...it's not dark yet, but it's gettin' there...

May 28, 2006

Another Way To Remember Memorial Day

Readers of annika's journal don't need to be reminded about Memorial Day, or what it stands for. But here's another way to honor those who died to preserve our freedom. Make your voice heard to save the Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial Cross.


The Thomas More Law Center, which does such great pro bono public interest work, has prepared a letter asking the president to help preserve the Memorial Cross from efforts to destroy it by secular zealots.

I'm not exactly sure why a tiny group of chronic complainers feel so threatened by this cross and other symbols meant to honor our nation's heritage. But they won't stop until all traces of religious faith are erased from public sight. And then they'll find something else to destroy. They only reason they are succeeding is because they complain so loudly while we who disagree stay silent.

Posted by annika, May. 28, 2006 | TrackBack (1)
Rubric: annikapunditry



You know better. Nobody who thinks that religious symbols should not be erected by the Govt. want ALL relgious sybols erased from public sight. I don't and I surely want the govt. out of religion and its business and symbols. We are not zelots just folks concerned with a misreading of the constitution. This memorial in question is a cross, a symbol of the death of jesus and probably lots more depressing stuff. It has no right being placed over the graves of men and women who did not ask for and were not fighting for it. It discredits the deaths of those that are interred there as it so prodly proclaims that America is not the land of the free but rather the land of the Christians. Take it down and show some respect for those who died defending the constitution and the right to live a secular, christian or any life they wanted. Religious symbols reduces the value of their sacrifice by limiting the scope of freedom.

Posted by: Strawman on May. 28, 2006

Do you people on the Left even read the Constitution...or the notes to the Constitutional Convention or read the words of its main author, Madison. Or how about reading the men who founded this country - that is without pulling some sentence from Jefferson wildly out of context. The 1st Amendment wasn't penned to keep this cross off this gravesite or any other crosses off memorials - public or private. Liberal men in black robes starting making up this crap a few decades back - without precedent and without historical context. The 1st Amendment was writtent to keep the gov't out of religion - not religion out of government. Hopefully, Bush will get one more Supreme Court nominee in order to correct the intentional distortions of the 1st amendment by people who think their personal ideology has priority over the plain words of the Constitutional text.

Here is the amendment in case you have never actually read it, Straw.

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.

How in the fuck do you get to your position after reading this very simple and straight-forward text? But then again, you guys are the same people who can read the Constitution and then not laugh hysterically at the logical cluster fuck called Roe v. Wade. And, at the same time, have no problem with the goverment dictationg race-based public policy. Lewis Caroll's imaginary world has nothing on you fucking people.

Posted by: Blu on May. 28, 2006

You go, Blu.

Strawman, don't go away mad; just go away.

Posted by: shelly on May. 28, 2006

I think Strawman does a great job of explaining the opposition's point of view.

Seriously, I don't understand what the harm of having a cross on public land is. The founding fathers would never have objected to it. No one is hurt by it. A plain reading of the Constitution does not prohibit it. Hell, England's head of state is also the head of their National Religion and people aren't dying in the streets because of it. Up until just recently, Swedish taxes went to support their own National Religion and no one could possibly call the Swedes an oppressed people. What is the big deal?

The big deal is that a handful of people with an axe to grind against organized religion and too much time on their hands have found a lever that they can use to further their own personal pet peeve: the so-called separation of church and state. Despite it's questionable Constitutional validity they have taken it to such an extreme that it serves no real purpose except to keep certain lawyers and the ACLU in the money.

Does anybody really believe we are in danger of Congress making a "law respecting an establishment of religion" anytime soon? Congress is doing a lot of other things that we should be worrying about, but declaring an Official Religion of the United States isn't something we need to fear.

Posted by: annika on May. 28, 2006

Well put, Annie. And, you are correct: Strawman always makes a strong argument for his side. I just disagree. Thanks for the "attaboy" Shelley. Still, I have no desire to make any of this personal. However, this is an area about which I feel particularly passionate.

Posted by: Blu on May. 29, 2006

No. I think what you mean is Strawman always argues strongly for his side.

