Friday, August 16, 2013

Commonweal on Obama's "War on Religion."

U of C law prof Eduardo Moisés Peñalver has a post at dotCommonweal arguing that: since the Justice Dept. filed an amicus curiae against restricting prayer in a legislature, then any suggestion that Obama opposes religious liberty must be ridiculous.

It has several problems.

First is the (scare-)quoted term "War on Religion." I'm a pretty avid reader of conservative punditry, yet I don't believe I have ever heard this term used, before reading it today in Commonweal. Peñalver uses quotation marks, but does not attribute the term to any specific source. I suppose this is an example of the progressivist fondness for scare quotes. The Chicago Manual of Style has the following to say about scare quotes (§7.58):
Quotation marks are often used to alert readers that a term is used in a nonstandard, ironic, or other special sense [...] They imply "This is not my term" or "This is not how the term is usually applied." Like any such device, scare quotes lose their force and irritate readers if overused.
Peñalver suggests that conservatives delusionally believe Obama is waging a war on religion, yet it is Peñalver who exhibits signs of delusion, precisely in so suggesting. Perhaps he had in mind the "war on women," another war which exists exclusively in the feverish minds of political pundits and speech writers.

Second, Peñalver misuses the term double bluff. For reference, a double bluff is defined as "an action which is intended to be perceived as a bluff, but which is not." An amicus curiae cannot be a bluff, therefore it is nonsensical to imagine, even ironically, that it is a double bluff. It is a brief that is filed, and once filed it's clear that no bluffing is involved, as any action which might be threatened in a bluff has already occurred. I will assume the reader is cognizant of what a bluff is.

Stylistic and dictional questions aside, the point of the post is to emphatically dismiss any idea that Obama would be so shrewd and coldly calculating (paranoid, even) as to now and again support religious liberty, so that he doesn't go too far in showing his true intent, which is (supposedly) to destroy it. But is that really such an unbelievable idea? Let's say someone wanted to get away with something people might not like. Say, embezzling money from his employer. If this criminal took all the money quickly, of course the employer would notice and he'd probably get caught. It would be smarter to take just enough so that the employer or owner doesn't notice. "Oh, that must be just an accounting error. No one would steal from me. You're all honest folk, aren't ya?" And so it is with those who earnestly wish that Obama cared about the things they care about.

Does Obama care about religious liberty? Sure, if you're a (preferably foreign) Muslim. "The future," Barack Hussein read proudly from his teleprompter, "must not belong to those who slander the Prophet of Islam." Oh, sure, he mentioned something about Jesus and the Holocaust, but quickly followed that up with more support for Islam. This is his reaction to the murder of his ambassadors by the followers of the Prophet of Islam. It's hard to read it is anything other than support of them, and this impression is reinforced by his support of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

Does Obama care about religious liberty for American Christians and Jews? Well, they tend to vote Republican, so what do you think?

No comments:

Post a Comment