REAL ID Debate in Maryland Mixes 9/11, Day Laborers

Since Congress passed the REAL ID Act in 2005, which (among other things) mandates that all states require drivers prove their legal immigration status in order to get a license, several states have balked at the cost and myriad civil liberties issues stemming from the bill. Maine and Idaho have passed laws rejecting the new guidelines, and a number of other state legislatures are considering joining them, including Maryland. This week, however, the Maryland Senate debated a competing bill that would implement at least one part of the REAL ID rules – the proof of immigration status requirement. And although REAL ID was passed as part of emergency funding for the War on Terror, some are trying to refocus the debate away from civil liberties and on to anti-immigrant “quality of life” complaints. From The Washington Times:

Bill supporters told the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee they were concerned about public safety and potential terrorist attacks because one of the September 11 hijackers obtained a Maryland driver's license.

"I live in Gaithersburg, Maryland, which has been in [newspapers] quite recently, and is really on its way to becoming the first authentic barrio in the county," said Susan Payne of Citizens Above Party. "The poison that's coming out of this state, known as the Maryland driver's license, has to be stopped because it's infecting the entire country."

Payne was also quoted in the Annapolis Capital, warning “You are driving people like me out of our home state.” She co-founded Citizens Above Party in response to the building of a day-laborer center in Gaithersburg, a prosperous D.C. suburb known for its New Urbanist planned communities.

The other founder of the anti-day-laborer group was Demos Chrissos, a veteran producer of Republican political ads who, like Susan Payne, is frequently quoted in the local media. Chrissos is also a professional anti-immigration activist on a national scale: He produced a TV ad for that included a shot of the World Trade Center being hit, and more recently produced ads around a campaign to pardon border agents convicted in a shooting. According to the online bio from his video marketing firm, Chrissos co-founded Citizens Above Party to “investigat[e] the suspected link between illegal immigration and widespread voter fraud across the nation.”

Of course, there’s no sign of “widespread voter fraud” by illegal immigrants anywhere except in the press releases of anti-immigrant groups and the politicians who court them, or of a link between suburban day laborers and anti-American terrorists. But press coverage of Payne’s rhetoric does demonstrate how easily the anti-immigrant movement can “infect” the REAL ID debate in Maryland and elsewhere. And while Payne comes off in the media as a typical concerned citizen, her partner’s work as a professional media consultant suggests that this confusion is part of their strategy.

ADF Sees Attorney General's Religious Liberty Program as Validation of Religious-Right Scare Theory

DOJ program, launched at SBC, “further confirms” freedom in “serious danger” from “sustained attacks by the ACLU and its allies.”

Worse Than Falwell

Not long ago, Dinesh D'Souza took to the pages of The Washington Post to defend his new book, "The Enemy at Home," from the savaging it is receiving in the press. In his Post piece, D’Souza claimed that Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda attacked the US on September 11th for reasons that had nothing to do with US foreign policy, in spite of evidence to the contrary in bin Laden’s own words.  In D’Souza’s view, at least as expressed in his Post column, what really angered bin Laden and other radical Muslims was the fact that “Islam is under attack from the global forces of atheism and immorality -- and that the United States is leading that attack”:

It's more likely that they would do it if they feared their values and way of life were threatened. Even as the cultural left accuses Bush of imperialism in invading Iraq, it deflects attention from its own cultural imperialism aimed at secularizing Muslim society and undermining its patriarchal and traditional values. The liberal "solution" to Islamic fundamentalism is itself a source of Islamic hostility to America.

D’Souza insists that his argument “has nothing to do with [Jerry] Falwell's suggestion that 9/11 was God's judgment on the ACLU and the feminists for their sins”:  

And, I know that I'll hear from them for this. But, throwing God out successfully with the help of the federal court system, throwing God out of the public square, out of the schools. The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad. I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way - all of them who have tried to secularize America - I point the finger in their face and say "you helped this happen."

In fact, there is a key difference between Falwell’s and D’Souza’s claims - whereas Falwell merely said of 9/11 that the Left “helped this happen,” D’Souza eschewed claims of secondary responsibility and blamed the “cultural left” directly, stating explicitly in the Post that he does not “believe that the 9/11 attacks were payback for U.S. foreign policy.”

