Moral Low Ground

US Government

Richmond, California Mayor Gayle McLaughlin Skipping Veterans Day Memorial to Attend ‘Occupy’ Rally

Richmond, California Mayor Gayle McLaughlin is raising eyebrows and ire with her decision to skip a Veterans Day memorial to attend an ‘Occupy’ rally.

The San Jose Mercury News reports that McLaughlin will not attend tomorrow’s Veterans Day Salute, a non-city event sponsored by the Chevron corporation and the Richmond Museum Association. The festivities will include a re-enactment of the launch of a World War II ship from the city’s shipyards.

The memorial event and the ‘Occupy’ rally are both scheduled for 11am tomorrow.

Jeff Rubin, organizer of the Veterans Day memorial in nearby Pinole, was incensed by McLaughlin’s decision. “She has very little respect for the country and traditions,” he told the Mercury News. “Everything with her is political. I think the day was picked on purpose.”

Actually, the date was chosen because it is 11/11/11/, a once-in-a-century occurrence.

“As mayor, she has a responsibility to everyone in our community, not only the disenfranchised and the unemployed, but to the veterans as well,” Rubin added.

Michael Klasno, who heads Gold Star Dads of America, a support group for fathers who’ve lost children in America’s wars, called McLaughlin’s decision a “slap in the face” to veterans and grieving parents. “You don’t blow off the veterans of the United States for anybody, and you certainly don’t blow it off for Occupy Wall Street,” he told the Mercury News. “As somebody who’s paid the ultimate sacrifice, that to me is beyond the pale.”

But McLaughlin counters that the ‘Occupy’ rally will honor Scott Olsen, the U.S. Marine Corps and Iraq war veteran who was seriously injured when riot police fractured his skull at a recent ‘Occupy Oakland’ protest. And she says she does have great respect for America’s veterans.

“I choose to honor our veterans, not only on Veterans Day, but daily, by supporting an end to military warfare to prevent further fighting and dying in needless wars,” she told the Mercury News. “I am a strong supporter of Veterans for Peace and Iraq Veterans Against the War.

McLaughlin, who presides over the Bay Area city of 103,000 residents, said that she is also respecting vets by exercising her freedom of choice. “I think a good way to show respect for our veterans is to put all our energy into promoting the values that veterans fought for and some of them died for,” she told the Mercury News. 

The easy thing to do would be to slam McLaughlin as anti-American and to launch into an O’Reillyesque tirade about what a “pinhead” she is for “not supporting the troops.” But wait. What is the best way to really support them? By waving flags and spouting patriotic platitudes about how much we love our troops even while we shamelessly allow hundreds of thousands of veterans to live on the streets? By cheering them in parades or on holidays then turning our backs as more War on Terror vets kill themselves than die in combat? We Americans are really good at bumper sticker patriotism. But when the next war comes along, most of us will obediently– even enthusiastically– swallow whatever concocted casus belli our (mis)leaders serve up, not pausing for a moment to consider the real reasons this nation usually wages war. And those are never in the troops’ best interest.

If we truly supported our troops, we would not allow them to be sent to kill and die in far-flung lands that pose no threat to America’s existence. The last time this nation entered into a just war was 70 years ago. Since then, every single conflict the United States has fought has been a war of choice, and usually one rooted in imperial ambitions. And who bears the brunt of the bloody burden? Our men and women in uniform. Who gains from their selfless sacrifice? Not them, and not the average American citizen. No, the big winners are in Washington and on Wall Street.

Meanwhile, the rest of us foolishly celebrate our nation’s wars. Why? We ought to be ashamed of them. What is war but the ultimate failure to solve our problems by more civilized means?

It would logically follow that the best way to “support our troops” is to aggressively oppose the wars that claim and maim so many of them. And by working with groups like Veterans for Peace and Iraq Veterans Against the War, Mayor McLaughlin is doing just that. She deserves the highest praise, not scorn from mindless chickenhawk pseudo-patriots so wrapped in the flag that they can’t see what’s best for the brave men and women in uniform.

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  1. J MaleyNovember 11, 2011 at 5:55 amReply

    This woman is a stupid cow and an embarrassment to our Country. She should chose patriotism over politics and SHAME ON HER!!!!!

