Monday :: May 5, 2008

Joe McCarthy Would Be So Proud

by Turkana

To the point, from the Los Angeles Times:

When Wendy Gonaver was offered a job teaching American studies at Cal State Fullerton this academic year, she was pleased to be headed back to the classroom to talk about one of her favorite themes: protecting constitutional freedoms.

But the day before class was scheduled to begin, her appointment as a lecturer abruptly ended over just the kind of issue that might have figured in her course. She lost the job because she did not sign a loyalty oath swearing to "defend" the U.S. and California constitutions "against all enemies, foreign and domestic."

The loyalty oath was added to the state Constitution by voters in 1952 to root out communists in public jobs. Now, 16 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, its main effect is to weed out religious believers, particularly Quakers and Jehovah's Witnesses.

As a Quaker from Pennsylvania and a lifelong pacifist, Gonaver objected to the California oath as an infringement of her rights of free speech and religious freedom. She offered to sign the pledge if she could attach a brief statement expressing her views, a practice allowed by other state institutions. But Cal State Fullerton rejected her statement and insisted that she sign the oath if she wanted the job.

Quakers seem to be a serious threat to our national security.

In February, another Cal State instructor, Quaker math teacher Marianne Kearney-Brown, was fired because she inserted the word "nonviolently" when she signed the oath. She was quickly rehired after her case attracted media attention.

It is hard to know how many would-be workers decline to sign the pledge over religious or political issues. Some object because they interpret the pledge as a commitment to take up arms. Others have trouble swearing an oath to something other than their God.

Public agencies do not appear to keep a record of people denied employment over the oath. Union grievances and lawsuits are rare.

And who knows how many good dangerous educators have been weeded out of ths system by that chilling effect. But Kearney-Brown was reinstated, after her situation became public. Which makes me feel a whole lot less safe. But at least Cal State has a history of also trying to prevent other pacifists from infiltrating their system.

In 2001, Cal StateDominguez Hills dismissed geography lecturer Alejandro Alonso after he refused to sign. He said at the time that he identified with the Jehovah's Witnesses and that swearing an oath to anyone but God violated his religious beliefs.

Before that, it was another religion and another enemy of the people.

In 1995, Methodist minister Bud Tillinghast was teaching a course on comparative religion at Humboldt State University, when he was pulled out of class by campus police and fired because he had not signed the oath.

And just in case you're worried that this critically important protection of all things American might be eliminated by smelly commie hippie radical liberal long-hairs...

Efforts to remove the oath from the state Constitution have been unsuccessful, although the matter came under scrutiny in 1998 when a congressional subcommittee held a hearing on religious freedom.

I would love to hear the arguments against removing the oath, but then, some say I do need a haircut.

Turkana :: 3:15 PM :: Comments (7) :: Digg It!