Furor After Ceremonial Flag-Folding Readings Pulled From Military Funerals
A group of congressmen has asked the Department of Veterans Affairs to retain the tradition of reciting the significance of each fold in the flag-folding ceremony at military funerals. "The flag folding recitation is a longstanding tradition which brings comfort to the living and honor to the deceased," Rep. Heath Shuler, D-N.C., writes in his letter Tuesday signed by 11 other congressmen. "The recitations accompanying each fold pay tribute to the service and sacrifice of our veterans and their families, the nation they proudly serve, and the beliefs that they hold dear."
Veterans Affairs has a policy that allows for a full military funeral, which includes the playing of taps and the folding of the flag in respectful silence. Upon request, family can have honor guard read special recitations, which include religious symbolism.
A complaint was filed to the White House after one of those recitations was read incorrectly. Steve L. Muro, the director of the National Cemetery Administration's field programs office, ordered cemetery directors to stop the readings. "There are no federal laws related to the flag that assign any special meaning to theindividual folds of the flag," Muro wrote in a memo obtained by FOXNews.com. "The National Cemetery Administration must not give meaning, or appear to give meaning to the folds of the flag by endorsing or distributing any handouts on 'The Meaning of Each Fold of an Honor Guard Funeral Flag."
The stopping of the recitations has caused a furor among veterans. Members of the American Legion have been flooding national headquarters since the decision, according to Ramona Joyce, an organization spokeswoman. "To me, it's a slap in the face for every veteran, every member of the Memorial Honor Detail and every family of the deceased veteran," said Rees Lloyd, a member of the American Legion's Memorial Honor Detail for services at Riverside National Cemetery in California.
At issue are secondary meanings attached to the folding of the flag. As the honor guard makes the 13 folds - traditionally representing the original colonies - they recite "the first fold of our flag is a symbol of life, the second fold is a symbol of our belief in the eternal life, etc." A complaint about the recitation for the 11th fold - "in the eyes of a Hebrew citizen, represents the lower portion of the seal of King David and King Solomon, and glorifies, in their eyes, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob" - garnered a complaint and prompted the ban.
The Sept. 27 ban was an effort to create uniform services throughout the military graveyard system, spokesman Mike Nacincik said, adding the 13-fold recital is not part of the U.S. Flag Code and is not government-approved. "We definitely think it is a matter left up to the families," Joyce said. "It's a nice ceremony; we've been doing it for years. Our honor guards have been doing it," she said. "It's respectful and it's something the family should be able to choose to have done if they so wish for their veteran," Joyce continued.
Lloyd thinks it's a matter of political correctness gone wild. "The entirety of this issue is an absurdity that shows political correctness and secular cleansing run amok," Lloyd said. "This is about families of deceased veterans putting to rest their loved ones. No one should interfere with their choices."
The 12th fold recitation is geared to Christians, saying the fold "represents an emblem of eternity and glorifies, in their eyes, God the Father, the Son and Holy Ghost."
In the Legion's burning ceremony for the dignified disposal of unserviceable flags, a chaplain invokes the name of God with lines like "as they yield their substance to the fire, may your holy light spread over us and bring our hearts renewed devotion to God and country," Joyce said. "When we got back from the war, we didn't ask for a whole lot," said Bobby Castillo, 85, a World War II Navy veteran. "We just want to give our veterans the respect they deserve. No one has ever complained to us about it. I just don't understand."
Lloyd and Castillo are part of a 16-member detail that have performed military honors at more than 1,400 services. They were preparing to read the flag-folding remarks at the Riverside cemetery when graveyard staff stopped them.
Charlie Waters, parliamentarian for the American Legion of California, said he's advising memorial honor details to ignore the edict. "This is nuts," Waters told the Press-Enterprise by telephone from Fresno. "There are 26 million veterans in this country and they're not going to take us all to prison."
Nacincik said that while the flag-folding narrative includes references to God that the government does not endorse, the main reason for the new rules is uniformity. "We are looking at consistency," Nacincik said. "We think that's important."
