He was a man of faith who didn't hesitate to mix religion with politics. He
headed an assertive political organization with the word "Christian" in its
name. He believed his moral values should be reflected in US law and legally
imposed on those who resisted them. He invoked "God Almighty" in his speeches
and compared himself to Moses, the prophet Amos, and other biblical heroes. He
condemned public policies he opposed in overtly religious terms as "a blatant
denial of the unity which we all have in Christ," for example. He shrugged off
those who called him an extremist. "Was not Jesus an extremist?" he asked.
He wasn't one to fetishize church-state separation. "I want it to be known . . .
throughout this nation that we are Christian people," he declared. "We believe
in the Christian religion. We believe in the teachings of Jesus."
He was what some today might call a religious fanatic, a theocrat, or (as a US
senator said of the president last year) a "moral ayatollah." He was, in many
circles, decidedly unpopular.
He was also a Nobel laureate for peace and a champion of human dignity. He was
an American hero. He was Martin Luther King Jr.
In 1987, the Justice Department's Office of Special Investigations added
Austrian president Kurt Waldheim to the "watch list" of persons barred from
entering the United States. Neal Sher, who was then the director of OSI, argues
that the time has come to put another head of state on the watch list: Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad of Iran.
Waldheim was listed because of his wartime role as a Nazi officer in Yugoslavia.
Ahmadinejad should go on the list because of his vocal support for terrorism and
incitement to genocide against Israel. As Sher notes, US immigration law
excludes any alien who uses his position "to endorse or espouse terrorist
activity in a way that undermines United States efforts to reduce or eliminate
As the head of a regime that makes the sponsorship of terrorism a national
priority, Ahmadinejad fits that description. Adding him to the list of
inadmissible aliens would be largely symbolic. But in a war that is as much
about ideology as about military power, the impact of symbols and the messages
they communicate must not be overlooked.
Senator Edward Kennedy likes to label Iraq "George Bush's Vietnam," as he did
last week when he introduced legislation to give Congress, not the
commander-in-chief, the final say on troop levels in Iraq.
Bush played no role in the fall of South Vietnam and Cambodia to the Communists
in 1975, of course. But Kennedy did. He helped lead the congressional drive to
cut off financial aid to the pro-American governments in Saigon and Phnom Penh,
brushing aside President Gerald Ford's warning that "the horror and the tragedy
that we see on television" would only grow worse if America deserted its allies.
But Kennedy and the Democrats spurned Ford's request, and the result was
unspeakable agony Cambodia's killing fields, Vietnam's re-education camps,
waves of "boat people" hurling themselves into the sea. Having seen the results
of US abandonment in Indochina, how can Kennedy advocate the same policy in
"If we cease to help our friends in Indochina," Ford said, in words worth
recalling today, "we will . . . have been false to ourselves, to our word, and
to our friends. No one should think for a moment that we can walk away from that
without a deep sense of shame." Ford, a decent man, couldn't imagine
deliberately abandoning a friend in dire straits. Kennedy, it would seem, is not
California Senator Barbara Boxer was blasted over remarks she made to Secretary
of State Condoleezza Rice during a recent hearing on the Bush administration's
war plans. Boxer suggested that Rice, as an unmarried, childless woman, cannot
understand the steep price paid by military families.
"You're not going to pay a particular price, as I understand it, with an
immediate family," Boxer said.
That triggered an outbreak of dudgeon, earning the senator a spanking from the
New York Post ("a shocking Democratic attack"), Rush Limbaugh ("a rich white
chick . . . trying to lynch an African-American woman"), and presidential
spokesman Tony Snow ("outrageous . . . great leap backward for feminism").
Unfair! Boxer's argument may have been inane having a son or husband of
military age isn't a prerequisite for supporting military action but she
wasn't insulting Rice, as the full context of her remark makes clear:
"Who pays the price? I'm not going to pay a personal price. My kids are too old
and my grandchild is too young. You're not going to pay a particular price, as I
understand it, with an immediate family. So who pays the price? The American
military and their families."
Boxer has many sins to expiate, but a gratuitous insult of Rice isn't among
them. I don't come close to sharing the left-wing senator's politics, but this
charge is a bum rap.