Readers respond to stories about right-wing attacks on the Constitution, the judiciary and prominent leftists.

Published April 13, 2005 8:34PM (EDT)

[Read "In Theocracy They Trust," by Michelle Goldberg.]

Of all the things that have come from the religious right, the positions that came out of the Confronting the Judicial War on Faith conference shake me to my core. You say I'm going to hell for not accepting Christ? Fine. You say that correct interpretation of the Constitution only allows for conservative viewpoints? You're welcome to your opinion. But to claim, as the Christian Reconstructionists do, that the Constitution must be subordinated to biblical law -- that threatens everything our country was created for. This is not just using the American political process to gain power. It's an effort to subvert and destroy it. These are not just members of the right-wing lunatic fringe supporting these views -- these are people with position and power in Washington. This should be of concern to everyone in our country, liberal, moderate or conservative.

Tom DeLay, Todd Adkin and other members of Congress who attended or supported this conference took an oath to support and defend the Constitution. By currying favor with the Judeo-Christian Council for Constitutional Restoration and the Christian Reconstructionist movement, they have demonstrated full violation of that oath.

-- Bill Verble

I was at the conference written about by Michelle Goldberg. So, please, a few comments. "Theocracy," supposedly a scare word, simply means Godly rule. What's really scary is men who have ruled in defiance of God -- Mao Zedong, Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot.

As for those of us who believe American civil law should be, indeed is, subordinate to biblical law, well, yes, God's law is above man's law. See Romans, chapter 13.

And it is not "revisionist history" to teach that biblical law is the source of our Constitution. Some liberals have even discovered this. A cover story about the Bible and America, in Newsweek magazine (12/27/1982), noted, in part: "Now historians are discovering that the Bible, perhaps even more than the Constitution, is our founding document: the source of the powerful myth of the United States as a special, sacred nation, a people called by God to establish a model society, a beacon to the world."

Finally, it's not true that the Constitution makes no mention of God. It notes that it was signed at a certain date "in the year of our Lord." America, clearly, was founded as a Christian nation. Read, please, for example: the Mayflower Compact; the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut; the Fundamental Body of Liberties law of Massachusetts; and the Virginia Declaration of Rights. God bless you all.

-- John Lofton

Like Michelle Goldberg, I don't know whether to take these people seriously or treat them as loons. However, I think it might be best to err on the side of caution. Any group who quotes Papa Stalin to justify their policies and motivations is not on the side of God. Lord help us if they do get any more power. I can only imagine reeducation camps in North Dakota for those citizens who don't believe what they do.

-- Ted Ollier

Goldberg's article on the religious right shows the reality of the mind-set of these religious wackos. The scary part of Christian fundamentalism is not that it is so radical or so unrealistic, but rather that it is a very rational way of approaching the Bible and seeing history through the lens of that document. Fundamentalism is nothing less than the logical outcome of taking the Bible and religion seriously.

What's even scarier is the left's willingness to consistently ignore or downplay the threat these nut cases pose. They literally kill us -- our doctors, our judges and our men and women whom they deem to be sexual sinners -- and yet we still stand by and watch as they try to undermine the very laws that would find them guilty of committing those crimes.

When is the left going to realize that we need to fight them vehemently?

-- Robert Ulishney

I need to point out a problem in Michelle Goldberg's article "In Theocracy They Trust."

In this article, Goldberg asserts that Christian Reconstructionism is a Calvinist doctrine. As both an evangelical and a Calvinist (and a political liberal), I must heartily disagree.

There is no doubt that many who support this particular doctrine come from a Calvinist background. Many Calvinist Christians (myself included) are, however, in direct disagreement with this teaching. Moreover, there are many Christians who are not Calvinists who nevertheless hold to some form of theocratic ideal.

The Apostle Paul was certainly not a "Christian Reconstructionist." In 1 Corinthians 5.9-13, he makes it clear that Christians should not take it upon themselves to regulate the moral behavior of "outsiders," or those who are outside the church.