Rabbi Yitzhak Miller of Temple Beth El said he understands the ban. "It is a perfect example of government choosing to ignore religion in order to avoid offending some religions," Miller said. "To me, ignoring religion in general is just as problematic as endorsing any one religion."
Shuler's letter urged Veterans Affairs to change its mind. "Please reconsider the policy and allow the Memorial Honor Detail volunteers to perform the traditional flag-folding recitation if requested by the family of the deceased," he wrote. Lloyd said the honor guard would decide whether to defy the ban next Tuesday, when it will serve at more military funerals. "We are going to abide by the wishes of the families," Lloyd said. "Not some bureaucrat in Washington, D.C. Period."
How Long Before the A.D.L. Kicks Out All its Jews?
by Ann Coulter
The Anti-Defamation League is to Jews what the National Organization for Women is to women and the ACLU is to civil libertarians. They represent not Jews or women or civil libertarians, but the left wing of the Democratic Party. In the paramount threat of our time, the Democratic Party is AWOL. And those are the patriotic Democrats. The rest are actively aiding the enemy. The blood of millions of Israelis is at stake, and the ADL is flacking for a party that yearns to surrender to the terrorists.
To hide the dirty little secret of the left's burgeoning anti-Semitism, liberals act as if they live in abject terror of right-wingers. When it comes to conservatives, the Anti-Defamation League is the Pro-Defamation League. For decades, most Jews supported the left, and the left supported Jewish causes. But the left moved on long ago. For liberals, Jews are just so "last Holocaust." The ADL gently chided Columbia University for making the "mistake" of inviting a genocidal, Holocaust-denying Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to speak. It tepidly criticized Ahmadinejad's speech for being "a charade of half-answers and obfuscation." That sounds like a fair description of Hillary's current stump speech.
The ADL and its ilk reserve their real venom for a beast like Dennis Prager -- a leading Jewish intellectual, author and radio talk show host. Last year, Prager made the manifestly obvious point that the first Muslim congressman, Keith Ellison, should take his oath of office not on a Quran, but on a Bible, in recognition of "the value system (that) underlies American civilization." According to the ADL, Prager's column was not a trifling "mistake" on the order of allowing an American audience at one of America's premier universities to give a standing ovation to a murderous, racist lunatic. Prager was "intolerant, misinformed and downright un-American." I think I'd take "obfuscation."
The relevant organs of pious liberal society were promptly rounded up to censure Prager, including the American Jewish Committee and two members of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council, Rep. Henry Waxman and former New York Mayor Ed Koch -- who called Prager a "bigot." Do they have Ellison on the record acknowledging whether the Holocaust happened?
The executive committee of the Holocaust Museum called Prager's column antithetical to "tolerance and respect for all peoples regardless of their race, religion or ethnicity." But you'll see that famed liberal "tolerance" dry up pretty fast if you render a simple statement of the beliefs of Christians. The usual liberal coterie acts shocked and offended by Christians who actually believe Christianity is true -- unlike Democratic politicians -- to conceal the fact that the left is increasingly dominated by people conniving in the destruction of Israel.
How about having Tim Russert ask Hillary if she believes the New Testament is the perfection of the Old Testament? She claims to be a Christian. Let's get it on the table: Is she or isn't she? It doesn't get any more bare-bones than that. Let the cat out of the bag that a 2,000-year-old religion practiced by a majority of Americans teaches that Jesus came in "fulfillment of the scriptures," and you might be better off if you had adopted the preferred approach of liberals' new friends the Muslims and simply slit the Jew's throat.
At least the ADL wouldn't object. They're too busy conspiring with the Council on American-Islamic Relations to denounce Dennis Prager. And promoting gun control. And gay marriage. And illegal immigration. You know, all the issues that have historically kept the Jews safe.
The ADL denounces the teaching of intelligent design, the placement of the Ten Commandments on public property and Bibles in public schools. Any entity that disagrees with them on these issues will be labeled an "extremist organization." Gosh, it's a good thing there isn't a worldwide terrorist movement dedicated to killing Jews. The ADL might have to tear themselves away from promoting faddish liberal causes.
The ADL is more concerned with what it calls the "neo-Nazis" and "anti-Semites" in the Minutemen organization than with people who behead Jews whenever they get half a chance. It's only a matter of time before the ADL gets around to global warming.
