In a bizarre divided opinion the US Supreme Court has given its O.K. to President Bush to spend tax dollars to advocate for God’s way of doing things. Which God of course depends only on the beliefs of the President. In their logic of law inspired by divine wisdom I guess, they ignored a legal precedent from a 1968 case which said taxpayer dollars spent by Congress could be challenged if taxpayers believed they promoted religion.
The Court tossed out a legal challenge to Bush’s taxpayer funded “Office of Faith-based and Community Initiatives.” The vote was 5 to 4. So continues the rightward swing of the Supreme Court as Bush’s legacy of appointments to the US Supreme Court gains conservative momentum.
Voters who think who is President doesn’t matter only need to watch the steady drift of the Court rightward and read the bizarre interpretations of the old boy network of corporate right wing conservatism that controls the majority now on the Court. Let’s hear it now for the wisdom of Ralph Nader that there was no difference between Gore and Bush.
Washington Post Bench Conference blogger Andrew Cohen says it very clearly:
“Indeed, so strong is the conservative bent to the court right now that even when its right-facing Justices did not agree on the legal reasons or rationale for their rulings– which was the case in the religion case noted above– they are able to agree to promote government sponsorship of religion and to block taxpayer efforts to prevent it. In other words, there is room for dissent even among the Court’s working majority– a bad sign for liberal judges, lawyers and litigants in the months and years to come.
People can and do and will disagree about the “correctness” of these rulings– but no one should have any doubt now that President George W. Bush’s campaign promise– to take the Supreme Court to the right– has been fulfilled. That question is no longer open to argument and you need only to take a few minutes to read today’s rulings to understand why.”
NY Times 6/26/2007 “Justices Reject Suit on Federal Money for Faith-based Office”
Washington Post 6/26/2007 “Justices Quash Suit over Funds for Faith Based Groups“
In what court of law in the world can you go before a judge and plead not guilty for murder because you were defending your religion? It seems that in Pakistan a cleric believes that is what you can do because he has announced a $1 million bounty for killing the cartoonist in Denmark that drew the Muhammad cartoons. (There were actually eight different people who drew the cartoons.) In other words he is announcing to the world that he is ordering a hit on someone because he didn’t like the cartoon they drew. Not even a hit out of vengeance because they killed his family or another Muslim but because he drew a political cartoon.
In Pakistan, the cleric Mohammed Yousaf Qureshi said the mosque and the religious school he leads would give a $25,000 reward and a car for killing the cartoonist who drew the caricatures — considered blasphemous by many Muslims. He said a local jewelers’ association would also give $1 million, but no representative of the association was available to confirm the offer.
“This is a unanimous decision by all imams of Islam that whoever insults the prophets deserves to be killed and whoever will take this insulting man to his end, will get this prize,” he said.
Go yourself and see the cartoons at Wikipedia and make a judgment that in the name of protecting a religion from any kind of criticism, the people who drew the cartoons should be killed. I think those in the world community who have bent over backwards to try to appease the anger of Islamic believers over the publishing of free speech protected political cartoons need to rethink their retreat from criticism by people who do believe it is O.K to murder and assassinate people who dare to criticize their religious beliefs.
Whatever saner and wiser elements exist in Islamic believers need to speak up to condemn this assassination contract offer. The Pakistan government needs to denounce this terrorist threat and should arrest the cleric and shut down the mosque and the religious school he leads unless they retract their assassination offer. What they do will be a true test of whether the Islamic
Community is ready to be part of a civilized world.
As I’ve said before the Western world is no paragon of purity. Millions have been killed in the name of religion by people in non-Islamic countries over the centuries but that does not mean we should ignore these current threats to freedom of belief and freedom of speech. One should never get a free pass to murder someone else because they hold different beliefs.
Likewise we should never give up free speech because what we say might offend someone. Tolerance does not mean silence. Those that want to restrict free speech really are afraid of people raising questions. Tolerance does not mean turning a blind eye to injustice or inhumane actions. Just because you have a religious belief does not make you immune from living in a world with humane laws that include not killing another person because they don’t believe the same as you do. Religious tolerance does not mean turning a blind eye to injustice or condoning murder in the name of someone’s religion. That is why people need to speak against this current assassination contract in the name of religion. It is not morally justifiable and needs to be condemned!
I’m sorry but I can’t be outraged by the manipulated outrage over the cartoons of Muhammad. It has not been well referenced by the mainstream media that this whole thing has been skilfully used by radical Muslims in an attempt to threaten and intimidate those that support democratic principles. They are trying to use democractic values of tolerance of diversity to further Muslim intolerance. What religion wouldn’t like to not be criticized or questioned? But when they threaten to kill you if you question what they believe then people should be outraged.
Stanley Fish has an interesting commentary on the counterproductive reaction of liberals to strong and diverse opinion in today’s NY Times
Part of this staged outrage being used against democracy happened because Islamic supporters in Denmark went to the Middle East complaining about the Danish cartoons published in the paper in Denmark and included some rabid hatemail depictions that were never published. Those wishing to inflame anger against non-Muslims used this hate mail to further their anti-Western anti-European agenda.
Fanatic Islamic radicals who have taken over the public voice of Islam in the Middle East found these phony “cartoons” as a blessing to manipulate the faithful. It’s no surprise. These radical Islamics see no contradiction on issuing a fatwa on Salmam Rushdie for writing The Satanic Verses and their religion. They express outrage that a Danish newspaper publishes some cartoons of Muhammad but accept car bombings and assassinations and beheadings.
Emran Qureshi decries what has happened in an article in today’s New York Times entitled “The Islam the Riots Drowned Out”
Remember the popularity of the “What would Jesus do? ” campaign?
One should ask this same question but substitute Muhammad.
What kind of car would Muhammad use as a car bomb?
What weapon would Muhammad use to behead people he kidnapped?
The absurdity is that the radicals would condone violence in the name of Muhammad and people see this is the voice of Islam. I don’t see Muhammad as condoning car bombs and beheadings as a way to further Islam.
Before we think the radical wing of Islam is an anomality in world history and culture we must remember the history of Christianity. Seems to me that things like the Inquisition and nonbelievers being burned at the stake and all the Kings and Queens and common folk killed in Britain in the fight between Catholicism and Protestantism show that Christianity is no paragon of tolerance of different beliefs and has seen its own share of fanatic violence in the name of its God.
Seems people in glass house should think twice before passing judgment on Islamic violence as something unique in world history.
The challenge of all religions and cultures is one of how to live together despite our diversity and different religious beliefs. The modern world is really not modern when it comes to religion and war and killing nonbelievers. It’s remains just more of the same.
History says we should not be fooled by those who believe that there is only one true religion and are willing to kill to prove it to be so. Only when people are free to choose their religion will the world be truly modern. Christians, Jews, Muslims and all other believers of faith are not true believers if one is forced to accept their religion or die. Bombing and killing people to further a religious faith is not religion but is using dogma and coercion and fear and death to enforce the rule of totalitarianism.