Bush’s Misguided War on T-Shirts
By Robert Blair and Jonathan Wachtel
When George W. Bush offered his thanks, he thanked the distinguished guests at this past State of the Union address. We couldn’t help but wonder what his definition of “distinguished” was. We knew it couldn’t be the same as ours, because we would never drag a distinguished guest out just because we didn’t dig her threads.
When he said “the state of our Union has never been stronger,” we knew he must have not known the
definition of that word either, because the state of our nation is anything but strong. With approval ratings
hovering in the forties, poverty steadily increasing since 2001, and a war that promotes killing while using
the tax payers’ money to do so, we wouldn’t have chosen the word “strong.” But then again, they weren’t his
words to begin with and so why change 100 years of American political tradition?
Whatever happened to freedom of speech? Where did America go and what country are we in? These are
the questions we found ourselves asking after learning of the events that actually occurred at last weeks
address. Cindy Sheehan – common mom turned anti-war activist after her own son was killed in the Iraq war – was dragged from the U.S. Capitol Building and arrested all because of a T-shirt she had chosen to wear. Some called the message on the shirt anti-war, but it just states the facts in that it read, “2245 Dead. How many more?”
So, how can she be arrested for wearing such a shirt in a country where we boast about our “freedom of speech?” The answer is they can’t. It’s an abuse of power, which is nothing new in America. One of the worst parts about it is the media, who is owned by big corporations that side with Bush and his war because it’s profitable for them. They are the ones who bring us the news. They don’t make this type of story front page news. That wouldn’t be a smart business move. Instead it was found on page 16 of the news section in the New York Times.
During the speech Bush used the word “freedom” a lot – 17 times to be exact – because if you say anything enough times people start to believe it. We wondered what he really thought “freedom” meant. The first use of the word came in reference to “enemies of freedom,” meaning the Iraqi insurgents and other fighters around the world who resent the intrusion of a foreign power into their affairs. We often wonder how Americans would feel if a foreign power came into our country and started killing and destroying, all for the sake of what someone is calling “freedom.” Of all the freedoms under attack in America, it was freedom of speech that was on the chopping block last week. When a mother of a fallen soldier is kicked out of an address which is held for her and every American citizen, there is something wrong.
A day after the arrest, like a child who had done wrong, the police dropped the charges against Sheehan and offered their apologies. “They were operating under the misguided impression that the T-shirt was not allowed,” said Deputy House Sergeant of Arms Kerri Hanley, “The fact that she was wearing a T-shirt is not enough reason to be asked to leave the gallery, or be removed from the gallery, or be arrested.” During the middle of George W. Bush’s State of the Union address he felt compelled to say, “Fortunately, this nation has superb professionals in law enforcement, intelligence, the military, and homeland security.” Professionalism in law enforcement? But President Bush, the police tend to operate under “misguided information.” We could tell you to learn the definition of words before you say them, but they aren’t yours to begin with. No worries President Bush, we will pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.