Thursday, October 8, 2009

Scalia Defends Cross On Public Land, Demonstrates Own Willfull Ignorance

Antonin Scalia, U.S. Supreme Court justice.Image via Wikipedia

Scalia Defends Cross On Public Land, Claims It Represents Everyone

It truly amazes me sometimes how willfully arrogant conservative pundits and lawmakers can be when confronted with the legitimate concern of separating Church and State. During a discussion about the cross that the Veterans of Foreign Wars built 75 years ago atop an outcropping in the Mojave National Preserve, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia whined and complained about not understanding what all of the fuss was about:

"It's erected as a war memorial. I assume it is erected in honor of all of the war dead," Scalia said. "What would you have them erect?...Some conglomerate of a cross, a Star of David, and you know, a Muslim half moon and star?"

If Scalia was being even remotely honest with himself and his audience, he would have recognized that drawing a firm line on the separation of Church and State is not only done to avoid the government from offering any direct legitimacy to one religion over another, but to avoid even appearing to do so. Obviously, no one is claiming that the VFW was attempting to force Christianity upon the world. But the government has an obligation to avoid even the unintended suggestion that it endorses a specific religion.

The arrogance, however, comes from the feigned ignorance of why anybody would even complain about it. The argument always goes along the lines of "It wasn't meant to be taken that way, so what's the big deal with leaving it up?" Of course, the question never asked in response is that if it really isn't that big of a deal in the first place, what's the big deal with taking it down? The same people that will fight tooth and nail to prevent a simple cross being removed from public property are the first to act in mock surprise when someone expresses the opposite. Tolerance supposedly only works one way.

"I don't think you can leap from that to the conclusion that the only war dead that that cross honors are the Christian war dead. I think that's an outrageous conclusion," Scalia complained. Of course he thinks that. And if this was about him, that might mean something. But this is about taking into the consideration the feelings of all the people who have loved ones buried at the cemetary. According to him, forcing some families to mourn their dead under a foreign religious symbol is reasonable, but giving them a neutral ground to do so is somehow absurd.

His argument about an amalgum of all religions in a monument is even more outrageous, but equally as popular. He jokes about the absurdity of trying to represent every conceivable world religion in a monument, purposely distracting from the true point that needs to be underlined, which is that you don't need to represent any religion in order to memorialize and remember those who have fallen in service of their country. To argue otherwise simply because the religious icon be displayed just happens to belong to your own religion goes beyond willful ignorance and arrogance.

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