Yee-Haw: Bush’s Cowboy Persona

Quick on the draw and trigger-happy, George W. Bush is portrayed a sharp shooter on a brick wall in Sydney, Australia. His played-up Roy Rogers image evidently carried overseas.

SET 'EM UP - Former President George W. Bush Jr. depicted a true cowboy on a brick wall in Sydney, Australia. The subject of much mockery, his identity as a cowboy was not received well overseas.

Almost from the beginning of his presidency, Bush was graced with an American cowboy stereotype. His propensity to speak in Bushisms (common characteristics include, but are not limited to: malapropisms, mispronunciations, unconventional words, and grammatically incorrect subject-verb agreement) certainly didn’t harm the image.

An article in Americana, an American Pop Culture Magazine, notes that editorial writers and public figures frequently began describing Bush in ‘cowboy-esque’ terms following the September 11, 2001 attacks. As terrorism surfaced a topic of hot discussion, commentators began to portray Bush as a sheriff in the Old West “who would go it alone without a posse if need be in order to defeat what he saw as lawlessness and evil.”

In the months leading up to the start of the War in Iraq, the representation of Bush as a straight-shootin’ Wyatt Earp-wannabe continued. In an address to the nation on March 17, 2003, Bush declared, “Saddam Hussein and his sons must leave Iraq within 48 hours. Their refusal to do so will result in military conflict, commenced at a time of our choosing.” (Americana)

Bold and threatening, the ultimatum added fuel to the fire. Bush, not one to cool his guns, was depicted by several news articles as a Matt Dillon-type who told outlaws to get the hell out of Dodge or face the consequential shootout. Reuters even ran a story on March 19, 2003 entitled “High Noon for Cowboy Era,” in which the opening sentence declared that Bush’s ultimatum was a throwback to the Wild West for Arabs.

Turns out, the cowboy image was received fairly positively by Americans, especially among conservatives, who (at the time, anyway) found the good-ole-boy-from-the-South-persona endearing. The American fascination with the cowboy is a long-standing one, after all. Among other parts of the world, however, a negative image of the cowboy reinforced disgust with Bush’s handling of various policies, including his actions toward the Iraq situation.

This image, an outright mockery of Bush’s cowboy identity, clearly sides with those feelings of disgust.

Slews Of Protest Art At Parliament Square Peace Campaign

This image is only one in a slew to be found at the Parliament Square Peace Campaign in London, England.

An image of protest at the Parliament Square Peace Campaign in London, England.

Showing what are either U.S. or U.K. soldiers painting over a peace symbol, the image stands among the hundreds that protest the United States’ and United Kingdom’s actions toward Afghanistan and Iraq.

The Parliament Square Peace Campaign, which has for the last ten years been a 24/7, 365-day event, is one of the most famous symbols of the anti-war movement over the foreign policies of both the United Kingdom and the United States.

Begun on June 2, 2001 by English protester and peace campaigner Brian Haw, it has continued for 3913 days despite attempts by the British Parliament to shut down the operation. The Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act (PASRA) of 2011 includes provisions intended to stop the loopholes in the earlier Serious Organized Crime and Police Act (SOCPA) of 2005, which was supposed to end Brian Haw’s campaign, but failed to do so.

PASRA went into effect on December 19, 2011. Letters of notice were sent to the Parliament Square Peace Campaign, but the group is contesting the legality of the act and its enforcement. Despite the increased pressure from U.K. police and rising political action from Parliament, the Peace Campaign is protected by an injunction preventing their eviction until March.

For ten years, Haw led the group of protestors, living for the entire period in a tent in a camp on Parliament Square. He passed away on June 18, 2011 following a surgery to remove cancer, and the protest movement has since been led by Barbara Tucker.

On Thursday, police seized tents at the camp and arrested Tucker for police obstruction. In spite of the setbacks, the campaign continued yesterday and continues today.

For the most up-to-date information on the Parliament Square Peace Campaign, or to view more images of protest on the square, view these recent news articles:

http://www.demotix.com/news/1007304/parliament-square-protests-continue-after-police-raid-london

http://www.demotix.com/news/1042660/london-parliament-square-peace-protests-no-war-iran

More information on Brian Haw can be found in these articles:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/21/world/europe/21haw.html

http://www.economist.com/node/18895032

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/jun/20/brian-haw-protesting-to-end

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/8585399/Brian-Haw.html

‘Can Daddy Come Home Now?’

I found this photo while browsing Panoramio, a photo-sharing website bearing some similarity to Flickr.

I know virtually nothing about the context of the photo, other than that it was taken by the screen name ‘Librarian 1975’ and that the art appeared on the wall of an old Exxon Station in Hainesport, New Jersey.

Spray painted on the wall of an old Exxon Station in Hainesport, New Jersey, this street art conveys an important political message about the disruptive effects of war on family life.

The words almost certainly referred to a father returning home from War, most likely the War in Iraq.

There’s nothing really to be said for the actual artwork. I’m no art critic, but the words were clearly spray painted, and in all honesty I think the kid could look a bit more stricken and/or torn.

There is something to be said, however, for the art’s message and the important reminder it conveys.

After seeing this image, it suddenly hit me that the War in Iraq went on for nearly NINE years. That’s longer than the Civil War and nearly as long as both World Wars combined. At the official ending of the war in mid-December 2011, CBS News reported that 4,500 Americans had died and 32,000 more were wounded over the course of the war. Additionally, more than 100,000 Iraqis were killed and approximately $800 billion was expended. Funny how all those “Two U.S. soldiers were killed today in a bombing near Baghdad” and “Twelve Iraqis died today in a shooting…” reports added up.

Even more peculiar: when the War began in 2003, everybody knew about it. All of America followed the news reports, and a majority of U.S. citizens supported Bush’s decision at the time. But as time progressed, the war became a kind of subliminal advertising—sure, we heard about it, and it was reported on, but on the whole, I think a lot of people grew numb to it…even to the point of forgetting it was happening. The War, to the average citizen, became quite commonplace.

This message reminds us that while the War was almost tiresome, even mundane, to a lot of people, it intoxicated and consumed the minds of others. And that really, it’s a shame when we forget that.