Filed under: Bureaucracy, Capitalism, Domestic Policy, Education, History, Intelligence, Islam, Israel, Law, Middle East, National Security, Regulation, Syria, Terrorism, The United States | Tags: State Dept Press Briefings, Talking Past Each Other, We Speak Different Languages
Early today I watched a video of the first press briefing for the State Department under new Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, for the Trump administration. It was over an hour long, conducted by Mark Toner who has been in the job for a number of years, is very competent, and knows most of the journalists present. I’ve seen excerpts of these things before, but this was the first time I have watched the whole thing.
I found it somewhat astonishing, for the liberal journalists trouble in grasping the distinctions among immigrants, illegal immigrants, refugees and the countries involved. They were really having a hard time understanding why some refugees should be turned away at the border, for example—why would we not allow refugees from Iran who didn’t like the government there. Certainly not all Iranians liked the government, why wouldn’t we accept those people? They clearly just didn’t grasp that we cannot tell or vet those who come from a nation that wants to destroy us, nor can we tell who is a jihadi and who is not.
I’ve been mulling over these language distinctions for some time. for it seems that Journalists just don’t grasp that when the Ayatollah Khomeini leads his people in chants of “Death to America” and “Death to Israel”— that is exactly what he really means, and what his government is working for. That there isn’t really any way to tell the good people from the jihadis, and the next terrorist attack may hit their D.C. neighborhood. They are involved with the news, but they don’t grasp the nature of the world.
Rex Tillerson has said that we have been paying the UN for years to monitor and control North Korea’s experimentation with nuclear weapons and it has not worked at all, so perhaps it is time to try something different. I would add that when Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un had his older step-brother executed in another country, and just recently executed five of his supporters who offended him with anti-aircraft cannons, that something different is probably what is needed. I just don’t get the feeling that these journalists get it, and they are still out wandering around in issues of diversity and social justice. But perhaps I am unjust.
A very large issue is the one of religion. Two federal District Judges, one from Seattle and one from Hawaii, have issued stays on President Trump’s Executive Orders, which issued a 90 day ban on immigration from seven countries selected by the Obama administration because immigrants or refugees from those countries cannot be vetted adequately. Why would we have any special concern for Christian refugees?
The First Amendment to the Constitution says Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof… That seem so straightforward and clear. Congress cannot make any laws that establish a state religion. ( No Church of England here) Yet that First Amendment has caused an amazing amount of trouble as people try to overthink and over dissect the words. If a Christian cross is displayed on federal land is that “establishing a religion?” Do the Little Sisters of the Poor have to support abortion for their workers in spite of the fact that their religion prohibits abortion?
So the question becomes—what happens if the religion in question wants to destroy the United States of America because our existence conflicts with their religion. Do al-Qaeda and ISIS represent the Islamic religion, or are they something separate? Do they get to try to destroy us because they don’t believe in our Constitution or religions, and we have to refrain from fighting them because of freedom of religion? When you spell out the questions that arise, it clarifies things, but a full discussion becomes ever more necessary. And the questions that arise are litigated and re-litigated.
The Federal District Judge in Seattle and the Federal District Judge in Hawaii are dragging in casual remarks from the difficult election campaign as if that had anything to do with the President’s Executive Order. They can’t do that. The only thing they have to consider are the exact words of the Executive Order. They cannot drag in extraneous things. Federal Judges get a lifetime appointment and cannot be removed by Congress, though they can be impeached for “high crimes and misdemeanors.” So this will all have to go to the Supreme Court.
Our Founders were a lot closer to the European Wars of Religion 1524-1646, following the Protestant Reformation. That ended with the Peace of Westphalia, which recognized three separate Christian traditions in the Holy Roman empire: Roman Catholicism, Lutheranism and Calvinism.That was followed by the British Civil Wars or The Wars of the Three Kingdoms: England, Scotland and Ireland. The Reformation of the Church of England, begot Presbyterianism, Congregationalism, and the breakdown of state-controlled religious conformity bred an explosion of radical denominations: Ranters, Baptists, Diggers, Levelers and Quakers. The New England colonies were settled by Puritans, Pennsylvania by Quakers, the Carolinas by Presbyterians, and Virginia by the Church of England, and they changed as they were established in America. All fascinating, but necessary to understand at least a little, when we get into simple questions about freedom of religion.
To circle back to where I started, I got no feeling that the reporters at the State Department briefing had any understanding of the real nature of the religious questions involved. Religion is those backwoods people clinging to their Bibles and guns, or something like that. It undoubtedly plays a major part in our current problems with the mainstream media. Our conversations are not about real things, but about social justice, race, diversity, pronouns, race, safe spaces and snowflakes. We’ve got some very real problems out there and they remain essentially unrecognized.