Bulletin N° 373
Subject: ON THE SCIENCE OF BLACK HOLES, THE ART OF EVIL, AND THE FUTURE OF HOMO FARBER.
25 October 2008
Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,
Uranus, wrote Sartre in his classic study of the poet, thief and homosexual Jean Genet, is said to be a planet so heavy that the vines there are all creepers and the animals all drag themselves along the surface.
Transforming Being into Appearance, and Appearance into Nothingness is an art fast becoming a science. The Black Hole effect is performed by the cult of evil, evil being defined simply as the "absence of good." And what is good? It has been defined by moral philosophers as "a plenitude; a voluptuous joy, creativity, and happiness; a deep sense of fulfillment."
Several years ago I had the privilege of receiving an education on this matter (or anti-matter, as it were). I had been invited by one of my students at the Political Science Institute on the Grenoble campus (where I gave a course in U.S. foreign policy each year, between 2001 and 2004) to speak on Chomsky's book The Fateful Triangle. I had read the book years before and happily accepted the invitation. (This live student radio interview lasting about an hour was conducted on 13 February 2003. It occurred in a campus broom closet that had been converted into a radio studio. The student and I arranged to secure a microphone by placing it on the bottom of an inverted wastepaper basket which I set upside down for this purpose in front of us on the table which was otherwise covered with wires connecting the various recording and transmitting equipment. It was a charming bricolage that wedded "high tech" to "low tech" and it seemed to work well, except for the rather rasping breathing effect that the improbably positioned microphone registered. (Access to this recorded interview is available at the CEIMSA Internet site, by clicking on the Multimedia rubric in our menu, or go directly to the three-part audio recording here : "La Guerre en Irak".
This was in the early winter of 2003; less than a year-and-a-half later my research center was sent into exile, my Ph.D. students blocked from registering at Stendhal University, and the CEIMSA Internet site unceremoniously removed from Stendhal University server "forever". (For a documented history of this infamous censorship, please visit the Scandale à Stendhal pages at the CEIMSA site.) I was still a member of the Conseil Scientifique at Stendhal University in 2003, and a few days after my radio interview, the Vice-President of the C.S. at Stendhal quietly instructed me to not to speak in public or at faculty meetings in the future. "Your French is not good enough," he warned me. Subsequently, I saw the C.S. secretary on two different occasions at the door of my apartment building; she was speaking to my neighbors.
I had been forewarned that inviting Noam Chomsky to the international colloquium which I had organized in January 2002 on "The Impact of American Transnational Corporations" would be problematic for my career, if not my good health, but I had no idea of what it would mean to be subjected to a 21st-century Kafkaesque version of being tared and feathered and railroaded out of one's mind. Luckily, I had friends and honest acquaintances who were familiar with the process, and I survived. . . .
Speaking of efforts to condemn Jean Genet to silence, Sartre wrote (in 1952):
last year M. Mauriac advised him to remain silent forever. In the old days, they simply
cut off a delinquent's tongue; our society, which is more humane, lets him keep his
organs of phonation on condition that he not use them. Why should Genet speak? He
can only lie or deceive, since he is a thief. The truth is that what they fear most is that
he may defile words: in like manner, the women of certain tribes must express them-
selves by gestures; only the men have the right to use speech. If he violates the prohibition,
one must neither listen to him nor, above all, answer him: one would be taken in or
compromised. What is worse, in agreeing to carry on a dialogue, one would be maintaining,
if only for an instant, a reciprocal relationship with him. When he is caught, the cops will
require that he keep his mouth shut until he is questioned; during the questioning, he will
have to answer briefly. To answer; not allowed to ask questions.(p.304)
Following the faux pas of stumbling into foreboding regions of taboo, I found most of the decent folk around me living in hot pursuit of their own immediate self-interests and only too willing to enter into collaboration with the machinations of the governing cabal.
My effort to secure help from the national teachers' union, from the municipal judiciary, from the local lawmakers, and from my university administration was met largely with silence and with no results. "Good conscience" prevailed in a climate of considerable suffering. "We are all Bosnian Serbs, Palestinians, and Amerindians!," was my reflection at the time.
The 7 items below serve as various descriptions of the power paradigms in our own era of decay capitalism. The paradox of a power elite gesturing from their ignoble postures undermines their legitimacy and their effectiveness to misrule. Even the well-orchestrated conspiracy of silence cannot retard this decay, and a certain feeling of fatalism descends upon all of us, like an L. A. smog, and there is no number of Hollywood diversions whcih can dispell this toxic blanket. We spread our napkins now at meatimes and sitting before the unknown we murmur to one another: "Bonne chance," in stead of calling out the traditional "Bon appétit. "
Item A. is a report by Dahr Jamail on "feeling the pain" to end the mass murders in the Middle East.
Item B. is an audio report from the Berkeley California Radio program , "Guns and Butter," in which Historian and Economist Dr. Michael Hudson comments on Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson's "Plan" passed by Congress on October 3, 2008.
Item C. is a series of video shorts by the Ralph Nader campaign on the "$700 billion bottomless bailout" for Wall Street criminals.
Item D., from National Security Archives, is the important video, Torturing Democracy," produced and written by National Security Archive fellow Sherry Jones.
Item E. is a report from Alternatives Economiques on "LA CRISE" and the capitalist search to unload debts on "The Greater Fool."
Item F. is an essay by historian Lenni Brenner, author of Zionism in the Age of Dictatorships, on the historic limits of democracy in America.
Item G., sent to us by George Kenney from Electric Politics, is an interview with independent journalist Celia Farber on "the politics of AIDS and HIV Positive".
And finally, for more on the limits of electoral politics in the USA, we have received these links from CEIMSA readers:
1) from Dr. Michael Parenti, author of Democracy for the Few:
No need to speculate about the level of thought and political development of many of the McCain/Palin followers. They come right out and say it. Please check this link and watch the brief film = http://mcdayjob.com/2008/10/14/mccainpalin-rally-vs-kkk-rally/
2) from Democracy Now! on the overtly racist hate propaganda in the United States in support of the Republican Party:
3) from Rahif Marwen, graduate student at Stendhal University enrolled in the American Studies course on "Corporate America":
Dear Mr. Feeley,
Here’s a link to the documentary Obsession, which has been discussed in the Friday, October 17th, show of Democracy Now!”. Watching this video, I couldn’t get Orwell’s words out of my mind: ‘ignorance is strength’, on both sides obviously. I hope we can discuss some of the effects of this widespread propaganda on the upcoming elections, especially with the growing attention paid by the mainstream media to McCain for correcting a supporter when she called Obama “an Arab”. = http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gMLJJEDDDGc
from Dahr Jamail :
Date: 21 October 2008
Subject: MidEast Dispatches: "We Have to Share This Pain".
"We Have to Share This Pain"
by Dahr Jamail
(Click here to read story with photo.)
PORTLAND, Oregon, Oct 20 (IPS) - Veterans from the U.S. occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, along with Iraqis, Afghanis, Vietnam veterans, and family members of U.S. military personnel converged in this west coast city over the weekend to share stories of atrocities being committed daily in Iraq, in a continuation of the "Winter Soldier" hearings held in Silver Spring, Maryland in March.
