Yes, Mr. Obama, Words Do Matter
by FRANK SALVATO
July 23, 2010
During the run up to the 2008 Presidential Election, then-candidate Barack Obama made it very clear that “words matter.” In fact, he thought so much of this notion that he plagiarized from a speech made by one of his friends, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick. During a stop in Wisconsin to chat with some of the Democrat Party and Progressive movement faithful, Mr. Obama pilfered Mr. Patrick’s words every so eloquently as he tried to convince potential supporters that he was a candidate that said what he meant and meant what he said. Truth be told, candidate Obama has turned out to be nothing more than a Progressive operative born of the Chicago and a devout Alinskyite.
The high-point of Mr, Obama’s speech to the Wisconsin crowd came in this well-documented rhetorical crescendo:
“Don’t tell me words don’t matter. ‘I have a dream’...just words? ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal’...just words? ‘We have nothing to fear but fear itself’...just words...just speeches?”
So, if words matter, as now-President Obama has declared, then we should be very concerned with a recent phrase that the President has become fond of using.
Beginning with his appearance at the Fort Hood memorial service for those slain and wounded by jihadist Nidal Hasan, President Obama started using the phrase, “Freedom of Worship,” instead of “Freedom of Religion,” as enshrined in the First Amendment of the US Constitution. While some may see this subtle change as a rhetorical appeasement to the Muslim World, the implications the change represents is far reaching.
At this point I will go on record as saying that I am a dysfunctional Catholic, meaning, I believe in the tenets of the Roman Catholic Church but I am a poor practitioner of my faith. I don’t regularly go to church. In fact, I am what the devout refer to as a “C&E Catholic.” A “C&E Catholic” is someone of the Catholic faith who only attends church on Christmas and Easter, the two most important days of the Catholic calendar. To be sure, my Mother and some of my more evangelical friends pray for my soul on a daily basis.
That said, I am not approaching this from a devoutly religious point of view but from a constitutional point of view. Truthfully, and many have written about this in the past, separating religious philosophy from the Constitution and the framing of the Charters of Freedom is akin to discussing the genesis of Symphonic music but excluding any discussion of Beethoven, Bach, Mozart or Grieg . But I digress...
The differences in meaning between the phrases “Freedom of Religion” and “Freedom of Worship” were well explained in an article titled, "Why Freedom of Worship is Not Enough." by Ashley Samelson:
“Any person of faith knows that religious exercise is about a lot more than freedom of worship. It’s about the right to dress according to one’s religious dictates, to preach openly, to evangelize, to engage in the public square. Everyone knows that religious Jews keep kosher, religious Quakers don’t go to war, and religious Muslim women wear headscarves—yet ‘freedom of worship’ would protect none of these acts of faith.
“Those who would limit religious practice to the cathedral and the home are the very same people who would strip the public square of any religious presence. They are working to tear down roadside memorial crosses built to commemorate fallen state troopers in Utah, to strip ‘Under God’ from the Pledge of Allegiance, and they recently stopped a protester from entering an art gallery because she wore a pro-life pin.”
Samelson rightly points out that if this rhetorical change would have happened only a few times one would be more inclined to dismiss the phrase as one of convenience. But President Obama has used the phrase consistently since introducing it at the Fort Hood memorial service. Bolstering the notion that this change in rhetoric is purposeful, since its introduction Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has taken to using the phrase as well.
The publication Christianity Today offers a theory by University of Missouri law professor Carl Esbeck that contends,
“The softened message is probably meant for the Muslim world...Obama, seeking to repair relations fractured by 9/11, is telling Islamic countries that America is not interfering with their internal matters.”
Where this theory may have some validity, the fact of the matter is that besides financial and military influence, the leadership of the United States has very little to do with the inner-workings of other governments, especially the inner-workings of Arab nation Islamic-sympathetic governments, sans any clandestine operations in play. Therefore, the shift in rhetoric from “Freedom of Religion” to “Freedom of Worship” simply has to be taken at face value and applied to American society, culture and government. When this onus is applied, the manipulation of language cemented in the First Amendment becomes egregious.
Anyone who has studied the Progressive movement in the United States understands that it is a movement born of the Marxist ideology emanating from the Frankfurt School. To that end, the Progressive movement achieves its goals through incremental victory. By this I mean that instead of taking a battle head-on, Progressives whittle away at a goal or issue, incrementally changing the “playing field,” as it were, until, at the moment of achievement, there is little left to do but to declare the goal a reality or the definition of an issue as decided upon.
