Wednesday, August 10, 2005


Donald Rumsfeld and the Department of Defense have announced their plans for the fourth anniversary of the Sept. 11th attacks: a march from the Pentagon to the Mall, followed by a country music extravaganza. They have christened it the "America Supports Your Freedom" walk. Steve Gilliard, one of my favorite bloggers, has made an entry (citing a Daily Kos diary) about this, and his points are well-taken, but I'd like to take this a few steps further.

First of all, let's start with the name. "America Supports Your Freedom Walk"? That sounds like the worst combination of Orwellian lingo and advertising gimmickry. It reminds me of when I was in Berlin and my friend showed me her old school calendars from when the GDR still existed--it had markings for things such as "Nazionale Deutsch-Sowjetische Freundschafttag" (National German-Soviet Friendship Day). I never expected to see such trite, state-sponsored propagandistic phraseology out of my own government.

Next, we move on to the combination of a) the name, and b) the event. Ideally, on September 11th of every year, we should be honoring the memory of those who died--both Americans and foreign nationals of all races and religions--in the worst attack on our soil since Pearl Harbor. Instead, the Pentagon has decided to use the occasion to intrude on the painful private and personal memories of the victims of this tragedy to stage a publicity event in support of a failing plutocratic neo-Wilsonianist crusader ideology. Exploiting terrorism has been a standard practice for some people for a long time now, but this just steeps to quite a new low.

Furthermore, this name and the very idea of this "walk" serves to further conflate 9/11 and the invasion of Iraq. One would have to hope that the transition between the terror attacks on our country and the vague idea of "Freedom" at the tip of a spear comes a little less intuitively to the American public at this point.

Lastly, we move on to the country music extravaganza. Let me just say first that music in support of a cause is a good thing: Live Aid, Darfur relief, the original Sept. 11th telethon--these are good. They are pro bono (and pro-Bono!) concerts to raise money for causes that need it. But this is a totally different kettle of fish. This is a commercialized exploitation of private tragedy. Do the Sept. 11th families benefit? No. So who does? The Pentagon's publicity deparment! And does anyone think it's any surprise that the Pentagon has chosen country music to headline this event, in spite of the fact, as stated previously, that the attacks occurred in the most urban and diverse environment of the face of the earth? Of course not. I've got nothing against country music per se. I don't like it as a style--it grates on me--but I have nothing against it. The fact of the matter remains, however, that country music is most popular with--you guessed it--Red State NASCAR republicans.

It's quite clear that the Pentagon cares not one whit for the the victims of September 11th. It's just using infamy and emotion of the day to prop up support for its failing policies and "shore up the base" among its core constituency. A desperate, craven, and ultimately immoral attempt at a publicity stunt.

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