At the Unitarian Church downtown, some 300 people gathered to hear the testimonies, which left many in tears. The five-hour event was comprised of three panels; Voices of Veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan, The Human Costs of War, and Building Resistance to War.
The goal of the event is to give veterans a platform by which to disseminate information about their experiences abroad to the general public.
"War changes people. You do not come out of a combat zone the same," Iraq war veteran Chanan Suarez Diaz told the audience while moderating the veteran's panel. "War is very numbing...it comes to a point that you see so much destruction you become numb. This bullshit about bringing democracy or liberation is nonsense -- we've killed over one million Iraqis."
Jan Critchfield, an Army National guard specialist, discussed his job working in Iraq as an army "journalist", that in his words, "I was a propagandist, pure and simple."
A somber Critchfield said, "I'm not proud of any of what I did over there -- it was inhumane and it changed me as a person. I didn't do anything but yell at people, push people around, and aim my gun at people."
Other vets spoke as photos taken by soldiers were shown on a large screen above the stage.
Josh Simpson explained his work as an army counterintelligence agent in Iraq. "We would go to houses without any evidence, arrest people, and pay our source hundreds of dollars. This was common, it was a crazy cycle."
"We were raiding houses every night in Mosul," he continued. "You ransack their stuff, then ask our officer who he wanted to detain."
The number of people detained was a measure of success for a unit, Simpson explained. "People's mothers would be grabbing me, asking me why I was taking their child away, and I never had an answer. It's terrible to push an elderly Iraqi woman away so you can take her child and load her into your Stryker vehicle, when you don't even believe they belong there."
Evan Knappenberger served one year in Iraq with the Army 4th Infantry Division working as an intelligence analyst. "We are responsible as soldiers, we are murderers of over one million Iraqis," a visibly shaken Knappenberger said. "I participated in burglary, trespassing, knowledgeable negligence, criminal assault and battery, rape by association, and gangsterism, I am standing here today as a criminal -- in a sense of the word that only someone who has worn the uniform can understand."
"While I was in Iraq, I did many things, but nothing for freedom," he added. "We've lost this war on the polemic battleground of semantics. By naming arbitrary rules of engagement, we rationalised murder -- this I witnessed...by calling it liberation, we justified occupation, this I witnessed..."
Chris Arendt, who was a block guard at the Guantanamo Bay detention centre during 2004-05, spoke of his experiences "working at a concentration camp, and the people I was working for were invading other countries."
He explained, "I had a lot of time to think about things. What we do there is completely contrary to our own set of laws. We have 650 people in Gitmo right now waiting for us to do something with them. What have they done? They don't even have charges! We are ruining people's lives."
"Time is the silent killer there," Arendt explained, "You just put people in a cell and tell them they are never going home, and watch them slowly break apart. I wish I was angrier when I was there, but it was impossible to feel there, you can't feel, feelings are just not something you want to bring there in your rucksack., but I'm still trying to unpack them, three years later."
David Mann was an Army Specialist who was deployed to Nasiriyah, Iraq in 2003 and forced to return after his tour ended under the "stop-loss" policy for a second deployment to Balad, Iraq in 2005.
"We were told not to stop when children ran in front of our vehicles as we invaded Iraq," he explained, his voice cracking. After being stop-lossed, Mann checked himself into an emergency room after threatening to kill himself.
Weeping he continued: "I told them I was going to kill myself if I had to go back to war. I was sent back...every man, woman and child who has died in this war has died in vain, because it was a war based on lies and profits."
The event was sponsored by Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) Seattle Chapter, the American Friends Service Committee, PDX Peace Coalition, and the American Iranian Friendship Council, among many others.
On another panel, Dr. Baher Butti, formerly the chief psychiatrist at a mental health clinic Baghdad, told the stunned audience, "The Iraqi population has mass post-traumatic stress disorder, everybody is just trying to survive."
Dr. Zaher Wahab, professor of Education at Lewis & Clark College, who serves as a senior advisor to the Minister of Higher Education in Afghanistan, spoke eloquently of the catastrophic situation in Afghanistan.
"There is now more bombing in Afghanistan than in Iraq, because they are so short of troops," Dr. Wahab explained, "The average family lives on one dollar per day, two million people are seriously mentally ill, 70 percent of Afghanis are traumatised. The society is being murdered by the occupation, and it's being done on live television."
Iraq war veteran and former Marine Benjamin David Lewis, 23 years old, also attended the event. Lewis, who has served two tours in Iraq and four years as a Marine, including being in Fallujah during the November 2004 siege that killed thousands of Iraqis and destroyed much of the city, had just received his involuntary activation order to redeploy, as he is in the Individual Ready Reserve.
"My plane to Kansas City that takes me to be screened and get my orders leaves tomorrow," Lewis told IPS on Oct. 18. "Presumably I'll get my orders to go to Iraq or Afghanistan, but I'm going to refuse to activate."
Lewis explained that when a soldier is screened for deployment, they have five months to get their affairs in order before being shipped abroad. At the end of this five months, he has decided he will publicly refuse his orders to deploy.
When asked why he would refuse the orders, Lewis said his decision was based on educating himself about the goals of the U.S. government and military, coupled with his experience in Fallujah during both 2004 sieges, of which he said, "My battalion in spring 2004 was operating in direct contravention of the Geneva Conventions (GC)."
"During the spring siege we sent military-age males back into the city, and were ordered to kill them," he told IPS.
Of the November siege, Lewis added, "The intention of the military was to take over and occupy the main hospital in Fallujah, which violates the GC's, as well as our being ordered to target all 'military age males'."
The intention of his refusal to activate is "To let the American public and other veterans know that this is an illegal war, and everyone should be opposing it."
The first Winter Soldier event was organised in 1971 by Vietnam Veterans Against the War in response to a growing list of human rights violations occurring in Vietnam.
>From Mar. 13-16, 2008, IVAW held a national conference titled "Winter Solider: Iraq and Afghanistan" outside Washington, DC. The four-day event brought together veterans from across the country to testify about their experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"If we are going to end these occupations, we have to share this pain," Camilo Mejia, Iraq veteran and Chair of the Board of IVAW stated to conclude the veterans panel. "Only by sharing this pain, and acting to end it, can we heal ourselves and educate the American public."
Dahr Jamail, winner of the prestigious 2008 Martha Gellhorn Award for Jounalism. His new book, /Beyond the Green Zone/ is NOW AVAILABLE!
"International journalism at its best." --Stephen Kinzer, former bureau chief, New York Times; author /All the Shah's Men/
"Essential reading for anybody who wants to know what is really happening in Iraq." --Patrick Cockburn, Middle East correspondent for The Independent; author of /The Occupation: War and Resistance in Iraq/
Order /Beyond the Green Zone/ today!
from: Information Clearing House :
Date: 18 October 2008
Subject: "The New Kleptocracy" - "The largest financial theft in American history"
Economist Dr. Michael Hudson on Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson's "Plan" passed by Congress on October 3, 2008. We discuss what is being purchased, the congressional vote, what this means for the oligarchs, and what this means for the rest of us.