Earlier this year, the ADL issued an alarmist report, declaring that the Ku Klux Klan has experienced "a surprising and troubling resurgence" in the U.S., which I take it to mean that nationwide KKK membership is now approaching double digits. Liberal Jews seem to be blithely unaware that the singular threat to Jews at the moment is the complete annihilation of Israel. Why won't they focus on the genuine threat of Islamo-fascism and leave poor old Robert Byrd alone?
The ADL goes around collecting statements from Democrats proclaiming their general support for Israel, but it refuses to criticize Democrats who attack Joe Lieberman for supporting the war and who tolerate the likes of former congresswoman Cynthia McKinney. Sure, Hillary will show up at an ADL dinner and announce that she supports Israel. And then she gets testy with Bush for talking about sanctions against Iran in too rough a tone of voice. What does it mean for the ADL to collect those statements?
The survival of Israel is inextricably linked to the survival of the Republican Party and its evangelical base. And yet the ADL viciously attacks conservatives, implying that there is some genetic anti-Semitism among right-wingers in order to hide the fact that anti-Semites are the ADL's best friends -- the defeatists in Congress, the people who tried to drive Joe Lieberman from office, the hoodlums on college campuses who riot at any criticism of Muslim terrorists and identify Israel as an imperialist aggressor, and liberal college faculties calling for "anti-apartheid" boycotts of Israel. The Democratic Party sleeps with anti-Semites every night, but groups like the ADL love to play-act their bravery at battling ghosts, as if it's the 1920s and they are still fighting quotas at Harvard.
Earlier this year, Rep. Virgil Goode Jr., R-Va., said "in the next century we will have many more Muslims in the United States if we do not adopt the strict immigration policies that I believe are necessary to preserve the values and beliefs traditional to the United States of America." The ADL attacked him, saying, "Bigots have always hid behind the immigration issue."
Like the noose hysteria currently sweeping New York City, liberals are always fighting the last battle because the current battle is too frightening. Liberal Jews are on a collision course with themselves. They can't reconcile the survival of Israel with their conception of themselves as liberals. The liberal coalition has turned against them. Jews are out; Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is in. The new king knows not Joseph.
"English only" rule attacked in Australian factory
Workers at the Cochlear bionic ear factory in Lane Cove who have complained about the company's demand that only English be spoken in the workplace face dismissal. Cochlear's chief executive, Chris Roberts, refused yesterday to rule out retaliation against Lily Yin and Ken Zhang. The two manufacturing workers have spoken out in support of a colleague who has complained to the Anti-Discrimination Board about the English-only edict.
As the Herald revealed yesterday, an employee from Cambodia, Huy Kha, has protested that workers who speak a foreign language could be denied promotion to a higher job classification - and the pay rise that goes with it. Yesterday, Dr Roberts said Cochlear did enforce an English-only policy but it applied only to the production area, where employees of 20 different nationalities who worked in teams needed to speak in a common language. "When they are on the production floor, where safety is an issue, it is very important that we maximise the communication," Dr Roberts said.
After initially claiming that workers speaking a foreign language would not miss promotion, Dr Roberts conceded it could count against them. "Under the performance-based matrix, they need to demonstrate a number of values, including teamwork," he said. "If they are doing something in non-English that goes against teamwork, that would go against them."
Ms Yin and Mr Zhang - and the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, which covers about half the Cochlear manufacturing workforce - agree that staff should communicate in English when they are working, but say their managers have also banned foreign languages from the lunchrooms and even the bathrooms. Now they face disciplinary action and even the sack.
"I would be particularly concerned if what they said was untrue and if their motives were other than noble and . were really to be part of creating a dispute with the union," Dr Roberts said. "People just can't go off and criticise the company through misinformation."
Phil Pasfield, an employment lawyer and a partner at Slater & Gordon, said Cochlear's threats were "unwise". "If what they are saying is true, then they are not bringing the employer into disrepute because their employer is engaging in discriminatory behaviour," Mr Pasfield told the Herald. "This would not warrant disciplinary action, let alone dismissal."
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.