Anyone reading Michelle Malkin’s nationally syndicated columns in the MDJ knows without question that she is a far right conservative---or maybe reactionary would sum up her political world view better. Her December 29th column about “cruciphobia” doesn’t miss a beat in using every negative adjective to describe atheists who oppose a 43 foot cross in a public park in San Diego that has stood there since a veterans group donated it in 1954. She even quotes a Jewish rabbi who lives nearby and says that the cross doesn’t bother him. Of course, though, Malkin makes no mention of Christians, among others, who also oppose the cross being planted in a tax payer supported entity. Malkin continues a certain relatively new tradition of being “fair and balanced” but with a different understanding attached to it than the plain meaning of the words.
Christians like to ask about the harm of placing their religious symbols in the public square or public buildings. Same for their sectarian invocations at government meetings. Hey, if someone is offended, well “they can either avert their eyes or leave the room. This is America where majorities decide.” There was a time when the Christian faith overwhelmingly dominated, but those times have changed, and with each passing year there are more people of other belief systems and non-believers of different stripes. In case Malkin and others haven’t noticed, America doesn’t look quite the same as it did in 1954.
Our Founding Fathers were truly brilliant. They understood from experience the importance of drafting a secular Constitution, one that starts out with, “We the people…,” and makes no mention of a Christian god or any other deity. The closest the Constitution comes to mentioning religion is in Article VI where it is provided that no religious test shall be required to hold public office. It also states that the various elected officials shall be bound by “oath or affirmation” to support the Constitution.
There is a segment of our country that refers to themselves as “Constitutionalists.” I’m not exactly sure what that means, because I have taken a number of oaths in my life to support and defend the Constitution, but my interpretation of it seems to be at odds with those who insist that we are a Christian nation just because a majority of the population professes to be Christian. Somehow the inarguable fact that the Constitution nowhere created a Christian nation is beside the point. Is this a variation of the conservative term for judges they don’t like, i.e. activism? Could it be that these conservatives are very activist in reading into the Constitution that we are really a Christian nation despite no language in this grand document to support it?
This whole topic has reached a point of absurdity. Consider that Justice Antonin Scalia, in another case involving a cross placed on public land in the desert to honor the war dead, made one of the most amazing comments imaginable. In Salazar v. Buono decided in 2009, Scalia stated from the bench that the cross, in effect, honored all the war dead. It was pointed out to Scalia that the cross is not found in the cemeteries of Jewish war veterans. I’ve never heard of a cross being a universal symbol of anything other than to represent the Christian faith.
I can only wonder if Malkin would defend a majority Muslim community that honored its war dead by placing a 43 foot Star and Crescent in a public park. (I would oppose it as vehemently as I do the cross or any other religious symbol.) Malkin never mentioned that this 43 foot cross could just as easily be planted on the grounds of one of the local churches. I, for one, would have no problem with that whatsoever, and none of the unbelievers or non-Christians that I know would have a problem with it either. The danger in allowing this cross to remain in the public square is encroachment and the demands of other religious groups for free space at taxpayer expense to propagate their faith.
In my opinion, no Supreme Court case better defines who we are as Americans, what the Constitution and Bill of Rights mean, than those written by Justice Robert Jackson in 1943 in West Virginia vs. Barnette: “The very purpose of a Bill of Rights was to withdraw certain subjects from the vicissitudes of political controversy, to place them beyond the reach of majorities and officials and to establish them as legal principles to be applied by the courts. One's right to life, liberty, and property, to free speech, a free press, freedom of worship and assembly, and other fundamental rights may not be submitted to vote; they depend on the outcome of no elections.”