Uttering the standard liberal cliche a few years ago, Richard Reeves described "representatives of the new South" as "Republicans of old puritan definition, righteous folk afraid that someone, somewhere, is having fun." (I'll skip the context of Reeves' insight, except to note that apparently aging liberals view sodomy with a chubby intern in the back office as "having fun.")
Like all beliefs universally held by liberals, Reeves' aphorism is the precise opposite of the truth.
It's the blue states that are constantly sending lawyers to the red states to bother everyone. Americans in the red states look at a place like New York City – where, this year, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade featured a gay transvestite as Mrs. Claus – and say, Well, I guess some people like it, but it's not for me.
Meanwhile, liberals in New York and Washington are consumed with what people are doing in Alabama and Nebraska. Nadine Strossen and Barry Lynn cannot sleep at night knowing that someone, somewhere, is gazing upon something that could be construed as a religious symbol.
It's never Jerry Falwell flying to Manhattan to review high-school graduation speeches, or James Dobson making sure New York City schools give as much time to God as to Mother Earth, or Pat Robertson demanding a creche next to the schools' Kwanzaa displays. (Is it just me, or is Kwanzaa becoming way too commercialized?)
But when four schools in southern Ohio have displays of the Ten Commandments, sirens go off in Nadine Strossen's Upper West Side apartment. It will surprise no one to learn that the American Civil Liberties Union promptly sued and the schools are now Ten Commandments-free. (At least students in the Ten Commandments schools, as opposed to schools in New York, Washington and Los Angeles, might reasonably be expected to know how to count up to 10.)
From the Chelsea section of Manhattan, the gay, Bronx-born Puerto Rican executive director of the ACLU, Anthony Romero, tossed and turned all night thinking about the Ten Commandments display on the Elkhart, Ind., municipal building, which had been there, without incident, since 1958. The ACLU sued and the monument was hauled off.
In Ohio, Richland County Common Pleas Judge James DeWeese had a framed poster of the Ten Commandments in his courtroom. The ACLU sued and the Ten Commandments came down. Compare that to the late New York judge Elliott Wilk, who famously displayed a portrait of communist revolutionary Che Guevara on his office wall. (Che, Castro, Hussein – evidently the only bearded revolutionary these people don't like is Jesus Christ.) And yet, no one from Ohio ever sued Wilk.
The ACLU got word of a Ten Commandments monument in a public park in Plattsmouth, Neb. (pop. 7,000), and immediately swooped in to demand that the offensive symbol be removed. Not being from New York, Plattsmouth didn't want to litigate. Soon cranes were in the park ripping out a monument that had sat there, not bothering anyone, for 40 years.
ACLU busybodies sued Johnson County, Iowa, demanding that it remove a Ten Commandments monument that had been in a public courtyard a since 1964. Within a year, the 2,500-pound granite monument was gone.
Mail-order minister Barry Lynn's Americans United for Separation of Church and State – a group curiously devoid of both Americans and churchgoers – sued little Chester County, Pa., demanding that it remove a Ten Commandments plaque that has hung on the courthouse wall since 1920.
"The Upper West Side and Malibu United" also sued the city of Everett, Wash., demanding the removal of a Ten Commandments monument in front of the police station. AU legal director Ayesha Khan explained they had nothing like that back in Pakistan and look how well things turned out there.
(Perhaps in addition to the usual processing requirements for new immigrants, there should be a form that says: Welcome to America! You will no longer have to live in a mud hut, earn 32 cents a year, and have members of your family periodically dragged off and shot. However, you may, on occasion, have to see people praying.)
The alleged legal basis for removing all of these Ten Commandments monuments is the establishment clause of the First Amendment. That clause provides: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion." The vigilant observer will note instantly that none of the monuments cases involves Congress, a law or an establishment of religion.
Monuments are not "laws," the Plattsmouth, Neb., public park is not "Congress," and the Ten Commandments are not a religion. To the contrary, all three major religions believe in Moses and the Ten Commandments. Liberals might as well say the establishment clause prohibits Republicans from breathing, as that it prohibits a Ten Commandments display. But over the past few years, courts have ordered the removal of dozens and dozens of Ten Commandments displays.
How a local judge acknowledging a higher power with a symbol used by all three major religions is the same as Congress establishing a national religion remains a legal mystery – like, how the University of Michigan can use one admissions standard for blacks and another for whites and yet it's not race discrimination.
How about a truce? The intolerant religious fanatics in the red states will continue not complaining about high taxes, secular education and gay-rights parades in the blue states, and the proponents of tolerance in the blue states will stop bothering everyone in the red states.