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The Things That Are Caesar's
Lew Rockwell ^ | 12/27/01 | Joseph Sobran

Posted on 12/27/2001 1:35:48 AM PST by Ada Coddington

The Things That Are Caesar's
by Joseph Sobran

Nutty boy, John Walker Lindh. But why is everyone so furious at him?

By now you've heard all about him. Born a Catholic, he lived in the Maryland suburbs of Washington until he was ten. His family moved to crazy Marin County, Calif. His mother dabbled in Buddhism.

A bright, likable boy and a superior student, with a good sense of humor, John became a Muslim in his teens and went off to Yemen, changing his name to Suleyman al-Faris. He found the Muslims there disappointingly lax in their observance of Islam, so he migrated to Afghanistan and joined the Taliban, fighting in a local war under the name Abdul Hamid.

His parents, who eventually divorced, lost track of him until he turned up as a prisoner of war in early December. He was wounded in the leg during the prisoner uprising that killed one American CIA agent who had interrogated him.

His parents were shocked, both by his role and by his strange appearance – Islamic costume, beard, dirty face, long matted hair – but they defended him as well as they could. That is to say, awkwardly. How do you explain "my son, the Taliban"?

Newsweek reports that his parents "tried to be nonjudgmental, even supportive, about his conversion"; last week, in interviews, his father still "steadfastly refused to be judgmental."

Meanwhile, everyone else called John a "traitor." Many are demanding that he receive the death penalty. The US government wants to throw the book at him. But there are also doubts as to whether he is legally a traitor; though technically still a US citizen, Congress hasn't declared war as prescribed by the Constitution. And there may not be the two required witnesses to confirm that he actually made war against the United States.

I guess I understand the indignation, but I don't share it. What is all the uproar about a single eccentric? Is it amazing, or shocking, that a country this big should produce such a freak, or even a few more like him? Letting him off is hardly likely to encourage hordes of young Americans to follow his bizarre example. There is no need to make an example of a unique case.

No, Lindh's significance is purely symbolic. He affronts prevailing notions of American patriotism. But he effectively renounced his citizenship, even if he didn't do the paperwork, and he transferred his allegiance to another country. How was he supposed to know it would be attacked by US forces? If Cassius Clay could become Muhammad Ali, why can't John Walker Lindh become Suleyman al-Faris? "In the U.S. I feel alone," he once said. "Here I feel comfortable and at home."

Of course, he has also said outrageous things, defending, for example, the 9/11 attacks and general terrorism against the United States. But to me the most interesting fact is the dog that hasn't barked. Nobody seems to mind that Lindh renounced Jesus Christ.

You can repudiate your Savior, but not your nation-state. Your religion is a private affair, which nobody else can judge, not even your family; but political loyalties are indissoluble.

If Lindh had stayed here, become an abortion provider, and attached a little American flag to his Mercedes, he would still qualify as a good American.

Even his parents don't mind his change of religion. Why should they? They abandoned the faith themselves. It evidently wasn't a serious commitment for them; neither was their marriage. They were typical modern Americans – indeed, Californians – and they believed in doing your own thing.

John's thing just happened to be Islam. He is reported to have complained that Americans were so busy pursuing their personal goals that they had no time for their families or communities. He seems to have been generalizing from his own parents. And he had a point.

It looks as if what he was really trying to escape was the soulless relativism that was his real religious heritage. Did he ever receive a true Catholic education, or did he, as we say, just "happen to be" a Catholic? Did he encounter the faith in its fullness, or did it appear to him just one more feel-good, nonjudgmental denomination in the great American smorgasbord?

Maybe he felt closer to God in Islam than in liberal Catholicism. And maybe he was right. The Taliban is pretty far from God, but perhaps not as far as lukewarm Christianity.

In his odd way, Lindh was looking for stable truths that were not to be found in Marin County, and he didn't care if his search led him to conclusions that seemed insane to the apostles of pluralism.

Given time, he might even have come back to the true Catholicism he probably never knew. It's not impossible even now. I'd be more surprised if his parents came back to it.

