John Ashcroft as Attorney General. (12/26/2000)

On December 25, 2000 A. D., which stands as the final birthday of the Christian Savior at the precise end of the second millennium, and falling just seven days prior to that terminal point, the Sun (of God?) was eclipsed by the Moon. At virtually any other point in the past two thousand years, such an event would have sparked a heated theological debate about whether or not the eclipse signaled the beginning of the end of the Christian era, a possibility I am not at all unwilling to entertain. In most primitive European ideology, the moon was perceived as a feminine spirit essentially at odds with the masculine point of view of Christianity, which is one reason the Christian hierarchy was always so willing to burn witches, and to have the moon eclipse the Son of God on the final birthday of the Savior at the exact end of the final year of the millennium would have been taken as a sign, rightly or wrongly, that the power structures controlling natural forces in the universe had shifted from masculine to feminine domination. The sign of the eclipse would have spelled out the doomsday of Christianity and would have marked the inevitable coming of the AntiChrist.

As fate would have it, January 6, 2001 marks the day of the Feast of the Epiphany, which celebrates, symbolizes, and fixes the anniversary of the day on which Christ's divinity was revealed to the world. That is also the day on which the founding Fathers of American democracy specified that all newly elected members of the House of Representatives should be sworn into office just prior to receiving the final and certified votes of the Electoral College that determined who the next President of the US was going to be after the general election was held for that office every fourth year. Of course, as it turns out, George W. Bush's right to that office will be declared publicly and officially at a kind of political, if not wholly secular, Feast of the Epiphany on the anniversary of that ageless event. One cannot help but wonder at the curious way time works itself out in first giving us a solar eclipse on the last birthday of the Savior at the end of the second millennium which, symbolically at least, can be said to signal the end of the masculine domination of the world that Christianity has represented for two thousand years, just 13 days before George W. Bush is elevated, by official and public acclaim, to the highest office in American democracy and that on the day, again symbolically at least, which marks the anniversary of the Epiphany. The Fathers of American democracy knew that January 6 was the day of the Feast and meant by that choice of date to suggest that the presidential validation by the House of Representatives conferred something like a secular divinity, God's favor so to speak, on the person elected to that office.

If one were inclined to read the signs, as Christians everywhere used to do, would it not be appropriate to say that George W. Bush's epiphany is just as likely to symbolize a manifestation of anti-divinity as it is to signal something else, given the fact that it is scheduled to occur just 13 days after the eclipse of the Sun of God by the moon at the very end of the second millennium? And what other kinds of signs are there that might support such a reading of current events? I will, of course, overlook the fact that seven Supreme Court justices, each of whom can be said to represent one of the seven seals that were opened to usher in the reign of the AntiChrist, ruled in such a way as to insure that George W. Bush would become the 43rd President of the US, where 7 x 6 = 42 (and where 7 + 6 = 13), making him the first of 7 x 7 US Presidents to hold that office, where numerology of this sort is surely ridiculous and wholly beside the point; but, will instead focus attention on the fact that he has elected to nominate John Ashcroft as the next Attorney General of the United States.

Reading signs is a difficult and perilous occupation, surrounded on every side by dangers of misinterpretation guided only by the blind ignorance to the will and intent of divinity that afflicts the pitiful talents of human intellect when given the task of comprehending that which by definition cannot be understood. I say that only to caution the reader against taking anything else I might say with a grain of salt, since I am as likely to be in error as I am to stumble blindly across a single fragment of truth in anything that follows here. The nomination of John Ashcroft as Attorney General in the George W. Bush administration, while perhaps not the worst thing that has ever happened in the history of Western civilization, where only his confirmation by the Senate can exceed the problem his nomination represents, is nevertheless a troubling indication that the Bush administration intends to lead the political institutions of this country in every direction but the best one. I say that because John Ashcroft has been characterized, and has proven himself to be, a militantly devout Christian who necessarily elevates the Rule of God, a concept which cannot even be vaguely defined, above the Law of Man. That is a problem because the position of Attorney General of the US is not a religious office; rather, it is a position that has everything to do with the conduct of human relationships as they are defined by legal prescriptions of long-standing tradition and nothing whatsoever to do with anything that resides in the realm of how Christians define the way God intends for us to behave toward one another, as if that notion can even be expressed outside dictates of pure supposition, if not blatant superstition. Enforcing the US Constitution, which is precisely what the Attorney General does, has never fallen into the hands of a religious bigot.