Remarkably, just a week later, in a column published on TownHall, he appears to have changed his tune and now says that it was actually President Clinton’s “cowardly and weak” foreign policy that gave them “the confidence and the opportunity to strike”:

The conclusion seems unavoidable. The Islamic radicals made the decision to attack America on 9/11 because they decided that America was cowardly and weak. They came to this conclusion largely as a result of the actions—and inaction—of the Clinton administration and its allies on the left. What could have been done to get rid of Bin Laden and avert 9/11 was not done. In this sense liberal foreign policy gave radical Muslims the confidence and the opportunity to strike, and they did.

So, which is it Dinesh? Is 9/11 the fault of the “cultural left” for undermining traditional Muslim society? Or President Clinton for being too “cowardly and weak” to protect this country? The shifting sands of D’Souza’s “scholarship” may explain why he felt compelled to write in the Post, “I am not…an unqualified right-wing hack.”

GOPUSA Distributes Pavone E-Mail Endorsement of Brownback

Priests for Life head calls Brownback “hero for the unborn.” Meanwhile: Brownback introduces bill to stymie First Amendment lawsuits.

Tom Delay: Actually Reading the Law is for Wimps

In a post on his ghostwritten (but apparently not fact checked) blog, former somebody Tom Delay took aim at People For the American Way Foundation and the ACLU, who along with Voter Action and the Electronic Frontier Foundation are representing Sarasota County voters suing for a revote in Florida's 13th congressional district race in which more than 18,000 voters were disenfranchised in a contest decided by fewer than 400 votes.
[Democratic Congressional Candidate Christine] Jennings, for her part, is filing an official election challenge with the House Administration Committee, and she and leftwing advocacy groups such as People for the American Way and the ACLU have already launched a lawsuit in Florida, asking Leon County (Tallahassee) Circuit Judge William Gary to negate the November 7th results and order a new election. The suit was filed in Tallahasse, hundreds of miles from the 13th district, in hopes of getting a more liberal judge and jury pool instead of Sarasota County where the election actually occurred and the voting machines in question are located.
Of course, had Delay paid attention to the law, he would have known state law requires that an election contest like this, where the election encompassed more than one county, must be filed in state court in Leon County (Tallahassee). Oh, and it’s not a jury trial either. It’s nice to nice to see Tom Delay is maintaining the high standards of honesty and integrity that gave him the opportunity to be a blogger rather than a member of Congress.

Anti-Immigration Virginia Congressman Joins Campaign against Muslim Rep (Updated)

Rep. Virgil Goode, Jr. (R-Virginia), in a letter to constituents obtained by a Charlottesville newspaper, joined a right-wing attack on an incoming Muslim congressman, and linked the presence of the Koran in Congress to a supposed need for draconian immigration laws to stop the influx of Muslim congressmen streaming across the border. "[I]f American citizens don’t wake up and adopt the Virgil Goode position on immigration there will likely be many more Muslims elected to office and demanding the use of the Koran," wrote Goode.

When right-wing columnist and radio host Dennis Prager lashed out against incoming Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minnesota) for “announc[ing] that he will not take his oath of office on the Bible, but on the bible of Islam, the Koran,” he created a small firestorm. Wrote Prager late last month:

He should not be allowed to do so -- not because of any American hostility to the Koran, but because the act undermines American civilization.

He added, “If you are incapable of taking an oath on [the Christian Bible], don't serve in Congress."

Not least among the criticisms were (1) that the Constitution specifically prohibits any religious test for office, and (2) that members of Congress do not take their oaths of office on the Bible at all. Instead, they raise their right hands as a group, and then pose for pictures after the fact.

However, Prager stood by his ridiculous attack, and a few right-wing figures came out of the woodwork to support him. WorldNetDaily wove a complicated conspiracy attempting to link Ellison to international terrorists, and Roy Moore – the former Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court who was removed from office for refusing to relinquish a two-ton Ten Commandments monument from his court – argued that Islam “rejects our God” and is “simply incompatible with our law.” William Donohue of the Catholic League and Don Feder, under the auspices of his obscure group “Jews Against Anti-Christian Defamation,” issued a joint statement calling critics of Prager “scurrilous” and repeating the false factual claim that all congressmen historically swear an oath on the Christian Bible. Feder went further, writing, “It’s no coincidence that most terrorists on four continents are Muslims. Nor is it a coincidence that those who are killing U.S. servicemen in Iraq do so in the name of the bible of Islam. And it isn't by chance that Osama bin Laden, Hamas, Hezbollah and Imanutjob in Iran all cite the Koran as the source of their lunacy.” Feder added that he would rather Ellison swear on “The Pop-Up Kama Sutra.”

