A Disease of the Heart: Victimization of the Left

The spring issue of Backtracks, Andover’s general interest magazine, presents within its “Readings” feature a Letterman-style list entitled, “You might be an anti-war protester if:” The list points out that you, the reader, might have opposed the war if “Your normal conversational meter and tone has [sic] any resemblance whatsoever to any Bob Dillon [sic] song…” Of course, you might be a pro-war sycophant if you cannot spell the name of the greatest poet of the ’60’s and ’70’s, and you might think you’re a lot smarter than those anti-war protesters despite your failure to coerce your verbs into agreeing with their subjects. Furthermore, if you’re a pro-war sycophant, you’re winning on two fronts. While our military has been busy cleaning up Iraq, we’ve been waging war on the privacy rights implicit in the Constitution and in the piece of the First Amendment that states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” It’s beating a dead horse to refer to Senator Rick Santorum’s words in defense of a Texas law prohibiting sodomy between consenting men. Three weeks have passed since Senator Rick Santorum (R-Pennsylvania) declared in an interview with the Associated Press, “If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything.” After equating homosexuality with polygamy and incest and impugning the right to private consensual sex, however, Senator Santorum commented, “It all comes from, I would argue, this right to privacy that doesn’t exist, in my opinion, in the United States Constitution….” Later in the interview, Santorum opined, “The idea is that the state doesn’t have rights to limit individuals’ wants and passions. I disagree with that.” In essence, as others, including The New Yorker and The Village Voice have observed, Sen. Santorum appears to believe that while individuals have no right to privacy, the government has the “right” to “limit individuals’ wants and passions.” If we believe Sen. Santorum, the government’s alleged responsibility to legislate morality takes precedence over our First Amendment rights and over our implicit freedom of conscience. Sen. Santorum’s views follow from a fundamentalist flavor of Christianity, a highly politicized religion that stands to gain greatly from President Bush’s “faith-based initiatives.” As defense contractors look to gain from increases in military expenditures, these companies use their profits to support an active interest in increasing the military budget, creating the reinforcing feedback loop at the heart of the military-industrial complex. Likewise, politicized religious sects and political parties stand to gain from each other’s support, creating a similar reinforcing feedback loop that we’ll call the “religious-political complex.” Unfortunately, we are actively sapping the wall between church and state that preserves the integrity of both religion and government. In Frontline, Andover’s political magazine, Andrew McGowan ’05 wrote a piece entitled, “The Necessity of State-Sponsored Religion,” which advances a viewpoint that has become increasingly popular within our government and society. McGowan states that our Constitution is a document of Natural Law, and concludes that therefore the existence of the “absolute moral code” that this Natural Law entails necessitates the existence of a “higher power” to define the nature of this moral code. The Enlightenment philosophers who invented the concept of Natural Law, of a natural right and wrong, however, claimed to derive their Natural Law from reason and empirical evidence rather than from a “higher power.” McGowan is careful to note, “The separation of church and state does not mean there is a separation of religion and state.” President Eisenhower once similarly declared, “Our government makes no sense unless it is founded on a deeply felt religious belief—and I don’t care what it is!” Damningly, however, McGowan argues, “Yet now, the very foundation of the United States is under attack. The primary threat is not Osama Bin Laden and his Al Qaeda network. It is not Iraq’s Saddam Hussein and his weapons of mass destruction. It is the pseudo-patriotic organizations and individuals that seek to remove the Pledge of Allegiance from our public school system. … It is the countless proponents of cultural relativism, who propound the destruction of the moral basis of this nation through popular culture.” If we believe this argument, then the harmless irrelevant academics who espouse “cultural relativism” and those who in peace read the Pledge of Allegiance as a violation of the Constitution are a greater threat than the organization that destroyed the Twin Towers and killed thousands on September 11, 2001. If Chiang Kai-Shek’s metaphor about Japanese invaders and Communists, however, can be bent to describe international terrorism and those left of the center in the U.S., respectively, and if we believe the rhetoric, then whereas international terrorism is a disease of the skin, we increasingly irrelevant leftists are a disease of the heart.