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George W. Bush will be visiting New York City on Tuesday, July 10th, to present the Congressional Medal of Honor to the family and memory of Cardinal O'Conner.

The question among democracy advocates is whether or not there should be a protest the day of the visit in front of St. Patrick's Cathedral. 

For some the choice is easy:

"Bush is coming to my town and I must be there to let him know I object to him, his administration and the way he took office."

For others the choice is just as easy:

"I abhor everything Bush stands for, but the nature of this New York visit and the people protests will offend will be counter productive and do more damage than good."

Both sides of this question offer strong arguments about the Great Pretender's upcoming visit.  For Bush, who has been avoiding the city and state which overwhelmingly rejected him, it is an opportunity to appear and make a presentation many New Yorkers and Americans would choose not to make a political event.  For activists and others waiting for months to greet Bush with protests a decision must be made.  Many who have worked hard to promote voter rights in this country fear the media will paint their actions and their entire movement disrespectful.

Two opinions gathered from the mail I have accumulated on this issue express the following:

I believe that if the organizers of the even for O'Connor did not want protests they should've had someone else beside Bush to bestow the honor. It's too much to ask that the man not be protested wherever he goes.

Our protest message should be extremely simple though. He cannot visit, under any circumstances, without a protest.

~~~~~

I had a conversation with a woman who held the first executive position at the New York Times and here is what she said about protesting at St Patrick's.

"She abhors Bush and would love to protest in front of St Patrick's but her gut feeling is that it would backfire and make Bush look good.  O'Conner was beloved by the media and they will probably be describing anyone who protests as creeps coming out of the woodwork if they mention them at all. This is about the Cardinal not Bush."

I also spoke with Senator Schumer's office in Washington DC and found out he is not a co-sponsor but the sponsor.  This means this is his show.  I have offered to send a letter to the Senator explaining why we have chosen not to protest at St Patrick's and anyone here may sign on to it.  The Senator's office has promised he will read it personally and respond to the letter (they even gave me a direct line to his personal assistant with whom I've discussed this idea) .  I also said his response would be sent to the media and a press conference setup to explain our position.  I feel we will get more press attention going this route than having twenty or so people protesting near St Patrick's and with a much more positive impact.

. . . This is about preserving the integrity and strength of this movement.

~~~~~

A question can be asked how a democratic Senator from New York, as it is suggested,  can be responsible for this divisive dilemma, but we will leave that to another time. 

What do you think?  Will protesting July 10th help or hurt democracy in this country?

Mail your comments to Songs of Freedom.  For more information about the planned protest, click here.

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