Bush, Veterans, & the Confederacy




I

t
is disturbing that President Bush not only has refused to attend
the funeral of any service- person killed in Iraq, but also refuses
to send condolences to fallen servicepeople’s relatives. Bush’s
denial of acknowledging U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq—the same
as his government’s media ban on showing body bags and coffins—is
even worse when compared to his sending wreaths to Confederate graves
on Memorial Day. However, looking at his record, this should not
be surprising: 


  • While soldiers
    are fighting in Iraq, Bush cut soldiers’ danger pay and family
    separation allowances, cancelled a Congress-proposed doubling
    of servicepeople’s life insurance benefits, and slashed GI
    Bill benefits. Most servicepeople now are too low-paid to receive
    Bush’s per-child tax credit and many live on food stamps. 

  • Bush cut $600
    million from the Veterans Administration budget, although the
    VA is already under-funded by around $2 billion a year and now
    has over 200,000 new veterans to service—many of whom are
    already sick with Gulf War Syndrome, which has left over 270,000
    Gulf War vets disabled and over 10,000 dead. There are also plans
    to cut $1.5 billion per year from the VA’s budget for each
    of the next ten years. 

  • Wounded National
    Guard and Army Reserves have returned home only to be placed in
    “medical hold” while the Army decides what medical treatment
    and benefits—if any—they should receive. Some soldiers
    have stated the Army has tried to claim their Iraq injuries/illnesses
    were “pre-existing conditions.” Soldiers are having
    to wait four to six months to receive medical care while their
    treatable ailments turn to permanent disability. At Fort Knox,
    more than 400 wounded soldiers lasted the Kentucky summer in a
    non-air conditioned, animal-infested barracks. At Fort Stewart
    (Georgia), over 600 wounded soldiers languish with no indoor plumbing
    and have to pay for food and lodging. On a re-election stop last
    fall, President Bush visited Fort Stewart, but refused to see
    the wounded soldiers. 

  • All evidence
    indicates the war was started on fictitious grounds. It has left
    more than 700 soldiers killed, over 9,000 wounded, and over 1,000
    evacuated for psychiatric evaluation. 


In
contrast: 


  • As governor
    of Texas, Bush wrote official state letters honoring white-separatist
    organizations such as the United Daughters of the Confederacy,
    whom Bush praised for their “high standards” and “dedication
    to others,” and to the unreconstructed Sons of Confederate
    Veterans, to whom Bush has had a membership. 

  • Bush also wrote
    a fundraising letter for the revisionist Museum of the Confederacy
    in support of their annual ball. The ball, held in a slave hall
    turned gun foundry which produced Confederate munitions that killed
    union soldiers, entertains hundreds of all-white guests in antebellum
    costumes surrounded by Confederate flags. The museum sells books
    that support the Confederate Constitution. 

  • Bush, who previously
    attacked the NAACP’s boycott of South Carolina over the Confederate
    flag, campaigned at South Carolina’s white-supremacist Bob
    Jones University and, in the words of southern journalist Jackson
    Thoreau, “genuflected before the Confederate flag.” 

  • Close ties between
    Bush’s Southeast Regional 2000 campaign chairperson, Warren
    Tompkins, and neo-Confederate vanguard, Richard Hines, resulted
    in Hines’s (then-unregistered) political action committee
    mailing over 250,000 letters condemning John McCain for seeing
    the Confederate flag as a racist symbol and lauding Bush for appreciating
    it. Hines, long connected to the nation’s leading white-supremacist
    apologia magazine

    Southern Partisan

    (which celebrates the
    assassination of Abraham Lincoln) claimed on one of his websites
    to have “an active voice in the current Bush administration,”
    which Bush has never denied. 


It
will be interesting to see what President Bush does this year. Will
he again pay tribute to fallen Confederate soldiers? Will he finally
acknowledge U.S. casualties from the Iraq War? Being an election
year, probably neither—nor will he memorialize fallen servicepeople
from the Vietnam War, the war President Bush was so unwilling to
fight that he deliberately lost his flight status.







 





Kyle Tucker is
a freelance writer living in the Joplin, Missouri area.