Roger Ebert is America’s most noted film reviewer. He has been described by Forbes as “the most powerful pundit in America.” He is known for his long-running film review column that first appeared Chicago Sun-Times in 1967. Television audiences know him best as the co-host with Gene Siskel of the television programs “Sneak Previews,” “At the Movies with Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert,” and “Siskel and Ebert and The Movies.” The pair had a 23 year run ended by Siskel’s cancer death in 1999.
This is not to say that Mr. Ebert with all his time reviewing films that he is the most insightful or even the most right-on film reviewer. It’s only that most people know who he is compared to other reviewers and critics. Personally, I think Michael Medved is a better reviewer because he doesn’t take himself so seriously, and he has better taste in movies. Michael and his brother Harry made Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959) a cult classic (Danny Peary, Cult Movies: The Classics, the Sleepers, the Weird, and the Wonderful—Over 100 Films from the Silent Era to the Present (New York: Gramercy Books, 1981), 266–270.)) by dubbing it the Worst Film of All Time and awarding it the Golden Turkey Award1 and turned writer and director Ed Wood Jr. into an infamous film legend. Medved would be the nation’s most noted reviewer if he had not poked Hollywood in the eye with the publication of Hollywood Vs. America: Popular Culture and the War on Traditional Values (1992). No one likes a spoil-sport, especially when billions of dollars are at stake and political correctness is all the rage.
But back to Ebert. Because of his elevated status as our nation’s go-to-guy on what films we should and shouldn’t like, he often pontificates on subjects beyond his field of expertise and expects to get the same type of worshipful acceptance of his non-film analysis of current events as he does with his film reviews. His latest venture into non-film territory is an offering of comments on the Ground Zero Mosque controversy. Here’s the first of ten:
America missed a golden opportunity to showcase its Constitutional freedoms. The instinctive response of Americans should have been the same as President Obama’s: Muslims have every right to build there. Where one religion can build a church, so can all religions.
America’s constitutional freedoms were violated when a bunch of radical Islamists decided to subvert those freedoms and fly planes into American buildings and kill thousands of Americans. In his third point, Ebert writes, “The Muslims who attacked the World Trade Center are not the Muslims who are building the center.” This is true. Those who attacked the World Trade Center were the ones who flew the planes and took their lives and the lives of nearly 3000 others. But those who want to build the center and a majority of so-called moderate Muslims are not demonstrating in the streets by the tens of thousands denouncing the radicals. Instead, they are content to have their religious fellow travelers to use our freedoms against us.
The long-term goal of Islam is the abolition of our constitutional freedoms since the majority of them are an affront to the fundamental tenets of Islam. If Islam gains dominance in the United States—a natural outgrowth of its worldview—will there be freedom of religion, speech, assembly, and press? Would Christians be permitted to build churches? Could the minority population of Christians be able to evangelize Muslims? To ask these questions is to answer them.
Mr. Ebert likes to pick and choose how he will apply the constitutional freedom issue. Is this the same America that had an opportunity to showcase its constitutional freedoms when more than seven million voters in California were denied their constitutional freedoms by a single unelected judge because a majority of those who voted to define marriage as between a man and a woman did so in terms of religion? It’s important to note that the judge in the case argued that religion cannot be used to determine whether an act is either moral or immoral. “The evidence shows conclusively,” Judge Vaughn Walker writes, “that moral and religious views form the only basis for a belief that same-sex couples are different from opposite-sex couples” (page 130). Religion is repeatedly attacked in the 136-page decision because it was seen as the determining factor in the decision process for the majority of voters. What if a future judge argues in a similar way about polygamous and father-daughter marriages? Where is Mr. Ebert on this issue?
Where was Mr. Ebert’s column on how the “constitutional freedoms” of Jennifer Keeton were trampled on when she was ordered to change her religious beliefs in order to graduate from the counseling program at Georgia’s Augusta State University? “Augusta State University ordered Keeton to undergo a re-education plan, in which she must attend ‘diversity sensitivity training,’ complete additional remedial reading, and write papers to describe their impact on her beliefs. If she does not change her beliefs or agree to the plan, the university says it will expel her from the Counselor Education Program. . . . After her professors learned of her Christian beliefs, specifically her views on homosexual conduct, from both classroom discussions and private conversations with other students, the school imposed the re-education plan.” A similar case involves a counseling student at Eastern Michigan University. A federal judge ruled in favor of the university that removed a Christian student from its graduate program in school counseling because she would not relinquish her Christian belief that homosexuality is morally wrong.
The Christmas season is not far off. Government schools have diluted the seasonal meaning by redefining it as “Winter Holiday” and banned even instrumental versions of traditional Christmas music.
The ACLU has continually sued local municipalities when the Ten Commandments are put on public display even though the First Amendment applies to what Congress can and cannot do and has no application to local governments.
When Brittany McComb gave her speech as valedictorian of Foothill High School in Nevada, her microphone was cut off by school officials because they determined that her speech would violate the first Amendment as interpreted by the courts.
School administrators, with the advice of their district legal counsel, censored her speech, deleting all three Bible references, several references to “the Lord” and the only mention of the word “Christ” (see here).
Where was Mr. Ebert when this young woman’s “constitutional freedoms” were denied?
A court in Utah ruled that highway crosses violated the Constitution. The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals stated: “We hold that these memorials have the impermissible effect of conveying to the reasonable observer the message that the state prefers or otherwise endorses a certain religion.” The memorial crosses were placed along Utah public roads by a non-government organization, the Utah Highway Patrol Association. The crosses, commemorating the deaths of fallen state highway troopers, are maintained by the UHPA. Consider the court’s logic:
“The judges said they were also concerned that the memorials included the insignia of the Utah Highway Patrol. They said the combination of the cross and insignia links the state with a particular religious symbol. And that, they said, ‘may lead the reasonable observer to fear that Christians are likely to receive preferential treatment from the UHP—both in their hiring practices and, more generally, in the treatment that people may expect to receive on Utah’s highways.’ The judges added: ‘The reasonable observer’s fear of unequal treatment would likely be compounded by the fact that these memorials carry the same symbol that appears on UHP patrol vehicles.’”
How would a UHP officer know that a person stopped for a traffic violation was a Christian or not? How does this line of argumentation affect the official declaration that our nation’s currency includes the words “In God We Trust” and the Constitution of the United States, the document the court claims it is upholding, includes the words “In the year of our Lord,” a not so subtle reference to Jesus Christ who died on a cross?
The above are only several of hundreds of examples of Christians being discriminated against because of their beliefs, and all of a sudden we find people like Roger Ebert interested in constitutional freedom issues. Where was he when these cases were being considered and ruled on?
- Harry and Michael Medved, The Golden Turkey Awards: Nominees and Winners—The Worst Achievements in Hollywood History (New York: Perigee Books, 1980). [↩]