What do people think the Constitution requires as to American cross medals?
rs at robertsheridan.com
Fri Apr 23 14:23:03 PDT 2010
Don't we have enough headaches with crosses overlooking cities and
parks, and mangers at City Hall, that we need to go looking for more
where no one is (yet) squawking?
The issue, as I see it, is whether, when someone does make what seems a
legitimate squawk, will it be regarded with a certain degree of
sensitivity, a sensitivity that seems to be minimal in Eugene's arguments.
Because no one seems to be protesting the military honors in cross form,
I'm not so sure that anticipating the problem would make for a good
comparison as it would be speculative, like asking what about removing
'In God We Trust."
Regarding crosses in general, contra Paul, as previously noted, the
cross as a symbol of honor, exists in many forms, all religious, e.g.
Latin, Orthodox, Celtic, etc. Thus equilateral crosses are no less
religious symbols, although they may be less prevalent here in the U.S.
except in larger cities where there's an orthodox population such as
Greek, Russian, Serbian, Armenian, etc.
Regarding the naming of cities, there is this: Cities in the U.S. such
as San Francisco, Las Cruces, Corpus Christi, Los Angeles, Soledad,
Santa Maria, etc., were named by the empire that established them,
Catholic Spain, via a combined military and missionary force, you know,
los conquistadores, who came to promote God and get rich, per Bernal (?)
Diaz. When the new Empire of America (they called it an empire at the
time of Jefferson and in the 1840s, the time of Polk, who "stole" Texas
"fair and square," as S.I. Hayakawa famously put it) acquired possession
after the war we fomented with Mexico, the religious names had been in
place for generations. I don't recall reading of any movement at time
of acquisition to change the names because Protestant America objected
to them, or now, in fact. There was no separation of church and state
in imperial Spain, quite the reverse. Explorers typically named new
discoveries after the saint's day i.e. the feast day or holiday, on
which something was discovered. This made it easier. It was the
default. Asuncion, Concepcion, and Vera Cruz in Latin America may be
examples. Today the default is probably not to resort to religious
imagery to serve national purposes.
We still haven't solved the problem of how to treat the feeling of
objectors to crosses, religious statues, mangers, and the like in the
face of objections by non-believers. Against this is postulated the
argument advanced by the religious right that to eliminate, i.e. to
secularize the religious observances which exist is to deprive these
folks of their religious feelings and therefore rights. Let's say I'm
insensitive to this claim, believing it to be an ad hoc pastiche,
perhaps the way some saw Mr. Newdow's 'Under God' objection.
Let's say that I can't see Eugene's argument and he can't see mine.
How do we analyze further in hope of breaking the impasse, assuming that
the two sides presented adequately describe the problem. I say that the
policy decision was made in advance, with the adoption of the First
Amendment and that to say otherwise amounts to an impermissible
establishment of religion by government when it comes to establishing
new religious symbols by government. As to pre-existing (i.e. Spanish,
before acquisition by U.S.) situations, I don't see any movement to
change the names, indicating no issue or not ripe.
Which group should be told to leave and to lick their wounds, the
religious right or the objectors to religious symbols not theirs? If,
as I maintain, the decision was made against that now taken by the
religious right, I'm afraid that they have to be disappointed, and not
through any lack of sensitivity on my part.
Volokh, Eugene wrote:
> But say that some Jews and Muslims do start objecting. Doesn't require a vast number, right? It's not like a vast number of Jews and Muslims are complaining about the Mt. Soledad cross; some are, but many others have other things to do with their time. Should courts order the redesign of the medals?
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: Robert Sheridan [mailto:rs at robertsheridan.com]
>> Sent: Friday, April 23, 2010 10:23 AM
>> To: Volokh, Eugene
>> Cc: 'conlawprof at lists.ucla.edu'
>> Subject: Re: What do people think the Constitution requires as to American cross
>> The problem with changing the design for these medals and decorations
>> now is that there doesn't seem to be a compelling need. Jews and Muslims
>> are not demanding action as a matter of religious freedom, unlike, by
>> comparison, the case of the appearance of a cross above a city.
>> Perhaps a calculation has been made by potential objectors that they
>> don't have standing, not being a medal winner, or that the politics of
>> the moment are not ready or ripe. The plaintiff in the Under God case a
>> few years ago may have had doctrine on his side, but he didn't have the
>> momentum seen in cases of anti-Black and anti-Gay forms of
>> discrimination. Plaintiffs are entitled to pick their battles with care
>> and would be well-advised to do so.
>> Nevertheless, I suspect that if military decorations were first being
>> instituted today, there would be greater sensitivity to the plural
>> nature of the country, and hesitation, before using the cross as the
>> symbol of the nation's recognition, honor, and gratitude.
> To post, send message to Conlawprof at lists.ucla.edu
> To subscribe, unsubscribe, change options, or get password, see http://lists.ucla.edu/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/conlawprof
> Please note that messages sent to this large list cannot be viewed as private. Anyone can subscribe to the list and read messages that are posted; people can read the Web archives; and list members can (rightly or wrongly) forward the messages to others.
More information about the Conlawprof