Friday, August 19, 2005
Register for Bush's Freedom Walk! You too can exploit the dead!
Washington march, concert are inappropriate for marking a tragic anniversary
2005 Houston Chronicle
The decision by Bush administration officials to sponsor a march from the site of the 9/11 airliner attack on the Pentagon to a free country music concert in the nation's capital at best exhibits poor taste. At worst, the plan attempts to use an occasion of national mourning to bolster the president's increasingly unpopular and completely unrelated Iraq war policy.
Despite statements by administration figures attempting to link the invasion of Iraq and 9/11, no evidence that Saddam Hussein had any connection to the plot has come to light. A planned march to commemorate 9/11 should in no way associate the al-Qaida airliner hijackings with the administration's invasion and continued occupation of Iraq. The former can no more justify the latter than can the nonexistent weapons of mass destruction.
According to Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Allison Barber, the Freedom Walk will begin at 10 a.m. on Sept. 11 at the Pentagon site where nearly 200 people died in 2001. Participants will march through Arlington National Cemetery and on to the National Mall for a concert by country music star Clint Black, who grew up in Katy. Barber denied the event was a political statement or support for Bush's policies, but critics focused on the choice of Black as the main act.
He is the singer/songwriter of Iraq and I roll, a pro-military anthem that includes these lyrics: "It might be a smart bomb / they find stupid people too / and if you stand with the likes of Saddam / one just might find you."
Freedom Walk participants are required to register with government event planners, giving name, address, phone number and e-mail. They will be given a receipt and registration number in order to enlist in the march and festivities and receive T-shirts emblazoned with the event logo. If the Pentagon had planned Woodstock, it might have come off like this.
After the Washington Post signed on as a Freedom Walk sponsor, outside critics and the guild representing editorial employees faulted the paper for endorsing an event linking Sept. 11 and Iraq. According to a newspaper spokesman, the Post management decided to withdraw its sponsorship, "as it appears this event could become politicized." Instead, the Post will make a contribution to the Pentagon Memorial Fund.
The victims of the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, D.C., deserve remembrance across the nation next month unmarred by partisanship and the debate over the conduct of the war. The members of the U.S. armed forces deserve our support year-round. The government has no business staging an entertainment hoopla that wrongly associates 9/11 and the war in order to boost political support for its policies.