The Patriot Guard Riders
I very much enjoyed Kevin D. Williamson’s article “Thoughts and Prayers in Baton Rouge” (August 15), as I have enjoyed most of his work in National Review. There was one thing that caught my attention particularly, a description of “a biker in a leather vest emblazed Patriot Guard,” a description that leads me to wish to acquaint National Review’s readers with the organization the man was representing.
The Patriot Guard Riders are an excellent example of American civil society in action, something all conservatives should applaud and support. Their roots lie in the protests organized at funerals of fallen soldiers by the members of the Westboro Baptist Church after the repeal of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. Aware that no legal action could be taken to stop this indecency, but unwilling to do nothing, concerned citizens — mostly but not exclusively veterans — began asking the families of the fallen soldiers whether they might ride escort at the funerals. The Patriot Guard Riders, displaying large American flags, stood in lines between the funeral services and the protesters, sometimes singing patriotic songs or revving their motorcycles to drown out the protesters’ chants.
There were, as far as I know, no threats or incidents of violence against the protesters, but the protests soon fizzled out in the face of opposition. The Patriot Guard Riders did not fizzle out, and today they are organized in dozens of chapters, with over 200,000 members. They provide honor escorts to military, police, and firefighter funerals at the request of the bereaved families, as well as honor escorts to indigent and homeless veterans and other acts of charity and support for those who guard and defend our freedom.
In the August 29 issue of National Review, J. D. Vance’s article “Two Underclasses” asserted that, in 2004, George W. Bush received the highest share of the Asian vote of any Republican presidential candidate. In fact, he received a higher share of the Asian vote in 2004 than he had in 2000, but not the highest share ever. We regret the error.