But in the media, Lindh the Traitor has upstaged Lindh the Apostate. Politics matters, religion is incidental. If the logic of Lindh's adoptive religion leads him to political heresy, he is condemned for following his religion – just as pro-lifers are blamed for refusing to subordinate their religion to a court decision.

So the strangest story to emerge from the War on Terrorism throws a revealing light on what America has become. The message of the press and public reaction is clear. We have the secularist culture's full permission to rebel against God, but not against Caesar.

Nobody seems to see sin, or pathos, in John Lindh's estrangement from Christ.

But at least Lindh realized that he had a soul. This explains just about everything the media and the public find baffling about him.

Reprinted from the December 20, 2001, issue of The Wanderer.

Joe Sobran is a nationally syndicated columnist. He also edits SOBRAN'S, a monthly newsletter of his essays and columns.

He invites you to try his new collection of aphorisms, "Anything Called a 'Program' Is Unconstitutional: Confessions of a Reactionary Utopian." You can get a free copy by subscribing or renewing your subscription to Sobran's. Just call 800-513-5053, or see his website, www.sobran.com. (He's still available for speaking engagements too.)

Copyright (c) 2001 by Griffin Internet Syndicate. All rights reserved.


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1 posted on 12/27/2001 1:35:48 AM PST by Ada Coddington (ACoddington@Compuserve.com)
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To: Ada Coddington
Nonjudgemental or judgemental, that is the question. Clearly God wants us to make judgement calls as we walk through this life He has given us. If the young man in question had used better judgement, we would not be having this discussion.

The obvious is painful, hence the "judgemental" question, this young man committed an act of treason by taking up arms against the country of his birth. The death penalty is appropriate in this case.

2 posted on 12/27/2001 1:49:46 AM PST by exnavy
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To: Ada Coddington
No one knew / knows Philip Nolan's religion, and it has NEVER mattered ! Maybe Sobran needs a refresher course in patriotism 101 .

Perhaps he also needs better research help , as well. There HAVE been articles, and talking heads , who have been just as hard on Johnny Jihad, and his parents, about his converting to Islam. It is also ridicculous, that Sobran doesn't know that American born citizens are proscribed from going overseas, and fightig in other nation's Civil Wars.

Only those with VERY little knowledge, can read this drivel and applaud it.

3 posted on 12/27/2001 1:52:56 AM PST by nopardons
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Somehow, I doubt that practicing religion brings one closer to God. I think he's equally close to all of us.
4 posted on 12/27/2001 1:54:53 AM PST by tgiles
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To: exnavy
The obvious is painful, hence the "judgemental" question, this young man committed an act of treason by taking up arms against the country of his birth.

No war, no treason.

5 posted on 12/27/2001 2:00:21 AM PST by Ada Coddington
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To: Ada Coddington
beg yer pardon?
6 posted on 12/27/2001 2:14:04 AM PST by wafflehouse
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To: Ada Coddington
I agree with most of the article, but I lose Sobran when he compares losing your religion with treason. Yes, loss of faith is more important to God than loss of patriotism, but you cannot prosecute someone for loss of faith -- at least not in the United States. You can prosecute someone for treason, of course. If Sobran is suggesting that it should be the other way around, he's severely deluded.
7 posted on 12/27/2001 2:28:59 AM PST by RussP
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To: nopardons
"It is also ridicculous, that Sobran doesn't know that American born citizens are proscribed from going overseas, and fighting in other nation's Civil Wars."

Not true--what they are proscribed from doing is taking up arms against the U.S. or giving aid/comfort/assistance to enemies of the US. If the "civil war" is one in which the US is not involved, they can go fight in it any time they want (see Jewish US citizens fighting in the Israeli army, or the leftist "Lincoln Brigade" in the Spanish Civil War to pick just two examples).

8 posted on 12/27/2001 3:01:14 AM PST by Wonder Warthog
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To: Ada Coddington
"NUTTY" Johnnie Boy, is Still a TALIBAN TERRORIST AND A TRAITOR!

How do we know if it was not Johnnie Boy's Terrorist Taliban Bullets that Killed...Murdered our CIA Agent Mike Spann???