Herein lays the danger in accepting the manipulation of words enshrined in the US Constitution and the Charters of Freedom.
As the public becomes used to hearing the change in rhetoric – from “Freedom of Religion” to “Freedom of Worship” – the intellectually disingenuous of the Progressive movement will start to capitalize on the change by redefining what the definition of the word “worship” means. A good example of this tactic of redefinition is the evolution of one of the Progressive movement’s most wicked initiatives, eugenics.
At the turn of the 20th Century, Progressivism brought forth Margaret Sanger, an unapologetic proponent of “birth-control” and a noted, and admitted, eugenicist. Sanger would later be credited with being the founder of what today is Planned Parenthood.
“Sanger’s reasons for advocating birth control stemmed, in part, from her views on race and heredity. She was a devoted eugenicist who advocated forced sterilization -- of the poor and the mentally deficient, in particular, who she believed were likely to produce ‘subnormal’ offspring -- for the purpose of improving society's overall gene pool. Examples of her ideas on selective breeding are found throughout her columns and newsletters. For instance, she wrote:
“‘It is a vicious cycle; ignorance breeds poverty and poverty breeds ignorance. There is only one cure for both, and that is to stop breeding these things. Stop bringing to birth children whose inheritance cannot be one of health or intelligence. Stop bringing into the world children whose parents cannot provide for them. Herein lies the key of civilization. For upon the foundation of an enlightened and voluntary motherhood shall a future civilization emerge.’
“‘The undeniably feeble-minded should, indeed, not only be discouraged but prevented from propagating their kind,’ Sanger elaborated.”
This brief history of Sanger is relevant for this observation regarding the Progressive penchant for redefining the meaning of words. The the definition of 'eugenics' is:
“...the study of or belief in the possibility of improving the qualities of the human species or a human population, esp. by such means as discouraging reproduction by persons having genetic defects or presumed to have inheritable undesirable traits (negative eugenics) or encouraging reproduction by persons presumed to have inheritable desirable traits (positive eugenics).”
Eugenics gave way to abortion as an invasive procedure in “contraception,” which gave way to “planned parenthood,” which introduced the “pro-choice” movement; from “eugenics” to “pro-choice”; from forced sterilization to rid the world of “the undeniably feeble-minded” to “a woman’s right to choose.”
A more recent example of Progressives using the tactic of redefinition came in then-President Bill Clinton’s famous line, “That all depends on what the definition of the words ‘is’ is.”
Given that Progressivism evolved out of the Marxist ideology, and that Marxism replaced God with “The State,” where religion and authority are concerned, we simply must be distrustful of Progressives when they purposefully edit, augment, omit or otherwise change the wording and/or definitions of basics tenets of Americanism...like the words used by the Framers and Founders in the Charters of Freedom: The Declaration of Independence, the US Constitution and The Bill of Rights.
Samelson rightly presents the following question in her article:
“The effort to squash religion into the private sphere is on the rise around the world. And it’s not just confined to totalitarian regimes like Saudi Arabia. In France, students at public schools cannot wear headscarves, yarmulkes, or large crucifixes. The European Court of Human Rights has banned crucifixes from the walls of Italian schools. In Indonesia, the Constitutional Court is reviewing a law that criminalizes speech considered ‘blasphemous’ to other faiths. Efforts to trim religion into something that fits neatly in one’s pocket is the work of dictators, not democratic leaders. So why then have our leaders taken a rhetorical scalpel to the concept of religious freedom?”
Aside from the fact that headscarves, niqabs, and burqas are not mandated by the Quran or the Hadith for Muslim women (modesty is mandated, but no “covering”), the validity of Samelson’s question remains intact: Why then have our leaders taken a rhetorical scalpel to the concept of religious freedom?
Personally, I have a horrifying inclination that is has much more to do with the 'fundamental transformation' of United States of America” than with a few innocent rhetorical misstatements.
This dysfunctional Catholic prays that he is wrong.
FamilySecurityMatters.org Contributing Editor Frank Salvato is the managing editor for The New Media Journal. He serves at the Executive Director of the Basics Project, a non-profit, non-partisan, 501(C)(3) research and education initiative.