Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Theophobia by Michael P. Tremoglie

(Two different versions of this article were originally published in January 2005 editions of the Philadelphia Bulletin and the Philadelphia Daily News)
JUST AS the civil rights of racial and religious minorities, women and the poor were the defining legal issues for America in the 20th century, among the defining issues for the 21st will be the rights of the unborn child, the rights of gun ownership, the rights of fathers - and the ability to freely express religious beliefs.
There is a continuing campaign by theophobes - those who either hate religion or who are opposed to public displays of it - to bowdlerize religion from American life. The most recent examples of this crusade are attempts to remove the word God from the Pledge of Allegiance, the Ten Commandments from courthouses and Christmas from the lexicon of public-school holidays.
The advocates of this bowdlerization display a clever sophistry. They claim that by segregating religious expression from even the most remote link with government they are merely being faithful to the constitutional doctrine of separation of church and state. The theophobes routinely refer to the "separation of church and state" as if it were mentioned in the Constitution.
But there is no such mention. The phrase "wall of separation between church and state" was used by Thomas Jefferson - who was not involved with writing the Constitution. Jefferson wrote this in a letter to Connecticut Baptists as president in 1802.
How his personal correspondence became constitutional law is not known. If being endorsed by Jefferson's correspondence is a precept of constitution law, then segregation should be constitutional as well.
The theophobic premise that Jefferson's phrase is the same as constitutional law is a fallacy. Although it must be said that Jefferson's phrase was used by Justice Black in the 1947 Supreme Court case Everson v. Board of Education. Justice Black, who wrote the majority opinion, said, "The First Amendment has erected a wall between church and state."
Ironically, the majority opinion in this case stated that it was legal to use taxes to provide transportation for students of religious schools. It does the exact opposite of what the theophobes want.
What they do want is to dictate to the majority of Americans who want references to God included in public life that they cannot do so. The fact that a majority wants this is irrelevant to them. They will raise the old canard that the majority of Americans once favored slavery. Of course, they never provide a shred of proof that this is true.
While theophobes say majority opinion is obviously flawed, they say Supreme Court rulings are good because they protect the rights of the minority. They forget that the Supreme Court protected slavery for so long.
How do theophobes reconcile their adherence to the fallible Supreme Court while eschewing majority rule? They can't. The fact is, theophobes are part of the liberal philosophy of "vanguardism," the Leninist theory that the wisdom of the elites should tell the masses what's best for them.
This is even more apparent in the second great fallacy of the theophobes. This specious argument states that an endorsement of religion is the same as an establishment of it. While the Constitution only prohibits an establishment of religion, the Supreme Court has created a constitutional prohibition against even the endorsement of it.
An example of endorsing religion would be a Christmas tree in the quadrangle of the campus of a publicly funded university. The rationale for opposing this is that the government is implicitly promoting religion through the use of a Christmas tree. Since public funds are used, the public is funding a religion.
But this is an absurd evolution of the interpretation of the First Amendment. First, the actual prohibition of the federal government's establishing a state religion is one most people concur with. This prohibition also applies to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment.
Forbidding an establishment of religion is one thing - but banning any reference to religion by a display or expression on public property goes way beyond the Constitution. What's next - mentioning religion in a public building? Thinking about it?
It is absurd to say that students cannot voluntarily engage in prayer. It is absolutely unconscionable that teachers are told that they cannot wear crucifixes while teaching in public schools. Yet, this is the current state of government and religion.
And it's time for a change. *

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Unlike most in the media, I actually read the Ferguson Report and Attorney General Eric Holder's comments about it.

What Holder said when releasing the report was telling. Simply put, Holder acknowledged the career prosecutors investigating possible criminal actions by Wilson could not find anything. 

But the DOJ Civil Rights Division did find a pattern of civil rights abuses. This is the same Civil Rights Division that, according to one whistleblower, Christian Adams, did not pursue actions against the New Black Panther Party in Phila. after receiving instructions from the NAACP to do so.

This is the same Civil Rights Division which will find a racist behind every tree and a racist conspiracy in every institution. The report is red meat to satisfy those who dwell in the fever swamps of the left.

Here are Holder's comments. The salient points are highlighted:

"This morning, the Justice Department announced the conclusion of our investigation and released a comprehensive, 87-page report documenting our findings and conclusions that the facts do not support the filing of criminal charges against Officer Darren Wilson in this case.  Michael Brown’s death, though a tragedy, did not involve prosecutable conduct on the part of Officer Wilson. "

"This conclusion represents the sound, considered, and independent judgment of the expert career prosecutors within the Department of Justice.  I have been personally briefed on multiple occasions about these findings.  I concur with the investigative team’s judgment and the determination about our inability to meet the required federal standard. "
"This outcome is supported by the facts we have found – but I also know these findings may not be consistent with some people’s expectations.  To all those who have closely followed this case, and who have engaged in the important national dialogue it has inspired, I urge you to read this report in full. "
 "I recognize that the findings in our report may leave some to wonder how the department’s findings can differ so sharply from some of the initial, widely reported accounts of what transpired.  I want to emphasize that the strength and integrity of America’s justice system has always rested on its ability to deliver impartial results in precisely these types of difficult circumstances – adhering strictly to the facts and the law, regardless of assumptions.  Yet it remains not only valid – but essential – to question how such a strong alternative version of events was able to take hold so swiftly, and be accepted so readily. "
"A possible explanation for this discrepancy was uncovered during the course of our second federal investigation, conducted by the Civil Rights Division to determine whether Ferguson Police officials have engaged in a widespread pattern or practice of violations of the U.S. Constitution or federal law. "

One of the more risible arguments made in the report is that Ferguson relies on fines for revenue and exhorts police to write more tickets to get more revenue. As if the federal government, state government, or even cities do not practice. Ferguson is not alone -  my recent experience with a parking fine in Philadelphia will attest to this.

The fact that these enforcement actions disproportionately affect African-Americans in a city  in which African-Americans are a majority is no great revelation. Nonetheless, the DOJ makes the racial disparity argument as if it were proof of racism. It is not. If it were than the disparity of African-American crime victims, professional athletes etc would also prove racism and that is ludicrous.

Obviously, the Civil Rights Division approached their work with a preconceived outcome. Their report is nothing more than tendentious work. It is the product of a witch hunt.