Enemy of the Week

Under Man

It may not be the best alternative.

6.28.02

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Once more, for old time's sake, Democrats are vindicated in their politics. A Nixon appointee -- who, by definition, is a criminal Nixon appointee -- declares the McCarthyite phrase "under God" unconstitutional. Immediate outrage ensues. Democrats lead the way. Don't blame us, they daschle. We're the ones who've been blocking Republican judicial appointments. We always knew we were on the right track. Nothing can change our minds now. No more godless GOP judges. Ever again.

But will that save us from the new judicial reasoning? The San Francisco ruling was what's called "narrow." But judges hate to be labeled "narrow" minded. They like to be thought of as robesters who expand judicial interpretation, and broaden modern understanding. So what does "under God" really mean? And what other threats does the phrase pose and how are they to be eradicated?

Sunday morning comes to mind, particularly the Americano tradition of milling about before and after services in front of a church, especially beneath its steps, which accentuate the distance between the faithful on the ground and the steeple and cross high above. We don't need an Oliver Wendell Holmes to remind us that a steeple links us to the heavens and the cross represents God Himself. But how long will the courts allow Americans to position themselves "under God" in such a settings? Will they order the tearing down of church towers? Call in riot police ask the faithful to disperse? Or will the matter be left to zoning commissions, out of respect for local self-rule?

In time the move to neutralize man's unequal standing vis-à-vis God will go international. The most logical place to start is in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, where there is simply no reason why a huge statue of God's son should be allowed to tower over and thus intimidate and demean all the people who live below. Paris is lucky that the Eiffel Tower postdates the Gothic Era. The Cathedral of Notre-Dame stands in a relatively flat part of the city, though tourists in the bateaux mouches in the river below will find it perhaps too towering. Clearly Sacré-Coeur atop Montmartre is in trouble. Civilization will be remade. Under man.

Which reminds us of the messes some of our finest public figures have gotten themselves into. A week ago Congress was again asked to express support for the democratic state of Israel, which given that it is surrounded by states that would rather be Neanderthal than democratic, would seem to be a no-brainer. But that's where 23 Congress people came in, voting "no" on solidarity with Israel. God help them, as we once would have been permitted to say. Two of the twenty-three are Senators. One is Ernest Hollings, about whom the less said the better, other than that it must be difficult always to be outshined by Strom Thurmond. But the other is Robert Byrd, who wants nothing to do with a polity that restricts pork.

Perhaps some remedial education would help this senatorial pair. Now that's it's kosher to do so, Enemy Central will be delighted to provide vouchers to Hollings and Byrd, valid in any bible school in their respective states. We'll see if old dogs can be taught new tricks. Or if PETA will ask for an injunction.

No tears, please. That's what fans used to say to Ms. Martina Navratilova, who turned every tennis match into a weepy confrontation. Apparently she was the specialist Bill Clinton turned to for wet-eye tips before attending Ron Brown's funeral. Of course, Ms. Navratilova had a lot to be sad about. Forced to defect to freedom, she missed her family and friends and family pets left behind in neo-Stalinist Czechoslovakia. Plus she took up residence in Dallas, where her professional tennis earnings left her richer than all the Dallas Cowboys combined. But once a lefty, always a lefty. So in a German magazine -- how quickly she forgets 1938 -- she attacks the U.S. and especially the Republican Party as grubby enemies of tolerance and free speech and replicas of the system she escaped. In must be rough to be 45 years old with the past as one's only future. We hope finding an EOW medal in her trophy case will leave her feeling a bit more grateful.

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