Virgil GoodeNow, at least one fellow congressman is joining this quixotic right-wing campaign against Ellison and the U.S. Constitution. Goode, a Republican representing the southside of Virginia, wrote his letter in response to constituents complaining about Ellison. One accidental recipient forwarded it to an alternative newspaper in Charlottesville. In it, he connects the anti-Islam message of the Right to the anti-immigrant positions that he has made his political hallmark:

Dear Mr. Cruickshank:

Thank you for your recent communication. When I raise my hand to take the oath on Swearing In Day, I will have the Bible in my other hand. I do not subscribe to using the Koran in any way. The Muslim Representative from Minnesota was elected by the voters of that district and if American citizens don’t wake up and adopt the Virgil Goode position on immigration there will likely be many more Muslims elected to office and demanding the use of the Koran. We need to stop illegal immigration totally and reduce legal immigration and end the diversity visas policy pushed hard by President Clinton and allowing many persons from the Middle East to come to this country. I fear that in the next century we will have many more Muslims in the United States if we do not adopt the strict immigration policies that I believe are necessary to preserve the values and beliefs traditional to the United States of America and to prevent our resources from being swamped.

The Ten Commandments and “In God We Trust” are on the wall in my office. A Muslim student came by the office and asked why I did not have anything on my wall about the Koran. My response was clear, “As long as I have the honor of representing the citizens of the 5th District of Virginia in the United States House of Representatives, The Koran is not going to be on the wall of my office.” Thank you again for your email and thoughts.

Sincerely yours,
Virgil H. Goode, Jr.
70 East Court Street
Suite 215
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151

UPDATE 12/21:

Tell Goode to apologize!  A spokesman for Goode says that the congressman “stands by the letter” and refuses to apologize for the letter he wrote to constituents despite universal condemnation from the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Virginia Muslim PAC, James Zogby of the Arab American Institute, the ACLU, and at least one Democratic congressman. A spokesman for incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) called the remarks “offensive.”

Goode has made illegal immigration a primary target of his congressional career – introducing a bill to build a fence along the US-Mexico border and pushing to make English the official language of the US. 

Representative Ellison has the right idea about what it means to be an American - telling Rep Goode that he has “nothing to fear” because “the fact that there are many different faiths, many different colors and many different cultures in America is a great strength.” 

You can call Goode’s office at (202) 225-4711 and ask that he apologize for his intolerant and divisive comments about Muslims and immigrants. (Let us know how your call went here.)

War on Christmas: Chuck Norris Karate-Chops ACLU

And praises right-wing legal groups. Also: Media Research Center makes a list, and ADF writes letters.

War on Christmas: One Writer Blames the Jews (Again)

PrelutskyAccording to Burt Prelutsky, “Christmas” has become “a dirty word” in that “people are being prevented from saying it in polite society for fear that it will offend.” Those of us who have turned on the TV or radio, entered a store, or merely walked around town in the last week may be surprised to hear about the anti-Christmas police state, in which people “are being prevented” from uttering the name of the holiday.

Then again, if that claim surprised you, you will be even more surprised that Prelutsky’s analysis leads to the “Jewish question”:

Although it seems a long time ago, it really wasn't, that people who came here from other places made every attempt to fit in. Assimilation wasn't a threat to anyone; it was what the Statue of Liberty represented. E pluribus unum, one out of many, was our motto. The world's melting pot was our nickname. It didn't mean that any group of people had to check their customs, culture or cuisine, at the door. It did mean that they, and especially their children, learned English, and that they learned to live and let live.

That has changed, as you may have noticed. And I blame my fellow Jews. When it comes to pushing the multicultural, anti-Christian, agenda, you find Jewish judges, Jewish journalists and the ACLU at the forefront.

But those of us who witnessed last year’s sorry “War on Christmas” are not surprised – because Prelutsky published the same article one year ago. (See PFAW’s “Right Wing Outrage,” 12/9/05.)

And if you’re concerned that questioning the ability of Jews to “assimilate” to American society is now an acceptable form of discourse, Prelutsky says there’s nothing to worry about:

[T]he dirty little secret in America is that, in spite of the occasional over-publicized rants by the likes of Mel Gibson and Michael Richards, anti-Semitism is no longer a problem in society; it's been replaced by a rampant anti-Christianity.

