On Fox News, Laura Ingraham claimed "a controversy is brewing over President Obama's decision to remember 9-11 as a national day of service," because "[s]ome critics believe that marking 9-11 as a day for volunteerism demeans the memory of the thousands who were killed by Muslim extremists on that fateful September morning." In fact, 9-11 is a national day of service by statute -- which a majority of Republican senators voted for -- and former President Bush routinely called on Americans to volunteer in memory of the day.
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Ingraham: "Controversy" over 9-11 day of service; "critics" say it "demeans the memory" of victims
From the August 27 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, guest-hosted by Ingraham:
INGRAHAM: In the "Unresolved Problem" segment tonight, a controversy is brewing over President Obama's decision to remember 9-11 as a national day of service. Some critics believe that marking 9-11 as a day for volunteerism demeans the memory of the thousands who were killed by Muslim extremists on that fateful September morning.
INGRAHAM: What I don't understand is what does this have to do with the fact that we had these fanatics who took it upon themselves to try to bring down the mighty United States of America on that day? They hate our freedom. They hate our way of life. They hate who we are. They hate our liberty. They hate our liberal ideas with a capital "L." That's what they hate about us.
ALAN COLMES (Fox News contributor): All right. They --
INGRAHAM: Why -- this -- this day of volunteerism and remembrance. That might be fine to have. But on 9-11, that just doesn't seem to -- the connection, I don't get it.
Majority of GOP senators voted to establish a "September 11th National Day of Service and Remembrance"
April 21: The Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act established a "September 11th National Day of Service and Remembrance." On April 21, The Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act became public law:
(c) CALL TO SERVICE CAMPAIGN AND SEPTEMBER 11TH DAY OF SERVICE.-Section 198 (42 U.S.C. 12653), as amended by subsection
(a), is further amended by adding at the end the following:
''(j) CALL TO SERVICE CAMPAIGN.-Not later than 180 days after the date of enactment of the Serve America Act, the Corporation shall conduct a nationwide 'Call To Service' campaign, to encourage all people of the United States, regardless of age, race, ethnicity, religion, or economic status, to engage in full- or parttime national service, long- or short-term public service in the nonprofit sector or government, or volunteering. In conducting the campaign, the Corporation may collaborate with other Federal agencies and entities, State Commissions, Governors, nonprofit and faith-based organizations, businesses, institutions of higher education, elementary schools, and secondary schools.
''(k) SEPTEMBER 11TH DAY OF SERVICE.-
''(1) FEDERAL ACTIVITIES.-The Corporation may organize and carry out appropriate ceremonies and activities, which may include activities that are part of the broader Call to
Service Campaign under subsection (j), in order to observe the September 11th National Day of Service and Remembrance at the Federal level.
''(2) ACTIVITIES.-The Corporation may make grants and provide other support to community-based organizations to assist in planning and carrying out appropriate service, charity, and remembrance opportunities in conjunction with the September 11th National Day of Service and Remembrance.
''(3) CONSULTATION.-The Corporation may consult with and make grants or provide other forms of support to nonprofit organizations with expertise in representing families of victims of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and other impacted constituencies, and in promoting the establishment of September 11 as an annually recognized National Day of Service and Remembrance.''
Majority of GOP senators voted for the bill. The Senate passed the Serve America Act on March 26, 2009, by a 79-19 vote. Twenty-one Republican senators, including then-Republican Sen. Arlen Specter, voted in favor of the legislation. Nineteen Republican senators voted against the bill. The House voted to agree to the Senate amendments on March 31, by a 275-149 vote. Twenty-six Republican House members voted in favor of the bill.
Bush routinely called on Americans to volunteer on 9-11
2002: Bush established national service organization, citing the spirit of 9-11. President Bush, in his January 2002 State of the Union Address, announced that he was creating the USA Freedom Corps, a national service organization, and called "for every American to commit at least two years, 4,000 hours over the rest of your lifetime, to the service of your neighbors and your nation." Bush said that "[n]one of us would ever wish the evil that was done on September 11th, yet after America was attacked, it was as if our entire country looked into a mirror and saw our better selves. We were reminded that we are citizens, with obligations to each other, to our country and to history. We began to think less of the goods we can accumulate and more about the good we can do."
Bush: "All of us can become a September the 11th volunteer." According to a USA Freedom Corps press release, on the first anniversary of 9-11, Bush said, "Many ask, 'What can I do to help in our fight?' And the answer is simple. All of us can become a September the 11th volunteer by making a commitment to service in our own communities. You can serve your country by tutoring or mentoring a child, comforting the afflicted, housing those in need of shelter. Whatever your talent, whatever your background, each of you can do something."
2008: Bush "renewed the call he made in the wake of the 9-11 attacks" for service. According to a September 8, 2008, Corporation for National and Community Service press release, "President Bush today renewed the call he made in the wake of the 9-11 attacks for every American to give 4,000 hours or two years of their lives in service to others." From the release:
The President gave a broad and passionate speech on the power of volunteers to transform lives and tackle deep-rooted social problems. Recalling the heroism of the first responders and the outpouring of compassion Americans displayed after the terror attacks, the President urged American to rekindle that spirit of neighbor helping neighbor that was so strong after 9-11.
"Volunteerism is strong in the country. But the truth of the matter is, the farther we've gotten away from 9-11, that memory has begun to fade," the President said. "And my call to people is, there's always a need. You should be volunteering not because of 9-11, but you should be volunteering because our country needs you on a regular basis. And so today I call upon our fellow citizens to devote 4,000 hours over your lifetime in service to your country. You'll become a better person for it, and our society will be more healthy as a result of it." Read the full speech and White House fact sheet here.
Ingraham: Left-wing groups are "trying to co-opt 9-11 and make it their day"
From the August 27 edition of The O'Reilly Factor:
INGRAHAM: And look, the 9-11, the day of volunteerism. You know, on the surface, oh, that's fine, you know; volunteering, isn't that great? But when I looked at the groups involved on this teleconference call they had to organize, you know, get everything in place for the day of service, it's ACORN; AFL-CIO; the Color of Change group, the group that's boycotting Beck, or trying to; the Community Action Partnership. These are all a bunch of left-wing crazy groups, are they not?
COLMES: Wait a minute. So your argument is --
INGRAHAM: I mean, what does this have to do with 9-11?
INGRAHAM: What I -- well, what's obvious is that, you know, a smattering of left-wing groups is trying to co-opt 9-11 and make it their day.
Ingraham invoked conservatives' favorite bogeyman: ACORN. From the August 27 edition of The O'Reilly Factor:
COLMES: This is about a day of service and remembrance, and that was initiated by a nonprofit group that was not a non-governmental group. Go ahead.
INGRAHAM: How is ACORN remembering --
COLMES: It has nothing to do with ACORN.
INGRAHAM: -- the Islamic jihadists, what they did to our people on that day.
COLMES: This has nothing to do with ACORN. This was initiated --
INGRAHAM: Well, ACORN's involved in this coalition. They're involved in the day of volunteerism and remembrance.
Conservatives routinely demonize ACORN. Media Matters for America has documented numerous instances in which conservative media outlets and figures have used ACORN as a scapegoat in reporting on major news stories, often when they are completely unrelated to the story.