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Bush, Veterans, & the Confederacy
I t is disturbing that President Bush not only has refused to attend the funeral of any service- person killed in Iraq, but also refuses to send condolences to fallen servicepeople’s relatives. Bush’s denial of acknowledging U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq—the same as his government’s media ban on showing body bags and coffins—is even worse when compared to his sending wreaths to Confederate graves on Memorial Day. However, looking at his record, this should not be surprising:
- While soldiers are fighting in Iraq, Bush cut soldiers’ danger pay and family separation allowances, cancelled a Congress-proposed doubling of servicepeople’s life insurance benefits, and slashed GI Bill benefits. Most servicepeople now are too low-paid to receive Bush’s per-child tax credit and many live on food stamps.
- Bush cut $600 million from the Veterans Administration budget, although the VA is already under-funded by around $2 billion a year and now has over 200,000 new veterans to service—many of whom are already sick with Gulf War Syndrome, which has left over 270,000 Gulf War vets disabled and over 10,000 dead. There are also plans to cut $1.5 billion per year from the VA’s budget for each of the next ten years.
- Wounded National Guard and Army Reserves have returned home only to be placed in “medical hold” while the Army decides what medical treatment and benefits—if any—they should receive. Some soldiers have stated the Army has tried to claim their Iraq injuries/illnesses were “pre-existing conditions.” Soldiers are having to wait four to six months to receive medical care while their treatable ailments turn to permanent disability. At Fort Knox, more than 400 wounded soldiers lasted the Kentucky summer in a non-air conditioned, animal-infested barracks. At Fort Stewart (Georgia), over 600 wounded soldiers languish with no indoor plumbing and have to pay for food and lodging. On a re-election stop last fall, President Bush visited Fort Stewart, but refused to see the wounded soldiers.
- All evidence indicates the war was started on fictitious grounds. It has left more than 700 soldiers killed, over 9,000 wounded, and over 1,000 evacuated for psychiatric evaluation.
- As governor of Texas, Bush wrote official state letters honoring white-separatist organizations such as the United Daughters of the Confederacy, whom Bush praised for their “high standards” and “dedication to others,” and to the unreconstructed Sons of Confederate Veterans, to whom Bush has had a membership.
- Bush also wrote a fundraising letter for the revisionist Museum of the Confederacy in support of their annual ball. The ball, held in a slave hall turned gun foundry which produced Confederate munitions that killed union soldiers, entertains hundreds of all-white guests in antebellum costumes surrounded by Confederate flags. The museum sells books that support the Confederate Constitution.
- Bush, who previously attacked the NAACP’s boycott of South Carolina over the Confederate flag, campaigned at South Carolina’s white-supremacist Bob Jones University and, in the words of southern journalist Jackson Thoreau, “genuflected before the Confederate flag.”
- Close ties between Bush’s Southeast Regional 2000 campaign chairperson, Warren Tompkins, and neo-Confederate vanguard, Richard Hines, resulted in Hines’s (then-unregistered) political action committee mailing over 250,000 letters condemning John McCain for seeing the Confederate flag as a racist symbol and lauding Bush for appreciating it. Hines, long connected to the nation’s leading white-supremacist apologia magazine Southern Partisan (which celebrates the assassination of Abraham Lincoln) claimed on one of his websites to have “an active voice in the current Bush administration,” which Bush has never denied.
It will be interesting to see what President Bush does this year. Will he again pay tribute to fallen Confederate soldiers? Will he finally acknowledge U.S. casualties from the Iraq War? Being an election year, probably neither—nor will he memorialize fallen servicepeople from the Vietnam War, the war President Bush was so unwilling to fight that he deliberately lost his flight status.
Kyle Tucker is a freelance writer living in the Joplin, Missouri area.
Z Magazine Archive
CUBAN 5 - From May 30 to June 5, supporters of the Cuban 5 will gather in Washington DC to raise awareness about the case and to demand a humanitarian solution that will allow the return of these men to their homeland.
Contact: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org.
BIKES - Bikes Not Bombs is holding its 24th annual Bike- A-Thon and Green Roots Festival in Boston, MA on June 3, with several bike rides, music, exhibitors, and more.
Contact: Bikes Not Bombs, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-522-0222; mailbikesnotbombs.org; www.bikesnotbombs.org.
LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in NYC.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduate Center, Sociology Dept., New York, NY 10016; http://www.leftforum.org/.
VEGAN FEST - Mad City Vegan Fest will be held in Madison, WI, June 8. The annual event features food, speakers, and exhibitors.
Contact: 122 State Street, Suite 405 B, Madison, WI 53701; email@example.com; http://veganfest.org/.
ADC CONFERENCE - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) holds its annual conference June 13-16 in Washington, DC, with panel discussions and workshops.
Contact: 1990 M Street, Suite 610, Washington, DC, 20036; 202-244-2990; convention @adc. org http://convention.adc.org/.
CUBA/SOCIALISM - A Cuban-North American Dialog on Socialist Renewal and Global Capitalist Crisis will be held in Havana, Cuba, June 16-30. There will be a 5-day Seminar at the University of Havana, plus visits to a co-op and educational and medical institutions.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.globaljustice center.org/.
NETROOTS - The 8th Annual Netroots Nation conference will take place June 20-23 in San Jose, CA. The event features panels, trainings, networking, screenings, and keynotes.
Contact: 164 Robles Way, #276, Vallejo, CA 94591; email@example.com; http://www.netrootsnation.org/.
MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
Contact: 4126 Third Street, Detroit, MI 48201; http://alliedmedia.org/.
GRASSROOTS - The United We Stand Festival will be hosted by Free & Equal, June 22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival aims to reform the electoral process in the U.S.
LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles.
Contact: 10 Laurel Hill Drive, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; http://namle.net/conference/.
IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from across the continent to learn skills and build one big union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13, the 11th Annual Peacestock will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers, and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
Contact: Bill Habedank, 1913 Grandview Ave., Red Wing, MN 55066; 651-388-7733; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www. peacestockvfp.org.
LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations, and panel discussions.
Contact: NCLR Headquarters Office, Raul Yzaguirre Building, 1126 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-785-1670; www.nclr.org.
ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference.
Contact: email@example.com; http://yeacamp.org/.