U.S. Cities Named Bagdad Under Siege
BAGDAD, VA (SP) — The war against Iraq has moved onto U.S. soil, with military forces being deployed into 10 cities named Bagdad across the nation.
In a nationally televised press conference, President Bush asserted that the use of military force in this matter was necessary to liberate the peoples of Bagdad from a brutal and oppressive regime, and to protect the United States from the threat of imminent harm. "What harm could be more imminent than that emanating from within our own borders?", he asked. When informed that none of the Bagdads in the U.S. were spelled the same as Baghdad, Iraq, Bush admitted, "spelling was never my strong suit."
The earliest indication that the federal government was contemplating name-based military action may have been last month, when the United States Congress directed restaurants and cafeterias across the nation to change the names of ‘French Fries’ and ‘French Toast’ on their menus to ‘Freedom Fries’ and ‘Freedom Toast’, in order to protest France’s opposition to a U.N. resolution authorizing the use of force in Iraq.
President Bush subsequently issued an ultimatum to the municipal authorities of Bagdads across America, demanding that they change their names to something more patriotic and politically correct. When none of the municipalities complied, President Bush issued an executive order directing military action.
The first city to be liberated was Bagdad, Calif. Tanks rolled into the city and quickly destroyed most of its free-standing structures. Residents of neighboring communities contributed to the war effort by breaking windows, setting fires to buildings and exercising their constitutional right to bear arms.
Local residents who voluntarily surrender are being permitted to return to their homes, although in many cases, these homes have already been demolished or burnt to the ground. Those who do put up some resistance are being placed in internment camps, where, according to White House Press Secretary Ari Fleisher, they are being treated in accordance with the Geneva Convention regarding Prisoners of War.
Bagdad residents are finding it hard to understand why they’ve become targets in the current military campaign. "We’re a peaceful community and are completely unarmed," said Bagdad, Pa. Mayor Andrew Younger, who himself has been the victim of no fewer than three assassination attempts in the past week. "We don’t even have a single resident who’s a member of the N.R.A. What kind of threat could we possibly pose to national security?"
However, millions of Americans in other parts of the country are of a different view. In the opinion of Tony Cora of Wheeling, W.Va, "It’s like President Bush said in his State of the Union address after September the 11th, you’re either with us or against us, and if you live in a place called Bagdad, no matter how it’s spelled or where it’s located, you’ve got to be considered an enemy of the state."
Michael Baker of Bagdad, Ky., population 982, is worried about the adverse economic impact that the current military campaign will have on his community. "When they blew up the local coffee shop," he said, "not only did they get rid of the only place in town that makes a decent frappé latté, it also contained the only public rest room within a 50-mile radius. I can’t even imagine what a detrimental effect it will have on tourism when visitors find out that they’ve got to drive for more than an hour to be able to take a dump!"
In an attempt to gain the support of the peoples of Bagdad, the Pentagon has seized control of all local television stations and is using them to broadcast pro-American, pro-war political statements. Military helicopters have also been inundating these communities with pamphlets that contain similar sentiments.
Yale Political Science Professor Stephen Brace questions whether Bagdad residents will be better off under a new regime, as the Bush administration has suggested. "I expect that there will be a lot of resentment towards the U.S. government over the destruction of all churches, schools and hospitals in these communities, as well as having their democratically-elected leaders replaced by military officials," he said.
Filmmaker Michael Moore thinks that this conflict is a perfect example of the enormous problem Americans have about the use of firearms, as depicted in his Oscar-winning documentary about American gun culture, Bowling For Columbine. "We live in such a trigger-happy society that people will respond to a call to arms for almost any cause, no matter how tenuous the justification," he said.
Moore describes the current campaign to "liberate" the peoples of Bagdad as "a fictitious war perpetrated by George Bush and his Republican Guard." He fails to see how any of the Bagdads across the country pose any kind of threat to Americans simply by virtue of their name. "This is guilt by association," he said, "and it’s completely unfair. After all, what’s in a name? Would George W. Bush, by any other name, be any more capable or legitimate a President? I think not!"