When found Guilty..."NUTTY" Johnnie Boy should either be HANGED BY HIS DISGUSTING TRAITOROUS NECK ~ OR ~ Sent To Sit On Old SPARKY To FRY..HIS "NUTTY" Behind!

AND...SHAME ON HIS PARENTS For allowing their "NUTTY" Little Johnnie Boy to run off and become what he is TODAY:

A TRAITOROUS MURDERER WITH INNOCENT BLOOD ON HIS HANDS AND HEAD!

I wonder if these two have gone to New York City to "SEE" for themselves what: THEIR..."NUTTY" Little Johnnie Boy HELPED to do to INNOCENT AMERICANS AND OTHERS.

THE PARENTS OUGHT TO BE JAILED FOR THEIR FAILURE TO BE PARENTS...Self Serving Socialistic, New Age Humanists!

AND...They ought to take X 42 and HillzeBeast along with them!

WHAT A LEGACY THAT THEY ALL LEAVE IN THEIR WAKE.

GOD'S JUDGMENT DAY IS COMMING!

9 posted on 12/27/2001 3:01:31 AM PST by Simcha7
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To: wafflehouse
beg yer pardon?

She said, "No war, no treason" and she may very well be correct. The United States of America has not officially declared war upon anyone. That is a very important technical sticking point in regards to trying him or anyone else for treason in this circumstance.

10 posted on 12/27/2001 3:23:36 AM PST by riley1992
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To: NoCurrentFreeperByThatName
Ping
11 posted on 12/27/2001 3:24:12 AM PST by riley1992
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To: riley1992
Thanks for the flag.

Meanwhile, everyone else called John a "traitor." Many are demanding that he receive the death penalty. The US government wants to throw the book at him. But there are also doubts as to whether he is legally a traitor; though technically still a US citizen, Congress hasn't declared war as prescribed by the Constitution. And there may not be the two required witnesses to confirm that he actually made war against the United States.

Contained in this paragraph are the keys to this entire event.

12 posted on 12/27/2001 3:34:51 AM PST by NoCurrentFreeperByThatName
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To: riley1992
The rule of law may save this man's life and that is as it should be if it is established that the failure of Congress to make a declaration of war exonerates him from a charge of treason. I think he is despicable and merits hanging for his actions. The failure of our legislative leadership to declare war is also despicable but I am sure it will pass unnoticed by the electorate during the next round of elections. Sometimes, I despair for our future in a world of sound bites and hair sprayed visages spewed by our electronic media on a too willing couch dwelling audience.
13 posted on 12/27/2001 3:35:48 AM PST by Movemout
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To: NoCurrentFreeperByThatName
Congress hasn't declared war as prescribed by the Constitution.

I was always of the belief that a formal declaration of war by congress was required for the United states to be technically "at war", but another Freeper recently put his good historical scholarship to task and presented numerous examples from the very birth of our Republic which support the argument that a formal declaration of war by congress is not needed when we are attacked, but rather, only when we proactively wage war (strike first).

I'll look for the thread and a link.

14 posted on 12/27/2001 3:43:42 AM PST by Wm Bach
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To: NoCurrentFreeperByThatName
What We Were Told About Barbary Pirates...
15 posted on 12/27/2001 3:48:20 AM PST by Wm Bach
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To: Wm Bach
Thank you. I would be interested in reading it.
16 posted on 12/27/2001 3:51:05 AM PST by NoCurrentFreeperByThatName
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To: Wm Bach
Thanks for the link. Very interesting reading.
17 posted on 12/27/2001 4:14:27 AM PST by NoCurrentFreeperByThatName
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To: Wm Bach
Wasn't Marc Rich indicted for treason during the Iran hostage crises despite the fact that we had not declared war on Iran?
18 posted on 12/27/2001 4:44:05 AM PST by Ajnin
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To: riley1992
The US Constitution reads:
Section. 3.

Clause 1: Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.

Ada Coddington wrote No war, no treason.

And riley1992 wrote She said, "No war, no treason" and she may very well be correct. The United States of America has not officially declared war upon anyone.

