Tuesday, September 13, 2005

I am a Patriot

As recent as the last editorial might seem, I feel that I must write this new one. I’ve been aware that most inspiration for writing comes from places other than within one for years, and for my two published columns, it mostly springs from having or overhearing conversations, or being told something. This latest comment I heard- and have been hearing for some time now- affected me in a way most others don’t. Most of my inspirations make me angry, so that I write these editorials to both cool off about it and also to learn more about the subject, so if I should engage in some sort of debate about the subject again, I’ll be able to confidently back my opinion with indisputable facts. These columns also are fun to write, and many people around me enjoy reading them, and like to comment on them.
This particular article, however, is deathly serious.
Yesterday, in the latter portion of the school day I heard someone say they wanted to make some statement about why students were required to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance; and why some teachers got angry if one didn’t.
Incidentally, students aren’t required to stand for the Pledge. That’s a common misconception that is indeed caused by certain teachers forcing their students to stand.
However, this person’s comment generated a strong feeling of sorrow within me, indeed to the point where the fury that was aroused with it simultaneously was actually drowned out by it. I was sad, and it is because I weep for my country.
The idea of liberalism has advanced too far. It was once a good thing, a very good thing. A century ago and more, the newly formed left made changes in our society that were doubtlessly and most certainly good ones. They abolished abominations such as child labor, made reforms such as minimum wage, the Food and Drug Act of 1906 (also known as the “Wiley Act”), and passed legislation to prevent monopolies and crooked political machines. Not that conservatives were supporting these things, or that they did nothing to help our country; but it was mostly liberals that seemed to really promote these things and a few others. Liberalism led America in women’s suffrage, as well as the blacks’. These things were all noble causes, and I give a nod of appreciation to what I call the Old Left, which was about advancing the idea that started America: freedom.
But the New Left, whose origins I place in about the 1950’s, is a perversion of what liberalism should have remained as. They take concepts that were once noble and twist them out of their original meanings and contexts, making them into things that most Christians- true Christians- have come to think of as immoral and undignified at best, and at worst- and most often- simply evil. They have taken the idea of equality between the sexes and then flooded our media with women that thinkt of men with only disdain, or women that pursue casual sex “so they can be like men”- refer to the abhorrent TV sitcom Sex and the City. They have driven the case for abortion as far as they could, and continue to do so; dutifully representing the murder of thirty million infants each year.
They have taken the notion of “freedom of religion” and started to dismantle Christianity in both the public and private sectors, treating Christians as lesser citizens and then portraying them all in Hollywood as sideshow scam artists. If you don’t believe me about this one, I encourage you to read David Limbaugh’s Persecution. It is guaranteed to stun Christians everywhere with its well-documented and unfortunately true depiction of the intolerance of Jesus Christ in our country.
They have taken the idea of free speech and used it to endorse the dissemination of such detestable practices like pornography and direct attacks on religion. The Democratic National Endowment of the Arts has long supported works of “art” which are unabashedly heralded as thinly veiled pornographic material- and it is encouraged! It’s not nearly as encouraged as attacks on Christianity, however- exhibits such as Piss Christ, a crucifix submerged in the “artist’s” urine; and The Holy Virgin Mary, a silhouette of a woman surrounded by pictures of female genitalia and covered with elephant dung; are supposed to be “works of art” that the NEA was pressing to have funded by public money, so it could be displayed in New York museums. It was insisted that such repugnant things were protected by the First Amendment, even when it so clearly offended any person who could rightfully call himself a Christian- and even people who weren’t. Well, maybe these abominations are indeed protected by the Bill of Rights, but that doesn’t mean that the taxpayer’s money needs to be spent on something that many of the taxpayers would find patently offensive. We conservatives aren’t trying to smother their rights and censor their views or pieces of “art”, but we could think of better uses of government money than offending Christians. Just use your own money, liberals.
Isn’t it ironic how when one student is offended by a prayer over a loudspeaker at a high-school football game, liberals will take the school to court and then mandate that the school must allow no more praying, but when a whole city- indeed, over half of the country- is deeply affronted and insulted by what are clearly attacks on their religion, liberals will say that it is merely an expression of free speech? Isn’t a student praying, or a student making references to Jesus Christ in a valedictorian speech (which was also suppressed) also protected by the freedom of speech? Liberals have taken the idea of free speech and used it as a club against majorities. They use it to suppress the rights of many to keep from offending a few, as in the school prayer cases or the argument against the “Moment of Silence,” which was notably overwhelmed in the last of The Right Side’s articles.
