The Nation weighs in...
+ Faith-Based Fun with Bush
This Trent Lott story keeps getting bigger and bigger. When I first decided to do a cartoon about it on Saturday, all I could find was one tiny little Washington Post article. Now I can't even keep track of all the cartoons and coverage. As the editors of The Nation note:
Where is the outrage? The general silence is more alarming than Lott himself. The New York Times initially found his remarks un-newsworthy and acknowledged them only after Lott issued, first, a slippery denial, then a grudging apology. The Washington Post published a crisp, comprehensive account by Thomas Edsall, but it ran on page six, not on the front page where it belonged.
Further, this isn't about just one little incident:
Lott's offense cannot be dismissed as a casual slight, because it reflects the general erosion of decent sensibilities in American politics, a coarsening that prepares people to accede to more vicious assaults on justice by the government. In 1976 the Ford Administration's Agriculture Secretary, Earl Butz, was instantly compelled to resign after it was disclosed he had told an ugly racist joke (in a private conversation). This time, the notables avert their eyes and pretend they didn't hear what Lott said.
Their casual indifference reminds us that the convicted and unconvicted co-conspirators from Reagan's Iran/contra scandal are now back in the Bush Administration, once again fiddling with the Constitution and our civil liberties. It reminds us that conservatives are currently making yucks about affirmative action and "diversity" in public institutions of higher learning as though "we" all agree that the Supreme Court should abolish the formal pursuit of equality in education.
And speaking of reminders: Faith-Based Fun
I've been following the Trent Lott story so closely that I almost missed this news item. Apparently Bush found plenty of time when not making insincere speeches to weaken the separation of church and state. (From the AP):
President Bush circumvented Congress to advance key pieces of his divisive "faith-based initiative" Thursday, including one that lets federal contractors use hire only people of certain faiths. Hoping to involve churches and religious organizations more deeply in government efforts to address social ills, Bush signed executive orders aimed at giving those groups a leg up in the competition for federal money. He announced the changes in a speech to religious and charitable leaders meeting here.
The hiring issue was one of the central disputes as lawmakers considered Bush's proposals before, and it prompted criticism Thursday. Civil rights law bars discrimination on the basis of religion, but constitutional problems arise when government money is involved.
"It is simply wrong for federal contractors to discard the resumes of people with names that sound 'too Jewish' or 'too Muslim' when hiring substance abuse counselors and other professionals with government money," National Jewish Democratic Council Executive Director Ira N. Forman said.
"Bush is giving his official blessing to publicly funded religious discrimination," said The Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
Yeah, pretty much. And with that, ladies and gentlemen, I bid you goodnight, as I haven't gotten nearly enough sleep lately and I have plenty of nightmares about nuclear war to catch up on. Oh, and a big thanks to Tom Tomorrow for mentioning me in his blog today, and to all the nice people who visited my humble site as a result.