Fresh from Election Disappointment, Right Eyes Christmas

Marine SantaLast week, Vision America’s Rick Scarborough agonized over the defeat of Republican congressional candidates as well as ballot issues he campaigned hard on – the Missouri stem-cell research amendment, which passed, and the South Dakota abortion ban, which failed. “Values Voters in America have been betrayed and we stand on the precipice of grave judgment if America does not repent,” he wrote, adding that “death prevails in America. … AND THE CHURCH STOOD BY AND LET IT HAPPEN!!!!”

But Scarborough now appears to be looking to move right along to something else – to what the Right has been calling the “War on Christmas.” He writes in an e-mail,

Help Protect Christmas In America!

For decades now, public displays celebrating Christmas have been assaulted by the ACLU and activist judges.

Today, we are asking you to make your voice heard and sign our petition to President George W. Bush asking him to issue an executive order prohibiting the federal enforcement of any court decisions that seek to remove Christ from Christmas.

Recently, Scarborough confessed to exaggerating his “War on Christians” in order to “get the press exercised.” What are the odds he’s thinking up more “hyperbole” for this season’s “War on Christmas” campaign?

Armey’s Continuing Assault

It took James Dobson of Focus on the Family weeks to finally fight back against former Congressman Dick Armey’s attacks on him – but it only took Armey one day to respond.  

For some time now, Armey has been leveling allegations that “Dobson and his gang of thugs are real nasty bullies” who rely on “demagoguery” to manipulate the “intellectually lazy” and accusations that Dobson is a power-hungry egomaniac, to which Dobson finally replied by calling Armey a sell out for working with the ACLU and dismissing him has a non-entity who is merely seeking to make a name for himself.

This time around, Armey wasted no time in attacking Dobson, belittling him for insinuating last year that the cartoon character SpongeBob SquarePants was gay

Having read Jim Dobson’s latest lecture, I feel a little bit like SpongeBob SquarePants: maligned and misunderstood. But it would be unfair, I think, to suggest that SpongeBob has become bitter over his experience with Jim Dobson; he seems to have moved on.

Frankly, though, I don’t understand why Jim Dobson always feels the need to justify himself in such great detail. If he believes that Dick Armey is the only person who thinks he is a bully, it should be of little concern to him. On some issues, regarding interactions between us, his recollections are clearly different than mine. It seems, therefore, that Jim Dobson is no more willing to believe himself a bully than I am able to believe he is a gentle soul.

Armey then recounts several instances where Dobson has threatened the Republican Party with electoral repercussions if it did not deliver on the so-called “values voters” agenda before laying into him for trying to use the GOP to push his right-wing agenda

Dobson Finally Fights Back

For weeks, former Congressman Dick Armey and Focus on the Family have been publicly bickering, but all the while FOF chairman James Dobson has refused to respond personally, instead choosing to let proxies defend him and attack Armey. 

Those days are now over. 

Apparently, Dobson could no longer tolerate Armey’s allegations that “Dobson and his gang of thugs are real nasty bullies” who rely on “demagoguery” to manipulate the “intellectually lazy” and accusations that Dobson is a power-hungry egomaniac, so he a penned a lengthy reply and published it, not surprisingly, on the Fox News website.

In a piece entitled “Mr. Armey, You've Become a Bitter Man,” Dobson accuses Armey of making up or imagining past slights and intentionally distorting Dobson’s record and positions.  On and on Dobson goes, defending his work and his influence within the Republican Party before chalking Armey’s dislike of him up to bitterness over Dobson’s support for Armey’s opponent in a race for House Majority Leader

I supported my close friend and hunting buddy, Rep. Steve Largent, R-Okla., because I thought he was more committed to conservative ideals, especially the sanctity of human life. Armey is apparently still ticked about that. At least in this instance, Armey has his facts right. I didn’t “orchestrate” anything, however, since it is impossible for an outsider to engineer any internal congressional matter. I did let my preference be known. I make no apology for that, but Mr. Armey still appears to resent me for it.

Finally, Dobson insinuates that Armey has sold out by working with the ACLU on privacy issues before all but dismissing him has a non-entity who is merely seeking to make a name for himself

Believe it or not, I don’t spend my time trying to figure out what Dick Armey is doing and really don’t care very much one way or the other.

