Solomon Is No Solomon
For shame. For shame that a newspaper that masquerades as serving the entire community of the Rockaways should allow such blatantly anti-Christian and particularly anti-Catholic slurs to find a platform to spew hatred in the form of Dan Solomon’s polemic “What a Friend We Have in Congress” (3/2/12).
Beginning with the title, an obvious parody of the spiritual hymn “What a Friend We Have in Jesus,” the inaptlynamed Solomon decided to see how much bile he could fit into a printed page, first by launching a needless ad hominem against Bob Turner, then attacking the man’s religious beliefs. I don’t think we need to get into the details of why Mr. Solomon really needn’t be making fun of Christian spiritual music, so I won’t dwell on that here. But don’t worry, because Dan gave us lots of other stuff to be nauseated by.
Dan Solomon obviously was not happy with Bob Turner’s victory last November. He takes a few cheap shots at Turner, alleging that Turner is in favor of the TransCanada Keystone XL Pipeline program for purely personal financial gain. He conflates this theory by saying that because Turner owns stock in several oil companies, he is not to be trusted. Since every single retirement plan on the planet has stock in oil commodities, this argument is fatally flawed.
Aside from the flawed logic, a baseless insinuation that Bob Turner is corrupt really shouldn’t have made it past the editor’s desk. You disagree with his politics, fine, vote for the other guy in the next election. But to make a completely false allegation impugning a man’s character, a man who is your neighbor, a father and grandfather, and with not one scintilla of evidence, is beyond irresponsible, beyond partisanship.
It’s simply wrong.
One has to wonder why Dan Solomon thought it was okay to just make stuff up about Bob Turner. One has to wonder why the editor’s desk didn’t demand more accountability from its columnist. Solomon says that Turner belongs “at home on his sofa,” presumably with the rest of the retirees, an ageist statement that Solomon lacks the guts to say but will insinuate, nonetheless.
Not content to try to argue politics and hurl baseless slander (Dan apparently thinks that Anthony Weinergrabber should still be representing us and supporting Israel is a bad idea), and ignoring the fact that Bob Turner won a convincing victory over the last handpicked political insider to represent the Rockaways, Solomon decides to educate us all on his grasp of syntax, Catholic doctrine and the Constitution. And here is where Dan slides right off the deep end, from calumny against one man to bigotry against an entire community.
Taking issue with Turner’s support for the right of the Catholic Church not to be forced to pay for abortions and other medical services that are contrary to its beliefs, Solomon states that “the Free Exercise clause comes after the Establishment clause, which states, ‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.’ ” And that’s where Dan stops. And that’s where Dan’s wrong, because the period that he adds at the end of that sentence isn’t in the Bill of Rights. In fact, the First Amendment says exactly this: 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. (Emphasis added) It is all one sentence, it’s a single thing.
The Obama HHS mandate expressly violates this amendment by compelling Catholic institutions to act in direct contravention to their faith. One has to wonder, is Dan not that strong of a reader or did he intentionally leave out half of the First Amendment?
Dan Solomon claims that “the issue of contraception is not about religious liberty, it is one of women’s health.” Mr. Solomon gets it wrong on too many levels to count here. The issue of contraception is most assuredly about religious liberty when persons of faith are compelled to pay for services that they find not merely morally reprehensible, but unacceptable because they are in direct contravention to their beliefs.
The cases Solomon cited, (Reynolds v. U.S., Jacobsen v. Mass., and Oregon v. Smith) indicate that the free exercise of religion may be restricted when it contravenes secular law. Dan Solomon claims that Conservatives allegedly flub basic historical questions, but what does he have to say about liberals who intentionally fumble basic grammar and usage? A “may” is not must, and a law is not the same as an HHS guideline handed down by an unelected bureaucrat.
