ON AND OFF, for almost half a century, in one dangerous place or other, Bob Hope's Christmastime visits to entertain U.S. forces have been an American institution. Through television and press coverage, Americans back home could always look forward to sharing his gags and pratfalls with their friends and relatives overseas. But not this year. The Pentagon is barring news organizations from covering the 87-year-old entertainer's current shows, citing security and a potential for exploitation of his jokes by Iraqi propaganda.
This sounds like the Pentagon's idea of a joke, but it's not funny. Censorship of this kind is carrying things too far; the Defense Department should be more solicitous of American sensibilities. We suspect that while 400,000 U.S. troops are protecting the desert kingdom, its rulers won't be intolerant about what Americans see and hear on their own bases.