"The New Kleptocracy : The largest financial theft in American history"
by Guns & Butter
from Ralph Nader :
Subject: The Nader Wall Street Rally.
from National Security Archives :
Date: 17 October 2008
Subject: Washington Broadcast Set for "Torturing Democracy"
For more information contact:
Thomas Blanton/Ilyse Veron - 202/994-7000
The new documentary film on the Bush administration's interrogation and detention policies, "Torturing Democracy," will air on Washington D.C.'s WETA-TV tonight, 17 October, at 10 p.m.
Produced and written by eight-time Emmy winner and National Security Archive fellow Sherry Jones, the documentary has drawn major online buzz as well as New York Times coverage of PBS's failure to find a national scheduling spot for the film before President Bush leaves office in January 2009.
Reviewers have described the film as a "compelling example of video story-telling" that "delivers impressively on a promise to connect the dots in an investigation of interrogations of prisoners in U.S. custody."
Slate.com selected a key revelation in the film as the Slate "Hot Document" this week - a previously unpublished December 2002 draft of "standard operating procedure" at Guantanamo which shows that interrogators there adopted their techniques directly from the survival training (Survival Evasion Resistance Escape or SERE) given to American troops so they could resist the worst of Communist gulag treatment.
The companion Web site for the film, www.torturingdemocracy.org , features key documents, a detailed timeline, the full annotated transcript of the show, and lengthy transcripts of major interviews carried out for the film. Hosted by the National Security Archive at George Washington University, the Web site will ultimately include a complete "Torture Archive" of primary sources.
Stream the entire film and read related documents online at: http://www.torturingdemocracy.org
THE NATIONAL SECURITY ARCHIVE is an independent non-governmental research institute and library located at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. The Archive collects and publishes declassified documents acquired through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). A tax-exempt public charity, the Archive receives no U.S. government funding; its budget is supported by publication royalties and donations from foundations and individuals.
from Alternatives Economiques :
Date: 17 October 2008
Subject: Crise financière, élections américaines, le prix Nobel de l’économie.
Paul Krugman, prix Nobel de l'économie et professeur à l'université de Princeton, analyse la situation sociale aux Etats-Unis. Le "Prix de la Banque centrale de Suède en sciences économiques en mémoire d'Alfred Nobel" a été décerné cette année à Paul Krugman, professeur à l'université de Princeton et éditorialiste au journal New York Times.
Voyage au pays de l'insécurité sociale
N°273 - Octobre 2008
from Lenni Brenner :
Date: 17 October 2008
Subject: How Mr. Change Became Everyone's Mr. Changeling.
Not being a prophet, I don't predict US election winners. But, as a historian, I can say who already lost this one. Whether Barack Obama or John McCain
takes it, pundits endorsing Obama, however critically, will discover that they damaged their reputations.
Serious observers, for or against, left to right, now see 'Mr. Change' as 'Mr. Changeling,' willing to betray principles of importance to them. NY Times
wordsmith William Safire well coined "The Audacity of Hype" out of the title of his hopeless book, and a 7/4 Times editorial, "New and Not Improved,"
bombarded the candidate it desperately wants to win: Obama stirred his legions of supporters and raised our hopes, promising to change the old order of things.... Now there seems to be a new Barack Obama on the hustings. First he broke his promise to try to keep both major parties within public-financing limits for the general election.... Obama has abandoned his vow to filibuster an electronic wiretapping bill if it includes an immunity clause for telecommunications companies that amounts to a sanctioned cover-up of Mr. Bush's unlawful eavesdropping after 9/11....
Obama of the primary season used to brag that he would stand before interest groups and tell them tough truths. The new Mr. Obama tells evangelical
Christians that he wants to expand President Bush's policy of funneling public money for social spending to religious-based organizations -- a policy that violates
the separation of church and state and turns a government function into a charitable donation.
He says he would not allow those groups to discriminate in employment, as Mr. Bush did, which is nice. But the Constitution exists to protect democracy, no
matter who is president and how good his intentions may be."
Times editorialists believe in church-state separation. But they also believe they have duties to the empire they serve as throne advisors. The next editorial insisted that
"Given the huge sums that the United States has spent backing the Colombians' fight against the FARC, President Bush and Senators John McCain and Barack
Obama should now join in congratulating Mr. Uribe - and in urging him to press for a full political victory."
By now everyone knows that Jesse Jackson's hobby is orchiectomy, and attribute his proposal to surgically remove Obama's "nuts" to rage at his getting the
nomination that the Rev thought his due. But he's not the only Black troubled by Obama. Almost half of the 42 House of Representatives Blacks backed Clinton, expecting her gratitude after winning the nomination. They've done little for poor Blacks since the civil rights struggle that some took part in. Now they are surpassed by someone whose done no more, but whose victory would destroy their affirmative action argument.
Obama says its "a useful, if limited, tool to expand opportunity to underrepresented minorities." He calls for "America to make investments needed to ensure that all children perform at grade level and graduate from high school." But everyone reads that as vote-chasing rabble-babble coming from the guy who spoke with McCain on 9/11, at Columbia University, Obama's alma mater. They both support the return of the Reserve Officer Training Corps to Columbia, it having been kicked off campus in 1969 by anti-Vietnam war protesters. "McBama" was the apt buzz word of the Columbia Daily Spectator's coverage, complete with denunciations of Obama's previous right turns.
The Senate just voted 88 to 8 for $612.5 billion in military programs. Campaigners Obama, Biden and McCain didn't vote, but Obama is definitely for big bucks military equipment updates for chasing Islamic fundamentalists. How much money could he have left over to spend on poor Americans?
Given such declarations, the spectrum of concerned Blacks goes beyond adulterous Revs and party hacks. Paul Robeson, Jr. is quoted in the 7/10 NY Amsterdam
News. His father was a Black liberation icon and Jr. was immensely involved in the struggle:
"The apparent traditional move to the center by Obama is not only a mistake, it reverses -- in many people's mind, especially his base and Black Americans - his commitment to be a candidate of change. It was he who said that 'it's about you and not about me.' He can't take us for granted."
Obama denounces fathers who abandon gal-pals and kids to ghetto poverty, crime, etc. Except that his African father abandoned ship when he was two, yet he's done OK. Couples breaking up after the gal's child is common today among young Americans of all races and educations. Most ex-boy-toys help pay for their kid's upkeep. But even where dad is a deadbeat, if mom has her act together, her kid gets educated.
Dumping on poor bad-dads pleases many Christian ears, black, white, Hispanic. But cure for poor-single-mom-and-kid syndrome lies in paying all uneducated moms to go back to school until they learn enough to earn enough. "Monkey see, monkey do," so the proverb. When single monkey mom sees that putting her nose before books and computers pays off, she usually makes sure her little monkey 'gets a better start in life than I did.'
OBAMA, BLACK KING & WHITE KENNEDY ALL ROLLED INTO ONE?
No one was surprised when media used Obama's Denver rap on the 45th anniversary of Martin Luther King's 1963 "I have a dream" speech to tell us that it was a giant step in the long march towards complete racial equality. But what would Obama's victory mean for poor Blacks?
Readers familiar with America's civil rights movement will agree that History with a capital H walked thru my door in 1985 when Stokely Carmichael came to discuss my book, Zionism in the Age of the Dictators. Stokely, then calling himself Kwame Ture, worked with me in a Coalition Against Zionism and Racism until his 1998 death. Of course we discussed the civil rights movement, agreeing on one central point.
