Wednesday, August 10, 2005


Pentagon to march on the Mall

Michael McAuliff of the NY Daily News is reporting that Donald Rumsfeld has announced "a massive march and country music concert to mark the fourth anniversary of 9/11." How Rumsfeld knows it will be "massive" is not explained.

I am unaware of any march heretofore organized and promoted by the federal government, and if this doesn't worry you, I don't know what will. The country music theme, of course, will be an attraction for red-staters.

McAuliff writes,

Word of the event startled some observers. "I've never heard of such a thing," said John Pike, who has been a defense analyst in Washington for 25 years and runs

The news also reignited debate and anger over linking Sept. 11 with the war in Iraq.

"That piece of it is disturbing since we all know now there was no connection," said Paul Rieckhoff, an Iraq veteran who heads Operation Truth, an anti-administration military booster.

Rieckhoff suggested the event was an ill-conceived publicity stunt. "I think it's clear that their public opinion polls are in the toilet," he said.

Rumsfeld's walk had some relatives of 9/11 victims fuming.

"How about telling Mr. Rumsfeld to leave the memories of Sept. 11 victims to the families?" said Monica Gabrielle, who lost her husband in the attacks.

The Defense Department press release makes clear that this march is intended to be an annual event—

The goal for next year's walk is to get each state to host its own Freedom Walk to provide an opportunity for as many citizens as possible to reflect on the importance of freedom, according to a DoD press release.

The media have leapt in feet first—

The walk was made possible with the help of several local in-kind supporters, including Stars and Stripes newspaper, Pentagon Federal Credit Union, Subway, Washington Post, Lockheed Martin, WTOP, ABC/WJLA-TV Channel 7 and News Channel 8, and the Washington Convention & Tourism Corporation, according to the Freedom Walk Web site.

In case you were hoping to attend,

"America Supports You" is a nationwide program launched by the Defense Department with the goal of highlighting how Americans across the country are supporting the men and women of the armed forces.

There will also be a private ceremony for the families of the 9/11 victims prior to the walk.

To avoid long lines, America Supports You Freedom Walk participants are encouraged to arrive at the Pentagon South parking lot between 7 and 8 a.m. According to the Freedom Walk Web site, the first 1,000 people to arrive will receive an official America Supports You campaign lapel pin.

8/11/05   11:10 am

The uniqueness of this Pentagon-sponsored march, with the plan to institutionalize it and see it spread to the 50 states, sent me on a forced march down Memory Lane.

Since this is a "Freedom walk," I assume that some of the participants will be "freedom fighters" as at Nuremberg, 1927—

Huge masses of German citizens and party members from Nuremberg and from all parts of the German-speaking world filled the streets in expectation of the appearance of every last German freedom fighter who had come to Nuremberg.

Hitler was big on the word "freedom," which when combined with a march was pretty darned irresistable. From "The Art of National Propaganda,"

Probably the most powerful weapon in the National Socialists' propaganda arsenal were the mass meetings. Many of the public and communal meetings were modelled on the theatre of the Weimar Republic. Collective dreams had been staged by Max Reinhardt in carefully rehearsed performances in which actors, lights, and public were all fused in a kind of total art, or Gesamtkunstwerk. These productions and the musicals, with their giant staircase for large casts, became the models for Hitler's mass marches, although the communists and social democrats also marched frequently and believed that the streets belonged to them. The massed ranks of Hitler's followers marched for the first time on a grand scale in 1929 at the big Party Rally in Nürnberg. Over 200,000 people arrived in special trains. The colourful and noisy display of their banners, uniforms, and marches would become a hallmark of future rallies. Wave after wave of people marched for five and a half hours in front of a Leader who was not yet even in absolute command. In these mass marches the enthusiasm for the regime was carefully orchestrated in the form of a complex visual arrangement of uniforms and group formations, choreographed like a ballet.

The feeling, as described by Werner Hager in "Bauwerke im Dritten Reich" (Structures in the Third Reich), was quite wonderful—

People are no longer a mass of individuals, a formless, artless mass. Now they form a body in unison, moved by a will and a communal feeling. They learn again to move in formations or to stand still, as if moulded by an invisible hand. A new corporate feeling is born, beginning simply in the feature of lifting the arm for the greeting and culminating in the mass march ..... The notion of a communal body is becoming a reality. Noble passion is stirred up, changing what is ephemeral into something lasting.

In 1932, when the Nazis still had electoral politics to contend with, they were careful to analyze the effectiveness of their propaganda. From "Tested Methods of Modern Propaganda" by Helmut von Wilucki—

Our most effective propaganda method was undoubtedly the Hitler mass meeting. The fact that the Führer placed all his energy in the service of propaganda, and the way in which he did it, had an effect on the masses of the voters. It was an event not only in our press, but also to some degree in other newspapers as well. As a result, not only those citizens who participated in the meetings, but everyone else as well was influenced by the spell of the Führer's mass meetings.

We had prepared by years of smaller meetings. That made the mass meetings in the grand style effective during the July campaign, particularly when they were supported by large marches. The S. A. [Brownshirt] march was always the movement's best method of propaganda.

Related post
Fascism, anyone? A few journalists are speaking up (8/10/05)

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