"Ain't Gonna Study War No More"

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Right-To-Life Party, Christian, Anti-War, Pro-Life, Bible Fundamentalist, Egalitarian, Libertarian Left

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Pacific Justice Institute

Student Threatened with Suspension for Wearing "Homosexuality is Wrong" T-Shirt

A high school student wearing a t-shirt that stated: (front) "Tolerance is the virtue of believing in nothing", and (back) "Truth is truth - homosexuality" is wrong was threatened with suspension. The 'A' student, with no history of discipline problems, was removed from class and sent to the principal's office where she was told to change shirts or leave campus.

Her parents called the Pacific Justice Institute (JPI). "It is regrettable when parents have to choose which right their child will be deprived of - free speech or a public education," said Kevin Snider, Chief Counsel for PJI. One of PJI's attorneys immediately called the school and faxed a letter that same day explaining how students have First Amendment rights which follow them when they step onto a school campus.

Ironically, the school asserted that the censorship was based on "tolerance" and "diversity." A school official explained that a homosexual will be offended by a shirt that says "homosexuality is a sin." "One-way tolerance is not tolerance, but tyranny," said Brad Dacus, President of the Pacific Justice Institute. "Intolerance of students with religious or moral convictions should have no place in public education."

PJI informed school officials that the student will continue to wear that shirt, and other shirts expressing her values and beliefs, at her discretion. The school has since stopped harassing this student.

Students who have been disciplined or otherwise been denied their right to religious-based speech are encouraged to immediately contact the Pacific Justice Institute. PJI provides all of their legal assistance without charge.

RANCHO CUCAMONGA, CA, April 14, 2005 (LifeSiteNews.com)

The Undead

In covering the opening of the Atomic Testing Museum in Las Vegas, no one in the press has pointed out that the exhibits offer a misleading historical picture of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki -- and fail to even mention the nearly 200,000 civilian casualties there.

The new Atomic Testing Museum in Las Vegas not only downplays the health and safety fallout from the nuclear era here at home. It also offers a misleading historical narrative on the only use of nuclear weapons against a foreign power, and it fails to mention that anyone died from that use.

In my previous column, I looked at New York Times reporter Judith Miller's favorable account of her visit to the museum, affiliated with the Department of Energy and the Smithsonian, which opened Feb. 20. As I observed, another reporter at Miller's paper, Edward Rothstein, after his own tour, struck a quite different note, citing a “crucial flaw” at the museum: its tone of “justification” and its leaving “many unanswered questions about the past.”

In her story, Miller also failed to make any mention of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, or the museum's treatment of the atomic attacks -- this from a reporter who helped pave the way for the war on Iraq by raising the specter of nuclear annihilation. But she's not alone: I haven't seen anything about the atomic attacks in any other press coverage of the museum.

It set me to wondering how the museum tackled the only use of The Bomb against an enemy (in contrast to the hundreds of times we used it on ourselves), so I emailed a set of questions to museum director William Johnson.

This is not just one of my (many) idle concerns. I have probed the use of the bomb against Japan, and its aftermath, for more than 20 years, after spending several weeks in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1985 when I was editor of Nuclear Times magazine. I've written dozens of articles on the subject, co-authored a book with Robert Jay Lifton, and last year worked on a nuclear film.

It's an endlessly fascinating subject because even after nearly 60 years honorable people honorably disagree about whether the U.S. absolutely needed to use the bomb against Japan, at that time, in that way.

According to the lengthy e-mail reply from director Johnson, the museum does not merely cover the hundreds of Nevada tests starting in the early 1950s, but goes back to the beginning of the nuclear era with the first detonation at the Trinity site in New Mexico in July 1945. It then moves forward, briefly, to the atomic attacks less than a month later on Hiroshima (August 6) and Nagasaki (August 9).

From the exhibits, however, you'd never know for certain that anyone died in the attacks. In an email to me, director Johnson said: "The numbers are not explicitly stated."

The museum does show a mushroom cloud and single images of the ruins of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but here (as provided by Johnson) is the text of the main panel in the museum on this subject:

“In an effort to end the war with Japan quickly and with the fewest casualties, an untested uranium bomb, named Little Boy, was detonated over Hiroshima, Japan, on August 6, 1945. When Japan did not surrender, a second bomb of the same design as the Trinity device, named Fat Man, was detonated over Nagasaki, Japan, on August 9, 1945, with devastating results. Japan surrendered five days later.”

The next panel, titled “Ending World War II,” goes back in time a bit for this narrative:

“A belief that an Allied invasion of the Japanese mainland would be very bloody with estimates of American casualties alone running up to one million abounded. Policy makers unanimously concluded the atomic bomb would end the war with the least bloodshed and should be used without warning against military targets. Accordingly, two atomic bombs were detonated over industrial military targets in early August 1945. Japan surrendered shortly afterwards ending World War II, avoiding a massive Allied invasion and post-war division among the victors.”

