GrassTopsUSA Exclusive CommentaryBy Don Feder 02/13/2012
Since the Bolshevik Revolution, the clenched fist has been the leftâ€™s most visible symbol.
In the â€˜60s, it adorned posters and buttons and was adopted as a symbol of revolution by SDS, the black power movement, feminists and other Trotsky wannabes here and abroad. Now, itâ€™s been resurrected by some in Occupy Wall Street.
The symbolism couldnâ€™t be more fitting. Fists are for smashing (institutions and traditions), bashing (heads) and pounding (square pegs into round holes).
Whether itâ€™s called Marxism, socialism, liberalism or the Obama administration, the left is about compulsion â€“ forcing individuals to surrender cherished beliefs, compelling acceptance of the lifestyle choices of others, reshaping our national identity and pulverizing constitutional protections.
If the left was a corporation (actually, itâ€™s more of a criminal conspiracy), its motto would be: â€œCoercion is our most important product!â€ Take last weekâ€™s headlines: Obama offers a contraceptive â€œcompromiseâ€ that still assaults religious freedom, and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals abolishes marriage, for all intent and purposes.
On Friday, Obama announced the resolution of a crisis he created: Charities and other Catholic institutions wonâ€™t have to pay directly for contraceptives, abortifcaients and sterilizations through their insurance plans. Instead, theyâ€™ll be required to negotiate with insurers to provide them free of charge (i.e., someone else will pay).
It was never about who would bear the cost, but compelling Catholic employers to make available that which their Church forbides. â€œWomen must have access,â€ the administrationâ€™s spokesmen squeaked. â€œBecause it promotes maternal and child health (a dubious assumption), by allowing women to space their pregnancies,â€ these â€œhistoric new guidelinesâ€ will make sure â€œwomen will have access to a full range of preventive measures.â€
The argument assumes that the career woman with an iPod, BlackBerry and other expensive electronic gadgets canâ€™t afford to buy a pack of condoms at a neighborhood drugstore or pay a physician a few hundred a year for birth-control pills. How about this for a compromise: If you want contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs covered by your insurance plan, donâ€™t go to work for a Catholic college or hospital? If you want ham and cheese on rye served in the cafeteria, donâ€™t go to work for the Union of Orthodox Rabbis.
But this confuses the practical with the ideological. For the left, birth control and abortion are priorities. There too many children in the world, so women must be chemically spayed, or children aborted, to keep more from being born, so the argument goes. Wombs must be sanitized to keep women in the workplace, instead of â€œenslavedâ€ by home and children. And religious fuddy-duddies must be compelled to subsidize same.
On Tuesday, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Ninth Circuit Appeals Court, known for its off-planet rulings, struck down Proposition 8 â€“ which defines marriage as the union of a man and a woman â€“ thus negating the will of 52% of California voters who adopted the constitutional amendment in 2008.
The panel of the most liberal appellate court in the land ruled 2-to-1 (guess which party appointed the majority and which the dissent) that limiting marriage to a man and a woman â€œfails to advance any rationalâ€ state interest. The court thereby held that when the Defense of Marriage Act was passed by Congress in 1996, 342 House members, 85 Senators and President Clinton, who signed it into law, were all behaving irrationally. Also, that the actions of voters in 31 states â€“ which passed their own constitutional definition of marriage â€“ were contrary to reason.
By extension, the court also held that throughout the course of recorded history, societies have behaved irrationally, that the Bible is a deranged document and that those who believe children need a mother and a father are simply too silly for words. By the way, this is one of the leftâ€™s favorite tactics: Disagree with us, and youâ€™re nuts. Iâ€™ll bet Obama fantasizes about confining his opponents to mental hospitals, like his predecessors in the old Soviet Union.
The left is saying that faith and tradition are entirely irrelevant (as is a mountain of social-science data), and that voters will not be allowed to determine the contours of an institution so vital to our communities and nation. In this case, the judgeâ€™s gavel is the clenched fist employed to demolish the bedrock of society in the name of a spurious equality.
Choice is one of the leftâ€™s more ironic slogans â€“ choice, but only for the chosen.
It allows liberals to maintain the fiction of individual freedom and democracy while ordering our lives to the minutest detail. You will not be allowed to educate your children free of indoctrination, to express yourself in an academic or corporate setting, to live your life according to the doctrines of your faith or to choose whether or not to purchase certain products, like health insurance.
Leftist coercion is woven into the fabric of 21st century life. Its symptoms include speech codes, discrimination suits (heresy trials), mandatory sensitivity training and distortion of the First Amendment Establishment Clause to create religion-free zones.
