John Smith, an employee of the U.S. Department of Commerce, arrived at work last week, and he and all other of his fellow department colleagues had a voice mail from Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez.
The voice mail went something like this:
Dear Comrade Smith:
As we commemorate those who perished four years ago on September 11th and fell before those who would try and steal our freedom, I encourage you to march to help keep this nation free, to honor those fighting for freedom in Iraq, those trying to preserve the way of life of our great nation.
A great way to show your love of this great nation and to make your claim that freedom matters, I strongly encourage you, Comrade, to Walk for Freedom on Sunday, September 11th at the Pentagon.
Ok. . .I inserted the references to “Comrade” and used an alias for Mr. Smith.
This is the kind of thing that used to happen in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The “party” prevailed over the government, over the bureaucrats and civil servants, and assured party loyalty over the interests of the nation and of civil society.
Secretary of Commerce Gutierrez prevailed upon his staff to attend a political rally from which the Washington Post itself withdrew sponsorship. This crosses a line — and appears illegal to this observer.
When I consulted with various members of the media who covered the so-called Freedom Walk that co-mingled a memorial to 9/11 victims with a rally for our actions in Iraq, they reported that many of those who attended the several-thousand person rally were “unenthusiastic civil servants” from the Labor, Commerce, and other Departments who were pressured to attend.
The Freedom Walk certainly was not an expression of the type of freedom this nation is about — not unless we are all about to bind ourselves blindly to the propagandistic theatre of those who sully important anniversaries like that of 9/11 — and remember those who died that tragic day as well as those innocents who died on all sides of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan since.
I respect those who wanted to be there today — who visited the Pentagon, walked across the Memorial Bridge, and listened to country music later. Those who showed free will to support this enterprise have a right to do — but to pressure government bureaucrats to pump up a political rally is exactly what the Soviets used to do.
— Steve Clemons