- The Washington Times - Friday, October 26, 2001

Jerry Falwell's jeremiad

Tod Lindberg writes as if the Rev. Jerry Falwell had committed some unpardonable sin ("Osama bin Laden, meet Jerry Falwell," Commentary, Oct. 23). In reality, he was following a long American tradition: the jeremiad.
The Puritans started the jeremiads sermons that decry spiritual decline in the manner of the prophet Jeremiah and either interpret some recent event as a sign of God's judgement or predict some such future event. The form became particularly prominent after King Philip's War (1675-76), the deadliest war in American history measured in fatalities per capita. The Puritans were not at all shy about both resisting the attacks they suffered and seeing the attacks as God's judgment on their sins.
I can see how people might criticize Mr. Falwell's choice of words, but I find it interesting that even the hint that America might be liable to judgment is vehemently rejected. We can simultaneously believe that the attacks were heinous war crimes that deserve the severest reaction and that God allowed them because of America's sins. To say that God used the terrorists to exact his judgment does not exonerate them or reduce the evil of their atrocities.
The Puritans who founded New England certainly believed that disasters were judgments from God for sins. They suffered far harsher atrocities. Though they fought with resolve, they also saw the calamity as God's judgment on their backsliding hearts. In all our proper grief over lives lost and demands for justice, we must not forget this lesson either.

JOHN CARPENTER
Singapore

International court is not 'war menace'

In his Oct. 16 Commentary column, "Less visible war menace," Bruce Fein attacks the International Criminal Court (ICC) for making it illegal to cause excessive civilian deaths. In fact, the Rome Treaty incorporates well-established U.S. military law, including the substance of the following provision from the Army manual "The Law of Land Warfare": "[L]oss of life and damage to property must not be out of proportion to the military advantage to be gained." This is nothing new.
The ICC provision that Mr. Fein partially quotes requires that an illegal attack be launched "intentionally," but all four of Mr. Fein's examples occurred mistakenly and inadvertently, were caused by an errant munition, and had unintended civilian casualties. Mistakes are not war crimes, and the ICC statute is positively redundant in making this clear.
A commander must launch the attack "intentionally," with "knowledge" that civilian casualties will be "clearly" excessive. As if that weren't enough, the Pentagon's negotiators successfully obtained a subsidiary document to the treaty that was acceptable to the U.S. government specifying in detail the elements of this and every other ICC crime.
Finally, Mr. Fein lays out the "rogue states" argument, writing, "Isn't it unthinkable that nations we list as sponsors of terrorism or egregious violators of human rights, such as Iraq, Iran, Cuba, Libya, and Syria, would cast votes for judges?" Yes, it is.
To vote, you need to ratify the Rome Treaty, and none of these states has done so. Why? Because that would subject their leaders to prosecution for crimes committed on their territories. Because of this steep price of admission, the ICC is completely and quite obviously different from the U.N. Human Rights Commission.

STEPHEN RICKARD
Director
Nuremberg Legacy Project
Washington

Senator deserving of title 'Internet Tax Man'

The Internet tax moratorium expired on Oct. 21. It did so because one U.S. senator North Dakota Democrat Byron L. Dorgan blocked a vote on a House-approved bill that would have extended the ban on Internet taxes for two years.
No voice has been stronger or clearer on the need to maintain the moratorium than that of the Center for Individual Freedom. When Mr. Dorgan obstructed the extension of the moratorium, the Center ran an ad in The Washington Times to identify that responsibility. In response, a Dorgan spokesman attacked the center for "misinformation" and, of course, added that the senator opposes access taxes and new Internet taxes.
Well, let us explain this bluntly. The tax moratorium was exactly that. Mr. Dorgan blocked the vote on extending it because it did not include provisions for the notoriously euphemistic "simplification plan." That plan would give congressional cover for states to sidestep a U.S. Supreme Court decision. It would force all Internet merchants to collect sales taxes for the states because the state governments don't have the political courage to collect it themselves.
So, you see, Mr. Dorgan is not for taxes, he's for something called simplification. That may sell in North Dakota. It may sell in Washington. It may confuse the already confused media. But we've got a prediction: It ain't going to fool anyone who can maneuver a mouse.
Internet Tax Man. That's what we called him; that's what he is.

TOM HUMBER
President
Center for Individual Freedom
Alexandria

Intent of framers not open to court interpretation

In the Oct. 24 Around the Nation column, you report that Supreme Court Justice Stephen G. Breyer said in a speech at the New York University School of Law that "the framers did not say specifically what factors judges should emphasize when seeking to interpret the Constitution's open language." In saying this, Justice Breyer reveals his incompetence; he should not have a seat on the Supreme Court.
On June 25, 1824, James Madison wrote to Henry Lee: "I entirely concur in the propriety of resorting to the sense in which the Constitution was accepted and ratified by the nation. In that sense alone it is the legitimate Constitution." Madison recognized that there should be a certain way to construct the meaning of the Constitution. Does Justice Breyer believe he knows more about the framers' wishes than Madison?
The framers gave us the amendment process to make required changes. They did not rely on judicial whim; to do so would make the Constitution a joke. Justice Breyer obviously disagrees.
Perhaps if the framers had thought there one day would be judges who believed they could interpret the Constitution as they willed, the framers might have stated more explicitly the "factors" for judges to consider when reading the Constitution. They also might have been more explicit about their intent.
I guess they thought judges always would acts as judges and not political activists.

DAVID K. KYLE
Pasadena, Md.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide