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FOX and Friends fan flag flap flames, feign fake face-off

Reported by Chrish - November 1, 2007 -

On FOX and Friends this morning 11/1/07, the triumphant trio hosted FOX News Military analyst Col. David Hunt challenging Lt. Col. Bill McLemore, US Veterans Affairs, on the trumped up faux patriotism - religious victim twofer issue of recitiations during the folding of US flags at military funerals in national cemeteries.

Hunt was incensed that God has been taken out of the ceremony for "PC reasons" and wants "Mac," as he called McLemore, to write a one-liner that rescinds the policy (of the National Cemetery Administration, it should be but was not noted). He called the opt-in policy "stupid" and said it doesn't pass the smell test. He misrepresented the incident that started the NCA's review, saying someone "didn't like the word God" when actually, according to local reporting:

Washington banned the recital after receiving one complaint about the 11th fold, a tribute to Jewish veterans that "glorifies the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob." In detailing its reason for the ban, the government said a handout accompanying the script used at some burial services included a "gross error" that glorified "the Gods Abraham, Isaac and Jacob."

McLemore said that we'd see a memo today rescinding the September memo that will emphasize that the VA wants to do whatever the families want at the services (which is laid out in the clarification already issued 10/30.) He reminded Hunt that the traditional military funeral does not do anything one way or the other in regards to recitation: there is reverent silence during the solemn ceremony and that's the way it's always been. (Hunt impatiently said "yeah, yeah, yeah.") The military honor guards have never recited; the volunteer honor guards that they now use (because there are 1,900 services per day (?) may, and do.

Hunt demanded to know why this hurt is being put on soldiers' families and professed repeatedly to not understand why the change was made in the first place.

The issue has been so spun out of control that the VA's clarification issued October 30 was perverted and used as a catalyst yesterday to rally the easily-led into a group hissy fit, including a dozen of our more right-wing US Congress persons. These outraged people, including the Friends and Col. Hunt, now believe they have won a victory and are pointing to the same clarification that started the media storm as the victorious outcome.

An AP report states

In a memo last month to directors of the agency's 125 cemeteries, a senior VA official said they should not distribute or post nongovernment handouts on "The Meaning of Each Fold of an Honor Guard Funeral Flag."

The VA contended it was simply clarifying its policy. The recital in question is not part of the official Defense Department interment ceremony and should be read only on request from a family member, said VA spokeswoman Lisette Mondello. (Emphasis added.)

The aforementioned memo said the handout and its religious references shouldn't be used as a script at committal services unless the next-of-kin requests it.The clarification includes the following:

Traditional gravesite military funeral honors include the silent folding and presentation of an American flag, a 21-gun rifle salute, and the playing of “Taps.”

* Volunteer honor guards are authorized to read the so-called “13-fold” flag recitation or any comparable script;
* Survivors of the deceased need to provide material and request it be read by the volunteer honor guards; and
* Volunteer honor guards will accept requests for recitations that reflect any or no religious traditions, on an equal basis.

The AP report also says that

"It was the 11th fold, which when honoring Jewish veterans, makes a reference to the God of Abraham, that provoked a complaint this summer by someone who witnessed the ceremony at Riverside National Cemetery in Southern California, said Mondello.

The complaint focused not on the content of the recital but on an error in the text used by cemetery volunteers which identified Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as gods, Mondello said.

The complaint prompted the VA to focus on the recital and determine that it shouldn't be used by VA employees or honor guard volunteers from the American Legion or other veterans organizations unless specifically requested by family members. Mondello stressed that honor guards would also honor requests from families of any religion to recite texts of their choosing.

"The key is that the family has to request this and we would acquiesce to any family's particular religious views and/or traditions," Mondello said. "I would describe it as a clarification of a policy so that we make sure that everyone throughout our system knows that there is consistency."

The policy was not clear to lawmakers Tuesday who interpreted comments from VA officials to mean the 13-fold recital could no longer be recited at all by cemetery workers or volunteers."

Later in the show Gretchen Carlson hosted, in hushed tones, the grown daughter and son-in-law of a deceased Korean War veteran who were allegedly the first family affected by the change to "opt-in" for the thirteen-point recitation. The daughter was upset, even though she didn't know it until yesterday when she learned that the policy had changed. Carlson misrepresented the issue saying that the VA last month "banned religious references from funeral services for vets." The male said the country was "founded on Judeo-Christian principles, 'In God We Trust,' the Declaration of Independence 'talks about' God, that's our heritage. We shouldn't have things like that cut out because one person gets offended by it."

Clearly he was not up on the details of the storyline and had only been fed the FOX line. Carlson suggested that people should have to "opt out" rather than have "nobody can hear it." The daughter said that they had had rights taken away from them.

So FOX made a big deal out of an month-old policy which had already been clarified in order to whip up a nationalistic/religious frenzy among their followers. The viewers come away from this feeling righteous and empowered when actually nothing new happened and their group tizzy was just another pep rally.