The following news item has been distributed today by the Far-Right news service Newsmax:
A crowd converged on the World War II Memorial on the National Mall, pushing through barriers Sunday morning to protest the memorial’s closing under the government shutdown.
Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas were among those who gathered Sunday morning, along with former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, according to WTOP Radio. Cruz said President Barack Obama is using veterans as pawns in the shutdown.
“Tear down these walls,” the crowd chanted. Protesters also sang “God bless America” and other patriotic songs as they entered the memorial plaza.
The memorial has become a political symbol in the bitter fight between Democrats and Republicans over who is at fault since the shutdown began. Earlier rallies have focused on allowing access for World War II veterans visiting from across the country with the Honor Flight Network.
Sunday’s rally was more political. A protest by truckers converged with a rally by a group called the Million Vet March at the World War II Memorial. Participants cut the links between metal barriers at the National Park Service site and pushed them aside.
Jeff Thompkins of New York told WRC-TV he was there because people fight and died for the freedom to visit public spaces and to protest.
“Our constitutional rights are being taken away,” Thompkins said. “People made the ultimate sacrifice, and they should be open to the public, open to everyone to come down here and see this. This is ridiculous. This is not just and not fair. It’s just not fair.”
So here is the logic of illogic. The Far Right members of Congress threatened to shut down the government unless President Obama agreed to dismantle the Affordable Care Act. When he refused to do so, they followed through on their threat and shut down the government. But now that the government facilities are in fact shut down, they are blaming the shut down on President Obama because he did not cave under the political pressure that they tried to exert. So using extraordinary measures to undo legislation passed by both houses of the Congress, signed into law by the executive, and upheld as constitutional by the Supreme Court is somehow being framed as a last, valiant stand in defense of Liberty, and the President’s resistance to such extortion by a minority of members of the party that controls one house of the legislature is being framed as totalitarian overreach.
I find it interesting–not to mention, extraordinarily ironic–that the destruction of public property, specifically the fence around the monument, is being framed as the equivalent of tearing down the Berlin Wall. But, beyond enjoying the echo of Ronald Reagan’s most famous utterance, no one protesting at the World War II Memorial seems to have considered that the analogy actually makes no sense whatsoever. At the most simple level, the Berlin Wall was designed to keep people in, whereas the fence around the memorial was meant to keep people out. When the Berlin Wall came down, the people of East Berlin, East Germany, and every other place behind the Iron Curtain were liberated politically, economically, socially, and culturally. In contrast, when the fence was destroyed, the protesters got a small photo op, but, in the process, they have made it much easier for vandals to desecrate the very memorial that they are supposedly so determined to honor.
Lastly, illustrating the degree to which this was a very contrived demonstration, the so-called Million Vet March appears to have attracted hundreds rather than to hundreds of thousands of participants.