Under the burning cross

February 28, 2009

klan2I see by the papers that the Nebraska Supreme Court came down on the side of common sense this week by upholding the dismissal of a state police officer who joined a branch of the Ku Klux Klan. The subject of the ruling, Robert Henderson, joined the Knights Party in 2004 and resigned in 2006. He joined in the first place because his wife left him for a Latino man. Henderson, I gather, was not a student of logic. His defense contends that the court has brushed aside Henderson’s First Amendment rights – an interesting argument to make on behalf of a man whose own view of other folks’ rights is, to put it mildly, suspect. That, of course, wouldn’t justify mitigating his citizenship, but the state’s position isn’t that Henderson couldn’t belong to the Klan, but that he couldn’t belong to the Klan and be a sworn law-enforcement officer. Presumably, Nebraska also wouldn’t want a police officer to join a group that promotes pedophilia. The objection from his defense that Henderson strictly kept his racial views to himself while he was on duty somehow isn’t reassuring. One would rather that Henderson wore his hood on duty so that a black or Latino motorist stopped on a dark stretch of highway would know what and whom he was dealing with. This case isn’t done, and it might wind up before the U.S. Supreme Court where an argument either way from Justice Thomas could make for compelling reading.


“Never again”?

February 28, 2009

I once read a caveat about words – that even God can’t kill them once they’re said. I don’t know if that’s theologically correct, but it applies in my mind to Richard Williamson, the pseudo-bishop who thinks the Holocaust has been exaggerated if it took place at all. Williamson is a reactionary who wouldn’t accept the reforms of the Second Vatican Council and went off into the ultraconservative Pius IX society to play at being a Medieval Catholic. Among the games was his ordination as a bishop. Benedict XVI, trying to end the schism, agreed to allow Williamson and four other priests back into the Church, but Williamson embarrassed the pope and made himself a laughing stock by questioning in an interview many aspects of the Holocaust that are well documented – by the Nazis themselves, among others. The Vatican responded to the furor that followed that statement by saying Williamson would have to recant that statement if he expected to function as a Catholic bishop. All he has done is issue a statement saying that he’s sorry he caused such a fuss. The Vatican rejected that statement and said again that Williamson must explicitly disavow any question about the reality and the dimensions of the crimes committed against Jews and others during World War II. There was nothing ambiguous about the Vatican’s position, so Williamson’s statement was obviously disingenuous. No matter what he says now, he should not function as a priest, never mind a bishop. Instead, he should be put to work recording the reminiscences of the GIs who liberated those death camps.