said.

    So I’m having some difficulty seeing how an advocacy of ‘net neutrality’ actually translates into “a fairness doctrine” which mandates government censorship of all content the Obama administration presumably wouldn’t like. In fact, you couldn’t have that happen without violating the very principle under which people are supporting net neutrality as a concept.

  • Obama’s campaign has demonstrated on several occasions that they like attempting to silence and intimidate critics. If he is elected, I expect a full court press against all groups who stand in his way.

  • What would be stopping people from using servers abroad? Unless US regulations suddenly are enforced all over the planet, this wouldn’t be the end of free speech on the Internet — just on American servers.

  • Which is not to say that any such regulation doesn’t totally suck, but that it wouldn’t be as universal as is presented in the above post.

  • Donald:

    Obama’s campaign has demonstrated on several occasions that they like attempting to silence and intimidate critics. If he is elected, I expect a full court press against all groups who stand in his way.

    This would be true and is already happening (pressure from the Obama campaign to silence criticism they don’t particularly like) — but this isn’t the same thing and shouldn’t be identified with the principle of “net neutrality” — I think there’s some degree of confusion or misrepresentation of what we’re talking about here.

  • Christopher my comment was directed in general in regard to Obama and freedom of expression and not directed towards the net neutrality issue itself. A good overview of the issue is here at the Popular Mechanics Webite.

    http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/industry/4286547.html

  • Honestly, I’m not overly concerned about blogs being shut down; while I accept Jonah Goldberg’s thesis regarding liberal fascism, I think we’re a long way from that in this country, even under an Obama presidency.

  • That’s a great presentation of the issue — thanks, Don.

  • Christopher Blosser,

    Like the Internet, this legislative/regulatory concept is new and difficult to grasp. I can see where confusion can reign, especially in our day and age where technology is moving at such a fast pace, congressional reaction/oversight may seem confusing and misinterpreted to say the least.

    I’ll take a wait-and-see attitude while the dust settles down on this. I hope you’re right on the misconception of Net Neutrality.

  • Irrespective of the legal nuances & technicalites, the reality is that Barack Hussein Obama, Jr., & his goose stepping minions has shown both in the US and abroad (see Kenya & Corsi being kicked out) a predeliction for silencing and attempting to legally destroy their opponents.

    See Missouri, see Chicago, etc.

  • I may be overly optimistic, but I think any kind of serious regulation of TV, radio, print publications or blogs would never get passed — because it would so clearly be a double-edged sword and because it’s the sort of thing that would unite the civil libertarian wing of the left with nearly the entirity of the right.

  • Carlos,

    While I think that the Obama campaign has shown a mildly disturbing tendency to try to have criticism shut down (based, I think, on a worldview that holds that those opposing them are necessarily morally and intellectually bankrupt, and a conviction that Democrats have lost in the past through not being “tough” enough) — as an editor here I need to ask you to avoid throwing around Senator Obama’s middle name (Hussein) as a pejorative and that you avoid loaded terms like “goose stepping minions”.

    It’s hard to keep a site focused on politics civil, and in order to do so we believe it will be necessary to avoid this kind of inflammatory terminology. Believe me, I don’t want to see Obama elected president at all — but we can express that without getting enflammatory.

  • Christopher’s first comment is right: “net neutrality” has absolutely nothing to do with forcing content providers (e.g., bloggers, newspapers) to be neutral. All it means is that the internet service providers (such as AT&T or Comcast) shouldn’t block or slow down certain types of traffic. Net neutrality would mean, for example, that Comcast couldn’t block an independent VOIP (voice over internet) service like Vonage from letting people make phone calls over their internet connection. Instead, Comcast should be “neutral” towards however people are using their internet connection. That’s the basic idea.

  • Just post outrageous claims, in non-inflamatory language….

    Example: this post.

  • I think Christopher Blosser is a 100% correct on this matter. Sen. Obama has expressed support for Net Netruality for many of the same reasons that the American Bishops have. Net Netruality would have little effect on the internet as it currently is. In fact, opposition to net neutrality would change the internet as we know it.

    Who is advocating Net Neutrality? “The nation’s largest telephone and cable companies — including AT&T, Verizon, Comcast and Time Warner — want to be Internet gatekeepers, deciding which Web sites go fast or slow and which won’t load at all. They want to tax content providers to guarantee speedy delivery of their data. They want to discriminate in favor of their own search engines, Internet phone services, and streaming video — while slowing down or blocking their competitors.”

    Essentially big corporations advocate net neutrality, not most people. It affects us. So in this regard, I think you’re mistaken on what you believe that a potential President Obama would do.

  • To be a computer scientist and not know much about net neutrality is somewhat shaming, but then I’m a theorist. We only like to touch the real world with a long stick, and then only justify the existence of a new complexity class with a natural example.

    That aside, having spoken a little with our Systems Administrator here at the University of Wyoming Department of Computer Science, it would seem that the issue of net neutrality is almost of reverse nature to the issue of the Fairness Doctrine. Fairness is involved in both cases, but in terms of the Fairness Doctrine, we’re speaking essentially of being forced to provide products, whereas with net neutrality, we’re speaking of being forced to avoid throttling products.

    The concern is that ISP’s will grant easier access to big companies, like Google or Microsoft, and make other companies lower priority. Or perhaps that ISP’s will block certain sites, certain blocks of IP addresses. Net neutrality wants to pose limitations on how ISPs can limit customers to accessing certain sites.

    The analogy our SysAdmin used is the following: suppose we have Wal Mart, K Mart, and Target right next to each other along a strip, but the designer of the parking lot makes K Mart readily accessible, but Wal Mart and Target nearly impossible to access. That will funnel customers to K Mart and choke off business to Wal Mart and Target. Net neutrality wants to make the parking lot have equal access to Target, K Mart, and Wal Mart.

    The concerns about net neutrality are more along the following lines:

    1) Without careful crafting of law, net neutrality would make it impossible for ISP’s to block sites with illegal material, like child porn

    2) Smaller ISP’s would face a financial burden of giving equal access to low traffic sites and high traffic sites. With concerns about bandwidth and the huge amount of online games and media streaming, ISP’s would prefer to throttle access to those sites so that customers who are frequenting low-bandwidth sites don’t have to wait forever to connect.

    3) Conversely, ISP’s can get a financial edge by giving preference to certain groups, like Google, Microsoft, and other corporations. While this means slower download times on competitors like Yahoo! and Apple, it also means the ISP’s are able to provide services for less money to the customers.

    4) ISP’s would not be able to make prudent calls by throttling IP’s known to make DoS attacks, carry viruses, or contain objectionable material. This is especially true in terms of pornography in general.

    So from what I understand–and granted, there are a huge number of legal details that have been discussed, and it would probably take a year of study to understand them all–we potentially stand more to lose without net neutrality, because ISP’s could decide that, for example, it would be better business to throttle or block all IP’s associated with Catholic sites.

    On the other hand, things seem to be working fine as is, and I read that net neutrality is a “solution looking for a problem”. But remember the government motto: If it ain’t broke, fix it ’til it is.

  • If obama, when asked a direct question, gives a straight answer… I immediatly must begin to investigate WHY he is for it, cause it can’t be a good thing.

    it deservs to be scrutinized to the fullest extent.