Posted by: annika on May. 29, 2006

Let me give you the local perspective. They're homos, literally, they're the same people who don't want the boy scouts to be able to use Balboa park. Their self-loathing requires self-expression, so they attack those with whom they have the least in common; i.e. the heroic, and the consecrated.

I had insomnia last night, and I watched Company of Heroes on Fox. I don't know if there has ever been a show like it. It was extraordinary. It followed India company through Falluja, and each of her fallen back home to their families. The black single mom of deep faith, the middle class mom and dad of an Annapolis grad Lt, the small town parents of the LCpl who got shot in the face... it was all deeply moving, and fitting for this day.

Only lawyers value an articulation of "The Opposition's" arguments. The rest of us see them as the traitors they are and long for the hangman. Today is a day for those who have bourne the burden, and for those who love them. Let "The Oppositon" cower and remain mute as they do in any time of real crisis.

Semper Fi

Posted by: Casca on May. 29, 2006

People have completely forgotten that the First Amendment's Establishment Clause was originally a statement of federalist principles: i.e., to keep the newly-created federal government from interfering with or undermining the preexisting ESTABLISHED (i.e., official and publicly-funded) churches in each state, the last of which wasn't disestablished until (I believe) the Connecticut Constitution of 1818.

Posted by: Dave J on May. 29, 2006

Blu, et al,

Firsly, Annie, i am offended by a cross on public land erected with public funds. One, because I am Jewish and the historical record of Christians as tormentors of the jews was and is known to me, and second because I believe in a secular government that has its eyes closed to religion. Is that not enough? I do not have too much time on my hands, nor do I search for things to destroy unless they are destroying the principles that make this country great. I sat in grammar school for 5 years reciting the 23 psalm each morning until Murry V. whatever. Was I not a prisioner of state sponsered religious training?

Let me ask how the erection of this cross with tax dollars does not put the govt. in the business of establishing a religion?

Let me to also ask how would you feel if all the christian men and women burried in this cemetary were watched over by a 60' star of David? (please don't give me the history of this symbol and how recently it became a symbol in Judism and how many think it meaningless)

Or coversely how do the families of the hindu, muslim and jewish men and women burried here feel about the symbol of the crucifixion casting a shadow on their graves?

Please, try and give me honest heart felt answers. No blabbering about the federalist's, madison, Jefferson or any other speculations about what you think others meant.

And answer what the threat is of a religion-neutral government?

Posted by: Strawman on May. 29, 2006

Strawman, when have you ever known me to blabber on about anything? ;-)

I don't think the Constitution was designed to prevent offense. Nor do I think that it is possible to create a system of laws that can ensure no one will ever be offended.

The nature of "offense taking" is that what one person considers offensive another person necessarily considers quite trivial. The founders of this nation would have surely scoffed at someone objecting to the existence of a Christian symbol at a war memorial or a cemetary.

Your last question implies that we don't already have a religion neutral government, or that I am in favor of the establishment of a national religion. Both implications are untrue.

Posted by: annika on May. 29, 2006

Dave J. is correct and succinctly states the premise of Justice Michael W. McConnell's excellent scholarship on the issue.

Casca said: "Only lawyers value an articulation of "The Opposition's" arguments."" This is true and it is an unfortunate but necessary byproduct of legal training, which I have noticed over the last two years. It's like how doctors are trained not to faint at the sight of blood.

Posted by: annika on May. 29, 2006


I believe in no right not to be offended, but I also do not believe, that being true, all things offensive are permitted or should not be sanctioned if the remedy is simple. The government has an obligation to act in a manner that does the least harm to the public while not shirking the greater good to the nation. Erecting a religious symbol guarenteed to offend and possibly enrage many is, especially when it is of dubious constitutional standing (sorry I couldn't think of a better word) is I am afraid irresponsible and hardly trivial.

"There is no answer to the proposition . . . that the effect of the religious freedom Amendment to our Constitution was to take every form of propagation of religion out of the realm of things which could directly or indirectly be made public business and thereby be supported in whole or in part at taxpayers' expense. . . This freedom was first in the forefathers' minds; it was set forth in absolute terms, and its strength is its rigidity. Id., 330 U.S., at 26, 67 S.Ct., at 516, 91 L.Ed. 711."

