Say "spring" nowadays around Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and people hope you're talking about cushy metal coils beneath your mattress, waters dancing through a meadow, or zest in your step. Spring, for those who suffered devastation from last year's Alabama tornados, is the season of terror.
Say "Arab Spring" to Christian communities in Egypt, Syria, and other Middle Eastern and African nations, and the effect will be the icy fear of portending horrors, not balmy warmth.
Egypt's "spring" this month handed the nation's parliament over to the Muslim Brotherhood. Rather than nurturing democracy, as so many had hoped, the "Egyptian Spring" will likely lead to an even more dominant state, and churches and their members suffering more violence. Egypt's "spring" replaced Mubarak with the mullahs.
The Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement for many seems to be the "front" that will expand to become an American Spring. But if Egypt is any example, the winds will become tornados. Rather than refreshing, they will only enlarge repression.
President Obama's not-so-hidden agenda is the redefining of America. He and others in the political establishment-including some Republican warblers-sing the OWS theme: greedy capitalists are the culprits behind the nation's economic malaise, and the one percent has a passionate interest in holding down the 99 percent. Charles Krauthammer calls this Obama's "class-war counter-narrative." Washington power brokers intent on the reshaping of domestic and foreign policy seek to co-opt OWS and the "spring" theme.
The colluding frontal systems of governing elites and the "spring" movements-whether those in North Africa and the Middle East, or their soul-cousins in OWS-are already producing threatening skies over America. Thus, while some in the Washington establishment pander to the freedom-democracy-power-to-the-people cadence of the "spring" movements, the evidence of a looming "spring terror" mounts.
There are many signs that winds of the American Spring will blow in the troubling direction of the Egyptian Spring. None, perhaps, is as telling as the Administration's announcement on January 20 that religious institutions will be forced to cover birth control for their employees.
Many hoped Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius would announce that hospitals and schools related to religious groups would be exempt from providing birth control benefits. Nope, said Sebelius, all they will get is a year's extension before they have to implement the plans.
For Catholic institutions, especially, this places the federal government in the role of regulating doctrine. Catholics, as well as people in some other religious groups, believe and teach that to halt the union of sperm and egg is to thwart the very will of God. For these believers, the way human beings are conceived and enter the world is a matter of sacred doctrine. The state has no right to squelch their freedom of belief and expression.
"Power to the people!" scream the "spring" movements. The result portends to be only more power to governments, and elites in Washington and other power centers are all too ready to co-opt the theme, while expanding their destructive reach.
If even religious freedom can be set aside by populist "spring"-spouting government, then we are facing "spring terror" indeed.