Either Dick Armey has forgotten most of what I said, or he has become a very bitter man. Or maybe there is another possibility. He could be trying to reposition himself as an erstwhile Republican leader by discrediting the Religious Right, hoping to step into the vacuum after the upcoming election.

Come to think of it, that may explain everything.

With just a week to go before the election, Armey and Dobson couldn’t have picked a better time to air their dirty laundry in public and engage in a nasty ideological battle over which part of the Republican base - the anti-government tax-breaks-for-the-wealthy crowd or the anti-abortion gay-bashers – will attain the greatest influence over the party.

Making a List

[Elf making a list]The “War on Christmas” season started early this year – way back in June. While it hasn’t gotten too much traction yet – apparently people have other things to do – now Jerry Falwell is joining the fight against “anti-Christmas organizations” like the ACLU that want to “steal Christmas.”

In his “Falwell Confidential” e-mail, the Moral Majority co-founder promotes the “Friend or Foe Campaign” run by his affiliated litigation group, Liberty Counsel. Falwell and Liberty Counsel hope to recreate the magic of last year’s holiday season by instigating boycotts of “retailers who ban[] expressions of Christmas” (by saying “Happy Holidays”) and threatening to sue schools or government offices that don’t adhere to the “Merry Christmas”-only lexicon. From the e-mail:

Anita Staver, president of Liberty Counsel, said, “Christmas is constitutional. We cannot allow our religious liberty and heritage to be swept from the public square.”

When enough people learn the truth — that we can celebrate the religious aspects of Christmas — the ACLU and similar “Scrooges” and “grinches” will lose their power to steal Christmas.

Do civil liberties groups have the “power to steal Christmas”? As he wrote last year, Falwell believes there is some kind of conspiracy on the part of “small minority of our fellow citizens” to “obliterate Christmas,” and the “Friend or Foe Campaign” was used to collect supposed evidence of the “War on Christmas” – even when the cases they found turned out to be trumped-up or bogus (see Right Wing Outrage for 12/20/05 for video of Falwell hyping a bogus story). Still, the efforts of Falwell and other Christmas warriors ensured that there was no time of year we were denied the political hysteria of the far Right.

Judicial Watch Wants LA Police to Crack Down on Immigrant Workers

Judicial Watch, the litigation group most famous for its “blizzard” of lawsuits against the Clinton administration, is suing the Los Angeles Police Department over its policy of not asking witnesses or suspects about federal immigration status. The policy, which dates from 1979, is designed to let immigrants use city services – enrolling their children in school or reporting a crime to the police, for example – without fear of deportation. But rather than citing some kind of concern over immigrants with criminal backgrounds,  Judicial Watch’s target is immigrants looking for work. Criticizing the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups that have intervened in the case, Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton writes:

The ACLU contends that illegal immigrants ought to be able to congregate on street corners seeking illegal jobs without fear of police intervention. (Can you believe they actually intend to advance this argument in a court of law?!) Judicial Watch, of course, believes federal immigration laws must be enforced. We want the court to grant an injunction preventing the LAPD from spending any additional taxpayer funds in carrying out or enforcing Special Order 40.

While it is unclear how forcing the LAPD to enforce federal immigration laws will save money, using local law enforcement to enforce federal immigration status – a tactic seen in the wave of Hazleton-like anti-immigrant ordinances passed in a number small towns this summer – is part of the “new strategy” outlined by Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colorado) in lieu of Congress embracing a national crackdown.

Anti-ACLU Activist Predicts 'Easy' Anti-Immigrant Court Case in Hazleton

Pennsylvania town is working closely with Right.

Columnist Declares War on Islam

Right-wing commentator Burt Prelutsky writes that the War on Terror is actually a War on Islam:

I no longer accept that we are only at war with Islamic fascists or Islamic fundamentalists or whatever the heck we’re calling them this week. I believe that we in the West are at war with Islam, period.

I have heard any number of politicians, up to and including President Bush, claim, contrary to all reason and evidence, that Islam is a religion of peace. If you buy that load of malarkey, I’ve got a Brooklyn mosque I’d like to sell you.

Prelutsky’s analysis is reminiscent of his comments last December that the “Jewish Grinch” was responsible for the so-called “War on Christmas.” Prelutsky wrote that “When it comes to pushing the multicultural, anti-Christian, agenda, you find Jewish judges, Jewish journalists, and the ACLU, at the forefront,” and that the problem of anti-Semitism had been “replaced by a rampant anti-Christianity.”

