Dear Mr. President

March 10, 2009

President Barack Obama
The White House
Washington, DC

Dear Mr. President:

Congratulations on your election, which I deem to be some indication that the Grace of God may be operative during the dark night of this nation’s soul.

I am writing to provide you with a “heads up” in the event you are invited to speak by satellite to an assemblage at the Boston Convention Center celebrating St. Patrick’s Day on March 15, 2009. If such an invitation is forthcoming, I would urge you to heed the words of your friend Harry Belafonte and choose “what is morally right over what is politically expedient,” and pass on the occasion.

Your advisers should be aware that the assembly precedes a parade which bars any voice for peace from participation — without exception. Alleging that it is a “private affair,” and based upon an immoral decision of the Supreme Court, Military Families Speak Out, Code Pink, Citizens for an Informed Community, South Boston Residents for Peace, Veterans for Peace, and countless other organizations which advocate peace and an end to war are unilaterally denied representation. What is more disturbing is the fact that at the preceding assembly virtually the entire political establishment of Massachusetts – most of whom ashamedly supported the Bush doctrine covertly and overtly — through silence endorse such discrimination against veterans who have suffered the consequences of war and advocate peace.

Furthermore, the parade has historically discriminated against those holding minority positions, gays and lesbians, and peace activists to such an extent that even the Mayor of the City of Boston chooses not to march. The parade is overwhelmingly militaristic, in the main featuring brigades of children enlisted in JROTC mainly from deprived inner-city neighborhoods. A million suburban spectators enthusiastically applaud their presence, unfortunately comfortable in the knowledge it will not be their children who will suffer conscription and exposure to shot and shell. No voice is raised objecting to the distortion of the minds of children subject to sophisticated jingoism, and carefully taught that war is the only alternative to global conflict.

While the local Congressional Representative, a strong supporter of the war, reluctantly acknowledged in 2005 that “the reasons for the war were bogus,” he enjoys the lack of media broadcast of his change in position, and cleverly supports no sunshine activity for the children exposed to war propaganda.

The history of this occasion is replete with political chicanery, and is in fact an insult to the Irish forebears of South Boston who fled Ireland when England unleashed a mercenary army of prisoners — the Black and Tans — to rob the people of their lands. Barring voices for peace is an insult to peoples of Irish heritage by a political establishment which has lost its roots, and a shameful example of the “swill of discrimination,” tantamount to the exclusion of Jews and Blacks from the Country Club. It may well be “legal” — but as you know, it is no longer fashionable — at least outside South Boston.

I am a retired naval officer, decorated for combat in Vietnam. I returned to this community over 30 years ago to silence and very little support for veterans beyond the establishment of memorials providing photo-ops for politicians who in the main benefit from the racket we call “war.” South Boston is a community of fear with respect to speaking out against war, and a island of hypocrisy displaying yellow metallic bands advocating “Support Our Troops.” Support of our troops means not sending them into combat for lies, and bringing them home with the assurance of jobs, education, and medical care. It means the end of lies to children — too often the canon fodder insuring the comfort and aggrandizement of the elite.

I would urge you not to endorse this celebration of mendacity which your predecessor heartily endorsed at the behest of pseudo-democrats. Mr. President, it is time for a change. You represent the heart and soul of the voiceless in our society. You are our voice — a voice that should not be politically manipulated to endorse discrimination.

Very respectfully,

Anthony F. Flaherty, LT, USN, Ret
South Boston, MA


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