At present writing, the ACLU and other leftist groups have gone into full-court attack mode against President Bush's initiatives to support faith-based charities. These groups feed the hungry, help the poor, repair the dysfunctional, redeem the criminal and in general attempt to retrieve those left behind in our inner cities. What could possibly be wrong with that?
In the eyes of the ACLU, this is really a Republican plot to overturn the First Amendment or, even worse, as an ACLU press release states: to "create government-funded discrimination in employment and services, as well as result in a dangerous loosening of licensing and standards for providers of social services."
The ACLU's spin: Wake up America! The Bush administration is planning to unleash the religious nuts on the rest of us! Havoc is about to be wreaked on our constitutional order! Bush is going to let them infect our inner cities with their bigotry and racism! They might even spread mad cow disease through their theocratic soup kitchens!
You have to admire the sheer chutzpah of this crowd as it injects the poisons of suspicion and paranoia in large doses into the body politic. Recall please, that it was the religious right -- pious conservatives -- who founded this nation, wrote its laws and gave us the First Amendment. The secular radicals, to whom the ACLU traces its own ideological roots, gave us the guillotine and the gulag. Last August, ACLU president Laura Murphy -- now suddenly a champion of tolerance -- was a guest speaker at Al Sharpton's hate forum at the Lincoln Memorial, along with such marquee racists as Mrs. Louis Farrakhan and Malik Zulu Shabazz, head of the New Black Panther Party. Shabazz not only preached race hatred and racial supremacy but even incited the crowd into racial warfare.
In fact, the ACLU has a long and disreputable history of engaging in war against inner-city communities in the name of abused constitutional principles. The ACLU has blocked local communities in their attempts to prevent gangs from terrorizing children's parks by invoking the "freedom of assembly" clause of the Constitution. It has also prevented inner-city parents from protecting their children from bodily harm in public schools by successfully opposing metal detectors, calling such precautions violations of the Bill of Rights; it has persecuted the Boy Scouts, one of the most successful rescuers of inner-city black males from the carnage and dysfunction of their mean-streets neighborhoods by selectively invoking anti-discrimination principles. (While the ACLU has no problem with putting sexually active men in charge of pubescent boys, however, it would assuredly find a way to oppose any summer camp or boarding school that invoked the same principle to allow sexually active men to be put in charge of pubescent girls.)
The political firestorm the ACLU hopes to ignite even before Bush's faith-based initiative has a chance to work will further obscure the extraordinary subtlety of the vision this administration is attempting to implement. But distracting attention from a hopeful future and focusing it on a discredited past is exactly what the ACLU faction of the left wing wants. Instead of looking at a modern religious individual like John Ashcroft as someone who can restore integrity to a recently debased Justice Department, let's debate the issue of slavery. That's an easy one to win.
Let's not confuse ourselves, moreover, by looking at the social disasters that the ACLU, the NAACP and other secular organizations have promoted and defended over the last four decades -- the welfare system that destroyed inner-city black families, promoted teenage parenthood and subsidized out-of-control drug abuse; or the public educational system that through its policy of "social promotion" instead promoted failure and called it self-esteem. Let's focus instead on religious witchcraft: "Under the Bush initiative, for example, a Catholic church receiving tax dollars for literacy programs could fire a teacher for getting pregnant outside of marriage, or an Orthodox Jewish synagogue that used public funds to operate a food bank could refuse to provide food to non-Jews."
These are the two examples of unwanted possibilities the ACLU cites in its press release. Talk about bigotry! Jews -- especially Orthodox Jews -- are taught by scripture to "love a stranger as thyself, for you yourselves were strangers in Egypt." Only ignorant religion-bashers like the ACLU spear-carriers would suggest otherwise. But suppose there happen to be hypocritical Jews who disobey their own ethical teaching. Would this be the beginning of a horrific, discriminatory American future? It would take just one unfed poor person to inspire the following headline: "Jews deny taxpayer-provided food to indigent Christians!" Yikes. What Jewish organization would be stupid enough to allow that to happen? The ACLU should get a life.