I am getting the idea that too many Jews won’t be happy until they pull off their own version of the Spanish Inquisition, forcing Christians to either deny their faith and convert to agnosticism or suffer the consequences.

Hitler as Darwin's Love Child

In the past when right-wingers wanted to link some idea they didn't like to Nazism, they would use an analogy so they wouldn't have to take direct responsibility for raising the specter of Hitler. 

For instance, James Dobson attacked stem-cell research by making this not-so-subtle Nazi comparison  

In World War II, the Nazis experimented on human beings in horrible ways in the concentration camps, and I imagine, if you wanted to take the time to read about it, there would have been some discoveries there that benefited mankind.

Others, like Russell Johnson, prefer to innocently suggest that evangelicals who are pro-life but don’t get involved in politics are akin to “the kind of people who enabled Hitler to take care of Auschwitz."

The point is that people rarely make a direct connection between current controversies and Hitler, preferring rather to insinuate that certain things share specific qualities with Hitler or Nazism.  

No more.  Now, poor Charles Darwin is not only being compared to Hitler -- he's being held directly responsible for the Nazi genocide.

As we have noted several times before, D. James Kennedy is the main proponent of the “Darwin = Hitler” idea and now he is bringing his message to the masses

Author and Christian broadcaster Dr. D. James Kennedy connects the dots between Charles Darwin and Adolf Hitler in Darwin’s Deadly Legacy, a groundbreaking inquiry into Darwin’s chilling social impact. The new television documentary airs nationwide on August 26 and 27 on The Coral Ridge Hour.  

The program features 14 scholars, scientists, and authors who outline the grim consequences of Darwin’s theory of evolution and show how his theory fueled Hitler’s ovens.

“To put it simply, no Darwin, no Hitler,” said Dr. Kennedy, the host of Darwin’s Deadly Legacy. “Hitler tried to speed up evolution, to help it along, and millions suffered and died in unspeakable ways because of it.”

And should Kennedy’s rigorous logic and rock-solid arguments needs any further bolstering, it’ll undoubtedly be provided by noted scientific expert Ann Coulter, who is featured on the program.  An excerpt of her contribution was shown on this week’s “Coral Ridge Hour”  [Watch the video: Broadband or Dial-Up]

I’ll let the scientists decide what should be taught in science class,  but it seems to me the one thing that shouldn’t be taught in science class is a crack pot nineteenth century mystery religion … [public schools are] the left’s madrassas and they propagandize to the children six hours a day, 12 years of the child life.

Take that, Darwin!  Your meager little theory’s days are numbered, for there is simply no way that it will be able withstand this sort of attack coming from intellectual and scientific heavyweights such as Kennedy and Coulter.  

Religious Profiling

Bill O’Reilly weighs in on the recent alleged terrorist plot to blow up several inter-continental flights and, as would be expected, he makes a typically erudite argument [watch the video: Broadband or Dial-Up]

Now it's long past time for the USA to stop the nonsense and institute profiling at airports. We're not at war with Granny Frickett. We're at war with Muslim fanatics.

So all young Muslims should be subjected to more scrutiny than Granny. And we should blend some Israeli screening procedures with our own.

For example, trained security people should receive the passenger list on every flight and interview those people most likely to be terrorists, folks who have traveled to Muslim countries, people who have criminal records. Passengers who are Muslims ages 16 to 45 all should be spoken with. And if the ACLU doesn't like it, tough. This isn't racial profiling. This is criminal profiling.

Well, President Bush has traveled to a Muslim country and has a criminal record, so he apparently qualifies for extra screening.  

In addition to the President, O’Reilly also wants all Muslims ages 16 to 45 to receive additional scrutiny and correctly notes that such scrutiny isn’t “racial profiling” – it’s “religious profiling.”  Of course, it’s not clear how screeners would identify passengers’ religion, though O’Reilly seems to presume that anyone who appears to be of Arab descent is Muslim and vice-versa.

Assuming that individuals of a specific race or religion are more likely to be criminals or terrorists, which is what O’Reilly is espousing, is - by definition – both racial and religious profiling.  

Calling it “criminal profiling” doesn’t change that fact.  

Fighting a Straw Man, and Losing

There is just so much to say about this recent Kathleen Parker column that it is difficult to know exactly where to start.  

