A Friend who chooses to remain Unnamed
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"Firstly, a disclaimer. I am not a Christian, a Muslim, an atheist, a Buddhist, an American war veteran, or a constitutional attorney. I'm just an interested observer.
Back in the days when the Taliban controlled Afghanistan, there were two huge statutes of Buddha carved in the mountain. These were considered part of Afghanistan's cultural heritage and treasures of world civilization. But the Taliban claimed that under their interpretation of the Shari'a (Islamic law), these statutes are idols and thus are forbidden and must be destroyed. Despite the international outrage, they went ahead and destroyed the statutes.
As a mitigating factor, the Taliban claimed that no one worships these statutes any longer. They went as far as to imply that if this were not the case, they would let the statues remain. They also claimed that their laws are divine and thus cannot be altered.
Fast forward to the USA. On Mount Soledad, which overlooks La Jolla in San Diego, California, there is a structure in the shape of a huge cross, which serves as a memorial for American war veterans. The only issue with this structure is that it stands on public ground. It is a cultural icon and a memorial for heroes. In short, it is a treasure of civilization.
A federal judge has ruled that, according to the Supreme Court's interpretation of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, this structure cannot remain there and must be dismantled. (True, he would permit the structure to be moved elsewhere, but in reality, if his ruling is upheld, the structure will be destroyed.)
This judge's opinion did not contain any mitigating factors. Thus, he did not state that if someone still worships the cross, it might be allowed to remain. Nor there is any claim that since the United States Constitution was written by humans and judges are humans, perhaps an exception could be made for this cultural icon that has stood there, harming nobody, for so many years. The judge did not even mention the possibility that since, at the time it was built, it was perceived to be permissible to erect this type of structure where it stands, it could be "grandfathered" and allowed to remain, even if a new structure in the same location would not be permitted.
One may argue that there are differences, but all such differences are mere nuances. The bottom line is that the United States is going to order a treasure of civilization to be destroyed for (anti-)religious reasons. So what is the difference between us and the Taliban?"