Despite the wholly inappropriate and distracting pep rally sound track, there were some moving moments in last night's memorial service at the University of Arizona for the victims of Saturday's Safeway massacre in Tucson.
But one thing that ought not be allowed to pass by without comment was how the event illustrated as no other public commemoration in recent memory what is really meant when the doctrine of “separation of church and state” is invoked by proponents of liberal multiculturalist conventional wisdom.
The service was organized by a state university, of which there are no more secularized or politically correct institutions in this country.
Thus, it was no surprise that not a single representative of the Christian or Jewish faiths was included on the program despite the fact their religious faiths were vital elements in the lives of many of the victims of the massacre.
And surely among the thousands of citizens of Tucson who attended the service there were a significant number for whom their churches or synagogues occupy central roles in their daily lives, especially since a Google search for “churches in Tucson” turned up 938 pages of listings. And on any given Sunday, most of those in the national television audience for the service would be found in a church or synagogue.
But no Catholic priest, Baptist minister or Jewish rabbi was included in the program. What was included was a rambling “Native American Blessing” at the outset of the program. This blessing provided a stark statement of pantheistic paganism, including forthright declarations concerning “Father Sky,” “Mother Earth” and the “Creator.”
Regardless of one's view of Pantheism, its prominent inclusion at the opening of a memorial service on a state-run university campus featuring a lengthy list of public officials would seem, by the familiar expressions of liberal multicultural conventional wisdom, a blatant violation of separation of church and state.
It was something else, too. Organizers made a conscious choice to exclude participation by a priest, minister or rabbi, just as they made a conscious choice to include the Native American blessing. The program was thus a statement of exclusion: Separation of church and state only applies to people of Christian or Jewish faith.
Fortunately, the organizers could not control the content of the speakers' presentations. President Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano all included moving passages of Old and New Testament scripture, thus connecting them and their listeners to the most comforting language, symbols and values shared by the vast majority of Americans.
No one, of course, should question Carlos Gonzalez' right to practice whatever faith he chooses and to display it in public as he thinks best, or deny that his invocations of his love for America were entirely appropriate and inspiring. We should all be thankful for the service of his son in Afghanistan as well.
That said, it ought to be recognized that his religious beliefs and practices were used by the few to send a message of exclusion to the many, thus illustrating the utter hypocrisy of at the heart of multicultural political correctness.