Reported by Nancy - October 1, 2004 -
On FNL this morning (10/1) at 10:49am (EDT), Dan Springer reported about a controversy over a statue in a little town in British Columbia. Please keep reading for the complete story behind this "controversy" & links to a very specific action you can take.
Springer's report was a preening, gloating exercise of the "ain't we swell" variety.
It was also a "feel-good" story that's 2 days old, inserted here to cheer up Bush supporters after the debacle at the debate last night. Briefly, Springer said that the city of Nelson, BC, was going to erect a statue honoring draft dodgers who fled from the US to Canada during the Vietnam war. Springer actually called them "deserters" at one point. Springer proudly gave Fox viewers credit for inundating Nelson with complaints & criticism about the proposed statue, threatening their tourism industry & forcing the city to back down. Springer claimed that "hundreds & hundreds" of Fox viewers had acted. Like many claims made on FNL, this one is suspect: There are currently 361 comments in the City of Nelson's guestbook [see below for more info]. I didn't do a formal count, but many of them are from Canada (where FNC doesn't broadcast, so they can't be Fox viewers) & many either support the idea of the monument or oppose the freeper-style attacks on it. Even Springer had to admit there had been a "backlash against the backlash".
Here's the story as reported by the CBC:
B.C. city rejects draft-dodger monument
Last Updated Wed, 29 Sep 2004 16:40:14 EDT
NELSON, B.C. - Municipal politicians in Nelson, B.C., have decided that a controversial monument to American draft dodgers will not go up in their city.
At a special meeting on Wednesday, city council decided there would be no public money or public land for a monument unless it had broad public support in the community.
A statement released by the city says the planned monument to war resisters doesn't meet that criteria. It also says such a monument would be a "misuse of public funds."
A private Nelson-based group called Our Way Home announced plans three weeks ago to build the monument somewhere in the city.
The planned statue depicts a Canadian reaching out to help two U.S. draft dodgers. It was to be unveiled during a July 2006 two-day festival in honour of U.S. conscientious objectors.
But the proposal has drawn strong opposition from some local residents and many Americans, especially veterans' groups.
A spokesperson for Our Way Home now says the monument will only be built in a community happy to have it, and that will not be Nelson.
As many as 125,000 young Americans fled to Canada in the 1960s and '70s to avoid fighting in the Vietnam War. Many settled in the Nelson area.
The CBC report contains a link to a PDF file of the city of Nelson's official press release on the subject, which I'm reprinting here so you don't have to bother with the download:
Joint News Release
City of Nelson
Nelson & District Chamber of Commerce
September 29, 2004
Nelsonfor immediate release
The City of Nelson and the Nelson & District Chamber of Commerce are issuing this joint news release in order to help quell the controversy that has erupted over the plans of the "Our Way Home" committee to possibly erect a monument to war resisters in the City of Nelson. The "Our Way Home" initiative is being sponsored in part by a small group of people who live in the Nelson area and has not been endorsed by any public body. In a special meeting held on Wednesday, September 29, 2004, Nelson City Council passed a resolution stating that neither public funds nor public property will be used to assist in the development of monuments, or other such symbolic structures, that may be seen as highly divisive in nature. The Chamber of Commerce has adopted a similar stance. Both the City of Nelson and the Chamber of Commerce recognize that lawful freedom of expression is a right for which many people have fought and died in wars on behalf of their country, but this right must be exercised with discretion where the public good is concerned. Simply put, it would be a misuse of public funds and public property to pursue a monument that does not have widespread community support. The "Our Way Home" monument does not meet this standard. The City of Nelson is a tolerant, diverse community, and we encourage one and all to visit and discover what a fine place it truly is.
For more information concerning the position taken by the City of Nelson and Nelson & District Chamber of Commerce, please contact the City at (250) 352-8263 (www.city.nelson.bc.ca), or contact the Chamber of Commerce at (250) 352-3433 (www.discovernelson.com).
For questions or comments concerning the "Our Way Home" initiative please contact coordinator Isaac Romano at (250) 229-4002 (www.ourwayhomereunion.com).
Resolution passed unanimously by Nelson City Council, Sept. 29, 2004: That Nelson City Council does not endorse the use of public lands or public (taxpayer) funds for the construction of monuments or other symbolic structures unless such initiatives have demonstrated broad community support.
I went to the website for the City of Nelson. Searching for a way to contact them, I clicked on the "guestbook" link & found this preface:
RE: PROPOSAL FOR A MONUMENT TO WAR RESISTORS
The City of Nelson has not been approached to take an official position with respect to a monument to War Resistors. City Council has not been asked to support it, to fund it, or to provide a location. The proposal is the idea of a group of individuals called "Our Way Home". No City official, including the Mayor is any way associated with this group. Any opinions that have been expressed on this proposal are purely the opinions of the individuals making them. The City of Nelson sincerely regrets any anxiety or misunderstanding that has occurred as a result of this issue.
Click below that statement to continue to the guestbook, where you can read the freeper-style comments or add your own. I just added an apology to the citizens of Nelson for subjecting them to this appalling display of hate.