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In addition to being a useful prop for pushing gun control, the massacre at Littleton, Colorado’s Columbine High School, turned out to be a bottomless bonanza for other pet causes of liberalism. While grieving members of the community are planning a memorial in honor of the victims, others are busy planning how to exploit the memorial to push what they like to call the “separation of church and state.”

The Littleton incident has excited this kind of controversy from the first, when a local carpenter constructed several crosses as memorials to the victims of last month’s vicious shootings at the high school. Some in the community didn’t like the crosses because they suggested a bit too much religion in general — not to mention a bit too much of the wrong religion in particular.

Now a local public park is planning to build a more permanent memorial with an explicitly Christian or Biblical theme. Most people believe that such a theme would be appropriate, since several of the murder victims at the high school were explicit Christians. At least two of the girls murdered were asked by the killers whether they believed in God; when they answered yes, they were shot.

But not everyone thinks it’s appropriate. When a memorial service held recently turned out to be very explicitly Christian, what The Washington Times calls “several liberal Christian, Jewish, and black leaders” found it “offensive” and met with Colorado governor Bill Owens to complain. They’re not the only pillars of the community to do so.

Another complainer is a group called the Freedom from Religion Foundation, which apparently is dedicated to the view that religion itself — not just religion supported by the state — is a force from which we need to be emancipated. “We object to religious displays in public parks,” the group’s state coordinator says. “Let them put a religious memorial on church or private property.” Since the members of his group think religion itself is evil, they probably don’t really approve of that either, but so far the U.S. Constitution has not evolved to the point that they can do anything about it.

But it may well have evolved to the point that they can stop the community from building an explicitly religious memorial to the devout students murdered for their faith. “I know there are some people who would like to see a religious memorial,” the park’s manager of community services says. “[But] if the location for the permanent memorial is a public place, then we can’t do it by law. The Constitution won’t permit it,” he states.

The manager, you see, has had his mind well warped by the anti-constitutionalist dogma that holds that only the Supreme Court can interpret the Constitution and that whatever the Court says is right. If you substitute “Joseph Stalin” for “Supreme Court” in the previous sentence, you would have an accurate description of the constitution of a totalitarian state. That’s exactly where the dogma is leading us, with a little help from the organized enemies of religion in and out of government.

Of course the Constitution says nothing at all like what the manager has been told—and is dumb enough to believe—it says. What the First Amendment actually says is that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

There is nothing in the constitutional text about not being able to display religious objects in public places or build memorials in public parks with religious themes—or, for that matter, to pray in schools, display the Ten Commandments in a courtroom, build manger scenes at Christmas, or sing Christmas carols and other religious songs.

Every bit of that stuff was simply fabricated by the Supreme Court and the lawyers for religion-haters like the Freedom from Religion Foundation. It flourishes today for the sole reason that boobs like the manager of community services quoted above are dim enough to believe and do what they are told to believe and do.

How the Littleton dispute will be resolved no one knows, but most of us can make a pretty good guess. No matter how devout the murdered teenagers were, no matter how much their families and friends and community grieve for them and wish to commemorate them in ways that reflect what they believed in and were ready to die for, and no matter what the Constitution really says or what common decency and common sense demand — it will be the enemies of religion and the real Constitution who win.

That’s because those enemies possess more will and more energy than those who want to preserve their constitutional freedom and practice their religion. And until that changes, we can expect the totalitarianism those enemies have helped create to continue to flourish.

• Category: Ideology • Tags: Religion 
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One anniversary that’s not on this year’s calendar is the 900th observance of the capture of Jerusalem by Christian crusaders on July 15, 1099. As a matter of fact, it’s an anniversary that’s probably never been on any year’s calendar, since virtually everyone forgot about it sometime around the year 1600. But some never forget, and they’re getting ready to do what 20th century man is supposed to do, at least in the West: apologize for it.

The London Sunday Telegraph reported last month that a movement is afoot among the Christian churches to apologize for the Crusades. The Crusades, you will recall, were a kind of medieval equivalent of making the world safe for democracy—in this case, Christianity—and a good many Europeans took themselves off to the Middle East to carve into confetti anyone who wasn’t as Christian as they were. In the process, a good many Europeans got their behinds kicked by the locals. Eventually the Crusades failed, and most people went home.