Parker begins by dismissing concerns regarding the influence wielded by “Christianists” such as Jerry Falwell and John Hagee because … well … they aren’t as bad as Islamic terrorists

Although both groups may be "true believers," those who try to connect the dots of Christian belief, specifically evangelical Christianity, to Islamism seem willing to overlook the fact that Islamists praise Allah and fly airplanes into buildings while Christianists praise Jesus and pass the mustard.

 And though both groups of people may use scripture to shape their approach to the public square, Islamist interpretation of doctrine permits religious expression through suicide-murder, beheadings, public stonings (preferably of women) and Jew-hating, while Christianist doctrine deals in such wimpy notions as forgiveness, tolerance, redemption and cheek-turning.

Parker is confusing her terms.  Forgiveness and cheek-turning are Christian teachings – but Christianists refers not to all Christians, just to those who are part of a political movement that seeks to use government power to impose their religious beliefs.  Similarly, not all Muslims are Islamists -- those who want to use government power to impose their religious beliefs.  And not all Islamists resort to terrorism.

Parker’s setting up a straw man here – nobody is really equating Falwell with terrorist leaders.  And just because Christianist leaders aren’t recruiting suicide bombers doesn’t mean they’re harmless, or their political goals aren’t dangerous.

Parker goes on to note that Hagee is a vocal proponent of a joint US-Israel strike on Iran in order to bring about Armageddon and the Second Coming of Christ.   But Parker doesn’t see this as much a problem because nobody takes him seriously - least of all the White House

Exposing the ADF

The Washington Post takes a good look at the Right’s answer to the ACLU: the Alliance Defense Fund

Considering itself the antithesis of the American Civil Liberties Union, the Scottsdale-based organization has used money and moxie to become the leading player in a movement to tug the nation to the right by challenging decades of legal precedent. By stepping into the nation's most impassioned debates about religion in the public sphere, the group aims to bring law and society into alignment with conservative Christianity.

The ADF underwrites legal fights and increasingly handles litigation itself. Groups receiving significant funding include the American Center for Law & Justice, founded by evangelist Pat Robertson, and Liberty Counsel, backed by the Rev. Jerry Falwell.

The ADF was founded by the likes of D. James Kennedy of the Center for Reclaiming America for Christ and James Dobson of Focus on the Family and today the organization is continually fighting what it perceives as “hostility to Christian thought” – and it is training future generations of lawyers to carry on the fight

To change the equation, the alliance hired Reagan-era prosecutor Alan Sears. He later brought in corporate lawyer Jeffery Ventrella. Mostly under Ventrella's watch, the ADF has schooled more than 800 outside lawyers, each promising to donate 450 hours to the cause.

Ventrella runs an annual summer seminar, which this year brought 100 law students to Scottsdale. The idea, according to ADF documents, is to train them in "a distinctly Christian worldview of law" before they head to clerkships and other influential posts, "perhaps even Supreme Court justices."

Falwell, Still a Political Powerhouse, Reiterates 9/11 Comments

NPR profiled Jerry Falwell this morning on the opening of his new 6,000-seat church, and notes the continuing influence he holds in Washington, D.C. Of politicians who he feels are ignoring his issues, he says, “Whenever it's a major problem, and I think we are being misled, I pick up the phone and I call whoever I need to call and take care of it.” And, according to Falwell, the White House call him, too.

Falwell explained the growth of his church into a television, megachurch, and political empire was partially due to his extremist rhetoric and the media attention surrounding it. But among his “brash statements,” they are “none of them by chance,” he said, citing the time he called South Africa Bishop Desmond Tutu a “phony” in order to get publicity for himself. “There’s a connection between outrageous remarks, and this huge sanctuary we see here today,” said the NPR reporter, and Falwell concurred, “Oh there’s no question about it.”

One such “brash statement” occurred two days after the terrorists attacks on September 11, 2001, when Falwell appeared on Pat Robertson’s “700 Club” TV show and blamed his political enemies in the U.S., saying, “[T]he Lord has protected us so wonderfully these 225 years. And since 1812, this is the first time that we've been attacked on our soil and by far the worst results. … I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way - all of them who have tried to secularize America - I point the finger in their face and say ‘you helped this happen.’”

In the NPR interview, Falwell flatly denied that 9/11 was God’s punishment for abortion or other things Falwell objects to, adding, “I don’t think God hurts innocent people because we hurt innocent people.” The NPR reporter, replied, puzzled, “Correct me if I’m wrong, didn’t you make a statement one time about September 11 …?”