This echoes the result of the uproar surrounding the display of the Enola Gay, the plane that carried the Hiroshima bomb, at the Air & Space Museum in Washington, D.C., back in 1995, and later when it went on permanent display last year in Virginia. After protests, mainly from veterans groups and their congressional allies, no mention of Japanese casualties -- or the historical debate surrounding the use of the bomb -- was permitted.

One might call that the immaculate deception.

Space does not permit a full discussion here of the decision to drop the bomb. But, in brief, what's wrong with the A-bomb narrative at the museum is the historical inaccuracies serving that “justification” tone cited by reporter Rothstein.

For example, the old chestnut that an American invasion of a clearly defeated Japan (assuming it did not surrender) would have cost a million lives has been discredited by leading historians for two decades now.

Then there's the museum labeling the two cities “military” targets or, fudging, “military industrial” targets. Neither city, in fact, housed a critical military base, although Nagasaki did produce a significant amount of armaments. But neither city, in any case, was targeted because of its military significance: they were simply among the few cities left in Japan that had not already been devastated by U.S. bombs and so could serve as ideal test sites for the new weapon.

In fact, the aiming points for the bombs were not military bases but the very center of each city, to maximize civilian casualties. In Nagasaki there were only scattered Japanese military casualties (along with a few American POWs), and the civilian toll in Hiroshima outnumbered military deaths by about 6-1, as planned.

Finally, the museum's narrative ties the end of the war strictly to the use of the bombs, without mentioning the utter hopelessness of the enemy's cause, Russia declaring war on Japan (as pre-arranged), and the United States suddenly changing policy to allow the Japanese to keep their emperor.

Actually, there's an amazing admission in the museum's text: a rare mention (in the official Hiroshima narrative) that a major factor in driving the use of the bomb was to avoid the “post-war division among the victors.” This oddly echoes critics of the bombing who call it not so much the last shot of World War II as the first shot of the Cold War.

This is a wholly inadequate discussion of these issues, of course, but that will have to do for now.

Given the fact that a majority of Americans, past and present, have always backed the atomic bombings -- many World War II veterans, understandasbly, feel they owe their lives to it -- my writing in this field has always focused on trying to inspire readers and reporters to revisit the historical record, to put aside emotion and conventional wisdom (as sadly reflected by the Atomic Testing Museum), take a second look at this question, weigh the evidence, and make up their own minds.

Many might be surprised, at least, to learn that Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, years later, declared that there was no need to attack Japan with "that awful thing," and that Admiral William Leahy, President Truman's wartime chief of staff, who chaired the Joint Chiefs, said "the use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender ... in being the first to use it, we adopted an ethical standard common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages."

Why does this matter today? How we, as a nation, regard the first atomic bombings may dictate what happens when another urgent international crisis demanding a tough response arises. It's often said that there is a taboo against using the bomb, but Americans have already made two exceptions, so why not more?

Greg Mitchell (gmitchell@editorandpublisher.com) is the editor of E&P, former editor of Nuclear Times, co-author of the 1995 book "Hiroshima in America," and author of seven other books. He was also chief adviser to the award-winning 2004 film "Original Child Bomb."

No-Nonsense Cardinal Ratzinger Leads Papal Candidates

Pope's Hard-nosed Enforcer in Lead

German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger is being talked about as a likely successor to Pope John Paul II.

ALLIES OF THE German cardinal who ordered the other "red hats" to clam up about who might succeed Pope John Paul II are actively campaigning to make him the next pontiff.
Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger is now the man to beat, according to influential Italian newspapers like Corriere della Sera and La Repubblica, which reported yesterday that he already has the backing of 50 cardinals when the conclave meets Monday to pick a new Pope.

Local Italian TV picked up the story and reported that Ratzinger appeared to be the "likely successor."

"His surrogates seem to have taken over the news cycle," said Vatican expert Rocco Palmo. "They've created a widespread buzz around Rome that Ratzinger is the anointed front-runner to succeed John Paul."

But the campaign for Ratzinger, who turns 78 Saturday, could backfire.

"The cardinals guard their independence jealously," Palmo said. "They don't like to be told who to vote for."

Ratzinger needs 77 cardinals in his corner to win the papacy. But outside of Rome, he's not a popular figure. In part, it's because Ratzinger was John Paul's enforcer.

It was Ratzinger whom the late Pope relied on to silence dissident theologians, censure wayward clergy and make sure priests towed the conservative Catholic line.

