Selected Writings

Wednesday, December 12, 2001

John Ashcroft, Christian Martyr? Since When?

Originally written Jan. 29, 2001, in the Athens Post

Wednesday, Jan. 24 the column, "John Ashcroft, a Christian martyr," claimed that my lovely counterparts on the right were correct in claiming that John Ashcroft was a victim of "religious bigotry."

Unfortunately, after reading the column no less than five times, I'm still failing to catch exactly where this bigotry comes from.

The columnist quotes Kate Michelman of the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League (NARAL) saying that Ashcroft is "far out of step with the views of Americans" on the right to abortion. bigotry there, not when you realize that Ashcroft, as senator, supported a piece of legislation called the Human Life Amendment (that's right, a constitutional amendment). The Amendment, which despite being about "life" makes no mention regarding the death penalty, would go so far as to outlaw several common forms of birth control, like IUDs, Norplant, and several varieties of the Pill.

He then quotes Elaine Jones of the NAACP as saying the following: "When you look at John Ashcroft and his views overall, what you get is a sense of a throwback to the '50s in terms of our civil rights."

Again, no bigotry there. And you know what? Ms. Jones hits the nail on the head. Especially when you learn that John Ashcroft gave an interview to a magazine so racist it sold T-shirts celebrating the murder of Abraham Lincoln. The interview wasn't any better, if you're curious. In it, Ashcroft praised men like Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, and Stonewall Jackson, calling them "Southern patriots" and saying more had to be done to defend them.

Defend them? Last time I checked, Davis, Jackson, and Lee were traitors, and we don't celebrate traitors; we condemn them.

If you're wondering where the bigotry is, stop. It doesn't exist. These allegations are a smokescreen for a man so wildly out of step with American society it boggles the mind.

You want to know how out of step? In 1998, Ashcroft delivered the commencement address at Bob Jones University. He also received an honorary degree from there at that time.

Bob Jones U, if you didn't know already, is the school that in 1983 had to be forced to integrate, or give up federal aid money.

Bob Jones U, if you didn't know already, is the school that until the summer of 2000 banned interracial dating among its students.

Most to the point, Bob Jones U, if you didn't know already, was the school that, until last year, on its Web page, claimed Catholic Christianity was a "Satanic religion" and claimed John Paul II was the "Anti-christ."

I'm Catholic. That the column would defend a man who claims not to have known the aforementioned facts about BJU, and that now, despite knowing them, refuses to denounce Bob Jones, strains my credulity and my otherwise high regard for the column.

The columnist's complaint isn't about me, or Ralph Neas, Dianne Feinstein, Kate Michelman, or Pat Ireland, or any one of millions of other Americans, liberal and conservative, who are supposedly bashing Ashcroft on religious grounds. The columnist, and a lot of other Republicans for that matter, is upset because we refuse to lay down and give up. Whether you accept it or not, this isn't about John Ashcroft at all.

It's about 542 votes. Deep down inside, in places not talked about in

College Republican meetings, you know President Bush "stole the election fair and square," as my republican friend likes to say.

If it weren't for one of the most audacious displays of intellectual dishonesty in Supreme Court history, Al Gore would be President now. And the columnist, Dick Armey, Tom Delay, Trent Lott, and all the rest of the sad, sorry lot of Republican leaders would be screaming bloody murder about Gore's legitimacy. Don't take my word for it; go back and do the research that obviously wasn't done when writing a defense of Ashcroft.

Whether you like it or not, Bush is very far from being a legitimate president. He lost the popular vote by more than a half million, all of his proposals were roundly rejected in every exit poll, and he only managed to squeeze past by disguising his differences with Gore - and a big assist by Justices O'Connor, Rehnquist, Scalia, Kennedy and Thomas.

You say that Cabinet nominees shouldn't be rejected because of ideology. Don't say it to me; say it to Bill Lann Lee, whom Republicans thought would be way too aggressive on civil rights. Say it to Henry Foster, denied office because Republicans thought he would enforce legal rights won by women.

Say it, if you dare, to Ronnie White, savaged by Ashcroft as being "pro-criminal", despite the fact White upheld the death penalty 71 percent of the time. A percentage, incidentally, higher than that of Rush Limbaugh's cousin Stephen.

But quit the spin.

The writer says he needs a shower? Of course. So would I, after standing by a man who claims to love the Constitution even as he grounds it into the dust.

Monday, December 10, 2001

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