By this logic, if Johnny Bin Walker was one of the hijackers on the aircraft and piloted one of the planes into the WTC towers, and the US then declared war, he would not have been a traitor because the US had not declared war at the time the events occurred. Are we saying only actions after the US declares war would be traitorous or could actions that involve levying war against the US be traitorous?

I am a little perplexed that we assume that since a state of war doesn't exist that treason is impossible. The constitution does not require a state of war to exist only that the accused levyed war against us. Comments?

19 posted on 12/27/2001 4:59:48 AM PST by dpa5923
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To: dpa5923
I just went and read that myself and I am not clear on where that is coming from either since that section states nothing about war having to be declared. However, this is likely going to be the main sticking point:

No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court.

20 posted on 12/27/2001 5:22:08 AM PST by riley1992
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To: Ajnin
I think there was a lot more to the treason charge against Marc Rich than has been reported. A shot across the GHWB bow from the Reagan loyalists?
21 posted on 12/27/2001 5:36:59 AM PST by Wm Bach
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To: riley1992;Ada Coddington
Granted, but it seems everyone thinks a state of war must exist. I wonder what Ada Coddington would say. (Ada start at post number 19)
22 posted on 12/27/2001 5:39:49 AM PST by dpa5923
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To: tgiles
I think he's equally close to all of us.

And what do you base that opinion on?

23 posted on 12/27/2001 5:46:35 AM PST by xzins
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To: Ada Coddington
Strip him of his citizenship, take away his passport, and dump him into a hell-hole somewhere like Somalia. Make sure that the locals know he is there, and also spread the story that he sang like a canary when incarcerated at Camp Rhino.

If he can convince the third worlders that he didn't turn on OBL like he turned on the States, maybe he'll be fortunate enough to pick up an AK, and maybe a Marine/Seal/Green Beret will see him and finish him off for good.

In God We Trust.....Semper Fi

24 posted on 12/27/2001 8:56:33 AM PST by North Coast Conservative
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To: conspiratoristo
Strip him of his citizenship, take away his passport, and dump him into a hell-hole somewhere like Somalia. Make sure that the locals know he is there, and also spread the story that he sang like a canary when incarcerated at Camp Rhino.

There are some fellows that age who want to join the Foreign Legion. Some actually do, I suppose. He just picked the wrong army to join, so strip him of his citizenship and forget about him.

25 posted on 12/27/2001 11:33:08 AM PST by Ada Coddington
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To: dpa5923
By this logic, if Johnny Bin Walker was one of the hijackers on the aircraft and piloted one of the planes into the WTC towers, and the US then declared war, he would not have been a traitor because the US had not declared war at the time the events occurred. Are we saying only actions after the US declares war would be traitorous or could actions that involve levying war against the US be traitorous?

That would seem to be the case. If Taliban Johnny had piloted a plane, he would have been guilty of a criminal act but not treason.

26 posted on 12/27/2001 11:36:00 AM PST by Ada Coddington
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To: Ada Coddington
Did his actions contribute to the murder of Americans? That is for the tribunal to decide.
27 posted on 12/27/2001 11:46:33 AM PST by hsszionist
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To: dadwags;SoothingDave;al_c; JHavard; Havoc; OldReggie; Iowegian...
Bump a good article
28 posted on 12/27/2001 11:54:58 AM PST by RnMomof7
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To: nopardons
Maybe Sobran needs a refresher course in patriotism 101 .

I suspect he already has a religion.

29 posted on 12/27/2001 12:34:58 PM PST by Romulus
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To: xzins
Just makes sense that God would keep an equal watch on all his children. Why would he play favorites?
30 posted on 12/27/2001 12:36:52 PM PST by tgiles
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To: RussP
This is the nub of the piece:

You can repudiate your Savior, but not your nation-state. Your religion is a private affair, which nobody else can judge, not even your family; but political loyalties are indissoluble.

31 posted on 12/27/2001 12:37:07 PM PST by Romulus
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To: ouroboros; Snuffington; Inspector Harry Callahan; Greg 4TCP; Loopy; cva66snipe; Askel5; ppaul...
BUMP
32 posted on 12/27/2001 1:45:19 PM PST by sheltonmac
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To: Ada Coddington
Is it amazing, or shocking, that a country this big should produce such a freak, or even a few more like him? Letting him off is hardly likely to encourage hordes of young Americans to follow his bizarre example. There is no need to make an example of a unique case.

