The glad tidings have resounded from the talk radio minarets and Mega-Church madrassas of the Bushi'ite Right: All praise our Dear Leader (peace be upon him) for his bold and noble act in "protecting" San Diego's Mount Soledad War Memorial.
A more honest description of Bush's act would be: Staging a federal land-grab in order to gain a transient political advantage and continue the process of sanctifying the Warfare State.
On August 15, George Abu George signed a law transfering possession of the Memorial, with its 29-foot-tall Latin cross, to the federal government, using the power of eminent domain.
Accordingly, many of the same supposed conservatives who have been in high dudgeon over last year's Kelo decision -- which authorizes local governments to use eminent domain to seize property for commercial purposes -- are cheering themselves hoarse over a federal land grab staged for purely partisan purposes.
The effect of the Mt. Soledad Land Grab, explained a wire service story, was to take a "17-year parochial battle over the memorial" and transform it into "a national cause for supporters and foes of religious symbols on public property." Which is to say, it's yet another instant wedge issue, in addition to being a potentially disastrous precedent for federal seizure of contested local properties and landmarks by whichever political faction happens to be temporarily in charge in Washington.
San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders insists that because of the transfer, "our federal government [will now] take the lead in preserving the integrity of the memorial against all those who would alter this key part of San Diego's history...." Sanders has also described the Memorial -- built in 1954 -- as part of the community's "fabric."
Neither Sanders nor any other defender of the Soledad Land Grab has explained why Washington is a more suitable custodian of San Diego's local traditions than, say, the municipal government. Granted, the city has fought an expensive 17-year battle against the ACLU, for which harassment lawsuits of the sort filed against the Memorial are quite profitable. But placing this issue in the hands of the Feds means an inevitable appeal to the Supreme Court.
This is a result entirely in keeping with the ACLU's long-term agenda, which is to destroy federalism -- diffusion of political authority among numerous compatible branches of government, with most power exercised locally, under the authority of a written constitution -- by making a federal case out of every exploitable local grievance.
It is to the ACLU's great advantage that its chief opposition comes from Republican-aligned activists who are either too dense to understand the strategic consequences of their actions (the kind of folks who consistently lose at tic-tac-toe), or too cynical to care.
It's also significant that control over the monument was transferred to the Department of Defense (sic). The pious effusions of Republican activists about preserving a Christian symbol notwithstanding, the purpose of this memorial -- now, although not necessarily at the time of its construction -- is to exalt and glorify the Warfare State and its leaders, not the Sovereign God from whom our liberties have come.
"Today is a great day for America's veterans and the San Diego community," exulted Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-California), author of the land-grab bill, after Bush signed it into law. Enactment of his legislation "sends a clear message that America appreciates and respects its military men and women."
Appropriate as it is to pay respects to those who have died in the service of our nation -- however unworthy may have been the political leaders under whom they served -- the message of the Cross is rather a different one.
It has never been proper to use the Cross to sanctify the Warfare State. Today, however, as George W. Bush presides over daily blood sacrifices to an idol called Global Democracy, such mis-appropriation of that sacred symbol has officially achieved the status of an abomination.