An Op/Ed piece published in Sunday’s Richmond Times-Dispatch gives an interesting perspective to the use of images from 9/11 in campaign ads that have been making headlines and leading to criticism of the Bush camp from victims’ families.
What’s so interesting is that the writer of the essay, Debra Burlingame, is not only a lifelong Democrat, but is the sister of Charles F. ‘Chic’ Burlingame III, captain of American Airlines flight 77, which was crashed into the Pentagon on September 11, 2001.
Says Debra: “‘The 9/11 families’ are not a monolithic group that speaks in one voice, and nothing has made that more clear than the controversy over the Bush campaign ads.”
“It is one thing for individual family members to invoke the memory of all 3,000 victims as they take to the microphone or podium to show respect for our collective loss. It is another for them to attempt to stifle the debate over the future direction of our country by declaring that the images of 9/11 should be off limits in the presidential race, and to do so under the rubric of ‘The Families of September 11.'”
“They do not represent me. Nor do they represent those Americans who feel that September 11 was a defining moment in the history of our country and who want to know how the current or future occupant of the Oval Office views the lessons of that day.”
A few other noteworthy quotes:
“I suspect that the real outrage over the ads has more to do with the context than the content. It’s not the pictures that disturb them so much as the person who is using them.”
“As ‘relatives of 9/11 victims,’ they are virtually immune to challenge on the issue of who should have the loudest voice regarding the legacy of this national tragedy.”
And finally, this lifelong Democrat raises this important point:
“Whatever these 9/11 families may think of the President’s foreign policy or the war in Iraq, I ask them to reconsider the language and tone of their statements. We should not tolerate or condone remarks such as those of the 9/11 relative who, so offended by the campaign ads, said that he ‘would vote for Saddam Hussein before I would vote for Bush.‘ The insult was picked up and posted on Al-Jazeera’s Website. In view of the sacrifice our troops have made on our behalf, this insensitivity to them and their families suggests a level of self-indulgence and ingratitude that shocks the conscience.”
I’m happy to see a fair, balanced point of view. I know that there are plenty of people out there — both Republicans and Democrats — who are capable of standing independent of their preferred party’s rhetoric. That a family member of a 9/11 victim has done so as loudly and clearly as Ms. Burlingame has should say something extraordinary to us all…something much more powerful than the obvious, oft-forgotten notion that there are always two sides to every story.
Burlingame’s essay is ©MMIV The Wall Street Journal.