    • Brett WilkinsNovember 11, 2011 at 2:12 pmReplyAuthor

      “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel” ~Samuel Johnson.

    • CA_DreamerNovember 11, 2011 at 6:51 pmReply

      I totally agree with you, She disgraces the ‘real’ people of California. She is such a piece of crap. My husband is a veteran of both OIF and EOF and I am so proud of him.
      It is sad when you can’t be proud of the place you are born because of garbage like this so called woman.

      • Brett WilkinsNovember 13, 2011 at 11:21 amReplyAuthor

        You can be proud of our veterans but still opposed to the wars that kill and maim so many of them. When will Americans understand this?

  2. Mike WalkerNovember 11, 2011 at 6:04 amReply

    What a waste of oxygen!

    • Brett WilkinsNovember 11, 2011 at 2:14 pmReplyAuthor

      Actually, Mayor McLaughlin, by being opposed to Chevron (which operates a refinery in Richmond) and its environmental degradation, is an asset to the city’s oxygen! She is a member of the Green Party, making Richmond (population 103,000) the largest U.S. city with a Green mayor.

  3. HollyNovember 11, 2011 at 8:12 amReply

    I get the distinct impression that this woman supports our veterans, AS LONG AS, they agree with her political ideology. In other words, she doesn’t GET IT.
    Sadly, it feels right on par with radical liberal politicans. I wouldn’t vote for her.

    • Brett WilkinsNovember 11, 2011 at 2:17 pmReplyAuthor

      Her politics aren’t so radical to the people of Richmond, one of the most progressive cities in the nation. McLaughlin is a member of the Green Party, making Richmond (population 103,000) the largest city in the nation with a Green mayor.

      • Kevin EbertsNovember 11, 2011 at 6:28 pmReply

        Well Richmond must be one of the stupidest cities in the country.

  4. VinceNovember 11, 2011 at 12:13 pmReply

    I sincerely hope this is her last term as mayor.

    • Brett WilkinsNovember 11, 2011 at 2:19 pmReplyAuthor

      I wouldn’t count on it… she is quite popular in Richmond. She is neither a Democrat nor a Republican, a refreshing change in this “Republicrat”-dominated nation. As a Green, she gives Richmond the distinction of being the largest U.S. city with a Green mayor.

  5. VinceNovember 11, 2011 at 12:19 pmReply

    She fails to recognize that it’s due to our Veterans, past present and future, that she has the option of doing something else rather than spend a few hours reflecting on the sacrifices our young men & women make to keep our country free. We’re not celebrating our wars, we’re paying tribute to our warriors.

    • Brett WilkinsNovember 11, 2011 at 2:20 pmReplyAuthor

      And what better way to pay tribute to them than by fighting against the wars that claim and maim so many of them?

      • Kevin EbertsNovember 11, 2011 at 6:33 pmReply

        We don’t ask for her and people like her to feel sorry for us nor do we want her “fighting” for us. We’re big boys and girls and we know full well what the risks are when we enlist.

        • Brett WilkinsNovember 13, 2011 at 11:23 amReplyAuthor

          You may know what the risks are, but so many of you are ignorant to the real role of the U.S. armed forces. You are not “defending freedom.” Our freedom hasn’t been directly threatened since the Civil War. You are fighting to defend corporate profits and U.S. imperial ambitions. Many soldiers DO understand this. But too many don’t. You are expendable pawns to the U.S. war machine.

      • CherylNovember 11, 2011 at 6:38 pmReply

        She changed her excuse.. It was values earlier, but the military is not about wealth redistribution. The fact is it was a slam on our vets… today is their day. Misguided occupiers are still going to be there tomorrow, keeping people away, draining our public safety resources, and hurting small business.