Further, Mr. Justice Rutledge, joined by Justices Frankfurter, Jackson and Burton, declared:

"The [First] Amendment's purpose was not to strike merely at the official establishment of a single sect, creed or religion, outlawing only a formal relation such as had prevailed in England and some of the colonies. Necessarily it was to uproot all such relationships. But the object was broader than separating church and state in this narrow sense. It was to create a complete and permanent separation of the spheres of religious activity and civil authority by comprehensively forbidding every form of public aid or support for religion. Id., 330 U.S., at 31-32, 67 S.Ct., at 519, 91 L.Ed. 711."

The people who are always in the forefront of this issue are not complainers as much as they are defenders of religious liberty. For as soon as christianity is seen to be the government's "choice" then all others are diminished by degree. Many of the vigilant citizens that continually "complain" about this issue are clergy

Posted by: Strawman on May. 29, 2006

What a fucking blowhard, in the company of men, he'd be thrown to the fishes.

Posted by: Casca on May. 29, 2006


Who rattled your cage you baitable reprobate? Better to be in the company of fishes than in a company of your men, Col. knuckle walker.


Posted by: Strawman on May. 29, 2006

You're Jewish, Strawman? I thought that you weren't into the whole organized religion thing based on what I've seen during my previous encounters with you, such as this.....

"Most therapists do think a literal interpretation of the bible and a powerful life affecting belief in god is an illness. Makes more sense than telling people who fuck REAL people in the ass that they are sick.

And don't forget that until the people of Earth give up the idea of a supreme being in any form, nobody on the galactic council will ever vote to let us into the Federation. The council thinks the refutation of a belief in a supreme being is an important marker in evaluating the cultural evolution of a planet. Just as you think your kids are getting more sophisticated and grown up when they give up the tooth fairy and Santa Claus."

Posted by: reagan80 on May. 29, 2006

Strawman, why does Psalms 23 offend you? That was written by King David. Even if you've turned away from your faith, which I find sad, you have to admit it's beautifully written prose--probably even better in Hebrew. And, regarding persecution from Christians, they weren't adhering to the teachings of Christ when they were doing it. They were just very wrong.

Posted by: Mark W on May. 30, 2006

Hey Ray,

So? This by you is a contradiction?

(BTW, its nice to know I have an achivist. I think the University of WIsconsin will make some room in their library when the time comes.)

I stand by my Galatic Federation remarks, in fact there was a recent memo from the GF reiterating their stand on this very point last March. Your spam filter probably tossed it, www.galfed.gov.gal

Jewish is a nationality, a heritage that envelopes me whether I believe the myths of the old testament, or believe in god (you know I don't) or support or dismiss Israel's claim to Judea.

The Jews have have what may be the longest recorded history of any people on the planet. A heritage of learning, questioning and belief in science and its methods. (25% of Noble winners are Jewish)



This has meaning to me even if I don't think god played a part in it.

Posted by: Strawman on May. 30, 2006

Thank you, Strawman. That shed some light on things.

Now, I can understand why a Jew, like Leon Trotsky, would turn to Communism despite what that ideology's patriarch has written about them:

"Let us consider the actual, worldly Jew -- not the Sabbath Jew, as Bauer does, but the everyday Jew.

Let us not look for the secret of the Jew in his religion, but let us look for the secret of his religion in the real Jew.

What is the secular basis of Judaism? Practical need, self-interest. What is the worldly religion of the Jew? Huckstering. What is his worldly God? Money.

Very well then! Emancipation from huckstering and money, consequently from practical, real Jewry, would be the self-emancipation of our time....

We recognize in Jewry, therefore, a general present-time-oriented anti-social element, an element which through historical development -- to which in this harmful respect the Jews have zealously contributed -- has been brought to its present high level, at which it must necessarily dissolve itself.

In the final analysis, the emancipation of the Jews is the emancipation of mankind from Jewry". (Karl Marx-1843)


Posted by: reagan80 on May. 30, 2006


Nice piece of prose; mellifluous and serene to be sure, but the message is not something I would want my children to take to heart. No one is sheparding us through life, I do fear evil and for good reason whether in dark valley or brightly lighted avenue, Oiley hair is too 50's, and a rod and a staff might get the yankees to the playoffs, no further.