Given that many other Calvinists and Christians believe that the Bible is the inspired and inerrant word of God, this section authored by the Apostle Paul has convinced us that those within the church who advocate some form of theocracy are not only wrong, but are bordering upon destructive heresy.

-- Neil Cameron

[Read "Here Come the Scalias," by Farhad Manjoo.]

Farhad Manjoo's otherwise fine discussion of "the war against 'liberal judges'" misses one small but important detail. Manjoo describes filibustering judicial nominees as "a virtually unprecedented tactic" and uncritically quotes a representative of the conservative Committee for Justice who claims, "It really hasn't ever been the case that presidents have to consider a possible filibuster [in picking judicial nominees]." Neither characterization is accurate. In fact, in October 1969 an unbroken filibuster prompted Abe Fortas, who had been nominated for Chief Justice of the United States, to withdraw his nomination for the post.

Of course, that filibuster was by Republicans, so it must have been a completely different thing.

-- Jay Macke

Farhad Manjoo's article contains the kind of complexity that neither conservatives nor liberals tend to have time to delve into; we all prefer short, easy answers to complicated issues. "Here Come the Scalias" should be essential reading for anyone who thinks that Terri Schiavo's death was a validation that "the system works." This article details the stealth campaign that's being carried out as liberals -- yes, liberals -- fall victim to groupthink about this withdrawal of nourishment on the basis of hearsay evidence, something that Americans have always considered inadequate for life-and-death judicial decisions.

Michael Schiavo's triumph may well be our undoing. Fearing the right's threats to "reform" the entire judiciary, liberals rigidly defend the behavior of one judge whose decisions and conflicts of interest should have raised eyebrows by those on the left as well as the right. Yet we stubbornly continue to extol the virtues of starving "sad" cases like Terri without even considering the arguments of those in the disabled and feminist communities who feel uneasy about this precedent.

Long story short, liberals are so determined to defend the judgment of one judge that we're willing to place at risk the entire judicial branch. Judging from the liberal zeal to defend Judge Greer's decisions, you'd think we were advocates of the doctrine of inerrancy.

For the first time in my memory, liberals have abandoned their insistence on individual rights, women's rights over their own bodies (whatever happened to "A woman's body is her own"?), and legal processes based on hard evidence rather than he said/she said hearsay. We have some major rethinking to do if we're to avoid yet another right-wing coup -- and the first step is to remember our long-standing values.

-- Teresa Whitehurst

The Schiavo case is a clear example of judicial prudence in the face of calls for judicial activism. The fact that the calls for this particular judicial activism came from the same people who've been decrying it clearly demonstrates that the crusade against "judicial activism" is nothing of the sort. The cry "Judicial activism!" is merely a convenient smokescreen to attack the judiciary for sin of disagreeing, and blatant hypocrisy will not stand in the way.

-- Michael J. Callahan

[Read "Roger Ebert and Mohammed Atta, Partners in Crime," by John Gorenfeld.]

Your recent piece on David Horowitz's "Discover the Network" site compelled me to write the following letter:

Dear Mr. Horowitz,

I read with considerable interest today about your "Discover the Network: A Guide to the Political Left" project today. And my first reaction, frankly, was "Where was I?"

I'll admit that my name as yet does not carry the star power or recognition of, say, a Roger Ebert, whom you have generously included. And I understand you're currently operating with limited means and time. Still, doesn't it seem to be a little "elitist" not to include those of us ordinary folks who make a point of criticizing the Bush administration on a daily basis, even though the paparazzi aren't stalking us?

If you want to be seen as something more than the "Access Hollywood" of blacklists, I think you would do well to expand your parameters to include those of us who don't have a music video coming out, or whose utterances don't tempt the ear of the (liberal) media. In short, I'm making you a proposition: If those of us on the left who are not famous are willing to turn ourselves in, would you consider adding us to your prestigious list?

