2005-10-21 / Columnists

From the Editor’s Desk

By Howard Schwach

Nobody Asked Me, But …

…If you don’t think that the aim of the Neocons – the religious right, is to get the Bible and its teachings into our nation’s classrooms, listen to Rich Lowy, a respected Neocon columnist who writes for the New York Post and who has the ear of the president. “It’s time to get the Bible back in public schools and not through the back door of Creationism disguised as Intelligent Design,” he writes. “America is a Bible-soaked nation, from the Puritans to Abraham Lincoln to Martin Luther King Jr. Without a basic grasp of the Bible, it is impossible to understand the well-springs of our country and the basis of western civilization. Which is why it is a scandal that Bible education has been chased out of the schools and why the work of the Bible Literacy Project to put it back there is so admirable.” Make no mistake about it, the Christian right believes that everybody else is wrong and that out nation should be run on the basis of the Christian Church. The words “pluralism” and “diversity” are not in their vocabulary. What they seem to forget is that the Founding Fathers, all of whom were Christian, wrote the First Amendment to the Constitution because they understood that religion has no place in political decision-making in a pluralistic society.

…Another columnist, this time Michael Goodwin of the Daily News, makes me feel less lonely. For weeks, I have been writing the same thing that he wrote last weekend. He wrote, “In the Bible, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are named Death, War, Famine and Pestilence. If you are a New York City Democrat, they are named David Dinkins, Ruth Messinger, Mark Green and Fernando Ferrer. Like some ancient scourge, those four have taken turns killing off their party’s dream of winning City Hall.” Well said. Congressman Greg Meeks thinks that statements such as that are racist, but it is my contention that if something is true, it cannot be racist and that is certainly true. As Yogi Berra once said, “You could look it up.”

…The Senate voted recently 90 to 9 to set new limits on interrogating detainees at Guatanamo Bay and elsewhere. I have always believed that it is sometimes necessary to get information at any cost. For example, if it were known that another 9/11 type attack were coming and we knew that one of the detainees knew the details, would it be folly to allow that detainee to keep that information to himself? It’s a tough call. One Senator, John McCain knows all about the problem. He was a former prisoner of war during the Vietnam War and was treated badly by his captors, who wanted information about his squadron and its planes. The President has threatened to veto the bill, stating that it would limit his war on terrorism. McCain’s statement on the bill, however, hit home. “The enemy we fight has no regard for human life,” he said. “But this isn’t about who they are, it’s about who we are.” Perhaps he should be our President.

…Two local Democratic politicians have now endorsed Republican Mayor Michael Bloomberg in his race against Democrat Fernando Ferrer. The two, State Senator Malcolm Smith and City Councilman James Sanders, Jr., will probably get in trouble with the party, but those leaders didn’t support Sanders in the recent election in any case, and Smith has a safe seat in the state legislature. Ferrer has no chance of winning and we will probably see more and more Democrats endorsing him between now and the November 8 election.

…Ferrer is so desperate for votes (he has weak support in his own community) that he has brought back his “two cities” mantra that lost the primary election for him last time around. “Of course there are two cities,” Ferrer said responding to a question and citing the jobless rate among minorities, poverty statistics and school dropout rates. “You bet there are two cities, there’s nothing else to call it.” That mantra, basically the same campaign spiel as past Democratic candidates, will get him nowhere. I would not be surprised if Mayor Bloomberg won with 70 percent of the vote.

…A number of Queens politicians got together last week to decry the fact that many borough residents are paving over their gardens to make parking areas. What a surprise! What’s happening in Rockaway as in the rest of the borough is that parking rules have become more restrictive, forcing homeowners who once parked on the street and can no longer do so to look for alternatives – such as paving over the front lawn. We will see more and more of that in areas such as Rockaway Park and Belle Harbor, where restrictive parking regulations reign, particularly during the summer months.

…The Mayor and his police commissioner were absolutely right to put out a terrorist alert two weeks ago when the feds issued what they considered to be a credible threat to our transit system. Those who complain about the alert are simply seeking political advantage. Eric Adams, a police captain who usually sticks to racist rants, said that the alert was “more about public relations than public safety.” That is blatantly ridiculous. Equally as ridiculous is the whole brouhaha about some people being warned by “insiders” to stay away from Manhattan at the end of that week. Once again, our leaders are learning that common sense dictates that those in the know will try and protect their families. First of all, everybody should have been notified from the beginning, but you are not going to be able to legislate against a person with information calling his relatives and telling them to stay out of harms way without providing any classified information. That is just human nature.

Mayor Bloomberg recently announced that the city had partnered with major foundations and banks to launch a $200 million fund to help non-profit developers build more than 30,000 affordable housing units in New York City over the next ten years. Isn’t that a good thing? Not if the majority of those affordable homes wind up in Rockaway. The Mayor has already decided to change the Request For Proposal (RFP) for the eastern end of the Arverne Urban Renewal Area to allow for 20 percent of the new homes built there to be affordable homes. Now that the mayor has a plan and the money to implement that plan, he has to find the land. Where else but Rockaway, which already has more than its share of nursing homes, affordable housing, city housing projects and group homes? Watch for it to happen. Unfortunately, there is nothing the community can do to stop it except to protest, because our community board has no say about the building plan.

..I really wish the Manhattan media would assign somebody who knows about Rockaway to local stories. One Channel Two reporter stood in knee-deep water on Beach 67 Street and declared that she was in the “Auburn” section of Far Rockaway. Sure, she was!

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In your first column item you cite that religion has no place in politics, yet your second item makes reference to a book of the Bible in reference to former Democratic politicians. Secondly, you state bible-education advocates: “Make no mistake about it, the Christian right believes that everybody else is wrong and that out nation should be run on the basis of the Christian Church.” Yet the Old Testament contains the holiest writings of the Jewish faith. I believe you are shortsighted in your damnation of just Christian teachings.

One last point, the first amendment states: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. Nowhere does it state religion has no place in politics, it say there will be no state-sponsored religion, which is what the colonies faced in England.

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