One can say here that I have chosen too harsh a word as characteristic of John Ashcroft's ideological position. I defend that choice, however, on the simple ground that the first article of Christian faith holds forth the notion that if you are not a Christian, if you do not accept Jesus Christ as your savior, then the Christian God has already condemned you to eternal death. According to the Rule of God, then, as opposed to the US Constitution, which John Ashcroft has made clear he will enforce over and above the Law of Man, anyone in America who is not a Christian has committed a capital crime against God and society and punishment for that offense is death. Do I mean to suggest then that John Ashcroft as Attorney General will begin a program of genocide against non-Christians, since certain justification for doing so exists wholly within the apparent dictates of the Rule of God, which his faith embraces as absolute truth, even if following such a course certainly contradicts the Law of Man he will swear to uphold after his confirmation by the US Senate? When a conflict of interest between the Rule of God and the Law of Man arises, especially where the person judging the conflict is a devout Christian, an element of doubt about the validity of such a judgment cannot help but project itself into the wisdom of making such a nomination in the first place. As an act meant to unify and not divide an already sundered electorate, Ashcroft's nomination falls so far short of what it claims to be that any sensible person cannot view it as anything other than an affront to the very principle of impartiality, to fair and even-handed judgment, that must attend the essential function embodied in the appointment and in the eventual activities of an Attorney General.

From a native American point of view, and one which everything here is meant to reflect, the nomination of Ashcroft is little more than what one would expect of any President of the US and his predilection to the potential persecution of non-Christians, whether real or imagined for the future, is nothing more than an expression of the status quo, since, as a people, we have already endured 500 years of Eurocentric genocide directed against us and our culture and do not now expect that tradition to change by virtue of any election or appointment that might be made. In fact, from a purely selfish point of view, nothing could be better than the appointment of John Ashcroft as Attorney General. This is true because whatever divides Europeans in the Western hemisphere, whatever sets them at each others throats, so to speak, can only be of essential benefit to native Americans. The path George W. Bush is looking down seems to be one that will divide more than it can possibly unite. I cannot feel any apprehension about that.

Looking a little deeper into the potential for division in the months ahead, the issue of school vouchers is one that ought to play out very well in furthering the divide that separates classes in America. One function of the Attorney General is to warn Presidents, and Congress, when a potential bill expressing his agenda stands in violation of the US Constitution. Any school voucher program which provides money from the US Treasury to pay tuition for children whose parents want them to attend religious schools must be read as a violation of the First Amendment because it clearly prohibits the federal government from interfering in the establishment of religion. The federal government cannot promote any religious institution by providing monetary compensation to it in any form whatsoever just as it cannot also levy taxes against it. George W. Bush is apparently unconcerned by the fact that school vouchers violate the US Constitution and has appointed an Attorney General who also supports, apparently, and by virtue of the fact that he is a devout Christian, having the federal government subsidize religious education. On that single ground alone John Ashcroft violates his oath of office before he even swears to it. And just to put this in proper perspective from a native American point of view, the federal government has in the past supported religious education for a chosen segment of the population with devastating effects on the children who were supposed to benefit from it. Christian missionaries were given federal money to establish schools for native American children-schools meant to convert them from pagan to Christian belief systems. What that did was destroy native American culture. It was part of the genocide practiced against us for the past 500 years. My point in bringing it up here ought to be obvious, and certainly reflects the intent of the First Amendment-when the federal government interferes in the establishment of religion, nothing good can come of it.

A number of other problems also arise with the plan to subsidize private education in this country. In the first place, the amount of the gift the government is likely to make to parents who want to send their children to private schools, and who will choose to send them to public ones if choice means what I think it does, will not be large enough to pay the burden of private school tuition. It will unquestionably ease the burden for people who can already afford to send their children to private schools, since they will pay less of their own money with a voucher, but it will not be enough to cover the expense for people who cannot afford that luxury now. Hence, only the wealthiest people in America will benefit in any way from a school voucher program. This fact, furthermore, is absolutely inevitable for another reason; that is, there are no classrooms available in private schools now in which any child can be taught with or without a school voucher. The only children who will be able to attend private schools next week, after the voucher program is set in place, will be the ones who are already enrolled in private schools now. Since there is no room for more students in private schools, only the wealthiest parents will be able to use the voucher because no one else will be able to find a classroom for their child in a private school. What that means, of course, is that the school voucher program is nothing more than another hidden tax break for the people in this society who need it less than anyone else does. In fact, the people in this culture who now pay more tax than they can reasonably afford are going to be forced to subsidize the educational expenses of the people who can already afford to send their children to private schools, while their own children remain trapped in public schools that have even less chance, and significantly reduced means, to educate them properly. The children of the rich will benefit at the expense of the children of the poor, which seems incredibly unfair except for the fact that the whole point of what George W. Bush means when he says that no child will be left behind is precisely that. Put differently, what Republicans mean when they say that, as time will or will not verify in the actions of George W. Bush, is that no child who really matters will be left behind. Everyone else will be left to fend for themselves.