The ACLU's Catholic-bashing is no more credible. Under present secular arrangements, the ACLU and its ilk have actually provided legal advocacy to mentors who were fired from government programs for poor, unwed mothers because they got pregnant.
Here's a dose of reality: American opportunity and American justice and American principles of non-discrimination are actually the products of a religious faith, of American founding fathers who were deeply devout and derived the rights we now enjoy from their religious devotion and belief. It's fitting that a political left that despises America should be so hostile to faith.
We now have a president who is himself a religious person -- a leader who does not believe that anything goes and everybody does it. We have a president whose vision of this country is continuous with what its founders conceived. George W. Bush has not been in office for two weeks, but the noise of the political battle is already so intense, the guns of the destructive left already so clamorous, that it is difficult even to hear what the president is offering -- and that's to unite a deeply divided country.
A friend who teaches in a low-income, mainly black, school in the Deep South led a class discussion about the election recently. During the discussion, one of the students volunteered that he was unhappy that Bush won, and three or four others spoke out in agreement. When the teacher asked why, the students responded, "Because we're going back to slavery."
That's just tip of the ugly iceberg of paranoia and hate that the political left -- beginning with Democrats Al Gore and Jesse Jackson and now continuing with Patrick Leahy and Ted Kennedy in the Senate -- has recently planted in America's political heart.
This episode didn't begin in Florida, or with the rantings of the hero of Chappaquiddick during the star-chamber nomination process ("Are you now or have you ever been, Senator Ashcroft, an enemy of women, a persecutor of homosexuals, a supporter of the slave South?") It began with the "Borking" of a candidate for the Supreme Court. And by the time the left undertook its high-tech lynching of Clarence Thomas it was already going full bore; but its progress through the ranks of the Democratic Party can most certainly be traced to the embrace of the "progressive" left into its fold in the years following the McGovern campaign.
The most striking characteristics of latter-day witch hunters are the hysteria with which they approach the issues, the recklessness with which they mount their attacks and their resolute refusals to apologize after the damage has been inflicted and their lies have been exposed.
Case in point is an item that appeared in California papers last week. According to the Los Angeles Times, "record numbers of black and Latin high school seniors have applied to the University of California" this year. In fact, blacks, Latinos and Filipino Americans increased their applications by double-digit figures. This lays to rest one of the last mendacities spread by the familiar coalition of verbal terrorists who were opposed to California's "Civil Rights Initiative" five years ago. The initiative outlawed discrimination by the state on the basis of race or gender, but it was presented as a plot by Stone Age racists to set the cause of blacks, women and minorities back hundreds of years.
The Orwellian opposition to the California Civil Rights Initiative claimed not only that the new anti-discrimination law would exclude minorities from the University of California and strip women of their rights, but it would also create a "hostile environment" that would discourage blacks and Hispanics in particular from ever seeking entrance. Encouraged (or perhaps just frightened) by left-wing hate propaganda, minority students who had already been admitted to the university system announced their plans to go elsewhere. Dire predictions of declining minority enrollment (already refuted by the following year) were legion. Jesse Jackson led a "civil rights" march across the Golden Gate Bridge to protest "another Selma." Meanwhile, Al Gore's media maven, Bob Shrum, ran a television ad featuring a cross burning by hooded Klansmen and a voice-over by actress Candace Bergen, which warned citizens that Bob Dole, Newt Gingrich, Ward Connerly and David Duke all supported the initiative.
Where are the apologies of the ACLU and the NAACP now that their predictions have been disproved? These know-nothings are too busy compiling their hate files for the first Bush nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court to be bothered with making amends for damage done so long in the past. On the other hand, there's no statute of limitations for Republicans who make obscure references in interviews given to even more obscure magazines, when this lynch party is on the prowl.