He continued, “If the Commerce Clause gives the federal government the authority to require American citizens to buy health insurance, then surely Congress can require that delis sell pork.

DATELINE: WASHINGTON, D.C., in an alternate universe not so very different from our own ...


The political fallout continues to mount in the aftermath of the controversial decree of U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Colleen Noavailius that all delicatessens — including Kosher Jewish delis — must serve pork products.


In announcing her decree, Noavailius said the federal government had a moral obligation to take decisive action to end the tragedy of protein deficiency that has so long plagued the nation.


“It’s simply a matter of public health,” Noavailius said. “Protein is necessary for health, and the protein in pork has undeniably saved countless lives.”


President Burlap Digamma lauded her decision in a televised address to the nation that preempted the entire fourth quarter of the Super Bowl.


“Thanks to Secretary Noavailius’ decree,” he said, “we at last fulfill the dream of the late Sen. Lyin O’Thessennedy and mobilize the vast resources of the federal government to provide universal access to protein. Our efforts will ensure that everyone can enjoy the right and the opportunity to fulfill their dreams.”


The response from the Jewish community, however, was swift and defiant. Many rabbis and spokesmen for Jewish groups complained that the decree runs roughshod over the consciences of Jewish deli owners and was a blatant violation of the constitutional guarantee of free exercise of religion.


“As if it were following in the footsteps of Antiochus Epimanes, the Digamma administration has now drawn an unprecedented line in the sand,” said Rabbi Meier Shalalhashbaz of New York City. “Never before has the federal government forced individuals and businesses to sell a product that violates their religious consciences.”


Expressing deep concern at what they see as an assault on religious freedom, a broad alliance of religious groups has expressed its solidarity with American Jews. Disapproval of the Noavailius ruling has also surfaced among Digamma’s political allies.


Faced with a fierce backlash, Noavailius, who is herself Jewish, modified her decree, granting Jewish delicatessens a one-year reprieve before they would have to comply.


“In effect, the president is saying we have a year to figure out how to violate our consciences,” said Rabbi Shalalhashbaz.


“This decision was made after very careful consideration, including the important concerns some have raised about religious liberty,” Noavailius insisted. “I believe this proposal strikes the appropriate balance between respecting religious freedom and increasing access to protein, which is such of crucial aspect of preventive health programs.”


Seeking to limit the political damage to Digamma’s re-election bid, White House press secretary Guy Carne said Tuesday that the HHS decree was justified because polls commissioned by Hammed Diethood show most Jews reject rabbinic teaching and don’t observe kashrut, and many Gentiles go to Kosher delis.


He also denied that “there are any constitutional rights issues” involved in the HHS decree.


“Under the landmark Digamma-Verbosi health care reform,” Carne said, “Congress has granted the HHS secretary the authority to enforce the individual mandate that everyone must have health insurance or pay a fine.”


He continued, “If the Commerce Clause gives the federal government the authority to require American citizens to buy health insurance, then surely Congress can require that delis sell pork.


“It’s laughable even to suggest that any federal judge would object to Secretary Noavailius’ decree. That’s no more likely than a judge striking down the individual mandate as unconstitutional,” Carne enthused … moments before an aide reminded him that several judges had already done that.


Community editor Jared Olar may be reached at jolar@pekintimes.com.