It was Ratzinger who became a lightning rod among liberal Catholics for laying down the law against women priests, gay marriage, abortion and birth control.

"It was a good-cop, bad-cop kind of thing," said Palmo. "His job was to be the doctrinal policeman. He was doing the job he was sent to do and he did it well."

So well that it earned Ratzinger the nickname, "Panzerkardinal."

Ratzinger is even more conservative than John Paul. And his out-of-the-blue denunciations of the Beatles in 1996 - a quarter century after they split up - and insistence that the rock band AC/DC's name meant "anti-Christ, death to Christ" cemented the impression among many young Catholics that Ratzinger was out-of-touch.

The son of a Bavarian policeman who quietly opposed the Nazis, Ratzinger was forced to join the Hitler Youth when he was 14 and later drafted into the German Army. He deserted in 1945 and was briefly held prisoner by the U.S. Army.

His brother, Georg, told a German newspaper this month that Ratzinger's nationality - not his conservative Catholicism - will doom his bid to become Pope.

"I cannot imagine that a German would be elected Pope," Georg Ratzinger told the Abendzeitung newspaper.

CHARLES W. BELL in Vatican City and CORKY SIEMASZKO in New York
Originally published on April 14, 2005

Eugenics By Abortion

Is Perfection an Entitlement?

In Britain, as in Europe generally, abortion law has not been made by judges proclaiming glistening, hard-edged rights that cannot be compromised. Rather, abortion law has been made by lawmakers -- imagine that -- seeking to accommodate clashing sensibilities. That is one reason why British law is less extreme than America's essentially unlimited right to abortion on demand.

In Britain, after the 24th week of pregnancy -- "viability," when the child presumably can live outside the womb -- an abortion is permitted only when "there is a substantial risk that if the child were born it would suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped." But in 2001 an unborn 28-week-old child was aborted because new techniques for detecting fetal abnormalities indicated that the child had a cleft lip and palate.

An Anglican curate, a 28-year-old woman who was born with a congenital defect of the jaw, tried to get a court to consider this a case of "unlawful killing." She noted that far from being substantially handicapped, she is enjoying life -- as is, by the way, her brother, who has Down syndrome, a genetic defect involving varying degrees of mental retardation. Prosecutors eventually refused to file charges, relying in part on guidance by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists that stated there is "no precise definition of serious handicap."

But the prosecutors' refusal goes far toward supplying a definition. The refusal implies that any abnormality can qualify as a serious handicap because seriousness is determined not by its impact on the disabled person's life chances but by the parents' reluctance to be inconvenienced by it. How else is one to understand abortion as an alternative to surgery that corrects cleft lips and palates?

In Britain, more babies with Down syndrome are aborted than are allowed to be born. In America, more than 80 percent of the babies diagnosed prenatally with Down syndrome are aborted. This is dismaying to, among others, the American Association of People with Disabilities, whose premise is that "disability is a natural part of the human experience."

The AAPD worries that increasingly sophisticated prenatal genetic testing technologies will mean that parents who are told their expected babies are less than perfect "will experience pressures to terminate their pregnancies from medical professionals and insurers." The worry is not groundless.

One mother who participated in a study of 3,000 members of five state associations of parents of Down syndrome children reported that when, in 1999, she was told that the baby she was expecting had Down syndrome, a geneticist showed her "a really pitiful video first of people with Down syndrome who were very low tone and lethargic-looking and then proceeded to tell us that our child would never be able to read, write or count change." Try telling that to Jon Will as he navigates Washington's subway system to use his season tickets to the Wizards basketball games and (soon) Nationals baseball games.

When he was born in 1972 -- a time when an episode on a network television hospital drama asserted that people with Down syndrome could not be toilet-trained -- the hospital geneticist asked Jon's parents if they intended to take him home. That question is, surely, no longer asked when Down syndrome babies are born. But there are modern pressures to prevent such babies from being born, pressures that include the perfection-is-an-entitlement attitude of some expecting parents.

The mother's 1999 experience indicates the need for Sen. Sam Brownback's bill, the Prenatally Diagnosed Condition Awareness Act. Its purpose is "to increase the provision of scientifically sound information and support services to patients" who receive positive test diagnoses for Down syndrome, spina bifida and other conditions. Under this bill, parents could learn, for example, that there is a waiting list of families eager to adopt children with Down syndrome.

Michael Howard, leader of Britain's Conservative Party, promises that if his party wins the May 5 general election, he will have Parliament debate lowering to 20 weeks the legal time limit for abortion. According to a Sunday Telegraph poll, that change is favored by 53 percent of all voters and by a large majority of female and younger voters.

