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California’s 9/11 Cover-Up

Posted By Lloyd Billingsley On July 7, 2010 @ 12:05 am In FrontPage | 31 Comments

On September 11, 2001, Islamic terrorists flew hijacked airliners into the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon, and killed nearly 3,000 people. On September 24, 2001, only 13 days after the attacks, California artists R.J. Waldron, Eric Noda, and Thomas Hanley, as a tribute to those who lost their lives, painted a 35-foot American flag on a concrete wall near Interstate 680 in Sunol, about 40 miles southeast of San Francisco.

For nearly nine years, passing motorists could view the mural — that is, until the California Department of Transportation, known as “Caltrans,” destroyed the artwork by covering it over with paint. California’s governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, found the cover-up disturbing, particularly the timing.

“It has come to my attention that Caltrans has recently removed a patriotic and meaningful flag mural that was painted on the side of Interstate 680 following the tragic events of 9/11,” said the Governor Schwarzenegger in a written statement. “To do so only days before we celebrate our independence and reflect on the freedoms we are lucky enough to enjoy in America is unconscionable.”

According to news reports, Caltrans considered the American flag mural to be “graffiti.”

“We don’t allow graffiti on state property,” Caltrans spokesman Allyn Amsk told the San Jose Mercury News. “No matter what kind of graffiti it is, we don’t show favoritism.” Mr. Amsk did not mention other cases that might confirm favoritism on the part of Caltrans.

The state agency has let stand for decades an anthology of anti-American, Communist and irredentist imagery on state property in San Diego. The site is Chicano Park, near the Coronado Bridge, and supporters call it a celebration of “Chicano history.” Some murals celebrate prominent Communists not of Mexican-American background.

These include Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, head of the longest standing Communist dictatorship in the Americas. Argentine Stalinist Che Guevara also shows up, as does Vietnamese Communist dictator Ho Chi Minh. Prominently depicted is “Aztlan,” a term adopted by leftist Chicano militants during the 1960s, to describe the American southwest as occupied Mexican territory. The legacy of this variant of 60s radicalism includes various Chicano Studies departments in California universities and groups such as the Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan. The Aztlan militants consider themselves part of a special raza, meaning race. Mi Raza Primero, “My Race First,” explains one of the Chicano Park murals.

The Aztlan raza-ists see their task as liberation of Mexican territory from the evil United States and its “anglo” occupiers with names like Smith, O’Hoolihan, Kowalski, and Rabinowitz. Aztlan publications are not exactly friendly to Jews. (See Voz de Aztlan)

The Aztlan concept created some difficulties during a 2003 renovation of Chicano Park with federal funding. Some thought the term was too militant, and would violate the 1964 Civil Rights Act by giving preferential treatment to Chicanos. Caltrans district director Pedro Orso decided it did not.

“There are works of art here that everyone should view and enjoy,” Orso told reporters. The Aztlan propaganda duly remained as part of the federally funded renovation. Not all the imagery is Communist hagiography or raza-ist propaganda in the familiar neo-fascist style (to see a gallery of the images, click here). Some of it is the artistic equivalent of gang and prison tattoos, but Caltrans has never considered any of it to be “graffiti,” as it did the American flag mural in Sunol. Neither Caltrans nor any government agency has ever subjected any Chicano Park mural to a cover-up; paint or otherwise.

According to news reports, when Waldron, Noda and Hanley painted the 35-foot American flag by Interstate 680, the California Highway Patrol let them work without interruption, and passing motorists honked with approval.

In his written statement following the cover-up, Arnold Schwarzenegger said, “I extend my apologies to the artists whose mural inspired drivers along 680 for over eight and a half years.” The governor, who called Caltran’s actions “unconscionable,” announced no plan to have the 9/11 American flag mural restored, but artists took up the cause on their own.

Thomas Hanley sought permission from Caltran’s officials to repaint the mural, but according to news reports, artists Jim Gallagher and Steve Giordano restored the flag mural on July 3, just in time for the July 4 holiday.


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