Byline Burton |

Byline Burton

Can you imagine if the Roaring Fork School District invited Rush Limbaugh to speak at Glenwood Springs High School?There’d be picket signs saying, “Rush Limbaugh hates babies,” “Rush Limbaugh hates senior citizens” and “Rush Limbaugh hates everyone else.”Limbaugh’s name comes to mind four months after the fact, because an equally out-there commentator from the opposite political pole spoke at Glenwood Springs High School in February. His name is David Barsamian, but nobody protested his appearance.Barsamian pops up here because of what he said on Carbondale’s KDNK radio a couple of weeks back. Barsamian said recent film footage of the destruction of a Saddam Hussein statue was staged. He then claimed the photograph of World War II Marines raising the U.S. flag on Mount Suribachi was staged as well.There was no reason for Barsamian to link the two images.I don’t doubt the footage of happy Iraqis dancing on Saddam Hussein’s face might have been choreographed. From what I’ve learned, however, the photograph of the U.S. flag raising on Mount Suribachi was not staged, at least not like the Dance of the Happy Iraqis in Baghdad.You’ve seen the Mount Suribachi photograph. It’s probably the best known World War II photograph. Five Marines have planted a 15-foot pole in the rocky ground, and it momentarily halts at a 45 degree angle with the U.S. flag flying straight out in the stiff breeze. Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal captured the moment in a split second. He won a Pulitzer Prize for the photograph, which has since been reproduced as sculpture, on stamps and as posters.A little research reveals there were actually two flag raisings, and two photographs, at Mount Suribachi that February day in 1945. Keep in mind, the flag raisings were accomplished while fighting continued down below on Iwo Jima. There probably weren’t very many Pentagon propagandists on Mount Suribachi, standing around to “stage” the event, as Barsamian led his listeners to believe through his comparison with the photograph in Iraq.After the first flag was raised on Mount Suribachi, someone saw it from a battleship, and said the flag should be bigger. So, Marines hauled a second flag to the top of Mount Suribachi. That’s the flag-raising Rosenthal shot.With the flag flying a second time, a larger group of Marines gathered around the pole and Rosenthal recorded that scene as well. It’s unclear whether Rosenthal asked the Marines to pose for his second photo, or if they asked him to do it. If Barsamian wants to call this second image a staged photograph, maybe he can. For the record, at least two Marines who were in this photograph were killed on Iwo Jima after the picture was taken. Anyway, Barsamian’s off-base remarks didn’t end with the one about Mount Suribachi. In a 10-minute span Barsamian claimed:-President George W. Bush was AWOL (absent without leave) from the Texas National Guard for a year in his younger days.-It cost the U.S. government “tens of millions of dollars” to have Bush land in a jet fighter on that aircraft carrier when he announced the war with Iraq was finished.-A majority of Americans believe Iraq was behind the 9-11 terrorist attacks.Where does Barsamian come up with this stuff?Barsamian is the founder and director of the Boulder based “Alternative Radio,” and his proximity to Carbondale puts him behind the microphone at KDNK from time to time. The Roaring Fork School District should give Barsamian a closer look, should any of its schools ever invite him back again.Lynn Burton is a reporter for the Glenwood Springs Post Independent.

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