Leftists provided the movement's crucial ideologies and energy. The 1963 rally's organizer was Bayard Rustin of the Socialist Party-Social Democratic Federation. King relied on ex-Communist Stanley Levison for research for many speeches. King denounced Democrat Lyndon Johnson's war against Stalinist Ho Chi Minh. W. E. B. DuBois ultimately joined the Communist Party. Paul Robeson was emphatically pro-Soviet. Historian C. L. R. James passed thru Trotskyism. The Trotskyist Socialist Workers Party's youth group was organizing a tour for Malcolm X when he was assassinated. Huey Newton's Black Panthers declared themselves part of the world revolution. And in our last discussion Kwame reaffirmed that "you can't be a Black nationalist if you aren't a socialist." But we also understood that the lefts didn't have the clarity, unity or numbers to achieve their generic goal.
The destruction of Jim Crow 'legal segregation' was an enormous victory for the masses but an even bigger victory for educated Blacks. They play a growing role in administering giant corporations. Many cities have Black mayors. New York State's Governor is Black. Colin Powell and Condy Rice made the State Department into a Black preserve. But it was imperialism that was integrated. If Obama wins it will still be imperialism, not America, that is integrated. Millions of Blacks will still be de facto segregated in poor ghettoes, go to prison or join the military and die for the rich. Glen Ford of Black Agenda Report brought this up to date in Louis Farrakhan's 9/2 Final Call:
"Ruling circles in the US ... are behind Sen. Obama more so than ... the White electorate, he maintained. This has been with their financial support and contributions. 'They are the ones who want a new face on the old order ....
[T]his support of Sen. Obama represents the new and improved product of corporate marketing.'"
The 9/16 Times confirmed that, "On Wall Street's Republican-friendly turf, Mr. Obama has out-raised Mr. McCain."
Indeed Obama fans, from Wall Street to union hiring halls, also hail Obama's ability to 'market' himself. Then let him or them explain his using the King speech anniversary to remind us that the Democrats are "the party of Roosevelt! We are the party of Kennedy! Don't tell me that Democrats won't defend this country."
Roosevelt was an anti-Asian racist. He wrote a 4/30/25 guest column for Macon, Georgia's Daily Telegraph. It tells us what was in his head in 1942, after Pearl Harbor, when he put all west coast Japanese-American citizens, toddlers to grannies, into concentration camps.
"Anyone who has traveled in the Far East knows that the mingling of Asiatic blood produces, in nine cases out of ten, the most unfortunate results. Eurasians - men and women and children party of Asiatic blood and partly of European blood.... In this question, then, of Japanese exclusion from the United States, it is necessary only to advance the true reason -- the undesirability of mixing the blood of the two peoples."
And what did it mean when Obama hailed Kennedy, a cold war President who wiretapped King's phone, looking for Communists?
Put on your thinking cap. A modern demagogue, he reads polls showing most voters to be historic ignoramuses. Their Roosevelt fought Tojo and Hitler, period, end of story. For them, assassinated Kennedy was another Lincoln. No mincing words, if they are dumb enough to still admire them, he is cunning enough praise them. But in fact isn't he truly like his heroes, determined to preserve the "military-industrial complex" Dwight Eisenhower warned against?
THE RIGHT IS ALSO ONTO OBAMA'S ACT
Although everyone recognizes a snake in a zoo, we rarely agree re political reptiles. Yet we all see Obama slithering along the ground. On 6/4, the Democrat went before the America Israel Public Affairs Committee to declare that "Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided."
When the world denounced this as more pro-Israel than Washington's standard 'Jerusalem's status is to be negotiated,' his tune changed: "Obviously, it is going to be up the parties to negotiate a range of these issues." He told CNN that "this was an example where we had some poor phrasing in the speech."
Zionist Rick Richman exposed this in the 7/16 NY Sun:
"His position on an 'undivided' Jerusalem did not result from 'poor phrasing'.... [T]he unambiguous commitment ... came at the end of a paragraph beginning 'Let me be clear'.... [I]t was not the first time he said it.... [H]e addressed the issue in 2000.... 'Jerusalem should remain united and should be recognized as Israel's capital.'"
Indeed he made an even more hard right statement re Jerusalem in January 2008, responding to an American Jewish Committee questionnaire: "Jerusalem will remain Israel's capital, and no one should want or expect it to be re-divided."
Nobody believes his AIPAC statement was, alas, "poor phrasing." We all fall in behind the 7/15 Christian Century, a prestigious liberal Protestant organ: "It was blatant pandering."
NY's 7/25 Jewish Week quoted John Hopkins Prof Benjamin Ginsburg:
"'The Obama campaign has pretty much tapped out individual contributors and the number of people giving small amounts on-line is diminishing,' he said. 'So it's back to the Democratic Party's traditional finance sources, which for the most part means big Jewish donors.' The campaign's heavy Jewish outreach is meant to 'reassure major contributors, to cut the resistance he's been encountering.'"
OBAMA'S DEMOCRATS AND GOD'S ONLY KID
Obama's party was founded by Thomas Jefferson, who coined "building a wall of separation between church and state," and James Madison, author of the Bill of Rights. But modern Democratic policies towards religion have significantly deviated from their secularism, disastrously effecting US and world politics. Therefore it is obligatory that attention focuses on Obama's positions re theology and morality.
Chasing Zionist money has been a party campaign fixture since 1948, when Harry Truman overruled his State Department, concerned with offending oil-rich Muslim Arab princelings, and recognized Israel. He also kicked off a crucial cold war strategy, mobilizing religious forces against 'godless Communism.' US taxes funded Christian Democratic Party regimes in Germany and Italy. Hitler's generals recreated his army for 'the free world.' Italy's CDs became one of history's most indisputably corrupt parties.
During the 1960 campaign, Jack Kennedy had to go before white Texas Protestants to promise that he wouldn't let the Catholic church dictate his policies. He proclaimed a belief in church/state separation. Then Kennedy, not his church, wiretapped King, the most infamous violation of Jefferson's wall in US history. His sub, Lyndon Johnson, enjoyed listening to King's sex life on FBI tapes made in hotel rooms as the minister traveled.
In 1979, Baptist Sunday school teacher Jimmy Carter started covert arming of Islamic terrorists against a pro-Soviet, pro-equal rights for women regime in Afghanistan. But by 1992, Pennsylvania's anti-abortion Governor Bob Casey wasn't permitted a convention speech. And while Bill Clinton enjoyed White House fellatio with Monica Lewinski, he kept 10,000 US troops in Saudi Arabia. Off-base military gals couldn't drive cars and had to wear Saudi-style head-to-foot robes, in violation of the 1st Amendment promise of freedom of religion. Then, in 1993, he signed onto 'Don't ask, don't tell,' after pledging to lift the military's gay ban. And, according to the 7/5 Times, it was "Al Gore who in 1999 first proposed a full-scale religion-based initiative" re "government financed programs."
What was the party rank and file thinking while this was going on? A 2/22/03 poll told us that 67% of Democrats believed in a Devil. The Gallup organization is noted for piety, but this was too much. They closed the survey with a "Bottom Line."
