Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Supreme Court Unable to Save Mojave Desert Memorial Cross from Desecration

Less than two weeks ago, on April 28th, five members of the Supreme Court decided to let an 8-foot war memorial cross stand in the middle of the Mojave Desert despite the objections of an Oregon man distressed by the possibility that he might someday drive through the Mojave Desert and, from the road, view that memorial cross, which had been erected in 1934 by members of the local post of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Against the possibility that the eyes of someone driving through the Mojave Desert might momentarily rest on an object he considers offensive, the cross has been covered with plywood for the last 10 years as the ACLU worked to have it removed from a desert preserve owned by the U.S. government. Over the weekend, "vandals" took it upon themselves to finally remove the plywood covering from the cross. A few hours later, on Sunday, when workers were sent to replace the plywood covering, they found that the problem of having a memorial cross exposed to public view had been solved, not by plywood, but by "by thieves who cut the metal bolts that attached the symbol to a rock in the sprawling desert preserve."

Authorities are suggesting that the cross was removed by "scrap metal scavengers."

Uh huh.

As reported by The Press-Enterprise of Riverside, California, the president of the Liberty Institute, one of the law firms representing the veteran caretakers of the Mojave desert cross, had this to say:
This is an outrage, akin to desecrating people's graves. It's a disgraceful attack on the selfless sacrifice of our veterans. We will not rest until this memorial is re-installed.
The VFW also promised that the memorial will be rebuilt:
"This was a legal fight that a vandal just made personal to 50 million veterans, military personnel and their families," National Commander Thomas J. Tradewell said.
The cross had been sitting on land controlled by the National Park Service until a transfer of the section of land on which the memorial cross stood could be transferred to the VFW in a land exchange ordered by Congress. That was a compromise that the plaintiff and the ACLU refused to accept. They adamantly fought to have the cross torn down before the land was transferred, which was the demand that brought the case to the Supreme Court. After hearing oral arguments, the court said:
The goal of avoiding governmental endorsement does not require eradication of all religious symbols in the public realm. . . . 
Of course, some people will never quite understand the protections afforded to society when the majority of its members honor such simple rules of conduct as "Thou shalt not steal."


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