This is really silly. A crime is rare, so it shouldn't be punished. Cannabilism is too, so why were we so harsh on Jeffrey Dahmer?

Crimes are punished because they are crimes, not to "make an example."

Maybe he felt closer to God in Islam than in liberal Catholicism. And maybe he was right. The Taliban is pretty far from God, but perhaps not as far as lukewarm Christianity.

Baloney. "Lukewarm Christians" don't crash hijacked aircraft into office buildings.

Is secularism rampant because people were pulled away by our unprecedented material prosperity (as Mr. Sobran, and many of his admirers on FR, seem to think), or pushed away by churches more concerned with their own earthly sovereignty than with the doing of the Lord's will? I don't know, but the instinct among people like Mr. Sobran to refuse to look inward is all too common these days, and all too unfortunate.

Physician, heal thyself.

33 posted on 12/27/2001 1:54:17 PM PST by untenured
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To: Ada Coddington
Then how do you reconcile the fact that the Constitution does not require a state of war exists, only that the accused waged or levied war against the US?

It would seem that requiring a state of war to exist at the time of the alleged traitorous act would require a constriction on the Constitution not in the original document, added by any amendment nor ever implied in the document. Indeed, the lack of a statement requiring a state of war to exist implies that one is not required.

Comments?

34 posted on 12/27/2001 2:06:27 PM PST by dpa5923
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To: sheltonmac
Thanks for the Ping
35 posted on 12/27/2001 2:10:41 PM PST by Fiddlstix
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To: Ada Coddington
Not bad but not Sobran's best work.
36 posted on 12/27/2001 2:12:33 PM PST by George W. Bush
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To: Ada Coddington
"...though technically still a US citizen..."

No, Joseph. He is not technically still a US citizen. Read page four of your passport again.

Your point about turning his back on Christ before turning his back on America, however, is well taken. America will judge him in the secular realm now. Spiritual judgement is out of our hands, but it WILL come in the near future.

37 posted on 12/27/2001 2:13:23 PM PST by nightdriver
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To: sheltonmac
As usual another excellent Sobran piece. As much as I may not like what Walker did, there are no grounds to try him on treason. What's worse is that I've been seeing arguments to try him on sedition which is an even weaker argument.

Best thing to do with little John is to make his ID, fingerprints, etc. known to the world governments and ship him back to Afghanistan to let the new government deal with him. I imagine they're not very happy with him right now either

38 posted on 12/27/2001 2:26:15 PM PST by billbears
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To: Ada Coddington
Nope ! Your uderstanding of the Consttution, is extremely flawed.
39 posted on 12/27/2001 2:49:53 PM PST by nopardons
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To: Ajnin
Marc Rich was INDICTED but not even tried, let alone convicted (He was spared all that by the pardon) A DA can indict almost anyone ,so the issue is not decided in that case .
40 posted on 12/27/2001 3:13:10 PM PST by dadwags
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To: sheltonmac; Ada Coddington
You can repudiate your Savior, but not your nation-state. Your religion is a private affair, which nobody else can judge, not even your family; but political loyalties are indissoluble.

Crimes are punished by government authorities. Sin is punished by God. What is he finding so unclear in this? Surely he isn't wanting our government to take on more of the form of the Taliban.

"In the U.S. I feel alone," he once said. "Here I feel comfortable and at home."

Maybe he felt closer to God in Islam than in liberal Catholicism. And maybe he was right. The Taliban is pretty far from God, but perhaps not as far as lukewarm Christianity.

In his odd way, Lindh was looking for stable truths that were not to be found in Marin County, and he didn't care if his search led him to conclusions that seemed insane to the apostles of pluralism.

More along the lines that, as many children raised in families that are broken or next to it, there is deep anger and even hate. From what I have read of him, he blamed his parents but also America. Just as some turn to gangs and feel "they belong", he turned to yet another oganized hate group, one that claimed their actions were "for Allah". If he had any religious or spiritual feelings, I would guess the idea of acting on hate in the name of religion would seem appealing.