"Over the centuries, science has been able to explain many phenomena that once seemed supernatural. Bad weather, ill health, and heretical opinions may not be the work of the infernal after all. With the advent of evolutionary theory and modern psychology, these days we're more likely to think of people who do terrible things as broken human beings, rather than agents of the netherworld. Furthermore, religion has ceded its civil authority. So we might expect belief in the devil to have largely evaporated. It hasn't. Regardless of political belief, religious inclination, education or region, most Americans believe that the devil exists."
The 2004 election had some Catholic bishops telling their faithful remnant not to vote for pro-legal abortion Catholic John Kerry. But the high point of that holy season was primary candidate Howard Dean's answering "Job" to ''what's your favorite New Testament book?'' Then, post-election, New Jersey Catholic gay Governor Jim McGreevey resigned in a sex and corruption scandal, after years of publicly opposing gay marriage.
Post 2004 debacle, the party threw on every priestly robe it could find. In 2005, Nancy Pelosi organized a congressional Faith Working Group. The party rewarded Dean with its national chair, and the greatest prophet since Job appointed Pentecostal Reverend Leah Daughtry as 2008 convention chief exec. The 7/20 NY Times said "Hers is a religion not only of divine healing but of talking in tongues." It bankrolled her Faith in Action team, three evangelicals, one Catholic, Jew and Muslim, and indeed the holy ghost worked in party HQ in Washington, roping in clergy.
This year also gave us Jewish NY Governor Eliot Spitzer's resignation in a prostitution scandal, after he campaigned against Wall Street using whores as treats for deserving customers. He was succeeded by NY's 1st Black Governor. David Paterson headed off another scandal by volunteering his own history of sexual romping and snorting coke. But alas, sins chase Democrats even when they don't commit them. His Catholic priest give the inauguration invocation, then got suspended, accused of pedophilia. And of course Protestant John Edwards gave us another lesson in Democratic morality.
This is the party, crooked as a dog's hind leg, full of demagogues and hypocrites, that Illinois Senator Obama rose within. Foreign readers should know that the entertainment highlight of American sociologists' gatherings is always fist-fights over whether New Jersey or Illinois has the most corrupt Democratic 'machine.' No scholar disputes that ethno-religious pandering is axiomatic Chicago Democratic sewer politics.
Obama has written at length re his identity problem. His white American mother and African father broke up when he was two and mom raised him. But Chicago was socially racist and he had to start his political career there as a reformist Black community organizer, working with churches. He discovered another identity problem. The Audacity of Hope tells us that mom was strictly secular. When dad contacted him he met an atheist. But "experiences in Chicago also forced me to confront a dilemma ... I had no community or shared traditions in which to ground my most deeply held beliefs. The Christians with whom I worked recognized themselves in me; they saw that I
knew their Book and shared their values and sang their songs. But they sensed that a part of me remained removed, detached, an observer among them. I came to realize that without a vessel for my beliefs, without an unequivocal commitment to a particular community of faith, I would be consigned at some level to always remain apart, free in the way that my mother was free .... I, too, might have contented myself had it not been for the particular attributes of the historically black church, attributes that helped me shed some of my skepticism and embrace the Christian faith.
For one thing, I was drawn to the power of the African American religious tradition to spur social change .... In the day-to-day work of the men and women I met in church each day ... I could see the Word made manifest."
Better yet, "the historically black church offered me a second insight: that faith doesn't mean that you don't have doubts .... It was because of these newfound understandings ... that I was finally able to walk down the aisle of Trinity United Church of Christ one day and be baptized. It came about as a choice and not an epiphany; the questions I had did not magically disappear. But kneeling beneath that cross on the South Side of Chicago, I felt God's spirit beckoning me. I submitted myself to His will, and dedicated myself to discovering His truth."
And why did he find "His truth" in Trinity? Critics called it "a buppie church" and he admits that "there was no denying that the church had a disproportionate number of black professionals in its ranks: engineers, doctors, accountants, and corporate managers." But Reverend Jeremiah Wright, Jr. showed him that most of the congregation were government workers. So he joined a 'Black' church in a majority white denomination.
In Dreams from My Father, he told of his hesitation to join any church. "I remained a reluctant skeptic, doubtful of my own motives, wary of expedient conversion." But "expedient" was exactly what his "conversion" was. His writings on this are just a slick lawyer's brief, explaining why a skeptic anthropologist's son converted to an obscure denomination of the religion of a majority of voters that her politician son would encounter.
We see this in his relationship to Wright. He denounced Israel when it was apartheid South Africa's ally, and proclaimed AIDS to be a government plot against Blacks. What kind of half-African professor does nothing against that alliance when his pastor points it out, and what kind of law school lecturer is silent when his minister misleads his congregation with crackpot accusations that Washington is responsible for an epidemic that is only an expense for it? Many supporters are distraught because of Obama's recent changes. But his "conversion" reveals is that he has been Mr. Changeling for decades.
As his political ambitions developed, Obama realized that self-proclaimed Christianity could get him support from whites. A constitutional lecturer, he found a founding father era Rev to show secularists that white clergy could also be heroes. Audacity has a surreal reference to Jefferson and Madison:
"Jefferson and Madison in particular argued for what Jefferson called a 'wall of separation' between church and state.... But while it was Jefferson and Madison who pushed the Virginia statute of religious freedom that would become the model for the First Amendment's religion clauses, it wasn't these students of the Enlightenment who proved who proved to be the most effective champions of a separation between church and state. Rather, it was Baptists like Reverend John Leland and other evangelicals who provided the popular support needed to get these provisions ratified."
Madison earned the title 'father of the constitution' by pushing it through the constitutional convention. Article Vl declared that "no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States." But this wasn't enough for some friends of the proposed constitution, including Leland and Jefferson. They wanted an emphatic amendment. Madison wasn't enthusiastic. On 10/17/1788 he explained why to Jefferson.
"My own opinion has always been in favor of a bill of rights.... At the same time I have never thought the omission a material defect, nor been anxious to supply it even by subsequent amendment, for any other reason than that it is anxiously desired by others.... because experience proves the inefficacy of a bill of rights on those occasions when its control is most needed. Repeated violations of these parchment barriers have been committed by overbearing majorities in every state."
For Madison, the real barrier to a religious establishment was the fact that no sect was strong enough to dominate the federal union. But with Jefferson, Leland and others troubled by the absence of a Bill, he announced that he would present it as a member of the 1st House of Representatives. Satisfied, Leland campaigned for the constitution. But carefully self-constructed Christian Obama convinced himself of Leland's hyper-importance to justify abandonment of mom's "Enlightenment" philosophy out of vote-hustling considerations.
Note well that Madison was correct re a Bill of Rights being a parchment barrier. It was added to the Constitution in 1791 but by 1798 President John Adams's Federalists got the Sedition Act thru Congress. Ten editors were arrested for "publishing false or malicious statements against the President, Congress, or the government." Fortunately Jefferson won the next election, and kicked Federalism and its act into oblivion. Unfortunately since their day Democrats have frequently torn up the Bill, as with King's FBI file:
A CABINET SECRETARY FOR FAITH-BASED ORGANIZATIONS?