I do however wonder what you mean when you say they were very wrong? Oh, I re read it. You mean the Christians were being un christlike. GOt it.

And there is no need to be sad about my turning away from my "faith". I never was facing it. FOrtunately I was brought up with out the need. Some how, just me guiding my life have survived this perilous world in fine order. Chaos, moral turpitude and furry palms have not sent me to an early grave.

Posted by: Strawman on May. 30, 2006

Strawman -
Does the government using taxpayer funds to provide military chaplains and facilities (for several faiths) for servicemembers and their dependents violate the Establishment Clause or would not providing such resources violate the same people's Free Exercise Clause? I am thinking of the specific cases where private sector resources (some overseas locations or deployed on operations) are not available.

If you want the "govt. out of religion," then I'm inferring you don't want me to have access to any publically funded religious resources. Is putting a cross, star of david, or the word "wiccan" (I think the use of the pentacle or similar symbol is still under review) on a veteran's grave marker (publically funded) over the line?

If you give a little, then is the issue really the size of the 'wall' between church and state? Justice Douglas said the Constitution does not require "callous indifference to religion."

Posted by: Col Steve on May. 30, 2006


Re: Chaplains. I think it is entirely proper for the armed forces, which separates its members from society, to provide these services. Not a problem. This is of course an example of government funds providing a service for in the service of curing the defect for although it promotes religion it is the proper response to the denial of "free excercise thereof". I don't know what to do about the Wiccans or the Sikhs, or Zorasters, or Confusians. Are there any Wiccan's in the Chaplains corp ? There may come a time when the military disbands the chaplain corp and treats everyone equally. If you join up you are given fair warning there will be no relgious accommodations, none. No dietary, no last rites, no praying to the east, no sabbath, an absolutly neutral organization. I could live with that.
Do you have a problem with that approach? The same problem is occuring in prisons.

Grave markers. I also can find no fault with this practice since it is an accomadation to the fallen soldier's family and does not promote or prohibit religion. SInce the govt. is providing the marker it must do all, within reason and that which is customary, that the family requests regarding their religious practices and symbols and as long as it is done with equitably all is well.

I do not advocate "callus indiference" nor do I wish the wall to be infinitly high. Remember Douglas said this in response to an argument about whether schools should allow time off for a student to go to another location to fulfil a religious obligation. In no way was the wall lowerer by his remark. Allowing or rather not penalizing a student for the time, (an I am sure reasonableness was part of the decision) is a passive act that avoids the potential conflict of the second half of the clause.

The example Annie put up of the 60' cross is callus and indicative of a wall of lilliputian dimension.

I usually don't sweat the little things but this example is not one of them. We are living in a period where the people who wish to impose good christian beliefs and values are running wild in the streets. Our president has publicly supported many initiatives that have knocked down the wall. Intelligent design being only one of many instances where he has disingenuously smirked and said it's got nothing to do with religion, just want the kids to get all the information they can.

In this climate, we who wish the wall to have some meaningfull height, need to be vigilant.

Posted by: Strawman on May. 30, 2006


I've reconsidered Zorach and think the court was wrong. (As I think they were in Everson.)Allowing religious absence has the potential to be disruptive to the overall educational goal of the institution. How does a student choose a lab partner or any partner for a project that requires teamwork? Should one student be penalized if on presentation day one partner is excused for a religious observance? Or should the class be denied the knowledge the absent student was to deliver? Should the teacher modify the test to accommodate the disruption of the class?

Yes, I know that on any given day absences can occur for sickness or other extrordinary circumstances, but that is an uncontrolable fact of life and excused absence for religious practice is not.

Posted by: Strawman on May. 30, 2006

Strawman, I am much more comfortable with the Court's ruling in Everson than I am with Zorach. At least in Everson, the law applied more broadly and was directed at transportation to and from a religious school, which is an act that arguably is sufficiently attenuated from actual religious instruction (at least in my mind) to be acceptable. On the other hand, I agree with you on Zorach, which seemed to be a sleight of hand way to allow religious instruction with the tacit "blessing" of the public schools. Of course that was 1952, and I highly doubt that New York is doing such things these days.