Also, let’s look at the cases Dan cites: Reynolds v. U.S. dealt with polygamy and held that religious obligations were not a suitable defense to a criminal act, and unless Dan thinks being a Catholic is a crime (which he very well might), I don’t see his point; Jacobsen v. Mass. dealt with a public vaccine program and ruled that the state could encroach if the safety of the general public demanded it, and since I don’t see a lot of fetuses out there committing crimes, occupying things or engaging in acts of domestic terrorism, there’s no point to this argument either; Oregon v. Smith held that the state may accommodate otherwise illegal acts but was not required to do so. It is ironic that Solomon cited this case in particular since, in the end, it encourages the state to accommodate the religious beliefs of its inhabitants, not trample them. And there’s that pesky “may” again.
Solomon is factually wrong as well. For example, Dan insists that James Madison was not a Founding Father. Well, Dan, the History Channel, and History.com say otherwise. From History.com’s website about the Founding Fathers, “James Madison (1751-1836) was a founding father of the United States and the fourth American president, serving in office from 1809 to 1817.”
Solomon contends that because so many of the Founders and Framers were Deists, Catholicism has no place in the discussion. Let us leave aside for the moment the fact that by this logic African Americans, Latinos, Jews, Asians, Pacific Islanders and pretty much the whole rest of humanity would be left out of the conversation as well, and focus on the fact that Solomon is factually wrong again.
Anti-Catholic bigotry is nothing new in the United States. In fact, at the time of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Catholics in all but a few of the American colonies were forbidden by law from holding elected office (and had been since 1689), so it would be no surprise that most of the signers were not Catholic or adherents of Catholic doctrine (sounds like your kinda place, huh Dan?). But there were two Catholic signers of the Declaration, Daniel Carroll of Maryland and Thomas Fitzsimmons of Pennsylvania.
In fact, Daniel Carroll was from a devoutly Catholic family; his brother was a priest who was later consecrated the first Bishop in the United States. George Washington wanted Carroll with him on his mission to secure French assistance for the Revolution, specifically because he was Catholic.
As for the Founders and Framers not wanting religion in the public square, no less a free thinker than Benjamin
Franklin frequently raised subscriptions for donations to help build churches and parsonages throughout Philadelphia. Tell me Dan, who’s flubbing the historical facts now?
And of course Dan is “obliged” to make what he himself acknowledges is a gratuitous attack on Catholic doctrine. “The Catholic Church’s attitude toward contraception is positively medieval. At Vatican II, it should have been abandoned along with the Tridentine Mass and attempts to convert us Jews.”
Then Mr. Solomon makes a really creepy statement about abortion, and blames the Catholic Church in the process: “Indeed the Church has paralyzed family planning efforts in the developing world by telling believers to eschew condoms in favor of the rhythm method, allowing HIV and other STDs to be spread much more easily and paradoxically resulting in more abortions.”
Consider two things: first, Dan does not understand the difference between safe sex and birth control; and second, taking Dan’s logic to its conclusion he recommends abortions for children born with HIV/AIDS or STDs. Then he goes on to blather that “98 percent of them use contraception.” Just where Dan Solomon got this figure from can only be imagined.
Furthermore, the Tridentine Rite is not abandoned. If a Catholic wants to attend the Tridentine Rite Mass, he or she can do so. In fact, I recommend it, it is a beautiful liturgy. As for attempts to convert people, every religion proselytizes.
It is in the nature of all religions, political affiliations and philosophies to attempt to gain converts, to seek out new members by explaining to them their precepts and foundational beliefs and to show people how these beliefs can improve their lives. Dan doesn’t think this is okay. If it will make you feel better Dan, don’t worry, I won’t try to baptize you. I wouldn’t waste the water.
You know, it wouldn’t be so bad if this was printed by some thoughtless dunderhead in one of New York’s trashy tabloids, but this is the community’s local paper. These are your friends and neighbors that you’re insulting here, Dan. You would do well to learn a little respect for the faiths of others.
MICHAEL L. NOONE