Ed Kinane: Protester blazed the trail for Barack Obama’s likely ban from the Fair.
first day on the job, President Barack Obama signed an executive order
giving one year’s notice to the folks who run Guantanamo Bay, our most
famous prison for terror suspects. In my view, Obama, although he
closed the camp, did not make a sharp enough break with the past. Obama
has promised to do things in new ways, to think again and anew about
old issues. A true visionary would not only have announced the closing
of the torture chamber, but at the same time the opening of a new joint
venture: an all-inclusive Sandals resort to take its place.
Guantanamo is a beautiful place. It’s
got a great view of the Caribbean, endless beachfront property, its own
water supply and carefully controlled access to the native population.
This is the perfect combination for the island resorts preferred by
American vacationers. (You might even call it a “perfect storm,” but
trotting out that exhausted metaphor one more time might needlessly
remind potential customers of the location’s one potential drawback:
Had Obama thought for just an hour
longer, Guantanamo would not only have ceased to be a detention
facility, but could have become a major spring break destination. After
all, he said in his inaugural address that we will not apologize for
our way of life. Inviting hoardes of horny sun seekers to parade in
skimpy clothing on the sands where al-Qaida’s best and brightest once
shuffled in manacled indignity would constitute the ultimate
non-apology. We could really stick it to them. “Our Girls Gone Wild,”
we would say figuratively, “trump your 70 virgins in paradise any day.”
Let the Death-to-America crowd seethe in
frustration as our young revelers splurge at the champagne brunch in a
youthful bacchanal adjacent to the very cells where their would-be
martyrs once held hunger strikes to protest their detention. It was the
Bush administration that made the argument that they had to introduce
enormous amounts of liquid into their unwilling guests in order to make
them behave. Sounds like spring break to me. Isn’t the difference
between waterboarding and beer pong really only a matter of degree? Let
the wild rumpus begin!
Although he failed to see the big
picture, Obama must be credited for taking this step without fear of
the consequences. The Blackberry-toting whiz kids who advise the
president have no doubt informed him that with this one stroke of the
pen he has now earned a permanent ban-and-bar order from the New York
State Fair. New Yorkers who had hoped that our new president might
reinstitute the Clinton tradition of snarfing down sausage sandwiches
come August can kiss their dreams goodbye.
Think about it. A local man, Ed Kinane,
was arrested last year on Labor Day for just having the audacity to
walk around the State Fair in a costume challenging the legality of the
island prison. Kinane was followed through the fairgrounds by a
companion wearing a T-shirt embossed with the slogan “Close Gitmo.”
When Army recruiters saw him, they called the State Police, who
arrested Kinane. The activist spent a week in the pokey before being
sprung, and the bogus charges were eventually dropped. (The
ever-vigilant District Attorney Bill Fitzpatrick is determined to see them reinstated)
Well, if suggesting to fairgoers that
Guantanamo be closed can get you a misdemeanor and a week of eating
Justice Center food, actually closing the base could easily earn the
new commander-in-chief a Class B felony. Not to worry, Mr. President.
You’ll always be welcome at Balloon Fest.
Ed Griffin-Nolan’s Sanity Fair commentary appears weekly in the Syracuse New Times.