Regarding your other comment, I think it's disingenuous to bring up the President's "intelligent design" comments. He has never proposed any legislation to require the teaching of ID in schools. He was asked his opinion on the matter (probably being set up by a reporter, which they love to do on religious issues) and he gave his honest opinion, which was then spun by the press into a scare headline: OMG Bush Wants To Force Our Kids To Learn Creationism!

I'm not an absolutist on Establishment clause issues. I just want to see some sanity. I don't want religion taught in public schools. Obviously, if it were there would be tremendous harm and mischief. They wouldn't be teaching my religion that's for sure. Don't forget, this country has a long history of anti-Catholicism as well. But a cross on public land, a nativity scene or menorah in a park, the ten commandments in a courtroom, "under God" in the pledge, etc. Those things really don't bother me at all. My point is, they shouldn't bother anybody as I explained my comment way up above.

Posted by: annika on May. 30, 2006

This could be an extremely long series of exchanges, something best hashed out in a persistent, threaded discussion board, perhaps a Scoop.

Back in my Republican days, I would have held similar views to many of you, though without the rancor of some. I argued against 'liberal' interpretations of the Establishment Clause, often on Misc.Religion and other related Usenet sites.

However, I *did* listen to the other side's points and reasoning, and balanced them against what I had to bring to the table. As I consider myself a person who seeks the truth, I make it a point to be open to the truth in whatever form it would present itself, which was a difficult feat for someone as arrogant as I was (and perhaps still am).

If this were a government cemetary, I would argue that every religion represented by the soldiers interned would be appropriate to have on display. However, this is a private memorial on private land (as I understand it), I see no need to interfere. True, there are likely names on the plaques of people who were Jewish, Muslim, or other religions, but I believe our freedom of speech is protected in such matters. Try as I might, I never could embrace the interpretation of the EC to suggest that already established religions shouldn't be interfered with. And to attempt to suggest that Madison would be disappointed with the current interpretation of the Establishment Clause is such a long shot that I can't even see the dart anymore.

There, I've raised the hackles on many and mollified none; such is the calling of a independent in such a short discussion.

Posted by: will on May. 31, 2006

Hello Will,

I was under the impression that this cemetary was not private, for had it been I agree with you that all this verbiage is pointless, but rather is either state or federal. San Diego is the defendant in the suit or order to dismantle and remove the cross.

Posted by: Strawman on Jun. 1, 2006

My understanding is the Judge nullified the sale of the memorial land to the private group. The judge considered the "no-bid" arrangement a violation of the CA constitution because the city gave a decided preference to a "religious" group.

Using my economist bias, why not have an open auction of the plot and see who in the private sector values the land (and by default the existence, modification, or removal of the cross) most? That solution is rather straightforward as well.

Straw - To answer your question, my personal experiences and conversations (non-scientific of course) persuade me that there is some basis for the statement about "no atheists in foxholes." From a unit cohesion perspective (and all the other headaches commanders have in operational theaters), I'd rather accomodate the overwhelming majority of servicemembers who want some degree of religious services than risk the impact on unit performance.

By the way, I had 3 wiccans in my last command. I arranged for the unit chaplain to research and accomodate their needs. Of course, I made them "declare" their religious preference on their dogtags to weed out the possibility of these 18 years olds merely trying to be smart-asses.

Posted by: Col Steve on Jun. 1, 2006


Thats quite a few wiccans. QUite remarkable.

I never heard the fox hole addage. I never got too close to a foxhole so I don't know much about unit cohesiveness but i can't imagine that a soldiers belief in god or not makes any difference in his willingness, ability or the quality of his engagement(s) of the enemy.

Posted by: Strawman on Jun. 1, 2006

Col. Steve,

So you had a Christian minister perform Wiccan rites? If not, how else would he have met their needs?

Posted by: will on Jun. 1, 2006

> i can't imagine that a soldiers belief in god or not makes any difference in his willingness, ability or the quality of his engagement(s) of the enemy.

I certainly believe that religion DOES have the ability to increase a soldier's willingness and quality of his engagement, because a belief in an afterlife reduces their fears and can even bypass their physical survival instinct. Simply look at all of the suicide bombers as one example set.

