Monday, May 17, 2010

Mojave Cross Stolen

Two weeks after the Supreme Court decided that the Mojave Desert war memorial to WW I veterans, consisting of a white metal cross, did not violate the Separation of Church and State, the cross disappeared.

The following day an anonymous letter arrived at the Barstow Desert Dispatch with an explanation as to why the cross was stolen as follows:

“1. The cross in question was not vandalized. It was simply moved. This was done lovingly and with great care.

2. The cross has been carefully preserved. It has not been destroyed as many have assumed.

3. I am a Veteran.

4. A small non-sectarian monument was brought to place at the site but technical difficulties prevented this from happening at the time the cross was moved to its new location.

5. The cross was erected illegally on public land in 1998 by a private individual named Henry Sandoz. Since then the government has actively worked to promote the continued existence of the cross, even as it excluded other monuments from differing religions. This favoritism and exclusion clearly violates the establishment clause of the US Constitution.

6. Anthony Kennedy desecrated and marginalized the memory and sacrifice of all those non-Christians that died in WWI when he wrote: 'Here one Latin cross in the desert evokes far more than religion. It evokes thousands of small crosses in foreign fields marking the graves of Americans who fell in battles — battles whose tragedies are compounded if the fallen are forgotten.' The irony and tragedy of that statement is unique.

7. Justice Kennedy's words in particular and others like them from the other Justices caused me to act.

8. At the time of its removal there was nothing to identify the cross as a memorial of any kind, and the simple fact of the matter is that the only thing it represented was an oddly placed tribute to Christ. This cross evoked nothing of the sort that Justice Kennedy writes of, it was in the end simply a cross in the desert.

9. Discrimination in any form is intolerable, as is hatred.

10. Discrimination or hatred based upon religion should be despised by all Americans, and offering that this event was caused by hatred or malice is simply ignorance of the actual intent.

11. Despite what many people are saying, this act was definitively not anti-Christian. It was instead anti-discrimination. If this act was anti-Christian, the cross would not have been cared for so reverently. An anti-Christian response would have been to simply destroy the cross and leave the pieces in the desert.

12. We as a nation need to change the dialogue and stop pretending that this is about a war memorial. If it is a memorial, then we need to stop arguing about the cross and instead place a proper memorial on that site, one that respects Christians and non-Christians alike, and one that is actually recognizable as a war memorial.

13. If an appropriate and permanent non-sectarian memorial is placed at the site the cross will be immediately returned to Mr. Sandoz.

14. Alternatively, if a place can be found that memorializes the Christian Veterans of WWI that is not on public land the Cross will promptly be forwarded with care and reverence for installation at the private site.

15. In short this has happened because as Abraham Lincoln said: 'To stand in silence when they should be protesting makes cowards out of men.' Perhaps this was an inappropriate form of protest if so I humbly request your forgiveness and understanding for the actions that I have taken here."

While I agree with the sentiments, I am uncertain of the wisdom of the action. I especially agree with the smack in the face awarded specifically to Justice Kennedy. I expect a Christian centric outlook from Scalia, Thomas, Roberts and Alito, but Kennedy should know better.

Granted, the current Supreme Court appears to have forgotten its fundamental responsibility to protect the weak from the strong and the minority from the tyranny of the majority.

In doing so it has failed its obligation to American Democracy and the result is that people feel compelled to act outside the law to obtain justice. As citizens we are obligated to respect and uphold the rule of law unless that rule of law degrades into tyranny. At that point we are absolved of that obligation.

Some of the recent decisions of the Supreme Court, including eliminating campaign spending rules for corporations and the Mojave Cross decision, are bad decisions, but I'm not sure I would label them tyranny.

Still, it’s not a bad idea to remind our government, and that includes the Supreme Court, that:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

The so-called Tea Party is missing an opportunity here. They really have no horse in the "moral values" race. They are first and foremost a financial issues movement. If they could bring themselves to side with the Left on "moral values" things might get interesting. The Left could probably be persuaded to support budget reform and debt reduction as long as that doesn't mean throwing minorites and poor folks under the bus.

The problem with the Tea Party is it smacks too much of a Right Wing head up your ass kind of viewpoint and the real financial issues facing the country are getting lost in the rhetorical nonsense.

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