We’ve reached a new low in the battle over the Mt. Soledad cross, a giant cross on public property in a park in San Diego as part of a war memorial. The new rhetorical low is to pretend that those who object to the cross do not object to the fact that it is an exclusively Christian symbol, but to the fact that it’s a war memorial:
At a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, Liberty Legal attorney Hiram Sasser accused the ACLU of engaging in “a war against honor and valor.” He said it is “inconceivable in a time of war such as now that the ACLU and others would be attacking the memorials, the very symbols of honor and sacrifice of our national heritage.
“These symbols and these memorials serve as reminders to all of us of the great sacrifice and courage and valor of our veterans,” Sasser observed. The ACLU and its allies “have no respect, decency or shame,” he added.
That is pure demagoguery, folks, nothing more than an attempt to provoke a highly emotional and entirely non-rational response in the public. And it’s one big lie. I’m of the opinion that the Mt. Soledad cross is no big deal and not worth fighting over, but the fact remains that no one, including the ACLU and those who filed suit to have it taken down, objects to having a memorial to the sacrifice and courage of American soldiers.
No one even objects to having religious symbols on a memorial (the ACLU has fought for the right of soldiers to have religious symbols on their gravestones). The objection is to the only symbol being one that is exclusively Christian because they view that both as an endorsement of that religion and an affront to the non-Christian soldiers who were equally brave and made equal sacrifices for their country. Indeed, here’s one thing Sasser didn’t bother to say at the National Press Club because, had he said it, it would have revealed his demagoguery: Philip Paulson, the original plaintiff in the Mt. Soledad case (he died and was replaced by another plaintiff), was a veteran.
Every time he was referred to by those who opposed him, it was always as “atheist Philip Paulson.” They never referred to him as Vietnam Veteran Philip Paulson because that would undermine their ability to frame the issue as one of good god-fearing Americans vs anti-Christian and anti-military godless liberals. That dishonest framing doesn’t fly when you read what Paulson actually had to say about it:
“I fought in Vietnam and I thought I fought to maintain freedom and yet the cross savers in this city would have us believe all of the veterans’ sacrifices are in vain, that the Constitution is something to be spit on,” Mr. Paulson said. “The real message is equal treatment under the law, and religious neutrality.”
Sasser is lying when he says that the case is about refusing to honor veterans. And he knows he’s lying. He just doesn’t care.