Posted by: will on Jun. 1, 2006


I think this is a pretty big stretch of an argument. If the only criteria for being a good soldier is a willingness to die or an "ease" with death as an outcome you could be right. I think however the Col. would say that a wish to live and doing all the things that might make that come true while still applying the full force of your capacities to the purpose of the mission might be more important. I don't think those "committed" to dying make the best decisions about fullfilling the goals of the mission.

Posted by: Strawman on Jun. 2, 2006

> If the only criteria for being a good soldier is a willingness to die or an "ease" with death as an outcome you could be right.

I don't think that anyone here has suggested this was an only criteria (or even a criteria at all) for being a good soldier.

> I don't think those "committed" to dying make the best decisions about fullfilling the goals of the mission.

I don't either, though I don't speak for religious extremists. However, the possibility of giving one's live for the betterment of is a typical motivating tool by national or religious leaders. While overemphasized in movies, there have been instances where our own troops have been queried for volunteers for 'suicide missions'. The Charge of the Light Brigade is a literary classic; the untold other similar situations have not received as much immortality.

Posted by: will on Jun. 4, 2006

> If the only criteria for being a good soldier is a willingness to die or an "ease" with death as an outcome you could be right.

I don't think that anyone here has suggested this was an only criteria (or even a criteria at all) for being a good soldier.

> I don't think those "committed" to dying make the best decisions about fullfilling the goals of the mission.

In most situations, I don't either, though I don't speak for religious extremists. However, the possibility of giving one's live for the betterment of is a typical motivating tool by national or religious leaders. While overemphasized in movies, there have been instances where our own troops have been queried for volunteers for 'suicide missions'. The Charge of the Light Brigade is a literary classic; the untold other similar situations have not received as much immortality.

Posted by: will on Jun. 4, 2006


However, the possibility of giving one's live for the betterment of ONE'S NATION, ONE'S RELIGION, ALL HUMANKIND, ETC. is a typical motivating tool by national or religious leaders.

Posted by: will on Jun. 4, 2006


I think you are a bit confused by the effect wished for and what i imagine is a paucity of data about the result.

I don't think motivational speeches by anybody, in a rational society, suggest that the chance of dying for a good cause is a reason to enlist(in a mission or generally in the services). Rather, I think motivators suggest and inform recruits that that they may be called upon to make the ultimate sacrifice. That's just giving them a clearer picture of the reality they will face, not offering a reason for greater enthusiasm.

Posted by: Strawman on Jun. 4, 2006

Straw - I think you place a different emphasis by phrasing unit cohesion in terms of a soldier's religious beliefs.

My personal experiences convince me the vast majority of Soldiers tend to care about their personal safety and the safety of their other unit members. The notion that each Soldier has some responsibility for the success and survival of the unit as a whole is powerful. Those capabilities that reinforce the confidence and assurance that the unit is "watching their back" (including leader competence and commitment, medical support - big one -, and equipment) help build that cohesion and increase unit/individual effectiveness.

I would include religious support as part of those capabilities. I don't think the individual's specific belief is as much the issue. I'm sure atheists can be great troopers (although Will has a point on the degree religion itself may have a greater influence on people coming from cultures where there is little separation between religion and the state). I would not rank providing religious services as vital as having a trusted casualty treatment and evacuation system, but the contribution is far greater than none.

I think "true" Wiccans might consider the Soldiers I had as "WINOs." So, no, the chaplain didn't have to do any rituals. I believe we ended up giving them access to a room and procuring them some material, but over time these young lads found greater distractions to occupy their time.

Posted by: Col Steve on Jun. 4, 2006

Hello COlSteve,

No to belabour the point but I am sure lots of personal differences and harmonies affect the cohesiviness of a unit. An arragant, pain in the ass who happens to be a catholic will be a problem having nothing to do with his religious beliefs as a good natured and likeable athiest will not cause the guy beside him in the Bradly to think he would not get his back or vice versa. I think too much is made of the superficial points of convergence or divergence wheras in real life men and woman in the service (and most other places) care far more about the actual, more tangeable nature of the relationships they have formed with their commrades in arms.

Posted by: Strawman on Jun. 4, 2006