The last point, which was the main one of this article, is that they use the Freedom of speech to blatantly traitorous ends. High-school Democrats insist that they don’t need to say the Pledge of Allegiance and stand for its recitation if they don’t want to, even if they end up doing it in the end. Can anyone think of any more grateful way to thank the country that allows such views than to refuse to at least stand in honor of its flag? I, like my family, friends, and church, love my country. Maybe because my dad was in the Navy, or I went to military school where they try to instill a strong sense of patriotism in one. But, mostly I love America because of what it believes. The Founding Fathers of this country believed in a God, a Holy Creator, that had mandated them with creating a great nation in which everyone was equal, where there was a freedom to worship this God or any other in any way the person chose, where a person could do pretty much whatever he wanted with his life as long as it didn’t interfere with the rights of others’. They wanted a country unlike any other before it, where all were truly free to the best of man’s abilities. Even when that freedom of ideas would lead to such things as Nazis parading down Manhattan when they want, or abortion on demand, or students refusing to stand in honor of their nation’s flag. The Founding Fathers still pursued a dream worth pursuing; believing that the positive sides to such an idea would far outweigh the bad ones. And they do. Because of America, not only Americans can go to whatever church they want, but since many countries around the world have followed our example, thousands and millions of people can. America is the greatest country in the world, folks, in every way, shape, and form. It has been the leader in freedom for over two hundred years. I can worship freely, write my two Internet columns, and argue my case in school- even if I’m the only one doing so. Because I’m an American. Those kids who won’t stand for the Pledge, the only reason they can do so is because they live in a free country. It’s very sad, and sometimes infuriating, that they refuse to act with any gratitude towards the very thing, the very idea that allows them to refuse. And why? Why not merely stand up for two seconds to honor the country that allows them every freedom that they will ever use? To stand out from their peers, maybe? I’m not sure. If that’s the case, it’s one of the most pathetic things I’ve ever heard of. Individualism at the sake of the patriotism that allows this individualism is not worth it. It is not only ungrateful, it is bordering on traitorous.
To those Americans who have read this article, I beg of you: love this country. You live in the greatest, most unique country in the past century or so. This is a nation where even most of its poorest citizens still have televisions, phones, electricity, running water, refrigeration… This is a nation where anything is allowed to be said, anything is allowed to go into print, any idea can be passed up into government and incorporated into our country. This is the country where any American can become the leader of the country, or become a multi-millionaire if they applied themselves. This is the nation that anyone can worship his God freely and without worry of being killed for it, where the individual is the main, driving purpose for the government. This is the greatest country in the world.
For the record, I am a patriot.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Sixty Seconds Really Isn't That Long...

This is the first article in my newest column, The Right Side. It’s the brother to the web-log published column Reason and Logic. R & L focuses primarily on why the theory of evolution is false from a scientific and moral viewpoint; while The Right Side argues various political points, mainly from what most would consider a conservative viewpoint. Please be aware that neither column are attempts at being vindictive nor at vilifying anyone. Also, though I will mention at times that people around me have said things that might have inspired an article- as in this one- I will never mention any of the names of such people. You can find all of my Reason and Logic articles at the website www.reasonandlogic.blogspot.com, and this column at www.rightascain.blogspot.com.
One of the more interesting things I’ve heard recently is that the US Supreme Court-supported “Minute of Silence” in public schools is a violation of our rights in accordance to the First Amendment of our nation’s Constitution. Now, most people appear to believe that it’s some part of a state-supported religion or something, but this particular person seemed to construe it as a suppression of the freedom of the press. Oddly enough, he asserted that “if they can make you students shut up for a minute, who knows if next they’ll shut up journalism entirely!”
As far as I’m concerned, the “slippery slope” arguments- where one thing, like moment of silence or allowing prayer in school- will lead to something much more important and radical- like a national, mandatory religion, or the silence of the press- are simply absurd. It should be obvious that the mere fact that you can see such a distinct difference between the two would preclude any serious thought of such a thing happening.
However, that is not even where the problem with this critic of our school’s “Moment of silence” begins. It begins with his idea that it is in violation of the rights guaranteed to us by our first amendment. The moment of silence idea was initially a Virginia law that was upheld in the 4th US Circuit Court of appeals in 2000, which mandated a moment of silence “for public school students to ‘meditate, pray or engage in other silent activity’.” The ruling, of course, was predictably charged by the ACLU as a backdoor attempt to establish religion, and challenged the ruling. However, the Supreme Court refused to hear the case, allowing the ruling to stand. Since then it has been praised by conservatives as well as attacked by liberals. “ChristianityToday.com” says that Gary Bauer was “heartened by it… It's too bad that only a moment-of-silence law can pass court muster. Nevertheless, it's a helpful step in the right direction," he continued.
Of course, the considerably left-leaning ACLU had heavy criticism of the legislation, quoting a Virginia senator and the Executive Director of the ACLU in Virginia on its website thusly:
But Sen. Richard L. Saslaw (D-Fairfax) said the measure would violate the rights of students, especially those whose religions do not call for prayer. He cited a case in which a Jewish student was tormented by his classmates for refusing to pray during a moment of silence. "If you want a government that's dominated by religious people, you might want to try living in Iran for a few years," Saslaw said.