But as with most historical episodes (the Crusades went on for a couple of hundred years), there were good things and bad things about them. The good things included a more or less authentic desire to enlighten the world with what the European Christians of the time deeply believed was religious truth. The bad things included pillaging, conquering, and massacring a lot of folks who never harmed the Crusaders. Nevertheless, whatever the good or the bad, only idiots would consider apologizing for them today.

But idiots, of course, is exactly what we’re dealing with, and I for one would prefer the Crusaders. The Telegraph reports that on July 15 this year a delegation of idiots from Europe and the United States calling themselves the “Reconciliation Walk” plans to go to Jerusalem and apologize to Muslim and Jewish leaders for the Crusades.

They will wear T-shirts saying “I apologize” in Arabic and distribute apologetic messages to Muslims on the streets. About a thousand such apologizers have already worn out their welcomes in the area by getting an early start on the guilt trip. Yet the Telegraph also reports that the Christian churches in Europe and the United States are preparing a public expression of repentance for the Crusades.

There are several reasons these people are idiots, not the least of which is that the historical memory of the Crusades has almost entirely vanished today. Assuming the Crusades were wrong, no one feels the wrong any more, nor can anyone seriously claim that all the wrong was on the Christian European side. Apologizing for the Crusades is like looking up a kid you stole candy from when you were in kindergarten and telling him you’re sorry. He not only doesn’t remember the theft; he doesn’t even remember you.

Some church leaders are arguing that there should be no apology from Christians until Muslims also show remorse for the killing they carried out themselves. The problem with that is that it’s moral equivalence. If Christians knocked off a few Muslims in the siege of Jerusalem, that’s no worse than the killing the Muslims themselves committed. The problem with moral equivalence is that it assumes both sides are wrong and does nothing to place ethical blame where it ought to lie. From church leaders we have a right to expect more than this.

Yet right or wrong, the fact that modern Westerners can’t even defend the Crusades as a manifestation of Western man and his civilization tells us a good deal about what’s wrong with Western man today. Western man no longer believes in himself or the civilization his ancestors created, crusaded for, and died for. In place of believing in it and defending it, our religious and political leaders are ashamed of it and want to apologize for it—even for those parts no one remembers.

The Crusades certainly involved some inglorious and unheroic deeds, not all of them committed against Muslims. Christians themselves were often the victims, as in the sack of Constantinople in 1204. But if the Crusades were not entirely right, a healthy civilization can still recognize them as a necessary part in the adventure of our own people in history. The importance of the Crusades is that they were one of the first expressions of the process of heroic dynamism and expansion that distinguishes our civilization from most others.

The same mentality that drove medieval warriors to wage war for the cross in the Holy Land also drove Columbus to the New World and Americans to the Moon. Without that spirit, the West—and America—will shrivel and die and would never have existed at all. That, of course, is exactly what the idiot party wants, and it’s exactly why they deserve a good kick in the behind from the Crusaders still kicking around.

• Category: History • Tags: Crusades 
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“Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast ordained strength,” prayed David to the Lord. When Gregory Kingsley came along, the Lord seems to have been taking a lunch break. A judge in Florida granted Gregory’s wish to “divorce” his natural mother and evolve into the son of foster parents. Maybe his real mother should rejoice to be rid of him.

Quizzed by reporters after Judge Thomas Kirk used his legal scissors to snip the natural cords that bind children to parents, young Gregory declaimed upon the “abuse and neglect” he had endured from the woman who brought him into the world.

Mrs. Kingsley stuck him into several foster homes. Years went by when he did not hear from her, even at Christmas or on birthdays. Often, when he did live with her, she drank and smoked marijuana. Young Gregory’s lawyer claimed Mrs. Kingsley not only smoked pot but also practiced lesbianism and prostitution — charges she denies. By the time Gregory and his legal pit bull had finished, you would have thought they were writing a sequel to Oliver Twist.

