Wednesday, July 16, 2008

9/11 Billboard Creator's Loose Grasp of Reality

A misguided man down in St. Cloud, Florida has somehow amassed a large amount of money to post billboards around the Orlando area with a picture of the Twin Towers as they burn after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, with the words "Please Don't Vote for a Democrat" next to the towers, along with a plug for, a website where the man, Mike Meehan, hawks a song that he wrote and sings about why the Democrats are so horrible. Naturally, the Democrats have come out and condemned the poster, and the Republican Party has even gone so far as to label the billboard "inappropriate." The real mind-boggling part of all this, however, is how little Meehan understands of the situation.

Meehan claims that 9/11 is Bill Clinton's fault. He says that Clinton had the chance to take down Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda all by himself and refused to do it. He says that had a Republican - seemingly any Republican - been president from '92 to 2000, 9/11 would not have happened. Anyone who has a tangential grasp on what occurred during the Reagan-Bush years of the 1980s understands why Meehan is way off the mark. Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda rose from these Republican administrations' mujaheddin - also known as "Freedom Fighters" - during the Soviet-Afghan War of the 1980s. This, of course, is completely lost on Meehan.

Also lost on Meehan is the fact that in the months preceding 9/11, the Bush Administration was served warning after warning regarding Al-Qaeda's plans to commit a large-scale terrorist attack on U.S. soil and ignored them. Hell, the Feds had some of the hijackers on their radar because of their activities, but nothing was done about it. Yet Meehan says that Bush has done a great job in the anti-terror department. Never mind the fact that the Bush administration had Osama pinned down and essentially let him go. Bush may have some successes when it comes to battling terrorism (though the re-emergence of the Taliban in Afghanistan is troubling), but the cost has been enormous. Blatant ignorance of basic constitutional liberties, such as habeas corpus and numerous amendments in the Bill of Rights (namely the Fourth) have eroded our democratic principles.

But politicizing 9/11 is nothing new, and it is hypocritial for the Republicans to come out and say anything remotely similar. It was President Bush who said during the 2006 midterm elections that the terrorists would win and America would lose if the Democrats were granted control of Congress. National security was also an issue in 2004, when the Republicans said that the Democrats were weak on national security and implied that if Kerry won the White House, the country would be less safe.

Getting back to these billboards. Thomas Jefferson said, "Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government." It appears that Meehan does not fit Jefferson's parameters of who can be trusted with their own government. This country was founded under the assumption that the electorate would be well-informed and educated before going to the polls. Meehan's use of 9/11 as a political attack against Democrats shows that he does not have a firm grasp of what is and is not appropriate, and his comments regarding 9/11 and the past four presidents clearly shows that his grip on political knowledge is minimal. This is America, and he has every right to put a moronic billboard like that up if he can find someone willing to do it (which he somehow found in Beech Outdoor Advertising) because of the First Amendment. Under that same liberty, however, those of us who disagree with his shortsightedness also have a right to point out where and why he is gravely mistaken and correct him. Peace.

Photos - The billboard in question (Pensito Review), Mike Meehan (The Republican Song), Thomas Jefferson, an advocate of the informed electorate (Harvard Square Library)

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