The picture of WWII veterans ripping out barricades from the WWII Memorial and dumping them at the White House has been widely applauded. Reporting often left the impression that the rally was an anti-shutdown event, but the organizers were pro-shutdown. I am referring to the shutdown of the large parts of the federal government because Congress didn't pass a budget.
The website for the "Veteran's March" says nothing about the needs of veterans. It contains no criticism of Congress and no sympathy for those hurt by the shutdown. It does show extreme opposition to President Obama and the Democratic Party. Obama is called a "vicious tyrant" and we are told that "he has declared open war" on veterans. No examples are given but other leading Democrats are said to be oppressors.
Speakers at the veteran's march included U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Steve Stockman. Cruz is easily recognizable for his Senate filibuster and is clearly and architect of the shutdown. Stockman was a member of Congress for one term in the 1990s and was just reelected in 2012.
Of the 10 Republicans who did not vote for Speaker Boehner, Stockman is probably the most extreme. He has given a book advocating the impeachment of President Obama to every member of Congress and talks about "defunding" the White House. Other lawmakers were trying to end the shutdown while Cruz and Stockman addressed the rally.
Another speaker, Larry Klayman, of Freedom Watch, a Tea Party group, told the protestors that Obama is a Muslim. MSNBC reported this and also mentioned Confederate flags and "Impeach Obama" signs at the event.
Jay Devereaux cut the chains on the barricades at the WWII Memorials. He apparently has never been in the military and isn't old enough to be a WWII veteran. His blog as president of Unite In Action, a rightist organization, reveals little beyond a tendency to go ballistic over any disagreement. The chief financial officer of Unite In Action has close ties to Glenn Beck, the commentator.
Let us return to the scene of "veterans" ripping out the barricades from the WWII Memorial. Why would it be open when all other memorials and parks are closed? Does it make sense for Senator Cruz and Representative Stockman to promote a federal shutdown and then say that any memorial they show up at must be open? The federal employees dealing with this crowd were working without pay, at least for the moment. Does it make sense to engineer a federal shutdown and then go out and harass employees who are working without pay?
Did Devereaux and the other partisans who ripped out the barricades have any memory of what happened between the White House and the Capitol 10 days earlier? A young black woman crashed her car into the barricades at the Capitol, refused to stop for police and headed for the White House. She was shot dead. Do these partisans, self-styled "veterans," think they are bulletproof? Or do they believe that white men will be treated differently?
The partisans who protested in Washington on Oct. 13 brought no constructive proposals. They fired themselves up listening to the most extreme Republican in the Senate and the most extreme Republican in the House. They also listened to slander about Obama being a Muslim, then went out to rip up barricades. The man who was photographed cutting chains on the barricades, Jay Devereaux, is not a veteran and not a typical citizen. As president of Unite In Action, he is more of a professional rightist.
How did our members of Congress vote? Sen. Marco Rubio is one of 19 Senators who voted against ending the shutdown. Sen. Bill Nelson did vote to end the shutdown. Rep. Tom Rooney voted against the bill that reopened the government and also against raising the debt limit.
Dale L. Gillis lives in Sebring.