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Prejudice from the White House

By James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.

Due to political pressure generated by a letter from Congress and some disapproving publicity, White House advisor Sidney Blumenthal apologized last Saturday.

The event that prompted this expression of regret happened during a speech that Blumenthal gave at Harvard University in April. It was there that he described Hickman Ewing, the deputy of independent counsel Kenneth Starr, as a "religious fanatic."

Blumenthal's apology was offered after Representative Thomas Bliley, who along with over 50 House Republicans sent a letter to President Clinton asking him to repudiate the wholly offensive remarks.

It must be pointed out that the insulting words came from the mouth of an advisor to the president. Supposedly, this is an individual whose conversations are so important to the running of our government that executive privilege has been sought to protect his momentous utterances. President Clinton often speaks of acceptance and tolerance, but oddly enough in this case, he has refused to repudiate the disparaging comments.

The Blumenthal slip sheds light on what appears to be a deep-seated prejudice held by the current administration, and with a lack of appropriate outrage from the press, we can only assume that this animosity is shared by a vast majority of mainstream journalists. Simply stated, there is an ever-expanding bias against people who hold traditional religious beliefs.

Similar to his boss Kenneth Starr, Mr. Ewing is an active practitioner of a biblically based form of Christian worship. According to many of the cultural refugees from the 1960s, and there are several who are currently employed at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, this is an extremist's position.

This view of religious traditionalists has been fomenting over the last fifty years. The attacks initiated by the ACLU on any form of school prayer have resulted in a public educational environment that is completely secularized and sanitized. The only religious concepts that are acceptable for class discussion are the commonly recognized, politically correct, multicultural icons. Native American spirituality, New Age meditation and sacred earth devotion are regularly promoted in schoolrooms throughout the country.

We observed bigotry towards traditional believers in full bloom during the 1994 election campaign when Dick Fazio railed against the "radical religious right." We see it again in the frenzied howls of James Carville who just can't seem to restrain himself from linking the name of Jerry Falwell (intended as an epithet) with every conservative on his hit list.

Recently, the Clinton administration made history in another related religious matter of sorts, which may have been a contributing factor in the timing of Blumenthal's apology. Last Monday, an assembly of atheists known as the American Atheists was invited to the White House for a conference. This constituted the first time in American history that a formal meeting was conducted between an atheist organization and representatives for the president of the United States.

The American Atheists were buoyed by their meeting, and they view the prospects for the atheist agenda as promising. In full tolerance mode, a spokesperson for the White House said that the group was merely seeking a "place at the table" with respect to government programs.

Paradoxically, while the staff of our Chief Executive Officer is meeting with atheists, people in Washington, D.C. are routinely being arrested for engaging in public prayer.

President Clinton's silence on the words of Sidney Blumenthal speaks volumes. It underscores the hard cold fact that nowadays it is permissible for one class of people in our country to be the object of prejudice. Perhaps the administration should consider offering sensitivity training in how to deal with people of faith.

Copyright © 1999 -
James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.

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