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Taliban come to Los Angeles

Tuesday, Jun 8, 2004

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As a graduate student at Columbia University’s Russian Institute, my field of study was totalitarianism. I learned that a major characteristic of Soviet and other totalitarian regimes was their frequent rewriting of history. As a famous Soviet dissident joke put it:
“In the Soviet Union, the future is known; it’s the past which is always changing.”

Given the relationship between changing the past and totalitarianism, there is reason to be amply frightened by the current decision of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to change the seal of Los Angeles County. Solely because of a letter from the American Civil Liberties Union threatening a lawsuit against Los Angeles County, the Board voted three to two to remove a tiny cross from the seal.

To some people, this is not an important issue. These people do not understand what is at stake. But the ACLU knows what is at stake — the removal of religion, specifically Christianity, from American history; and the replacing of Judeo-Christian values with leftist ones. That is why it threatened a lawsuit and gave the Board of Supervisors almost no time to deliberate. Those with radical aims do not like exposure and public debate.

To understand the gravity of this issue and the intent of the ACLU and the three county supervisors, it is necessary to understand what the seal of Los Angeles County depicts.

There are six small panels, three going up and down each side of the central figure of the seal, which takes up the entire length of the seal.

The top left panel depicts engineering instruments; the panel below that a Spanish galleon; and the bottom left panel contains a tuna representing the fishing industry. On the right side, the top panel contains oil derricks; the next panel depicts the Hollywood bowl, along with two stars representing the movie industry and a small cross depicting, in the official words of the county, “the influence of the church and the missions of California.” The lowest right side panel contains a prize cow.

By far the largest object is the Goddess Pomona, the Roman goddess of gardens and fruit trees, who is depicted from top to bottom in the middle of the seal. The cross, as this description makes clear, is the smallest object in the seal. Actually seeing the seal makes its smallness even clearer. When I first looked at the seal, I didn’t even see it.

The cross represents the Christian history of Los Angeles County. It no more advocates Christianity than the Goddess Pomona advocates Roman paganism or the cow promotes Hinduism.

It is therefore a lie to argue Los Angeles County is pushing Christianity on its citizens.
As for the argument put forth by the ACLU’s Ramona Ripston that the tiny cross makes non-Christians feel “unwelcome,” as a Jew I find the comment equally absurd and paranoid. I have spoken to Los Angeles County rabbis of every denomination, and not one felt the cross should be removed, let alone felt “unwelcome.” By the same logic, vegetarians should feel particularly unwelcome in Los Angeles County, given that two panels depict animals as food.

The third dishonest argument is that of the three supervisors: They don’t want to spend county money on a legal defense that will probably lose. First, the ACLU’s argument is so specious that it will lose in courts where judges are not fellow leftists. Second, plenty of law firms and individual lawyers have volunteered to take the case pro bono. Third, one fights a good fight. Giving in to the ACLU’s threat is an act of cowardice — unless, of course, Supervisors Gloria Molina, Yvonne Brathwaite Burke and Zev Yaroslavsky agree with the ACLU aim of expunging Los Angeles County’s Christian past.

What we have here is an American version of the Taliban. The ACLU and the supervisors are leftist versions of the Taliban — attempting to erase the Christian history of America just as the Muslim Taliban tried to erase the Buddhist history of Afghanistan when they blew up ancient Buddhist sculptures in their country.

Los Angeles County is the largest county in America. If it allows its past to be expunged by a vote of three to two, America’s past is sure to follow. If you want to know what happens after that, ask any student of the Soviet Union.

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