Sunday, August 23, 2015

Fear, loathing, drama & the Knoxville cross

It's been quite the week on life's great reality show --- fear, loathing, drama, extreme comedy and outrage.

This is my favorite photo from the week, Donald Trump being greeted by adoring Republicans in Mobile, Alabama. Thank you, Lord Jesus, indeed.

The Donald continues to soar among prospective voters on the right, including some evangelical "born-again" Christians. That seems a little odd considering that so far as we know the thrice-married entrepreneur rarely if ever darkens a church door and regularly shifts positions on issues based upon expedience.

Some say his popularity is based solely on his ability to say rude things about nearly everyone, most notably brown-skinned people. 

Anti-gay rhetoric is so politically yesterday --- but racism still provides a good deal of traction within the GOP, especially when the targets are Latino.


Speaking of uber Christians, WHO's talk show host Jan Mickelson came up last Monday with an on-air Biblical solution to the difficulties undocumented brown-skin immigrants present.

"What's wrong with slavery?" he asked.

Under the Mickelson plan, undocumented immigrants who failed to heed warning signs posted at Iowa's borders would become the property of the state, compelled to labor for the good of us all --- who aren't Latino.

If the plan were adopted in other states, this could be a way to get that big wall along the border with Mexico built, Mickelson suggested.

I'm sure there would be Iowa Christians, especially in the northwest part of the state, who would be glad to give this proposal a try, but it hardly seems to be a plan that Jesus would endorse.


And how about that Josh Duggar? The "19-Kids-and-Counting" family did warn us that same-sex marriage would play hell with Christian marriages --- but who knew it would be retroactive.

So watch out!

I'm sure that if it hadn't been for that Supreme Court decision, Josh wouldn't have sexually abused his little sisters, become addicted to pornography, cheated on his wife and acquired two pricey Ashley Madison accounts.

You've got to wonder what's next for this odd family, founded on the principles of a livestock confinement operation. Whatever it is, it's bound to be the fault of the gays.


There's even been a spot of outrage in the south of Iowa, sparked by objections to a homemade memorial tied to a flagpole near the painted "Freedom Rock" in Knoxville's Young Park.

The memorial, a familiar pattern that I've seen executed in both metal and plywood, depicts a soldier kneeling at a veteran gravesite marked by a Latin cross. This version seems to be painted plywood, although I've not driven over to check it out (thanks, KCCI, for the photo).

Apparently a Knoxville citizen (or citizens) complained to the city --- which did not install the creation but didn't remove it either --- suggesting that the presence of the cross on public ground crossed the legal boundary between church and state. Then, when told by city officials that there were thousands of crosses in our national cemeteries and that this was just another and no cause for concern, contacted Americans United for the Separation of Church and State. A stiff letter from that organization suggested that the cross be removed and pointed to a case in Lake Elsinore, California, where courts had ruled against a similar memorial.

I don't see anything especially wrong with the memorial, as long as its symbolism is understood. Contrary to various misunderstandings, there are no cross-shaped stones in our national cemeteries. Government-issue stones, developed in the aftermath of the Civil War, are rectangular. If the family wishes it, a cross or other religious symbol, will be inscribed.

There are, however, cross-shaped stones in overseas cemeteries maintained by the American Battle Monuments Commission that contain the remains of more than 100,000 Americans who died during World Wars I and II. The exceptions are Stars of David that mark the graves of Jewish soldiers.

According to the Commission, the cross-shaped stones replicated in marble the simple wooden crosses used initially to mark the graves of the fallen when they were first buried --- a majority of these remains were relocated after the war to cemeteries on land granted in perpetuity to the United States by the countries where they are located. They were not (and are not now) considered to be commentary on the religious convictions of the deceased.

So the Knoxville memorial and others like can be understood in that context to represent a World War II soldier kneeling at the grave of a fallen buddy --- one he most likely would have helped to bury in the immediate aftermath of a combat death.

It seems to me both the Knoxville complainant(s) and the AUSCS over-reacted.

On the other hand, as often happens, the attention now has shifted via outrage to the cross and away from the veterans the memorial was intended to honor. I understand a "save the cross" rally is scheduled for next Sunday in Knoxville.

And when you politicize the cross, you're headed for trouble.

Should you be wondering what would happen if a similar memorial appeared in Chariton's new Veterans Memorial Park --- well, the county leased that property on a long-term basis to our American Legion post. Therefore, it is no longer officially public ground.

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