The fact is that at no time has Gregory or his lawyer given any evidence of what the real world normally means by abuse or neglect by his natural mother. No one alleges she beat him, sexually abused him, abandoned him, or failed to provide food, clothing, and shelter for him. It is true that Mrs. Kingsley placed him in foster homes, and maybe, as alleged, that was because she just did not care about him. But placing a child in a foster home shows care of a kind.

It is hardly the same as throwing him out on the street, tossing him into a trash can, or selling him to strangers — actual cases of which are common enough these days.

If there were no abuse or neglect in any normal sense, why did Gregory bring suit? What comes from this babe’s mouth is the motto of the modern world: “I’m doing this for me so I can be happy.” When Judge Kirk uttered his foolish decree, that portion of the modern world that has nothing better to do than haunt courtrooms burst into applause.

There is, of course, no reason to doubt that Gregory’s real mom was pretty lousy, but there is every reason to doubt he will be any happier with his new parents. It would not be surprising if he eventually discovers another couple from whom he imagines he can extract even more gratification, presents, attention, or whatever it is he thinks he wants. The road to happiness is paved with quicksand, and those who tread it usually sink pretty fast, especially when they are children with the law on their side.

Yet, regardless of the merits and flaws of Gregory’s case, the real issue transcends even his personal happiness, as inconceivable as that may be to him and his supporters. The issue is that, for the first time in American history, a minor has succeeded in using the law to challenge the authority of his natural family. This means that from now on there is a precedent for arguing that what nature put together human beings — even children — can break apart.

To those who consider that patterns rooted in nature offer no norms any more valid than those invented by lawyers, the results will not be disturbing. Gregory’s legal victory is implicit in the ideology in which they pretend to believe. Now they will have a chance to enjoy a world that deceives itself into importing their pretenses into law.

To those who think that the bizarre relationship between Gregory and his real mother is an aberration — one on which no norms, let alone legally binding ones, should be founded — and that emotional bonds as natural as a bitch fighting to protect her puppies tell us something about how human societies are and should be constructed, Judge Kirk’s decision is an invitation to anarchy.

Nature has not so constructed 12-year-old boys that they know more than their parents, let alone what happiness really is. Nor has it so constructed judges and lawmakers that they are able to improve on what nature normally does construct. Maybe Gregory is exceptional, but with his exception a legal precedent, others are now free to extend it. The Washington Postreports that “Legal experts have expressed doubt that children will hire their own attorneys, except in the most unusual cases.” But the same day’s edition carries a story of another 12-year-old boy in Virginia who “is seeking to ‘divorce’ his parents so he can stay with his foster family.”

Having wrapped ourselves in the illusion that we can redesign nature to make ourselves happier, there is no telling what legal mischief we will proceed to erect. What if children make their parents unhappy? Can Mom and Dad take Junior to court because he plays his stereo too loud? Maybe Gregory and Judge Kirk have not thought about that. Children obsessed with themselves and their own gratification seldom do. That is why nature made adults.

• Category: Economics 
Sam Francis
About Sam Francis

Dr. Samuel T. Francis (1947-2005) was a leading paleoconservative columnist and intellectual theorist, serving as an adviser to the presidential campaigns of Patrick Buchanan and as an editorial writer, columnist, and editor at The Washington Times. He received the Distinguished Writing Award for Editorial Writing of the American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE) in both 1989 and 1990, while being a finalist for the National Journalism Award (Walker Stone Prize) for Editorial Writing of the Scripps Howard Foundation those same years. His undergraduate education was at Johns Hopkins and he later earned his Ph.D. in modern history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

His books include The Soviet Strategy of Terror(1981, rev.1985), Power and History: The Political Thought of James Burnham (1984); Beautiful Losers: Essays on the Failure of American Conservatism (1993); Revolution from the Middle: Essays and Articles from Chronicles, 1989–1996 (1997); and Thinkers of Our Time: James Burnham (1999). His published articles or reviews appeared in The New York Times, USA Today, National Review, The Spectator (London), The New American, The Occidental Quarterly, and Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture, of which he was political editor and for which he wrote a monthly column, “Principalities and Powers.”