In Illinois: A pro-war, anti-1st Amendment Senate campaign

How many votes do you think a candidate for the U.S. Senate would draw if he promised his state’s citizens more wars and a weakening of the separation of church and state? “Ladies and Gentlemen,” let us imagine such a candidate saying, “if you elect me as your Senator I pledge to do all that is humanly possible to involve the United States in other peoples’ wars and to end the ridiculous 1st Amendment prohibition on federal government support for religion. In fact I will promise each of you that in the Senate I will work without let up to make sure that one religion is favored by Washington over all others at home and abroad and that all Americans contribute whatever is necessary for its support.” On its face, this does not sound like a a campaign theme that would attract an awful lot of votes and might well be suicidal for any candidate signing on to it. Why would anyone vote for more war and a state-sponsored and supported religion?

And yet in last week’s take of odd e-mails comes one from Congressman Mark Kirk (R-Illinois) who is running for an Illinois senate seat on a platform that, according to the e-mail, calls for more U.S. intervention abroad, more U.S. involvement in the Israel-Muslim war, and more taxpayer funding for Israel’s theocracy. Herewith Congressman Kirk’s appeal:

“Dear Friend,

“Are you worried about the future of the State of Israel? Me too.

“From Gaza City to Damascus to Tehran, Islamic terrorists threaten the destruction of America’s greatest ally in the Middle East almost daily. Incitement against Israel continues while global anti-Semitism stands at its highest point since World War II.

“Support Mark Kirk. Will you stand with me to fight anti-Israel incitement and defend the Jewish State? Become a “Chai for Kirk” leader by joining my campaign for U.S. Senate today.

“For the last decade, I worked tirelessly in the House of Representatives to strengthen the U.S.-Israel relationship. I helped lead the campaign to stop America’s participation in the Durban II Conference — and I opposed U.S. membership in the anti-Israel Human Rights Council.

“Recently, I was the first member of Congress in America to reaffirm Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel. Right now, I am leading the effort to cut off gasoline to Iran and stop the regime’s pursuit of nuclear weapons.

“We have accomplished much, but with so much at stake, I know there is more I can do from the United States Senate.

“Will you stand with me in my U.S. Senate campaign and help me confront the growing dangers to the U.S.-Israel relationship? Your donation of $25, $50, $100, $250, $500, $1,000 or $2,400 will help put me over the top and send a pro-Israel champion to the United States Senate.

“Thank you for your strong support. Together, we will defend the State of Israel from those who seek her destruction — and celebrate another 62 years of the U.S.-Israel relationship.

“Sincerely,

“Mark Kirk Member of Congress”

Now imagine for a moment that Congressman Kirk or any other candidate for the federal legislature wanted to win a seat so he could provide direct U.S. taxpayer funding and military ordnance and technology for the leaders of overseas communities of Catholics, Muslims, Hindus, or any of the Protestant dispensations? Or a candidate who wanted to supply federal funding and U.S. military personnel to protect the myriad Christian churches and their flocks that are being attacked by Islamists across the Muslim world? After all, many more Christians than Israelis have been targeted and killed by Islamists since 9/11. What if a Catholic senatorial candidate demanded taxpayer funding equal to that given to Israel for the “Catholic State” of the Vatican — which is a tiny but internationally recognized nation-state — and wanted the U.S. to pledge to use its military to support any action the Vatican took, even if the action was counter to genuine U.S. national interests? All such positions would increase Washington’s interventionism, make more wars more likely, and violate the 1st Amendment’s prohibition of federal support for religion. All would rightfully earn attack and scorn from most Americans.

But Congressman’s Kirk’s appeal for help to get elected to the Senate so he can lead and fund more intervention by Washington to “defend the state of Israel” and “defend the Jewish State” will elicit no comment from those who are the loudest defenders of the separation between church and state, those who have saved us from such existential threats as saying a public prayer before football games and wishing folks a “Merry Christmas.” Participation in a religious war on Israel’s behalf always is okay for these paragons of secularism.

Neither will he be criticized by that most two-faced of American organizations, the “peace lobby.” Rabid to the point of needing sedation under President Bush, they have been good little boy-and-girl hypocrites while President Obama has broadened U.S. military actions around the world. Big and brave against any president who seeks to defend genuine U.S. interests, these peace advocates are most unlikley to turn out and oppose Congressman Kirk and most of the other members of the federal legislature who support the “Jewish State” and thereby ensure endless U.S. war with the Muslim world.

Finally, I cannot help wonder why Congressman Kirk’s staff sent the e-mail to me. I live in northern Virginia and so cannot cast a vote in Illinois. Could it be that the Congressman Kirk and his AIPAC buddies have simply devised a way to get Israel First money from all over the United States deployed to Illinois to manipulate a Senate election in Israel’s favor? In the e-mail that I received, Kirk identifies neither his state nor his party affiliation, leaving one to surmise the message has nothing whatever to do with the concerns of Illinois voters and is meant to appeal to Israel supporters who apparently will vote for anyone — the devil himself perhaps — if he/she supports Israel without question. (NB: There is no way to tell how many non-U.S. citizens overseas received Congressman Kirk’s e-mail appeal, but that some did seems obvious as Kirk identifies himself in the e-mail as a “member of Congress in America.”)

It also is worth noting that the e-mail suggests donating small amounts of money. All are legal and none would attract the slightest bit of attention from the media. And even if reported by a journalist who asked why Israel First money is flowing into an Illinois election from across the country and the world, the mainstream media would identify the reporter who asked the question as another closet anti-Semite, like the media-lynched Helen Thomas. So silence will ensue and the people of Illinois may well see their election manipulated by Kirk and his Israel-First friends who seem to care nothing for local economic problems or other state-specific issues in Illinois but are eager to take Illinois taxes, soldiers, and Marines to war for Israel’s interests. [NB: To be fair to Congressman Kirk, I would be surprised if his Democratic opponent has failed to follow suit by sending a similar e-mail to would-be Israel-First donors.]

The old saying is that if you live long enough, you see just about everything. But I never really expected to see a candidate for the U.S. Senate in Illinois run on a pro-religious war, anti-1st Amendment platform financed in part by donations from non-Illinois citizens apparently more concerned with Israeli than U.S. national interests. I guess we will just have to wait see if voters in Illinois warm to Congressman Kirk, who seems to ignore the state’s local concerns, suggests his first loyalty is to a foreign state, and champions more U.S. intervention in overseas religious wars.

Author: Michael F. Scheuer

Michael F. Scheuer worked at the CIA as an intelligence officer for 22 years. He was the first chief of its Osama bin Laden unit, and he helped create its rendition program, which he ran for 40 months. He is an American blogger, historian, foreign policy critic, and political analyst.