March 3, 2005


Decalogue Part of Nation’s Foundation (Peter W. Schramm, March 02, 2005, Columbus Dispatch)

George Orwell wrote: "Who controls the past controls the future: Who controls the present controls the past."

This was the mantra for the revisionism carried out by the party in Oceania in his novel 1984. Adhering to this credo, the fictional ruling party systematically eliminated anything from history that was inconvenient to its vision for the future.

In America, a real group seems to be driven by the same credo, as they bring lawsuits around the country attempting to remove from courthouses and schools history they deem inappropriate. That group is the American Civil Liberties Union.

The Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments today in McCreary County v. ACLU, a case in which the ACLU sued over the presence of the Ten Commandments in courthouses and schoolhouses in Kentucky. This is not a case in which the Ten Commandments were posted in religious context. Rather, they were posted alongside the Declaration of Independence, the Mayflower Charter, the Magna Carta and other documents as part of a display concerning the "Foundations of American Law and Government."

One doesn’t need to be particularly disposed to religion to understand the prominent role that the Ten Commandments played in this country’s founding and in the formation of our laws.

It's not really possible that a Court that sits beneath this:

will rule such displays Establish a religion, is it?

Even many secularists, though not the ACLU, find the argument embarrassing.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 3, 2005 12:16 PM

They may so rule, but if you listen to Sekulow, you'll have to admit that, in fact, a fraction of the people pushing these monuments are trying to establish a particular religion.

Not yours, perhaps.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at March 3, 2005 1:50 PM


Posted by: oj at March 3, 2005 1:54 PM

Its possible that the nine old women could do anything, in fact I am kind of hoping that they will.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at March 3, 2005 2:49 PM


Leaving well enough alone is pushing religion? Litigating cultural, historical artifacts in the name of 'seperation' seems a bit extreme. I think the religious fervor is all on the side of the secularists.

Posted by: Tom C., Stamford,Ct. at March 3, 2005 4:03 PM

I think they'll wait to find out what France, Luxembourg and Tuvalu think before they decide. After all, why should America be 'out of step' with the rest of the world?

Posted by: Bart at March 3, 2005 4:46 PM

Tom C

"I think the religious fervor is all on the side of the secularists."

As our evolutionist friends would say, that is no longer a theory. It's a fact!

Posted by: Peter B at March 3, 2005 6:58 PM

The only thing more intolerable than a joyless Puritan is a godless Puritan. I wonder how many of these liberals with a hankering to release the wrecking ball have excoriated the Christian West for "destroying indigenous cultures."

Posted by: Pontius at March 3, 2005 8:05 PM

Who was ever more joyful than the Puritans?

Posted by: oj at March 3, 2005 8:34 PM

Are there really people who would prefer to have Nebuchadnezzar up on the facade? Or Sennacharib? Or Suslov?

Posted by: jim hamlen at March 3, 2005 8:54 PM

As HL Mencken said 'Puritanism is the quaking fear that someone somewhere might actually be happy.'

If you can call the Schadenfreude, that some people feel when they disrupt the lives of others, 'joy', then I guess Puritans can be described as joyful.

Posted by: Bart at March 4, 2005 6:51 AM


Know what he said about Jews?

Posted by: oj at March 4, 2005 7:46 AM

When he was or wasn't hanging out with George Jean Nathan and Alfred A Knopf?

His comments are all over the map, and his later ones have more to do with his understandable anger, as a proud German-American, with America's wrongful involvement in WWI than with any anti-Jewish animus. He saw Jews as working with the Brits to push us into another pointless war with Germany, and because the British propaganda concerning German behavior in WWI was so egregious, over-the-top and blatantly erroneous he thought, understandably, that the reports of anti-Jewish atrocities by the Germans were similarly exaggerated.

He was pretty much uniformly hostile to all religions.

Condemning Mencken for anti-semitism is like condemning Churchill for it. Given the times and their behavior it doesn't make sense.

Posted by: Bart at March 4, 2005 8:32 AM


Yes, so citing him on religion is an act of what?

Posted by: oj at March 4, 2005 8:44 AM

What makes you think Puritanism has anything to do with religion?

Ever listened to Jill Claybrook? Ralph Nader? Any of the food Nazis? The Anti-Smoking Nazis? None of their arguments come within shouting distance of any known theism but all are Puritanisms of a sort. And all are equally foul. The Soviets certainly tried to instill a form of Puritanism in their society.

Mencken didn't hold any truck for the temperance movement backed by many secular progressives either.

And how do you think he would have reacted to the anti-smoking Nazis given his love of a good cigar?

Posted by: Bart at March 4, 2005 9:32 AM

Yes, Nader is quintessentially an American Puritan. It's why he's achieved so much.

Posted by: oj at March 4, 2005 10:06 AM


Please. Nader peaked in 1970 (probably sooner). By 1975, he was building his portfolio while decrying corporate America. When the sunlight shone his way, he scurried into the corner. His interview with Chris Matthews last spring was the last nail in his coffin.

Nader is an arrogant totalitarian ascetic (except with money), not a Puritan. Don't forget - the Puritans had lots and lots of children.

Posted by: jim hamlen at March 4, 2005 10:57 AM


Tried smoking in public lately? driven a car?

Posted by: oj at March 4, 2005 11:02 AM

Smoking is irrelevant. I drive probably 20,000 miles a year, and I have had just one speeding ticket since 1996, but not for lack of trying (sometimes). :>)

Posted by: jim hamlen at March 4, 2005 11:52 AM