I'm not sure what's worse: telling Muslims, Jews and other non-Christians they should like it when someone "honors" their dead with a Christian cross, or telling Christians that the cross doesn't really represents Christ's execution or gift of eternal salvation.
Either message is bad, but there are undercurrents of both in the troubling exchange that took place between Justice Scalia and ACLU attorney Peter Eliasberg last week in Salazar v. Buono. Here's the excerpt from Adam Liptak's piece in the NY Times:
Mr. Eliasberg said many Jewish war veterans would not wish to be honored by “the predominant symbol of Christianity,” one that “signifies that Jesus is the son of God and died to redeem mankind for our sins.”
Justice Scalia disagreed, saying, “The cross is the most common symbol of the resting place of the dead.”
“What would you have them erect?” Justice Scalia asked. “Some conglomerate of a cross, a Star of David and, you know, a Muslim half moon and star?”
Mr. Eliasberg said he had visited Jewish cemeteries. “There is never a cross on the tombstone of a Jew,” he said, to laughter in the courtroom.
Scalia can't have it both ways. The cross in this context either represents something sacred to Christians (which opens up the establishment clause problem), or it does not (in which case Christians might wonder whether Scalia has lost his mind).
Of course, Scalia's "half-moon" comment doesn't do much to boosts his credibility . . . but I digress.