[Promoted by DHinMI]
MSNBC sums it up better than me:
Antiwar veterans who attempted to march in a Veterans Day Parade Saturday in Long Beach were banned by organizers who said the parade is supposed to thank veterans and not serve as a political demonstration. Members of Iraq Veterans Against the War, Veterans for Peace and Military Families Speak Out were prevented from joining the annual parade down Atlantic Avenue and restricted to a nearby parking lot, officials said. Organizers said the groups were trying to push a political agenda at an event to honor veterans.
I first heard about the parade when the Mario Solis Marich radio show in Los Angeles contacted me this morning about coming on to comment on the situation. Upon hearing of it, my first reaction was that IVAW was probably "overdoing" it. Because if you’re familiar with IVAW, you know that they often use tactics designed to make a scene. I assumed the good people in charge of the parade simply didn’t want sensationalism in their parade. In fact, that’s what I wanted to believe. I had no desire to even entertain the thought that Iraq and Afghanistan veterans of any political persuasion would be prevented from participating in a Veterans Day parade. If nothing else, they’d earned the right to be there.
In that frame of mind, I turned to the San Jose Mercury for an explanation of the snub. This is the one given:
"They do not fit the spirit of the parade, the spirit being one of gratitude for what the veterans have done," said Martha Thuente, coordinator for the nonprofit Veterans Day Parade Committee.
"We do not want groups of a political nature, advocating the troops' withdrawal from Iraq," she added.
Okay. Fine. They don’t want "groups of a political nature." I got that. They don’t want any groups "advocating for the troops’ withdrawal from Iraq," either. Okay. Whatever. That is a political statement, and I can see why the committee might not want that during a celebratory outing for families.
But then I turned to Long Beach’s District Weekly to hear some more from Ms. Thuente:
"As a (nonprofit) 501c3, there are certain rules we have to follow," Thuente says, "and one of the rules is that we do not engage in political activity, we do not take sides on political issues." Letting the anti-Iraq veterans groups–or any veterans–express their political views apparently would violate that rule.
But Thuente says the parade organization has every confidence in groups like the V.F.W.
"The V.F.W. just squeezes into their old uniforms. They do not express that agenda as a parade entry," she says.
According to the author of that piece in the District Weekly, Theo Douglas, the American Legion was set to march along with the VFW.
Now here’s the problem: Ms. Thuente, the Judge of What’s Political and What Isn’t in Long Beach, is asserting that the VFW and American Legion can participate because they "do not engage in political activity," or, rather, "they do not express that agenda as a parade entry." Whatever that means.
So now that Iraq Veterans Against the War, Veterans for Peace, and Military Families Speak Out have all been banned for their political agendas, let’s take a look at the non-political positions taken this year by the American Legion and the VFW:
Here is American Legion Commander Paul Morin commenting on proposed Democratic legislation on March 16, 2007:
Thank God there was no mandated timetable after the Battle of the Bulge or Iwo Jima. Thank God, there was no mandated withdrawal or imposed exit strategy at Valley Forge or our Country would have lost the American Revolution. Absent the removal of the restrictive language designed to influence military operations, The American Legion calls on all Members to defeat the U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans' Health, and Iraq Accountability Act.
Because nothing says "apolitical" like vaguely implying that Democrats would have lost the American Revolution.
Or how about this headline from the VFW on April 3, 2007:
VFW Tells Congress to Set Aside Troop Withdrawal Language: New Reid proposal tantamount to surrender
Because if calling on Members to defeat Democratic legislation isn’t apolitical enough, then accusing Senator Harry Reid of surrender is, hands down, the most apolitical thing I’ve ever heard.
But it actually gets better. In explaining his rationale for the VFW’s view on the matter, George Lisicki, the senior vice commander-in-chief of the VFW, had this to say at the time:
"The funding package contained artificial troop withdrawal deadlines that would ultimately break the morale of our troops in the field and directly jeopardize their safety.
Along with Lisicki, VFW Commander-in-Chief Gary Kurpius was also disappointed to hear today that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) may introduce legislation that would immediately cut off funding for the war.
"By proposing this type of legislation, Senator Reid would be abdicating his responsibility to help protect and defend our nation, and his responsibility to the men and women serving in our armed forces," said Lisicki. "Simply put, it’s reckless and tantamount to waving a white flag of surrender to the enemy."
Lisicki said that if such legislation is introduced, the senator can be assured that the VFW will strongly urge its membership to work to defeat its passage.
These people have such a hypocrisy problem.
If you’d like to ask the Long Beach Veterans Day Committee why they ban certain groups of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans from participating in their Veterans Day parade, while at the same time allowing groups that accuse the Democratic Senate Majority Leader of wanting to "surrender to the enemy," by all means, please do.