Why did the Times denounce Obama's call to expand funneling public money for social spending to religious-based organizations? After all, he distinguished
his plan from Bush's operation. Bush allows religion-based outfits getting tax money to consider an applicant's religion in deciding who they hire. According to Obama, in the 7/2 Times, in his administration,
"If you get a federal grant, you can't use that grant money to proselytize to the people you help and you can't discriminate against them -- or against the people you hire -- on the basis of their religion."
Except that the 7/2 Sun had him "asked about hiring gays in such programs, Mr. Obama noted there is no federal law against sexual-orientation discrimination, but he said religious groups would have to abide by state laws that bar the practice."
Translated into English, didn't he plead guilty to the charge that his program would allow anti-gay hiring policies in states without bans on gay job-discrimination?
Worse yet, according to the Times, he "would consider elevating the director of his Council for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships to a cabinet-level post."
Folks thinking of voting for him as a lesser evil must consider Article Six: "No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States." But can anyone see Obama appointing an atheist or Muslim Secretary of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships?
He's not chasing after white religious votes. Hell no! He's for government partnering with religious organizations because "the challenges we face today -- from saving our planet to ending poverty -- are simply too big for government to solve alone." Except that in 1811, President Madison vetoed a bill incorporating an Episcopal Church in the District of Columbia for, among other reasons:
"Because the bill vests in the said incorporated church an authority to provide for the support of the poor and the education of poor children of the same, an authority which, being altogether superfluous if the provision is to be the result of pious charity, would be a precedent for giving to religious societies as such a legal agency in carrying into effect a public and civil duty."
Unfortunately for Obama, his pious demagoguery generates a loud NO! from disparate elements. Barry Lynn of Americans United for Separation of Church and State immediately declared himself "disappointed that any presidential candidate would want to continue a failed policy of the Bush administration. It ought to be shut down, not continued."
Obama is to the right of the Anti-Defamation League's Abe Foxman on this. The 7/4 Jewish Week reported his "grave reservations" re the project.
"The whole idea of funneling federal money to religious institutions is 'bad policy,' Foxman said. 'While the caveats from Sen. Obama sound good, it will take a great deal of monitoring to make sure this does not lead to violations,' such as proselytizing and discrimination in hiring.... 'What he announced was a philosophy and a general commitment -- details to follow.'"
The weekly Forward descends from Forverts, the 19th and early 20th century Yiddish immigrants' daily. But its 7/18 editorial spoke for many gentile secularists as well.
"Something is wrong here. Separation of church and state has been a cornerstone of Democratic thinking more or less continuously since the days of Thomas Jefferson, founder of the party and architect of the proverbial wall of separation. Bush's faith-based initiative... opened a worrying breach in the wall. The next president should be planning to repair it. Instead the Democratic contender proposes turning the wall into a tollbooth."
Yet many readers may still sing the standard liberal 'would you rather have a Republican pick Supreme Court Judges?' as they vote for Obama. But let's ask a gut-basic constitutional question: If we could scroll Madison up to our day, would he vote for Obama? If Madison wouldn't vote for him, can we?
Scroll back to his day. Below this essay is his complete 1811 veto. Following it is part of his "Detatched Memoranda," written post-1817 after left the White House. Among other things, he asked "Is the appointment of Chaplains to the two Houses of Congress consistent with the Constitution, and with the pure principle of religious freedom?
In strictness the answer on both points must be in the negative. The Constitution of the U. S. forbids everything like an establishment of a national religion. The law appointing Chaplains establishes a religious worship for the national representatives, to be performed by Ministers of religion, elected by a majority of them; and these are to be paid out of the national taxes. Does not this involve the principle of a national establishment, applicable to a provision for a religious worship for the Constituent as well as of the representative Body, approved by the majority, and conducted by Ministers of religion paid by the entire nation?"
An essay by the author of the Bill of Rights, questioning congressional chaplains, is obviously one of the most important documents on religion and politics ever penned, yet most Americans, including college-grads, don't know it exists.
Read the veto and Memoranda and I think you will join me in voting for Ralph Nader. But you should do more than that. Madison also wrote, in 1822, that "A popular government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy; or perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives."
Now as then, constitutional rights become real only when enough folks learn enough facts and principles derived from them so as to be able to educate and mobilize others to fight for those rights in courts, legislatures and streets. So circulate his Memo, whether you agree re Nader or not.
If we bring this secular classic to broad public attention as Barack and John McBama talk up church-state connections, voters can challenge them. What do they think of Madison's opposition to congressional clergy? And we must continue circulating it after the election, regardless of who wins. That "popular information" will help stop either President McBama from murdering the 1st Amendment. In fact, just as modern world-wide secular republican politics began with the American revolution, so global internet discussion of Madison's Memo can help build a "wall of separation" against today's religious demagogues and despots, everywhere.
Lenni Brenner is the editor of Jefferson & Madison On Separation of Church and State: Writings on Religion and Secularism.
[Note: In referring to the 1st amendment's establishment clause, Madison uses "a religious establishment" instead of "an establishment of religion." - LB]
Having examined and considered the bill entitled "An Act incorporating the Protestant Episcopal Church in the town of Alexander, in the District of Columbia," I now return the bill to the House of Representatives, in which it originated, with the following objections:
Because the bill exceeds the rightful authority to which governments are limited by the essential distinction between civil and religious functions, and violates in particular the article of the Constitution of the United States which declares 'Congress shall make no law respecting a religious establishment.'
The bill enacts into and establishes by law sundry rules and proceedings relative purely to the organization and policy of the church incorporated, and comprehending even the election and removal of the minister of the same, so that no change could be made therein by the particular society or by the general church of which it is a member, and whose authority it recognizes. This particular church, therefore, would so far be a religious establishment by law, a legal force and sanction being given to certain articles in its constitution and administration. Nor can it be considered that the articles thus established are to be taken as the descriptive criteria only of the corporate identity of the society, inasmuch as this identity must depend on other characteristics, as the regulations established are in general unessential and alterable according
to the principles and canons by which churches of the denomination govern themselves, and as the injunctions and prohibitions contained in the regulations would be enforced by the penal consequences applicable to the violation of them according to the local law.
Because the bill vests in the said incorporated church an authority to provide for the support of the poor and the education of poor children of the same, an authority which, being altogether superfluous if the provision is to be the result of pious charity, would be a precedent for giving to religious societies as such a legal agency in carrying into effect a public and civil duty
[Note - In 1856, Congress authorized William Cabell Rives, Madison's historian friend, to prepare his papers for publication. Although Rives quoted the Detatched (sic) Memoranda in his Madison biography, he didn't include it in these volumes. Eventually it was misplaced in a collection of Rives' personal papers.
The document was recovered in 1946 by Elizabeth Fleet, working on a biography of Rives. It was published in the 10/46 issue of The William and Mary Quarterly, devoted to the founding fathers. The notepaper has no watermark. Rives dated it as "subsequent to" Madison's "retirement from the presidency in 1817."
