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A ‘National Day of Service’? Or a Political Hijacking of 9/11?

The White House pulls a crass political move that damages the non-partisan spirit of remembrance on September 11.

by
Donald Kent Douglas

Bio

August 26, 2009 - 12:09 am

Some might find the following a benignly public-spirited initiative. In April, the White House signed legislation that established September 11 as an “annually recognized National Day of Service and Remembrance.” A regretfully bipartisan bill, the measure was passed as part of the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, and was promoted as a means to “encourage and facilitate community service across the country.”

Yet the reality behind this legislation is quite different. As Matthew Vadum reported at the American Spectator on Monday:

The Obama White House is behind a cynical, coldly calculated political effort to erase the meaning of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks from the American psyche and convert Sept. 11 into a day of leftist celebration and statist idolatry.

What’s happened, according to Vadum’s account, is that an assortment of hard-line radical activists and leftist community shakedown organizations have transformed Senator Kennedy’s arguably noble vision of shared commitment to national service into an alternative September 11 agenda seeking to eradicate the significance of the day as one of remembrance, mourning, and patriotic mobilization. In other words, the blame-America contingents at the base of the Democratic Party — with the endorsement of Barack Obama, the president of the United States — are hijacking our generation’s day of infamy, turning it into a “socialist holiday of community service.”

Vadum’s smoking gun is a “White House-sponsored teleconference” on August 11, in which literally the entire array of America-bashing left-wing special interests attacked 9/11 as a “day of fear” and promised to change the widely-accepted meaning of 9/11 from solemn commemoration to a gangster-rap celebration of agitation and social justice.

The teleconference call was sponsored by Lennox Yearwood, who Vadum describes as an “Obama ally,” the “president of the Hip Hop Caucus,” and one “who uses the honorific ‘Reverend’ before his name.” Interestingly, leftists are already pushing back against the Vadum piece. Chris Good‘s post at the Atlantic features this incredulous title: “When a Day of Service = Desecrating 9/11?” Barbara O’Brien is actually angry with the article, saying Vadum’s got a lot of nerve “after Bush’s shameless politicization of 9/11, which turned that day into an excuse for the Bush White House to use the Constitution as toilet paper.” Plus, Alan Colmes questions the authenticity of Vadum’s claims and sources, asking:

And what is the evidence of this? President Obama signed a law making September 11 a National Day of Service. The Spectator reveals what it claims are details of an August 11 conference call initiated by the White House that included groups it refers to as “extremist radical” and “unsavory left-wing pressure” (groups).

Colmes then gets follow-up huzzahs from a leftist troll at Michelle Malkin’s blog, who suggests that “Matthew Vadum made up the whole thing. Maybe there was a conference call, maybe not.”

There’s no doubt, of course, that  “Obama’s Plan to Desecrate 9/11” is legitimate. “Reverend” Yearwood published a commentary at the Huffington Post in March that confirms the “social justice” agenda of the White House teleconference call. Naturally, Yearwood’s piece is titled “Ask What You Can Do for Your Hood“:

This recession is a mess caused by the mistakes of the old, but the young possess the sole ability to clean it up. If the Generations Invigorating Volunteerism and Education (GIVE) Act passes in Congress tomorrow, that torch of responsibility shall be passed on.

Thus answering President Obama’s call for a greater commitment to volunteerism and fulfilling John Kennedy’s demand to give back to the country.

The act (HR 1388) more than triples the number of government sponsored volunteer opportunities in America from 75,000 to 250,000. …

Now anyone regardless of race, class, religion, or background can be a leader in their own community.

HR 1388 is, of course, the legislative tracking number for the Kennedy Serve America Act. The GIVE provisions authorize a “National Civilian Community Corps” that has been described as “a paramilitary force of volunteer brown shirts.” Plus, the homepage for the Hip Hop Caucus has posted an August 4 press release, “Obama Administration Officials Discuss Educating Communities On Emerging Opportunities in the Clean-Energy Economy”:

Members of President Obama’s Green Cabinet and the community engagement campaign, Green the Block, met in Washington today to discuss ways to ensure that opportunities from the new green economy are available to a broad cross section of the American people. In response to the president’s call to service through the United We Serve campaign, Green the Block also presented a birthday gift to President Obama in the form of a call to action for green community service projects in undeserved communities on September 11th, the National Day of Service and Remembrance.

One of those in attendance at the White House was none other than the “Reverend” Lennox Yearwood.

And note this: The chair of the Hip Hop Caucus Advisory Board is Representative Barbara Lee, who serves California’s 9th District (Oakland, Piedmont, and Berkeley, the most hard-line leftist congressional district in the United States). Ms. Lee currently chairs the Congressional Black Caucus, and she holds the notorious distinction of being the only member of Congress to vote against the Bush administration’s authorization of force following the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in 2001. Thus, it’d be hard to find a better advocate to “desecrate 9/11 for political advantage and flush 9/11 down the memory hole” than Democratic Congresswoman Barbara Lee.

At this point we need to recall the connection between the Obama-Democrats’ push to flush 9/11 and the decade-long campaign of applauding the 2001 attacks by standard-bearers of America’s anti-American left.

In 2003, a week after the start of the U.S. campaign to topple Saddam Hussein in Baghdad, Columbia University’s Nicholas DeGenova called for “a million Mogadishus” on American troops. Eric Foner, a nationally-renowned history professor at Columbia, claimed to repudiate DeGenova’s remarks, but in an essay following the September 11 attacks in 2001, Foner wrote, “I’m not sure which is more frightening: the horror that engulfed New York City or the apocalyptic rhetoric emanating daily from the White House.” And recall the disgraced Ward Churchill of the University of Colorado, who one day after the September 11 attacks said “the little Eichmanns inhabiting the sterile sanctuary of the twin towers” deserved to die.

In 2005, Debra Burlingame wrote of the radical left’s takeover of the World Trade Center Memorial that had been scheduled for construction at Ground Zero. Burlingame, whose brother was piloting American Airlines fight 77 on 9/11, argued that visitors to the World Trade Center Memorial Cultural Complex will “come to see 9/11 but will be given a high-tech, multimedia tutorial about man’s inhumanity to man, from Native American genocide to the lynchings and cross-burnings of the Jim Crow South, from the Third Reich’s Final Solution to the Soviet gulags and beyond.” Burlingame argued that the organizers getting the keys to the memorial were “the very same people who consider the post-9/11 provisions of the Patriot Act more dangerous than the terrorists that they were enacted to apprehend.”

When placed in this context, it’s easy to see why the official organizers of the Obama administration’s National Day of Service view September 11 as a “Republican” day. The attacks of 9/11 clarified for all to see the battle lines of contemporary ideological polarization in the United States. For a brief time following September 11, the nation was energized in a moment of national purpose and common resolve. Polls found unprecedented majorities in favor of bringing America’s enemies to justice.

But within a year of the carnage, the platform of the Democratic Party emerged in near-complete opposition to GOP policies seeking to keep the country safe. From the Iraq war, to Guantanamo, to warrantless wiretapping, today’s left evinces no seriousness on the question of American national security. And in the election of Barack Obama in 2008 — a man who for years attended Sunday sermons with a pastor exhorting “God damn America” — the Democrats are now on the verge of deleting the historical memory of the nearly 3,000 who died on that bright, sunny morning.

That’s not a noble national service. It’s a cold, calculating national disgrace.

Donald Kent Douglas is an associate professor of Political Science teaching in Southern California.
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