Kent Willis, Executive Director of the ACLU of Virginia, said lawmakers are "at the very least placing Virginia law right on the line of separation of church and state or they are crossing it . . . the state is playing with fire here."
Both of these statements are patently absurd. There is no right that is violated by mandating students to not talk for sixty seconds. The mere fact that they can pray during the moment of silence does not mean it supports religion. A person can pray anytime they want. I can, and do, pray before meals. Does that make lunch a “backdoor attempt at establishing religion?” Hardly. Let’s see liberals try to abolish lunchtime because I can pray during it. If the ACLU wants to abolish prayer in school, they’re going to have to abolish Christians from going there, because I know quite a few students who would pray whether the Minute of Silence was mandated or not.
Interestingly enough, Senator Saslaw, when quoted above, was said to have “cited a case in which a Jewish student was tormented by his classmates for refusing to pray during the moment of silence.” Strangely, I can’t find mention of such a case on www.Google.com, or even on the American Atheist website- and you know they would have something dealing with such a thing were it to actually happen. The ACLU, or their misinformed Senator, actually invented a case for their article arguing against the “Moment of Silence.” Not that this is really surprising to me, somehow, but I do find it rather galling.
The next oddity within Saslow’s opinion is the direct quote attributed to him, reproduced here. “If you want a government that’s dominated by religious people, you might want to try living in Iran for a few years.” Now, perhaps my mind is not so nimble as the Democratic Senator’s, but what, exactly, is the relationship between this comment and the debate about the Minute of Silence? Republicans are trying to assist the “Moment” using debate, reason, and logic; and the Democrat on the opposing side is suggesting residence in Iran. What? I’m not sure what point either he or the ACLU is trying to make, here; and I’m not sure that he does, either…
Then the other source, the Executive Director of Virginia himself, Kent Willis. He asserts that Virginia law is close to crossing, or already has crossed, the line of “separation of church and state,” and that the state is “playing with fire.” Incidentally, there is no such thing as the “separation of church and state,” since there is no mention of such a thing in either our federal or state constitution, our First Amendment, or any other real legal document until 1947, and that was a side note in a US Supreme Court case that will be discussed more later. In fact, the First Amendment states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” That’s Congress, not the individual states. Forget the moment of silence, a state could go so far as to establish a state religion and still be within their constitutional parameters. In fact, some did… Maryland and Massachusetts both had state-established religions- even with religion being in the governments- well after the federal constitution had been written and ratified. Many state constitutions had heavy religious references in them, among the content the words “our Father,” “our Heavenly Father,” and “the Holy Creator.”
The first mention of the exact words “separation of church and state” come from a personal letter that was written by our third president, Thomas Jefferson (Limbaugh, 21). Those who wished to eradicate religion wherever possible largely took this out of context to mean want they wanted it to: the word “religion” had no place on the same page as the word “government,” unless a negative or three was between them. The phrase was giving its first real meaning- meaning as to want the “separatists” (as those who wish a strong separation between church and state are called) want it to be- during the 1947 US Supreme Court Case Everson v. Board of Education by Justice Hugo Black. “The First Amendment,” he said, “has erected a wall between church and state. That wall must be kept high and impregnable. We could not approve the slightest breach” (Limbaugh, 17).
However, a ruling in support of an unconstitutional concept does not make it in the spirit of the constitution’s original intent. Not to mention that this same court supported the “Moment of Silence” in a result of its ruling in Wallace v. Jaffree in 1985. The Court stated that an Alabama Moment of Silence was unconstitutional because the legislation stated that it was for “prayer or meditation.” However, if the intent for the Moment was neutral in all manners, and could be used for prayer or meditation but also for studying or contemplation, then it would not be unconstitutional. In fact, to say that a Moment of Silence could not be used for prayer or meditation would be unconstitutional, as it would preclude one’s religious rights guaranteed by the First Amendment.
Arguably, no one’s rights are suppressed by a sixty second’s worth of silence. The Minute can be used for prayer, meditation, thinking, reading, or writing… It is just a quiet minute, with no sinister connotations to the legally aware American. When the person that was quoted at the very beginning of this article said that the Moment of Silence was unlawful because it required students to be quiet, and then made the assertion that this could lead to a silencing of the press, I immediately saw the irony in such a statement: are not students required to be quiet all the time at school? The person himself, as a teacher, has most definitely required silence during tests or assignments probably a lot more often than he realized. So does silence during tests go against the Constitution of our Nation? Of course not. Being made to be silent in itself is far from unconstitutional in a public or private educational institution. And since the Moment of Silence can be used for purposes other than religion, it’s not a violation of anyone’s religious rights. So how, exactly, is the Moment of Silence unconstitutional?If anyone can prove to me that it is, feel free to email such proof to me at ca1ne@hotmail.com, or take a look at my web log site where this column’s published and post a comment to it. I’ll look at it and respond. Or, if anyone has any other type of comment, feel free to do the same.