Each generation lives in its own strange times. Our is defined by many ironies, one of which is how threats real or imagined, foreign or domestic, Christian or Muslim are treated. Does it really make any difference if the person that tries to kill you is American by birth or foreign born, pale skinned or dark, Protestant or Sunni. At the end of the day if they succeed you’ll still be dead. We are told that that these distinctions are of earth shattering importance. So much so that legal precedent like habeas corpus has been jettisoned because it is claimed that we live in such extraordinary times under such extraordinary threat it is an obstacle to our national safety. The terrorist you’ve never heard of – Unlike alleged al-Qaida terrorist Jose Padilla, right-wing “dirty bomber” Demetrius Crocker was investigated and prosecuted the old-fashioned constitutional way.
On Nov. 28 — six days before the Times ran its photos of Padilla — Demetrius “Van” Crocker was sentenced to 30 years in prison. David Kustoff, the United States Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee, where Crocker was prosecuted, tells Salon that “It was one of the preeminent anti-terrorism cases of 2006 nationwide.” Whether or not that is true, few outside of the greater Memphis metropolitan area have ever heard of Crocker. Only one reporter, John Branston of the weekly Memphis Flyer, even covered his entire trial. What is certain is that in every particular his case is a study in contrasts with the prosecution of Jose Padilla.
According to court documents, the investigation of Demetrius Crocker began in early 2004, around the time he told a man named Lynn Adams that Timothy McVeigh “[did] things right.” Adams, who had met the Mississippi-born farmhand through a mutual acquaintance, began to hear from Crocker about his plans for mass murder. A resident of rural Carroll County, Tenn., an hour northeast of Memphis, Crocker told Adams he wanted to kill the black population of nearby Jackson, Tenn., with mustard gas and explode a bomb outside a courthouse.
I don’t know that I’d want Jose Padilla as my neighbor, but on all things considered he is no worse then Crocker. What is the difference between Crocker and Padilla. Crocker is a white Christian good ol boy. Jose Padilla on the other hand is a U.S. citizen of Puerto Rican ancestry who is accused of being aligned with Al-Qaeda and having plans to build a so-called dirty bomb. Yet Padilla, unlike Crocker who was accorded habeas corpus rights, a lawyer, and a public trial and will now be nicely tucked away in prison. While Padilla seems to be in perpetual legal limbo. He is in this legal limbo where he has never been convicted of a crime because the Bush administration has decided that he is an enemy combatant and has invented its own rules as to what an enemy combatant is. Why are the people’s laws ( the U.S. Constitution and years of legal precedent both civilian and military) being swept aside for this bizarre Politburo type dog and pony show to deal with Padilla while the Crockers are tried and put away. This is not the rule of law at work, it is not justice, it is the rule of men. Petty little conservative men who at every turn seem in over their heads.
While I think this essay gives Bush 41 more credit then he deserves it is a good look at why the son will never be like his father, Bush Has No Idea How Much Trouble He Is In
So this pits W against his father. This pits the Pragmatists, many who actually served with the Neocons that we all know are blowhard cowards that cheer on everyone else’s death. Keep in mind that the Neocons are not contrite at all. They think invading Iraq was a grand idea poorly executed. This by the way is the answer to the question that we are all asking: how can people be so wrong, about so many things and still stick by their guns? (There is another answer to that as well. It is because they do not have to pay the price. Your kids will, not these brilliant millionaires who have fought no wars, worn no uniforms beyond Cub Scouts, know no Arabic, and are truly impressed with their knowledge of history. History is all that stuff that already happened, such that, when you recall it, it makes you sound like a scholar.) They have their neologisms like Islamofacism and Defeatocrats. But increasingly, anyone with a three digit IQ and a heart that works is not buying this anymore.
Shortly after school began in September, the teacher told his sixth-period students at Kearny High School that evolution and the Big Bang were not scientific, that dinosaurs were aboard Noah’s ark, and that only Christians had a place in heaven, according to audio recordings made by a student whose family is now considering a lawsuit claiming Mr. Paszkiewicz broke the church-state boundary.
“If you reject his gift of salvation, then you know where you belong,” Mr. Paszkiewicz was recorded saying of Jesus. “He did everything in his power to make sure that you could go to heaven, so much so that he took your sins on his own body, suffered your pains for you, and he’s saying, ‘Please, accept me, believe.’ If you reject that, you belong in hell.”
It is sad and outrageous that the teacher who was force feeding fundamentalism down his students throats is getting sympathy from most of the students and parents. While the student has received at least one death threat and been shunned by many of his fellow students. The town’s people don’t seem to have a very good grasp of their country’s laws or history,
Greice Coelho, who took Mr. Paszkiewicz’s class and is a member of his youth group, said in a letter to The Observer, the local weekly newspaper, that Matthew was “ignoring the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, which gives every citizen the freedom of religion.” Some anonymous posters on the town’s electronic bulletin board, Kearnyontheweb.com, called for Matthew’s suspension.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the freedom of press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. (Amendment 1,The Constitution of the United States.)
That part is called the “wall” M’s Coelho. Paszkiewicz crossed the wall when he used a government institution as a pulpit. He violated Matthew LaClair’s rights to freedom of religion.
Treaty of Peace and Friendship Between the United States and the Bey and Subjects of Tripoli of Barbary, 1796-1797
As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion–as it has itself no character of enmity against the law, religion or tranquility of Musselmen [Muslims], … (“Article 11, Treaty of Peace and Friendship between The United States and the Bey and Subjects of Tripoli of Barbary,” 1796-1797. Treaties and Other International Acts of the United States of America. Edited by Hunter Miller. Vol. 2, 1776-1818, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C., 1931, p. 365.
We’re not a Christian nation, but there are no shortages of houses of worship and no restrictions on how often you may attend services. No churches or other religious institutions have been barricaded to keep the most faithful from practicing their religion as they see fit.
(1743-1826; author, Declaration of Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom; 3rd U.S. President, 1801-1809)
Convinced that religious liberty must, most assuredly, be built into the structural frame of the new [state] government, Jefferson proposed this language [for the new Virginia constitution]: “All persons shall have full and free liberty of religious opinion; nor shall any be compelled to frequent or maintain any religious institution”: freedom for religion, but also freedom from religion. (Edwin S. Gaustad, Faith of Our Fathers: Religion and the New Nation, San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1987, p. 38. Jefferson proposed his language in 1776.)
I may grow rich by an art I am compelled to follow; I may recover health by medicines I am compelled to take against my own judgment; but I cannot be saved by a worship I disbelieve and abhor. (Thomas Jefferson, notes for a speech, c. 1776. From Gorton Carruth and Eugene Ehrlich, eds., The Harper Book of American Quotations, New York: Harper & Row, 1988, p. 498.)
The short of it is that our country was founded by free thinking elitist intellectuals who thought that you should be free to practice whatever religion spinned your top, but that you had no right what so ever to use your religion as a bat to beat down your fellow citizens. And no we are not a country of majority rules. We’re a democratic republic with a frame work that cannot be tossed aside by the winds of religious zealotry.
“Maybe there is no actual place called hell. Maybe hell is just having to listen to our grandparents breathe through their noses when they’re eating sandwiches.” – Jim Carrey.
“As the post said, ‘Only God can make a tree,’ probably because it’s so hard to figure out how to get the bark on.” – Woody Allen.