        • Brett WilkinsNovember 13, 2011 at 11:28 amReplyAuthor

          What too many people don’t understand is that there is a direct connection between militarism and wealth distribution. The purpose of the military is to advance the goals of the U.S. government and business interests. Washington and Wall Street are the shot callers. U.S. troops do not invade and occupy nations to “spread democracy” or “defend our freedom.” Only ignorant fools would believe such nonsense. Wars are to protect strategic and corporate interests. The last time the U.S. faced an existential threat was the Civil War. By spouting bumper sticker patriotic slogans like “support our troops” while mindlessly supporting illegal and immoral wars like Vietnam, Grenada, Panama and Iraq, you are acting like the opposite of a patriot. You wanna know how to really support our troops? By supporting PEACE.

  6. sherylNovember 11, 2011 at 2:09 pmReply

    This is disrespectful of our Vets and current service men and women.. How can the people who elected her continue to support her.. This woman needs to be ran out of town on a rail..She’s a disgrace to her town, state, country. She is a bad example to young people everywhere.
    I’m sick and tired of these people and I hope others will start speaking out instead of letting these people think what they are doing is OK with everyone else.

    • Brett WilkinsNovember 11, 2011 at 2:36 pmReplyAuthor

      Actually, her values are quite indicative of the majority of her community. That’s why she was elected mayor. We here in the San Francisco area know that “support our troops” means more than wearing a T-shirt or turning out for a parade. It means standing up against the injustice and the imperial warmongering that sends our young men and women in uniform off to far-flung corners of the globe to kill and be killed to further the goals of Washington and Wall Street. Mayor McLaughlin supports Veterans for Peace and Iraq Veterans Against the War. So you cannot claim that she is disrespectful of our veterans!

      • CherylNovember 11, 2011 at 6:40 pmReply

        Then she should have been there to support them on their day. The occupiers are talking about their hatred of the uber rich, not about our troops. Nice try though

        • Brett WilkinsNovember 13, 2011 at 11:31 amReplyAuthor

          The issues are one and the same. So yes, it was a nice try. A very nice one. Here is Marine General Smedley Butler, the most highly decorated U.S. soldier at the time, laying it all out for ignorant Americans who don’t understand the nature of our wars. This speech is from the 1930s, but it rings as true today as ever:

          “War is just a racket… Only a small inside group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few at the expense of the masses… the flag follows the dollar and the soldiers follow the flag.
          I wouldn’t go to war again as I have done to protect some lousy investment of the bankers. There are only two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights. War for any other reason is simply a racket.
          There isn’t a trick in the racketeering bag that the military gang is blind to. It has its ‘finger men’ to point out enemies, its ‘muscle men’ to destroy enemies, its ‘brain men’ to plan war preparations, and a ‘Big Boss,’ Super-Nationalistic Capitalism…
          I spent 33 years and four months in active military service as a member of this country’s most agile military force, the Marine Corps… and during that period, I spent most of my time being a high class muscle-man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer; a gangster for capitalism…
          I helped make Mexico… safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street… I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912… I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. In China I helped to see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested.
          During those years, I had, as the boys in the back room would say, a swell racket. Looking back on it, I feel that I could have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.”

  7. GabeNovember 11, 2011 at 6:38 pmReply

    It’s ironic that you Bret always have an answer for people who dislike the Richmond mayor. I NEVER seen such a delusional and arrogant mayor, with the exception of Jean Quan of Oakland corruption the community of Richmond. The community of Richmond deserves better. Maybe Gayle and Jean should go out bowling together. Richmond burns while Gayle fiddles.

    • Brett WilkinsNovember 13, 2011 at 11:33 amReplyAuthor

      She is a righteous mayor, although from what I hear from here in San Francisco (20 or so miles away), she’s got a lot of work to do on the crime problem there. But everyone I know who lives in Richmond supports Mayor McLaughlin. I hope she gets re-elected.

  8. LlkNovember 11, 2011 at 10:36 pmReply

    Wow. Just. Wow.
    I read this site a lot on my reader, Brett, so I seldom click through. But I had to comment to say Nice Job being civil and facing this comment stream lunacy with decorum, dignity and humor.
    (Is it always like this?)

    • Brett WilkinsNovember 12, 2011 at 10:15 amReplyAuthor

      Thanks for reading! And yes, it usually is like this! I can see where everyone is coming from, but they don’t seem to be able to see beyond their preconceived notions of what patriotism ought to be. Pretty scary– this is how fascism takes hold.

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