I'm not asking you to do this sight unseen. I'm saying that if someone like myself could provide enough background material and letters from other sources to help back up my claims, perhaps you could give those of us who aren't celebrities some consideration.

For instance, I've been going on about what a jerk George W. Bush is for years. Not only Bush, but all his little beady-eyed cronies. I like Michael Moore. I won't even turn right when I'm driving if I can help it.

Of course, I have another motive here. In plain words, I could use the publicity and, as I'm pushing 50 as of this writing, I haven't got a whole lot of time left to become an Enemy of the State.

Is it selfish and shallow of me to daydream of the cachet my name would gain as a member of your list? My crazy liberal buddies would be drooling, I don't mind telling you, as surely as if I'd scored a ticket to a fundraiser for Osama bin Laden. I'd get invited to a lot more parties and my networking opportunities would increase without my having to lift a pinky.

So think it over. Don't dismiss my plea. Consider the credibility you would stand to gain as a list that truly cares about including the grass-roots Bush-haters, as well as the Hollywood elite. I think we could both stand to gain from pooling our talents -- in a non-communist, capitalist way, of course. I look forward to hearing from you.

-- Robert W. Getz

I know you used to publish his tripe, but do you really need to give David Horowitz a forum to air his insane ravings? He has shown time and again his unwillingness (or inability) to argue in an intellectually honest manner, so trying to engage him is an exercise in futility. Also, it seems like center-left publications like Salon are the only people who take him seriously at all. Even his own handlers don't ever stand by him. Quit validating him! His arguments are laughably specious and deserve to be dismissed out of hand.

-- Michael Fitzpatrick

In reading David Horowitz over the years, it strikes me that his most salient feature is a complete intolerance of any opinions that differ from his. Once a Stalinist, apparently, always a Stalinist.

-- John Haggerty

Horowitz would be laughable if there weren't powerful wealthy people propping him up. All you can do is wish for his complete recovery. First he is evidently raised by Stalinist wolves -- I read Ramparts magazine when he took over, for a while at least, until it was apparent that the man was full of ideology and hatred rather than an honest and open curiosity, or a thirst for, you know, justice. Then, 10 years later, he suddenly has the revelation that Stalin might not have been the great man his parents said he was, so he votes for Reagan and supports the Contras' slaughter in El Salvador. The man's just not right in the head. He demonized the "pigs" back in the '60s, and now he demonizes Roger Ebert. Somebody should change his red diapers. I propose we use the nickname for him that Michael Berube made up: D. Ho.

By the way, I probably wrote 10 angry letters to Salon complaining about his being a columnist for this publication. Anybody still wonder if we should pay to be exposed to the ticking of his totalitarian cuckoo clock?

-- Jim Hassinger

When I first looked at David Horowitz's "Discover the Network" site, I saw it was riddled with overblown 'tar and feather the left' rhetoric and factual errors -- and it still is.

Although the entry on Norman Solomon no longer lists him as a professor at Berkeley, it says he is the author of a "nationally syndicated San Francisco Examiner column" when it hasn't run in the Examiner for several years. His column is distributed along with columns by Robert Novak, Bill O'Reilly, Ollie North and Pat Buchanan by Creators Syndicate (which I guess means all of them should be lumped in with terrorists as well).

And what is the criterion for being a "totalitarian radical" instead of an "anti-American radical" or a "leftist" or "moderate leftist"? It does allow Horowitz to put a photo of "totalitarian radical" Abu Musab al-Zarqawi next to "anti-American radical" Norman Solomon. I've known Solomon since 1988 and never heard him say anything that was anti-American. Dissent and criticism of our government are woven into the fabric of America.

Horowitz often attacks the government for wasteful spending, but it would be hard to find half a million dollars that was more poorly spent.

-- Steve Rhodes

By Salon Staff

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