Sunday, October 4, 2009

San Francisco says yes to war

by Ann Garrison

The City of San Francisco, California, now prepares to host Fleet Week and the Blue Angels Air Show, a high tech, all forces, recruitment drive and military festival, which the City has requested every year since 1981.

As the world awaits Barack Obama's decision on Afghanistan Commander General Stanley McChrystal's request for another 40,000 pair of "boots on the ground" in the Afghanistan War, and Barack Obama appeals to NATO to view the Afghanistan War as their own, the City of San Francisco prepares to host its annual all forces recruitment drive and military festival, also known as Fleet Week and the Blue Angels Air Show, from October 8th to 13th.

In 2007, I studied the official procedures for scheduling a Blue Angels Air Show on the FAQs page of the Official Website of the Blue Angels Air Show and learned that, in order to have a Blue Angels Air Show, a city must submit a request to the Secretary of the U.S. Navy by the end of September, a year in advance, so I called California Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, and Representative Nancy Pelosi, to ask who had requested that year's show. Barbara Boxer's office called me back the next day to say that "it was a local request," and gave me San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom's telephone number: (415) 554-6141.

I dialed and Mayor Newsom's staff confirmed, then sent me written copies of his exchanges with Secretary of the Navy Donald C. Winter, including a letter promising to "take care of Supervisor Chris Daly."

Supervisor Daly failed to win majority support that year, 2007, for a resolution that would have required the Blue Angels to fly over San Francisco Bay rather than the City of San Francisco, to avoid the risk of a jet fighter bomber crash, at the speed of sound, with thousands of gallons of kerosene based jet fuel on board. A Blue Angel bomber had crash in Beaufort, South Carolina earlier that year.

In 1981, then San Francisco Mayor Dianne Feinstein invited Fleet Week and the Blue Angels to recruit and promote the U.S. military, in San Francisco, eight years after the end of the draft, six years after the end of the Vietnam War, and three years after the assassination of Harvey Milk. They've returned, every year since, at the City's request.

In 2008, I myself tried and failed to organize a signature drive to put an initiative on the San Francisco ballot, as an anti-recruiting, anti-war measure, that would have made the whole Fleet Week/Blue Angels recruitment drive and military fest unwelcome.

However, that year I did at least succeed, in a KTVU Channel 2-San Francisco Bay Area News interview, in pushing San Francisco Mayor Newsom to finally admit that Fleet Week and the Blue Angels Air Show are indeed a military recruitment drive. Or, rather, the Blue Angels officer who spoke, on KTVU, after me and just before Mayor Newsom, pushed him to, unintentionally I'm sure, by simply stating that of course they come here to recruit and wouldn't come if they couldn't recruit.

Mayor Newsom had, up until that time, proudly acknowledged that he invited the Blue Angels here to "support the troops in an unpopular war," and "to honor the veterans." (Quotation marks around words Mayor Newsom used, in his response to my Sunshine Ordinance Requests for information, as to who invites the Blue Angels, and, why.)

Veterans make up much, if not the majority, of the homeless population in San Francisco, which the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, which tracks the criminalization of homeless people, identified, as the seventh meanest to the homeless in 2009.

Earlier this year, I spoke to anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan about San Francisco's choice, which is hardly surprising, despite its long past Summer of Love and anti-Vietnam War rallies. This is the city that sends House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Congress, every other year, including 2008, when Cindy ran against her.

Here's the archive, from Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox, April 12th, 2009, posted to Current TV:

No comments: