The Cross as Symbol
The Mojave Cross boxed in plywood so as not to offend may be the perfect symbol of tyrannical multiculturalism. Erected 75 years ago in memory of the nation’s World War I casualties — and with strong visual correlation with the plain crosses that have a long cultural pedigree along roads — the cross has been the subject of a separation of church and state dispute that has reached the Supreme Court. Moreover, it fittingly reflects the zealous drive to rid America of any public reminder of Christian heritage.
A new twist, though, has the potential to unite religious and libertarian conservatives:
Several conservative justices seemed open to the Obama administration’s argument that Congress’ decision to transfer to private ownership the land on which the cross sits ends any government endorsement of the cross and takes care of the constitutional questions.
“Isn’t that a sensible interpretation” of a court order prohibiting the cross’ display on government property? Justice Samuel Alito asked.
The liberal justices, on the other hand, indicated that they agree with a federal appeals court that ruled that the land transfer was a sort of end-run around the First Amendment prohibition against government endorsement of religion.
The argument against permitting religious symbols on public land is that it implies an endorsement of the represented beliefs. Even if we accept that as a plausible argument, the idea that the endorsement is furthered by divesting of the land in order to avoid destruction of the symbol is perverse. It also illustrates the dangers of permitting government ownership of anything: the opportunity to force beliefs — or disbelief — is too attractive for fanatics not to erase and rewrite.