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Joseph Sobran’s
Washington Watch

Equality versus Discrimination

(Reprinted from the issue of June 15, 2006)

Capitol Bldg, Washington Watch logo for Equality versus DiscriminationOpen the loony bins! Turn the patients loose! I used to work in a mental institution, and I can assure you that the people who were locked up there weren’t much crazier than this country is today. Imagine debating whether to amend the Constitution to outlaw flag-burning and sodomite “marriage.”

Why didn’t the Founding Fathers think of this? In those days, I suppose, people putting Betsy Ross’s handiwork to the flames had not yet become the public menace it is today, and Washington and Jefferson could complacently assume that the problem might be dealt with locally rather than nationally.

Likewise, the Founders might pardonably assume that marriage by definition meant a union between persons of opposite sexes, for the same reason that sodomy rarely occurs between two bulls in the same pasture. How were they to know that the judiciary branch of government, making creative use of the principle of equality, would one day rule that it was “discriminatory” to require that it, marriage, be denied to two persons of the same sex?

Well, you can’t think of everything, as it turns out, so now we have to deal with the Founders’ oversights. Come to think of it, why arbitrarily stop with the number two? Why not three or more parties? Restricting the institution of matrimony to couples clearly discriminates against Mormons, for example. Isn’t that religious discrimination?

Anticipating future judicial lunacies is quite a challenge, and amending the Constitution is a cumbersome method of meeting it. Impeaching judges or stripping them of jurisdiction might be better approaches, but these would also require a level of sanity in the state and federal legislative branches that no longer exists. At the official level, this country has gone plumb loco.

Welcome to democracy, folks. In a democracy, every form of discrimination is intolerable. It is our duty to be the opposite of discriminatory. In all things, equality requires us to be indiscriminate.


To most of us, and I emphatically include myself, the words “economics” and “financial” are arid signals of bafflement and boredom. I guiltily rush past them to get to the sports pages. I don’t really care how the dollar is doing on the world market today, even though I realize my own fate and the future of my beloved grandchildren are involved.

A startling book has me paying more attention. Empire of Debt: The Rise of an Epic Financial Crisis, by Bill Bonner with Addison Wiggin (John Wiley & Sons), contends that the United States is headed for no less than “catastrophe.”

Why? Previous empires have tried, with varying success, to live off tribute from their conquests; the United States, Read Joe Sobran's columns the day he writes them! perversely, has created a false prosperity by borrowing from poorer countries, building an enormous debt that has far outrun its ability to pay.

Bonner traces most of the trouble to Woodrow Wilson, a fool of colossal proportions. Wilson combined imperial ambitions with economic folly, backing the Federal Reserve System which, allegedly founded to stabilize the currency, has actually reduced the dollar’s real value, in less than a century, to that of a 1913 nickel. He also took this country into World War I, the first of many costly foreign misadventures. George W. Bush, equally blind and profligate, is his worthy successor in the final stages of America’s decline.

(Bonner also blames others for continuing this baleful tradition: Franklin Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and Alan Greenspan.)

Nothing could be further from the truth, in Bonner’s view, than Francis Fukuyama’s thesis that we have arrived happily at “the end of history.” The United States is only the latest of many empires Bonner surveys with cold-eyed detachment to succumb to the temptations of power; its follies have been aggravated by the delusion that it has been acting, every step of the way, for the benefit of all mankind.

It isn’t history that is coming to an end, but American prosperity. The superdebt is bound to collapse soon. Then Americans will bitterly learn the old lessons our ancestors knew, but which we thought didn’t apply to ourselves.

If you think Patrick Buchanan’s Death of the West was pessimistic, read Empire of Debt.

Cover Girl

By now I always get a little nervous when one of my old friends’ photos appears on the front page of the New York tabloids. On June 7, Ann Coulter was featured on the Daily News, with the headline “Coulter the Cruel” (subhead: “Right-wing author’s brutal Today show tirade on 9/11 widows” and “New book accuses victims’ wives of exploiting their grief”). The New York Post gave her similar coverage.

Well, nobody can accuse Ann of parroting the conventional wisdom! In her new book Godless: The Church of Liberalism, she calls four high-profile 9/11 widows “witches” and adds, “I’ve never seen people enjoying their husbands’ deaths so much.” She fires off red-hot opinions — the only kind she has — and doesn’t take refuge in context, nuance, and the safe middle ground.

If you wait for her to back off, you’ll wait a long, long time.

As William Blake said, “The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.” Ann’s most excessive-sounding opinions usually turn out to be right. And her wrath, though sincere, is full of fun and humor. When she’s wrong, I just stand back in the confidence that she’ll come around.

As Blake also said, “If the fool would persist in his folly, he would become wise.” And: “The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom.”

There He Goes Again

While most pundits are distracted by such ephemera as war in Iraq, federal spending, and global warming, one man is keeping his eye on the ball. Writing from Rome, Richard Cohen decried Pope Benedict’s “deafening silence” on, yes, the Holocaust.

Good old Richard! He never disappoints. The Pope had actually just spoken at Auschwitz, saying the pious things dignitaries always say there, but Cohen wasn’t taken in. He found the Holy Father insufficiently apologetic for the Church’s conduct during World War II, and for good measure got in a swipe at St. Maximilian Kolbe.

More and more often these days, I find myself agreeing with Cohen on other matters. I simply resign myself to the expectation that he’ll also keep writing these periodical monotonous tirades about the Church and the Holocaust.

It’s tempting to offer him a few facts, but it seems cruel to deprive an old-timer of his pet peeve.

“If Islam is a ‘religion of peace,’ why are there so many brawls in the NBA?” — SOBRANS. If you have not seen my monthly newsletter yet, give my office a call at 800-513-5053 and request a free sample, or better yet, subscribe for two years for just $85. New subscribers get two gifts with their subscription. More details can be found at the Subscription page of my website.

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Joseph Sobran

Copyright © 2006 by The Wanderer,
the National Catholic Weekly founded in 1867
Reprinted with permission

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