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May 09, 2003 - Image 35

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-05-09

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Culture Wars Revisited

you have the right to adultery. You have
the right to anything," said Santorum.
I don't think so.
To be fair, most of the coverage of
the senator's remarks took them out of
the context of what is a complex legal
debate over federalism. Comparisons
with Mississippi Sen. Trent Lott's des-
picable defense of segregation were not
long in coming, along with calls for
him to step down from his leadership
position in the Republican caucus.
Despite his reputation as a brash
conservative, Santorum is a decent
man and a hardworking politician.
He's also been on the side of the
angels on most of the big issues of the
past decade, especially when it comes
to support for Israel.
Having said that, it must also be
said that Santorum was dead wrong
on a number of counts.
It's one thing to say that local sodomy
laws are not a federal matter. But it's
quite another to say, as Santorum did,
that he approves of such laws.
Nor is there a good argument to be
made that overturning laws that deal
with such behavior on the part of con-
senting adults will in any way effect
bans on bigamy and polygamy, let
alone incest.
Why did he go so far?
What this is about is that Santorum
believes that any decision that legalizes
practices that fall outside the category
Jonathan S. Tobin is executive editor of of sex between a man and a woman
within marriage "undermine[s] the
the Jewish Exponent in Philadelphia.
fabric of society."
His e-mail address is
Its easy to poke fun at the senator's

and, yes, even Jewish.
shaky legal logic and his clum-
The real dilemma for those
sy attempt to evade charges of
of us who truly care about the
prejudice against gays. But this
"fabric" of American society,
hullabaloo points to deeper
as well as maintaining civil
issues than Rick Santorum's
discourse on such issues, is
constitutional inability to stop
how do we remove the stigma
talking once he gets wound up
from gays without creating a
during an interview.
Most Americans like talk
JONATHAN society that stigmatizes reli-
gious conservatives.
about support for traditional
The point is, are we, as a soci-
values, but we view laws that
really prepared to say that
attempt to regulate sexual
no one who shares his belief
behavior as vestigial remnants
of an intolerant past. Even for those of that sex outside of a male-female mar-
riage is morally wrong and Should not
us who worry deeply about the decline
of two-parent families and the effect of be sanctioned by the state is unfit for
public office? Clearly not.
widespread illegitimacy on children,
At the same time, the senator and
the idea of a return to repression of
those who agree with him need to
behaviors that are deemed non-main-
understand that they must choose
stream is abhorrent.
their ground more carefully. If they
Talk about strengthening families is
truly believe that anti-sodomy laws are
good politics and good public policy,
but remarks such as those of Santorum leading to the breakdown of Western
civilization then, like those who
that are perceived as attacks on homo-
sexuals are as unhelpful to maintaining oppose abortion even in the case of
incest or rape, they are dooming
a civil society as they are hurtful to
themselves to the margins.
those who are targeted.
I am firmly in the camp of those liber-
But if these libertarian values are tri-
tarians who wish to end legal and social
umphing everywhere — even to the
prejudice against gays. But to pretend
point where state recognition of civil
that Rick Santorum and other social
unions or "marriages" between gays is
conservatives who express themselves less
growing — then what do those whose
clumsily are merely bigots when they
religious beliefs compel them to
worry about the cost to society, of the
oppose such measures do?
breakdown of the traditional family is as
As much as Santorum's remarks were
wrong-headed as it is short-sighted.
mocked in the press, the substance of
The bottom line here is that before
his opposition to the breakdown of tra-
we hastily choose sides in a revival of
ditional religious beliefs on sex repre-
the culture wars, we should remember
sents the deeply held views of many
the dangers that lurk in these waters. El
Americans who are Catholic, Protestant,

Israel's Resilient Spirit

on the Columbia. The tragic
embodies the essence of
end of that mission did not
diminish their heroism or
This spirit of resilience
their inspiration to the peo-
should send a clear message
ple of our two nations.
to those who seek our
Our economy, despite its
destruction: terror will not
current difficulties, remains
force us from our land. We
the strongest in the region
are here to stay. If they truly
and will undoubtedly regain
seek a solution to this con-
its momentum and vigor
flict, the negotiating table is
because the support of the
their only option.
world Jewish community and
We can be thankful that
At 55
the imagination, inspiration
Israel has outlasted yet
and dedication of the Israeli
another regime that sought
people are limitless.
our destruction.
We continue to absorb immigrants
We can be cautiously hopeful that
Jewish communities in distress so
new political developments in the
again will the Jewish people
region will lead to the ever-elusive
be the victims of a Holocaust.
peace we so desperately desire.
We can revel in the miracle that is
We can be proud of the unparal-
Israel, a thriving Jewish homeland
leled contributions to the world in
that our people created from the
science, technology and medicine.
ashes of the Holocaust after 2,000
This year saw the first Israeli astro-
of exile. Am Yisrael Chai.i, the
naut, Ilan Ramon, soar into the
of Israel Lives. H
heavens with his American comrades


n a media culture that thrives on
gaffes, Pennsylvania's junior U.S.
senator just became the flavor of
the week.
Rick Santorum managed the feat of
diverting the 24-hour news cable
channels away from the latest grisly
murder story and the aftermath of the
war in Iraq when he stumbled into a
flap over whether or not the govern-
ment has the right to declare sex
between homosexuals illegal.
The Republican did this by corn-
menting on a case under review by the
U.S. Supreme Court, which tests the
constitutionality of a Texas statute that
bans sodomy. Santorum does not
believe the Constitution prohibits
states from enacting such laws,
notwithstanding the right to privacy
that the court conjured up in the last
few decades to legalize abortion, as
well as contraception.
That's a controversial, if defensible,
position, but the senator went further
by posing a slippery-slope argument
that said that if sodomy laws were
trashed, then the government would
eventually be forced to legalize other
less palatable things.
"If the Supreme Court says that you
have the right to consensual sex within
your home then you have the right to
bigamy, you have the right to incest,



n the occasion of the 55th
anniversary of Israel's
Independence, I would like
to take the opportunity to
thank all of our friends throughout
the Midwest for their unwavering
support during this past difficult
year. You have no idea how impor-
tant it is to the people of Israel to
know that you stand in solidarity
with us.
Israel will continue to combat ter-
rorism in its neighborhood; we will
proudly stand beside the United
States and all nations that oppose the
scourge of international terrorism.
Since September 2000, the people
of Israel have endured nearly 32


Moshe Ram is consulate general of

Israel to the Midwest, based in Chicago.

months of terrorism. We mourn the
loss of more than 770 Israeli and
foreign lives in the terror, and share
the suffering of thousands more who
must live with the endless pain of

The Israeli people's
strength under fire
surely embodies the
essence of heroism.

life-altering injuries. Yet Israelis con-
tinue to pursue their daily lives —
going to school and work, going out
to clubs and restaurants. The Israeli
people's strength under fire surely

5/ 9


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