Washington, D.C., NPR station WAMU reported this morning that "members of a Kansas church" demonstrated near the traditional Memorial Day ceremonies at Arlington Cemetery. The report didn't use the Phelps name, but described the group as singing "God Hates America" and blaming our war dead on our "tolerance" of gays.
From the brief report, I gather that most people were offended by their presence. The hatefilled behavior of the Phelps church is likely to backfire on them; I suspect it will make some people reconsider their anti-gay stands.
The most offensive thing about the Memorial Day ceremonies here in Washington wasn't the presence of nutty homophobes, though. It was the idea that Bush and Rumsfeld were "honoring" the war dead by speaking on the occasion. Our soldiers are not dying for the protection of their fellow citizens or even to promote a worthy cause; they are dying for no good reason in an unnecessary war. That's obscene.
Bush also signed the "Respect for America's Fallen Heroes Act" on Monday. This bill prohibits demonstrations such as those by the Phelps group within 300 feet of national cemeteries, according to news reports. While I think everyone -- not just the families of soldiers -- should be allowed to bury their dead in peace, something about the title of that law gives me the creeps. It has the feel of propaganda. Why not just call it the "No Demonstrations at Military Funerals Act?" I can't help wondering what else might be lurking in such a law.