The text below, from part of the Memoranda titled "Monopolies. Perpetuities. Corporations. Ecclesiastical Endowments," is Fleet's, except for my translations of Madison's Latin. Some parentheses are not closed or ended, as in the Quarterly. - L B]
The danger of silent accumulations & encroachments by Ecclesiastical Bodies have not sufficiently engaged attention in the U.S. They have the noble merit of first unshackling the conscience from persecuting laws, and of establishing among religious Sects a legal equality. If some of the States have not embraced this just and this truly Xn principle in its proper latitude, all of them present examples by which the most enlightened States of the old world may be instructed; and there is one State at least, Virginia, where religious liberty is placed on its true foundation and is defined in its full latitude. The general principle is contained in her declaration of rights, prefixed to her Constitution: but it is unfolded and defined, in its precise extent, in the act of the Legislature, usually named the Religious Bill, which passed into a law in the year 1786. Here the separation between the authority of human laws, and the natural rights of Man excepted from the grant on which all political authority is founded, is traced as distinctly as words can admit, and the limits to this authority established with as much solemnity as the forms of legislation can express. The law has the further advantage of having been the result of a formal appeal to the sense of the Community and a deliberate sanction of a vast majority, comprizing every sect of Christians in the State. This act is a true standard of Religious liberty: its principle the great barrier agst usurpations on the rights of conscience. As long as it is respected & no longer, these will be safe. Every provision for them short of this principle, will be found to leave crevices at least thro' which bigotry may introduce persecution; a monster, that feeding & thriving on its own venom, gradually swells to a size and strength overwhelming all laws divine & human.
Ye States of America, which retain in your Constitutions or Codes, any aberration from the sacred principle of religious liberty, by giving to Caesar what belongs to God, or joining together what God has put asunder, hasten to revise & purify your systems, and make the example of your Country as pure & compleat, in what relates to the freedom of the mind and its allegiance to its maker, as in what belongs to the legitimate objects of political & civil institutions.
Strongly guarded as is the separation between Religion & Govt in the Constitution of the United States the danger of encroachment by Ecclesiastical Bodies, may be illustrated by precedents already furnished in their short history. (See the cases in which negatives were put by J. M. on two bills passd by Congs and his signature withheld from another. See also attempt in Kentucky for example, where it was proposed to exempt Houses of Worship from taxes.
The most notable attempt was that in Virga to establish a Genl assessment for the support of ail Xn sects. This was proposed in the year by P. H. and
supported by all his eloquence, aided by the remaining prejudices of the Sect which before the Revolution had been established by law. The progress of the
measure was arrested by urging that the respect due to the people required in so extraordinary a case an appeal to their deliberate will. The bill was accordingly printed & published with that view. At the instance of Col: George Nicholas, Col: George Mason & others, the memorial & remonstrance agst it was drawn up, (which see) and printed Copies of it circulated thro' the State, to be signed by the people at large. It met with the approbation of the Baptists, the Presbyterians, the Quakers, and the few Roman Catholics, universally; of the Methodists in part; and even of not a few of the Sect formerly established by law. When the Legislature assembled, the number of Copies & signatures prescribed displayed such an overwhelming opposition of the people, that the proposed plan of a genl assessmt was crushed under it; and advantage taken of the crisis to carry thro' the Legisl: the Bill above referred to, establishing religious liberty. In the course of the opposition to the bill in the House of Delegates, which was warm & strenuous from some of the minority, an experiment was made on the reverence entertained for the name & sanctity of the Saviour, by proposing to insert the words "Jesus Christ" after the words "our lord" in the preamble, the object of which would have been, to imply a restriction of the liberty defined in the Bill, to those professing his religion only. The amendment was discussed, and rejected by a vote of agst (See letter of J. M. to Mr. Jefferson dated ) The opponents of the amendment having turned the feeling as well as judgment of the House agst it, by successfully contending that the better proof of reverence for that holy name wd be not to profane it by making it a topic of legisl. discussion, & particularly by making his religion the means of abridging the natural and equal rights of all men, in defiance of
his own declaration that his Kingdom was not of this world. This view of the subject was much enforced by the circumstance that it was espoused by some members who were particularly distinguished by their reputed piety and Christian zeal.
But besides the danger of a direct mixture of Religion & civil Government, there is an evil which ought to be guarded agst in the indefinite accumulation of property from the capacity of holding it in perpetuity by ecclesiastical corporations. The power of all corporations, ought to be limited in this respect. The growing wealth acquired by them never fails to be a source of abuses. A warning on this subject is emphatically given in the example of the various Charitable establishments in G. B. the management of which has been lately scrutinized. The excessive wealth of ecclesiastical Corporations and the misuse of it in many Countries of Europe has Long been a topic of complaint. In some of them the Church has amassed half perhaps the property of the nation. When the reformation took place, an event promoted if not caused, by that disordered state of things, how enormous were the treasures of religious societies, and how gross the corruptions engendered by them; so enormous & so gross as to produce in the Cabinets & Councils of the Protestant states a disregard, of all the pleas of the interested party drawn from the sanctions of the law, and the sacredness of property held in religious trust. The history of England during the period of the reformation offers a sufficient illustration for the present purpose.
Are the U. S. duly awake to the tendency of the precedents they are establishing, in the multiplied incorporations of Religious Congregations with the faculty of acquiring & holding property real as well as personal? Do not many of these acts give this faculty, without limit either as to time or as to amount? And must not bodies, perpetual in their existence, and which may be always gaining without ever losing, speedily gain more than is useful, and in time more than is safe? Are there not already examples in the U. S. of ecclesiastical wealth equally beyond its object and the foresight of those who laid the foundation of it? In the U. S. there is a double motive for fixing limits in this case, because wealth may increase not only from additional gifts, but from exorbitant advances in the value of the primitive one. In grants of vacant lands, and of lands in the vicinity of growing towns & Cities the increase of value is often such as if foreseen, would essentially controul the liberality confirming them. The people of the U. S. owe their Independence &. their liberty, to the wisdom of descrying in the minute tax of 3 pence on tea, the magnitude of the evil comprized in the precedent. Let them exert the same wisdom, in watching agst every evil lurking under plausible disguises, and growing up from small beginnings. Obsta principiis [Determined on principles].
Is the appointment of Chaplains to the two Houses of Congress consistent with the Constitution, and with the pure principle of religious freedom?
In strictness the answer on both points must be in the negative. The Constitution of the U. S. forbids everything like an establishment of a national religion. The law appointing Chaplains establishes a religious worship for the national representatives, to be performed by Ministers of religion, elected by a majority of them; and these are to be paid out of the national taxes. Does not this involve the principle of a national establishment, applicable to a provision for a religious worship for the Constituent as well as of the representative Body, approved by the majority, and conducted by Ministers of religion paid by the entire nation.
The establishment of the chaplainship to Congs is a palpable violation of equal rights, as well as of Constitutional principles: The tenets of the chaplains elected [by the majority] shut the door of worship agst the members whose creeds & consciences forbid a participation in that of the majority. To say nothing of other sects, this is the case with that of Roman Catholics & Quakers who have always had members in one or both of the Legislative branches. Could a Catholic clergyman ever hope to be appointed a Chaplain? To say that his religious principles are obnoxious or that his sect is small, is to lift the evil at once and exhibit in its naked deformity the doctrine that religious truth is to be tested by numbers or that the major sects have a right to govern the minor.