Such temperate adjustments of law are possible in a constitutional monarchy governed by a parliament. In our constitutional republic governed by judges, lawmakers have less latitude for making law. Brownback's bill is surely an unobjectionable exercise of that latitude. If it is not unobjectionable, let's identify the objectors, who probably favor the pernicious quest -- today's "respectable" eugenics -- for a disability-free society.

George F. Will
Thursday, April 14, 2005; Page A27

The Loneliest Republican

Rep. Christopher Shays (Conn.), the only Republican in Congress to call for Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) to resign as House majority leader, walked in late to a committee meeting yesterday and got the cold shoulder from a longtime colleague, Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.). When Burton barely acknowledged Shays, Shays put a hand on Burton's and inquired, "Dan, is everything okay?"

"Well," Burton replied, shaking his head, "I'm really not happy with what you did."

Shays leaned over. "Dan," he said, "I've been speaking out for a long time and nobody seems to be listening." The conversation ended quickly.

Shays seized a prominent role in the DeLay ethics controversy Saturday when he told constituents that the leader is "an absolute embarrassment to me and to the Republican Party." To DeLay's foes, Shays is a brave truth-teller; to DeLay's defenders -- and that includes the most powerful Republicans in Congress -- Shays is a self-righteous grandstander.

It is not a new position for Shays, who was denied the chairmanship of the House Government Reform Committee because of his role championing campaign finance reform. His position as an outspoken centrist (he opposed President Bill Clinton's impeachment) has severed him from party leaders. And this has left him free to speak his mind, which is just what he did in a brief interview between appointments.

"I think he's hurting the party because he's just gone too far too often," Shays said of DeLay. "He doesn't know the bounds of what's appropriate. He goes well beyond them. It's not that he may have broken the law, it's that he has continually pushed what is proper conduct to the very edge, and it's the accumulation of this."

The words are spoken softly and gently, but they are tough. If Shays is feeling lonely in his criticism of DeLay -- no other Republican elected to federal office has joined his call for resignation -- he is not backing down. "I believe my party in 10 years has become as arrogant as the Democratic Party became in 30 to 40 years," he continued, from a ground-floor office in the Rayburn building. "It's been a real surprise to me that the adage 'Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely,' I really believe that has happened."

It's yet unknown whether Shays's rebellion remains the act of one gadfly or becomes the sort of movement that occurred after John B. Anderson became the first Republican in Congress in 1974 to call for President Richard M. Nixon's resignation. That nobody in the party has yet joined Shays reflects the enormous power and loyalty DeLay commands. A few colleagues have given Shays private encouragement, but a similar number have avoided eye contact with him.

Still, there were signs of turmoil at a closed-door meeting of House Republicans yesterday morning. Rep. Joel Hefley (Colo.), deposed as ethics committee chairman after the committee criticized DeLay, spoke about how badly the ethics quandary was handled. Rep. Dan Lungren (Calif.) warned the caucus that the leadership had become arrogant.

Shays, while exempting House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (Ill.) from his criticism, says he is "certain" that one of two things will happen: "We will either deal with our arrogance or we will lose our position of authority."

Others might be afraid to say that. But Shays, after 17 years of quarrels with party leaders, has no such worries. "I'm never going to be speaker of the House," he said. "Once you accept that, it gives you freedom."

The congressman says he's not trying to lead a movement. "People say if you go after the king, you've got to make sure the king is gone," he observed. "I'm not going after the king. I'm not trying to get rid of him. I'm just telling people what I think."

He's not shy about that. At a luncheon for a group of government workers, Shays fielded questions for 20 minutes and freely criticized the GOP House leadership over its handling of a Medicare vote, and the Bush administration over Iraq, environmental issues and oil drilling. "I don't think we've done proper oversight of this administration," said Shays, who grabbed a tuna sandwich to eat on his way to vote.

Shays may be at peace with his maverick role, but he appeared badly in need of sleep when he arrived at the Government Reform Committee. An amendment was introduced on Alaskan mail delivery; Shays yawned. The chairman discusses energy legislation; Shays yawned. The ranking Democrat proposes an amendment; Shays yawned. The amendment passed; Shays yawned, took off his glasses and rubbed his temple.

Without the chairmanship that seniority would have given him, Shays, as vice chairman, settles for turns with the gavel when his friend the chairman, Thomas M. Davis III (Va.), leaves the room. "You get the big chair," Davis told Shays at the end of the hearing, leaving his understudy to record last-minute votes. Shays was soon presiding over an almost empty room.

"Okay, we're going to adjourn," he said, and then he realized he was missing something. "I don't have a gavel," he announced. He used a coaster instead.

Dana Milbank
Thursday, April 14, 2005; Page A05
The Washington Post