“What I said was, our secularization of America, our attempt to separate from God, could certainly cause the Lord to lift the veil. And I usually added, the local church, our sleeping church, and then gays and lesbians and so forth and so on, all who have taken us away from the faith of our fathers, may have exposed us to international hurt,” responded Falwell. In other words, “You helped this happen.”

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ACLU Posts Archive

Kyle Mantyla, Thursday 06/17/2010, 12:21pm
I've written several posts already about the fact that Janet Porter had her radio program dropped by VCY America following her May Day 2010 prayer rally due to the Dominionist underpinnings of the event.  That move has all but closed down Porter's Faith 2 Action organization and so Porter has spent a lot of her energy lately attacking Discernment Ministries as being responsible for getting her fired.  But, as it turns out, it was not just VCY that dropped Porter's radio program - Worldview Weekend also terminated its relationship with her over her May Day prayer rally. On May 5... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Tuesday 06/15/2010, 1:03pm
On his radio program yesterday, the AFA 's Bryan Fischer weighed in on Gov. Mitch Daniels call for a "truce" in the culture war by quoting this passage from George Washington: Of all the dispositions and habits, which lead to political prosperity, Religion and Morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of Patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of Men and Citizens. The mere Politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Monday 06/14/2010, 12:03pm
It is remarkable to watch as Janet Porter continues to lash out at Discernment Ministries and its blog Herescope ever since their work exposing her increasing ties to Dominion Theology lead VCY America to sever its ties with Porter and drop her radio program following her Dominion-focused prayer rally at the Lincoln Memorial on May Day. Last week, Porter used her WorldNetDaily column to launch an attack on Discernment, calling them "cultural Nazis" who are siding with the ACLU and throwing rocks from the sidelines at those, like Porter, who are trying to save America from... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Tuesday 06/08/2010, 10:29am
Just yesterday I was wondering when, if ever, Janet Porter was going to return to action, having seemingly ceased operations since her radio program was dropped by VCY America due to her increasing involvement with Dominion Theology.  Today, we got our answer. As we noted shortly after Porter was dropped by VCY, VCY's flagship program "Crosstalk" dedicated its show to discussing the alarming rise of Dominionism among the Religious Right with guest Sarah Leslie, who is an an author, researcher, and member of the board of directors of Discernment Ministries.  It was... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Tuesday 04/06/2010, 6:01pm
Americans used to be free.  Then we elected President Obama and now we are just "mostly free." Oklahoma's attempt to opt out of federal hate crimes law has been killed in committee. Even Sen. Tom Coburn knows that you can't believe everything what you hear on Fox News. David Weigel is now blogging for the Washington Post. Things are not looking good for Sen. John Ensign, who seems to be wildly unpopular with just about everyone who knows him. "Homosexuality, Is It A Problem In Need Of A Cure?" Um, no. You're welcome, CNN. Do not be... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Wednesday 03/31/2010, 5:45pm
Bill O'Reilly has offered to pay the cover $16,500 in legal costs for the father of a fallen U.S. Marine who sued Westboro Baptist Church for picketing his son's funeral. PFOX is now targeting Pepsi. Molotov Mitchell once again defends Uganda's "kill the gays" bill. Harry Jackson's astroturf "Stop the War on the Poor" effort is back, but now known as the Affordable Power Alliance. Gary Bauer says "there just can be no doubt here that this is the most anti-Israel president of the United States that we have seen in the history of our country... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Monday 03/01/2010, 4:00pm
Last week, President Obama nominated Goodwin Liu to a seat on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and immediately Ed Whelan of the Ethics and Public Policy Center started attacked Liu through a series of Bench Memos posts, accusing him of engaging in "demagogic testimony against Justice Alito’s confirmation" and adhering "the living-constitutionalist gimmick that judges can redefine the Constitution to mean whatever they want it to mean." That was followed by a post claiming that the American Bar Association's rating of Liu as "well qualified" was "a... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Friday 02/26/2010, 1:08pm
Earlier this week it was reported that, back in January, a teacher at Roberto Clemente Middle School in Germantown, Maryland had publicly reprimanded a student who refused to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance and even called the school's security officer to escort the student to the counselor's office when she continued to refuse.  This, despite that fact that the "Supreme Court ruled in 1943 that students cannot be forced to salute the flag [and] Maryland law explicitly allows any student or teacher to be excused from participating in the pledge." The ACLU got involved... MORE >