41 posted on 12/27/2001 3:22:13 PM PST by SusanUSA
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To: Ada Coddington
Joe's overlooking a few facts here. One is that it isn't a requirement that the US be at war for a citizen to face charges of treason for making war against the US while still a citizen. Had Walker renounced his citizenship officially, he wouldn't face charges of treason. Another is that the requisite two witnesses haven't yet been sought, apparently.

Sobran is also dissembling here by trying to insinuate that citizenship is as free from legal definition as religion is in the US. Any of us may change religious affiliation at will and the government has no power to require that we notify them. The same is not true of citizenship.

None of this really matters, since we have a President with very elastic scruples. Walker will skate because Bush hasn't the backbone to face the outcry that liberals would raise should he let the traitor be hanged as he so richly deserves.

42 posted on 12/27/2001 3:31:10 PM PST by Twodees
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To: Ada Coddington
If Lindh had stayed here, become an abortion provider, and attached a little American flag to his Mercedes, he would still qualify as a good American.

Bingo. There is more outrage shown at the fact that he decided to live somewhere else. He's not an Amerian. And thus he can't be called guilty of treason. Nor can it be proven that he made war against us.

43 posted on 12/27/2001 3:36:17 PM PST by Demidog
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To: riley1992
I don't think so, Riley. If a citizen joins others in making war against the US, whether or not war has been declared has no bearing on whether or not the citizen was knowingly shooting at American soldiers. It seems to me that the "no war, no treason" defense can't be stretched to cover the act of firing a rifle at US troops.

Politicians seem to like undeclared wars because they can profit from their treason under that technicality, but they usually refrain from actually firig on our troops. There's not any money in that end of the war anyway. ;-)

44 posted on 12/27/2001 3:36:54 PM PST by Twodees
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To: Twodees
Walkwer's citizenship is his own choice not hte U.S. governments and not yours. There is no official renouncement procedure is there? A form 1238976 stroke 103345?
45 posted on 12/27/2001 3:37:41 PM PST by Demidog
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To: untenured
Maybe he felt closer to God in Islam than in liberal Catholicism.

"Liberal Catholicism" to Joe Sobran is anything that has manifested itself since 1962.

In Joe's mind, vernacular Masses, married deacons, women reading scripture at Mass, and priests in shirt sleeves are worse than an ideology which leads to flying planes into buildings full of innocent people.

Sobran, like Charley Reese, has completely lost any relevance since 9/11.

46 posted on 12/27/2001 3:43:20 PM PST by sinkspur
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To: riley1992
"She said, "No war, no treason" and she may very well be correct. The United States of America has not officially declared war upon anyone. That is a very important technical sticking point in regards to trying him or anyone else for treason in this circumstance."

Nope, she is wrong. As I recall, there were executions for treason against the US during the "Cold War", for which there was no declaration of war, either. The section on treason in the Constitution says not one word about any necessity for a declaration of war.

47 posted on 12/27/2001 3:56:03 PM PST by Wonder Warthog
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To: Wonder Warthog
You are right. Further down in the thread I said that I found that out. However, the two witness issue may still be a problem.
48 posted on 12/27/2001 4:08:06 PM PST by riley1992
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To: tgiles
Why would he play favorites?

Maybe for the same reasons that teachers do. Or maybe for the reasons that parents do (and then deny it.) Or maybe for the reasons that executives do...or sales managers...or movie directors....

But you never told me. On what do you base your opinions?

49 posted on 12/15/1990 1:41:43 AM PST by xzins
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To: nopardons
Maybe Sobran needs a refresher course in patriotism 101 .

Ammnd he NEEDS it , from a screeming harppyu with limitred grasp of the enhlish langiuge !

Perhaps he also needs better research help , as well. There HAVE been articles, and talking heads , who have been just as hard on Johnny Jihad, and his parents, about his converting to Islam.

None that I've seen.

Only those with VERY little knowledge, can read this drivel and applaud it.

You imperiously demeaning others' mental abilities is like a midget squeeking out threats to beat normal people up. It's amusing.

50 posted on 12/15/1990 1:42:02 AM PST by A.J.Armitage
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