Thursday, April 3, 2008

"America is [finally] at the Mall"

Scott Greenfield at Simple Justice describes the events that unfolded at the Smith Haven Mall in Lake Grove, NY when, as Newsday describes it "an 80-year-old church deacon was removed... in a wheelchair and arrested by police for refusing to remove a T-shirt protesting the Iraq War."

I don't have anything to add to Scott's analysis, but did want to point out the picture above (which is worth a thousand words) and which shows the way some soldiers in Iraq view the level of attention that's being paid to their plight. The picture was described by Rep. James McGovern (D-Mass.) in an article in the Boston Globe from last October. As Rep. McGovern describes the sign:

I RECENTLY came across a photo of a handwritten sign in a US military facility in Ramadi, Iraq. The sign read, "America is not at war. The Marine Corps is at war; America is at the mall."

The sign reflects a perception among many US soldiers and their families that the American people are not sharing in their sacrifice.

It is a perception grounded in reality. President Geroge W. Bush recently called upon the nation for "more patience, more courage, and more sacrifice." But outside of the military, who is really sacrificing?

I know one 80-year old church deacon who can say he is.

But the good news is that the sign is, like the man arrested, is quite old. And, times have changed since last October. While the sign it was probably intended sarcastically, it's now become true in quite a different sense.

In other words, while America was shopping at the mall for the first five years of the war, many Americans, perhaps nervous about the economy, are now there not only to shop. As the Newsday article puts it:

"Activists with dueling opinions had gathered [at the mall] to support and oppose America's five-year campaign. As Zirkel was being wheeled to the police car, the crowd chanted "We shall not be moved!" Moments later, they moved; police and mall security had ordered them off the property. Many joined a larger anti-war crowd assembled by the mall's entrance, off mall property, on Veterans Memorial Highway. They were complemented nearby by protesters saying the Iraq war is vital for security."

No wonder the mall's owners are nervous. Something about assembled protesters and images of people dying that makes imported, unnecessary, sweatshop-produced crap a little less alluring.

Maybe President Bush is right. Perhaps we have "turned a corner" on Iraq and have finally arrived at the mall dressed properly and focused on the right things.

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