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lecture conjecture

Damon Linker is correct to point out that Pope Benedict XVI'sRegensburg lecture was much more about defending Catholicism fromliberalism than from Islam ("Cross Purposes," November 13). It'sright there in the text, where the Pope lists Catholicism's threehistorical foes: the Reformers of the sixteenth century, theliberal theology of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and, atpresent, cultural pluralism--all three of which, he believes, havecontributed to divorcing faith from reason. Linker concentrates onthe Pope's implicit target (liberalism), but one wonders what hemakes of his open attack on various stages of Protestantism. If, asLinker suggests in his book The Theocons, American evangelicalshave signed on to a conservative agenda devised by reactionaryCatholics, then how long can that collaboration last when the Popepublicly decries the influence of Protestant theology on modernity?Doesn't that at least suggest a crack in the U.S.Catholic-evangelical compact?

thomas meaney

Literary Editor

The New York Sun

New York, New York

damon linker responds:

The Catholic-evangelical alliance I discuss in my book issignificant precisely because it overlooks theological differencesin favor of advancing a culturally conservative political agenda.Despite their theological disagreements, the two groups seethemselves as allies and friends stationed on the same side of apolitical and cultural chasm, arrayed against the well-armed forcesof secular liberalism.

border order

Arecent issue of The New Republic spotlights the left's lack ofnationalism ("Going Native"; "Ay, Caramba," November 6). The lefthas smeared as "bigots" those who oppose illegal immigration ordemand the assurance of the primacy of the English language ingovernment writings and speech. It is not bigotry but pure respectfor our laws that motivates many opponents of illegal immigration.It is possible to oppose illegal immigration and, at the same time,attempt to enact humane legislation that will deal firmly andfairly with those illegal immigrants already in this country.

roy g. saltman

Columbia, Maryland

foundering fathers?

Near the conclusion of his stand-pat defense of America'sunbudgeable Constitution, Cass R. Sunstein complains that SanfordLevinson "underplays the crucial fact that the Constitution wasmeant to create a republic, not a democracy" ("It Could Be Worse,"October 16). Well, I guess that settles it. The next time the Bushadministration engages in some egregious abuse of democracy,Americans will have no right to complain because a democracy is notwhat our tribal patriarchs intended for the United States. We thepeople are supposedly sovereign, yet according to Sunsteinsubordinate to a 219-year-old plan of government made in our name.Any halfway bright 14-year-old could see the illogic in this.

daniel lazare

Author, The Frozen Republic: How the Constitution Is ParalyzingDemocracy

cass r. sunstein responds:

Daniel Lazare is right to wonder why Americans should be subordinateto a document made over 200 years ago. A large part of the answeris that the current meaning of the Constitution is a product notonly of the Framers, but also of many generations extending overtime. The Civil War amendments are obvious examples, but theConstitution's meaning was also fundamentally altered by FranklinD. Roosevelt's New Deal (legitimating the National Labor RelationsBoard and the Social Security Administration), the civil rights andfeminist movements (helping to produce a firm constitutional ban onrace and sex discrimination and legitimating the Civil Rights Actof 1964), and Reaganism (limiting some of the innovations of theWarren Court). Those who worry about the "egregious abuse ofdemocracy" by any president need not deplore those "long-ago tribalpatriarchs"; their old Constitution already imposes plenty ofsafeguards.

Department of corrections

"Full House" (December 11) incorrectly stated that DemocraticRepresentative Ellen Tauscher voted to impeach Bill Clinton. Infact, Tauscher was among 31 Democrats who voted for an October 1998Republican resolution to initiate impeachment proceedings. ButTauscher ultimately voted against all four articles of impeachment.We regret the error.