If Religion consist in voluntary acts of individuals, singly, or voluntarily associated, and it be proper that public functionaries, as well as their Constituents shd discharge their religious duties, let them like their Constituents, do so at their own expence. How small a contribution from each member of Cong wd suffice for the purpose? How just wd it be in its principle? How noble in its exemplary sacrifice to the genius of the Constitution; and the divine right of conscience? Why should the expence of a religious worship be allowed for the Legislature, be paid by the public, more than that for the Ex. or Judiciary branch of the Govt
Were the establishment to be tried by its fruits, are not the daily devotions conducted by these legal Ecclesiastics, already degenerating into a scanty attendance, and a tiresome formality?
Rather than let this step beyond the landmarks of power have the effect of a legitimate precedent, it will be better to apply to it the legal aphorism de minimis non curat lex [the law doesn't care about minute things]: or to class it cum "maculis quas aut incuria fudit, aut humana parum cavit natura." [with "the natural stains or carelessness which human nature can do very little to guard against"]
Better also to disarm in the same way, the precedent of Chaplainships for the army and navy, than erect them into a political authority in matters of religion. The object of this establishment is seducing; the motive to it is laudable. But is it not safer to adhere to a right pinciple, and trust to its consequences, than confide in the reasoning however specious in favor of a wrong one. Look thro' the armies & navies of the world, and say whether in the appointment of their ministers of religion, the spiritual interest of the flocks or the temporal interest of the Shepherds, be most in view: whether here, as elsewhere the political care of religion is not a nominal more than a real aid. If
the spirit of armies be devout, the spirit out of the armies will never be less so; and a failure of religious instruction &, exhortation from a voluntary source within or without, will rarely happen: if such be not the spirit of armies, the official services of their Teachers are not likely to produce it. It is more likely to flow from the labours of a spontaneous zeal. The armies of the Puritans had their appointed Chaplains; but without these there would have been no lack of public devotion in that devout age.
The case of navies with insulated crews may be less within the scope of these reflections. But it is not entirely so. The chance of a devout officer, might be of as much worth to religion, as the service of an ordinary chaplain. [were it admitted that religion has a real interest in the latter.] But we are always to keep in mind that it is safer to trust the consequences of a right principle, than reasonings in support of a bad one.
Religious proclamations by the Executive recommending thanksgivings & fasts are shoots from the same root with the legislative acts reviewed.
Altho' recommendations only, they imply a religious agency, making no part of the trust delegated to political rulers.
The objections to them are 1. that Govts ought not to interpose in relation to those subject to their authority but in cases where they can do it with effect. An advisory Govt is a contradiction in terms. 2. The members of a Govt as such can in no sense, be regarded as possessing an advisory trust from their Constituents in their religious capacities. They cannot form an ecclesiastical Assembly, Convocation, Council, or Synod, and as such issue decrees or injunctions addressed to the faith or the Consciences of the people. In their individual capacities, as distinct from their official station, they might unite in recommendations of any sort whatever, in the same manner as any other individuals might do. But then their recommendations ought to express the true character from which they emanate. 3. They seem to imply and certainly nourish the erronious idea of a national religion. The idea just as it related to the Jewish nation under a theocracy, having been improperly adopted by so many nations which have embraced Xnity, is too apt to lurk in the bosoms even of Americans, who in general are aware of the distinction between religious & political
societies. The idea also of a union of all to form one nation under one Govt in acts of devotion to the God of all is an imposing idea. But reason and the principles of the Xn religion require that all the individuals composing a nation even of the same precise creed & wished to unite in a universal act of religion at the same time, the union ought to be effected thro' the intervention of their religious not of their political representatives. In a nation composed of various sects, some alienated widely from others, and where no agreement could take place thro' the former, the interposition of the latter is doubly wrong: 4. The tendency of the practice, to narrow the recommendation to the standard of the predominant sect. The Ist proclamation of Genl Washington dated Jany 1. 1795 (see if this was the 1st) recommending a day of thanksgiving, embraced
all who believed in a supreme ruler of the Universe. That of Mr. Adams called for a Xn worship. Many private letters reproached the Proclamations issued by J. M. for using general terms, used in that of Presidt W--n; and some of them for not inserting particulars according with the faith of certain Xn sects. The practice if not strictly guarded naturally terminates in a conformity to the creed of the majority and a single sect, if amounting to a majority. 5. The last & not the least objection is the liability of the practice to a subserviency to political views; to the scandal of religion, as well as the increase of party animosities. Candid or incautious politicians will not always disown such views. In truth it is difficult to frame such a religious Proclamation generally suggested by a political State of things, without referring to them in terms having some bearing on party questions. The Proclamation of Pres: W. which was issued just after the suppression of the Insurrection in Penna and at a time when the public mind was divided on several topics, was so construed by many. Of this the Secretary of State himself, E. Randolph seems to have had an anticipation.
The original draught of that Instrument filed in the Dept. of State (see copies of these papers on the files of J. M.) in the hand writing of Mr Hamilton the Secretary of the Treasury. It appears that several slight alterations only had been made at the suggestion of the Secretary of State; and in a marginal note in his hand, it is remarked that "In short this proclamation ought to savour as much as possible of religion, & not too much of having a political object." In a subjoined note in the hand of Mr. Hamilton, this remark is answered by the counter-remark that "A proclamation of a Government which is a national act, naturally embraces objects which are political" so naturally, is the idea of policy associated with religion, whatever be the mode or the occasion, when a function of the latter is assumed by those in power.
During the administration of Mr Jefferson no religious proclamation was issued. It being understood that his successor was disinclined to such interpositions of the Executive and by some supposed moreover that they might originate with more propriety with the Legislative Body, a resolution was passed requesting him to issue a proclamation. (see the resolution in the Journals of Congress.
It was thought not proper to refuse a compliance altogether; but a form & language were employed, which were meant to deaden as much as possible any claim of political right to enjoin religious observances by resting these expressly on the voluntary compliance of individuals, and even by limiting the recommendation to such as wished simultaneous as well as voluntary performance of a religious act on the occasion.
Lenni Brenner is the editor of Jefferson & Madison On Separation of Church and State: Writings on Religion and Secularism. He can be reached at :
from George Kenney :
Date: 17 October 2008
Subject: Podcast interview re HIV/AIDS with Celia Farber.
It took a regular EP listener up in Canada over a year to persuade me to take on the topic of whether HIV causes AIDS, and I'm glad that he was so persistent. If you haven't followed this controversy then, like me, you might not immediately realize just how interesting it is -- in fact, there are a lot of very distinguished scientists who don't believe the conventional story about HIV/AIDS but who labor under extreme censorship from the scientific establishment. It's another case of "authority" trying to get everybody to think in an approved way about a controversial subject.
Whether it's HIV/AIDS or "Genocide" in Srebrenica or even the meaning of redshift to astrophysicists, all such efforts at thought control are wrong. People should be free to intellectually explore whatever they want and reach their own conclusions.
Here, I talk with the independent journalist Celia Farber, who at great cost to herself has been covering the HIV/AIDS controversy for over twenty years. Notwithstanding the struggle, Celia has a surprisingly positive take on what it all means. And she offers profound insight into the philosophical implications.
If you enjoy the show, as always, please feel free to redistribute the link.