Imagine a state-run voucher program that allows parents to use their vouchers at any public or private school—a Montessori-style school, say, or a John Dewey–inspired “progressive” school, or an avowedly atheistic school, or a Catholic or Jewish school. Would such a program, by including religious as well as secular schools, constitute an illegal establishment of religion?
The U.S.’s stated plan to take out Iraqi president Saddam Hussein is deeply troubling. To begin with, the American people, including the leaders of Congress, have not been offered convincing evidence that Hussein is an imminent threat to the security of the U.S. or of Israel or of Iraq’s other neighbors. Further, it is not clear what would happen if Hussein were removed.
A massive public outcry greeted the ruling last month by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals declaring that the words “under God” in public school recitations of the Pledge of Allegiance violate the “no establishment of religion” clause of the First Amendment. Congress rushed to condemn the decision. President Bush termed it ridiculous and Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle called it “just nuts.
A senior Israeli official, listening to President Bush’s June 24 speech outlining U.S. policy on the Middle East, kept waiting to hear what pressure the U.S. was going to apply to Israel. He never heard it mentioned. “I thought all the way through the speech: this is the carrot, now comes the stick,” said the official. But “there was no stick.”
Many Americans have become born-again believers in patriotism since September 11, some to their own surprise. Writing the “My Turn” column in Newsweek, for instance, 20-something Rachel Newman confessed that before 9/11 she and her girlfriend had been talking about moving to another country because of the perceived inequalities in the U.S.
The United States is deeply divided regionally when it comes to violence, gun possession and the death penalty. Dividing the country into 11 different “nations” based on the predominant origins of its inhabitants and the resulting culture, Colin Woodard says Yankeedom (his label for the Northeast) and the Left Coast are most open to gun control and abolition of the death penalty. The Deep South, Appalachia, Tidewater and Far West regions contain the most adamant supporters of the Second Amendment and capital punishment, and they also have the highest rate of murders. If the deadlock between these two extremes is ever to be broken, it will come about through swing voters in the middle states (Tufts magazine, Fall).