â€¢ Proponents of gay marriage and civil unions lie with a straight face when they assure the public that these laws wonâ€™t affect religious liberty. On January 12, a New Jersey judge ruled the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association had violated the stateâ€™s anti-discrimination statute by refusing to allow a lesbian couple to have a civil union ceremony on the beachfront premises, notwithstanding that the property is run by United Methodists to â€œprovide opportunities for spiritual birth, growth and renewal in a Christian seaside setting.â€ In Illinois, Vermont and Hawaii, bed and breakfasts have been hauled before the human-rights equivalent of revolutionary tribunals for refusing to accommodate such ceremonies. In justifying this naked force, the director of the Institute of Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy at UCLA insisted â€œfreedom of beliefs is absolute, but freedom to act cannot be.â€ In other words, Christians and Jews are allowed to quietly think things contrary to leftist orthodoxy, as long as they donâ€™t act on them.
â€¢ On January 20, Vanderbilt University told the Christian Legal Society that its requirement that student leaders â€œlead Bible studies, prayer and worship,â€ implied said leaders had to hold certain beliefs and thus went against university policy that all student groups had to be open equally to everyone. If the Christian Legal Society did not accept Muslims and atheists as leaders (completely negating the Societyâ€™s purpose), it could be decertified. Members of CLS are allowed to hold Christian values, as long as those values arenâ€™t reflected in their choice of leaders.
â€¢ On January 19, after a public protest led by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), Syracuse Universityâ€™s School of Education reinstated a graduate student who made politically incorrect postings on Facebook. Initially, Matthew Werenczak was told his only hope of readmission was to take diversity training and counseling for â€œanger managementâ€ (again, the left describes opposition to its dogma in clinical terms). Werenczak had spent the previous summer as a volunteer student-teacher in one of Syracuseâ€™s worst inner-city schools. His crime was taking offense at the comments of a local race-hustler that student teachers should be recruited from traditionally black colleges. In the universityâ€™s eyes, by objecting to this racism, the grad student was guilty of insensitivity. Only FIREâ€™s intervention prevented a promising career from being ruined for expressing the wrong views.
â€¢ A U.S. District Court Judge ruled against students at Californiaâ€™s Morgan Hill Unified School District who were sent home for wearing American flag t-shirts on Cinco de Mayo, a day the school had set aside for celebrating Mexicoâ€™s heritage. Courts have gone to great lengths to uphold symbolic speech by students, including wearing armbands and t-shirts with anti-war slogans. But tolerance extends only to the leftâ€™s pet causes, not to patriotic expression on days designated for multicultural celebration. Across the country, students have been keelhauled for expressing a Biblical perspective on Day of Silence.
â€¢ Until reversed recently, the Army had banned gifts of Bibles and religious literature to patients at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, MD. A January 4 article in The Washington Examiner, by my friend Robert Morrison, noted the irony of the policy. Walter Reed (an Army doctor who discovered the source of yellow fever) was a man of deep and abiding faith. When FDR dedicated the original hospital in 1942, he spoke of Americaâ€™s determination to â€œfight until the time comes when the human race shall have the true health in body and mind and spirit which can only be recognized in a climate of equity and faith.â€
â€¢ In October, the Supreme Court let stand a decision of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals that roadside crosses erected by the Utah Highway Patrolmanâ€™s Association to honor fallen comrades violated the First Amendment. Free-standing crosses suggested a state preference for Christianity, the court held. Then the tens of thousands of crosses and Stars of David that dot Arlington National Cemetery must alternately express an overwhelming preference for Christianity or Judaism.
All of the above are about coercion â€“ punishing the expression of certain ideas, crushing dissent.
Because left-liberalism is contrary to both human nature and reason, advocates long ago abandoned the art of persuasion. Its dogma must be rammed down peopleâ€™s throats with mandates, decrees, bureaucratic manipulation, speech codes, hate-crime laws and the like â€“ clenched fists cloaked in non-discrimination, equal access and womenâ€™s health platitudes.
Since the French Revolution (the true progenitor of modern liberalism) it has been so. The mandate and the edict of the bureaucratic state are the latest in a long line of social engineering tools, from the guillotine to the killing fields â€“ a softer approach to be sure, but one employing similar means toward the same ends.
In Revolutionary France, priests and nuns were massacred and Notre Dame turned into a temple to the â€œGoddess of Reason.â€ Obama would make the U.S. Catholic Church an auxiliary of the Goddesses of Feminism and Population Control.
If there was honesty in political advertising, President Obama would conclude each of his addresses with a clenched-fist salute, while his friend, 60s terrorist Bill Ayers, hummed â€œThe Ballad of Joe Hillâ€ in the background.
Don Feder is a former Boston Herald writer who is now a political/communications consultant. He also maintains his own website, DonFeder.com.