Sunday, August 21, 2005

A Few Brief Remarks About Cindy Sheehan and Her Message

Trevor Bethwell has
stayed out of the Cindy Sheehan fray for the most part, partly because I respect any American's right to petition her government and partly because there aren't many ways you can criticize a mother who's lost a son without appearing to be a heartless bastard.

But enough's enough. La Shawn Barber had a point when she criticized some conservative bloggers for demonizing a woman grieving over the loss of a child, but when one woman gets more attention and accolade from the press for protesting a war than our troops get for fighting it, this is an issue.

Tony Snow:
…she never talks in detail about her son -- other than to mention that he is dead.

This is not how grieving moms express their "eternal character." It's what happens when people get utterly carried away with politics, transforming themselves from concerned citizens into boorish zealots.

Ann Coulter:
We're sorry about Ms. Sheehan's son, but the entire nation was attacked on 9/11. This isn't about her personal loss. America has been under relentless attack from Islamic terrorists for 20 years, culminating in a devastating attack on U.S. soil on 9/11. It's not going to stop unless we fight back, annihilate Muslim fanatics, destroy their bases, eliminate their sponsors and end all their hope. A lot more mothers will be grieving if our military policy is: No one gets hurt!

Fortunately, the Constitution vests authority to make foreign policy with the President of the United States, not with this week's sad story. But liberals think that since they have been able to produce a grieving mother, the commander in chief should step aside and let Cindy Sheehan make foreign policy for the nation. As Maureen Dowd said, it's "inhumane" for Bush not "to understand that the moral authority of parents who bury children killed in Iraq is absolute."

…now liberals demand that we listen to the same old arguments all over again, not because Sheehan has any new insights, but because she has the ability to repel dissent by citing her grief.

On the bright side, Sheehan shows us what Democrats would say if they thought they were immunized from disagreement. Sheehan has called President Bush "that filth-spewer and warmonger." She says: "America has been killing people on this continent since it was started" and "the killing has gone on unabated for over 200 years." She calls the U.S. government a "morally repugnant system" and says, "This country is not worth dying for." I have a feeling every time this gal opens her trap, Michael Moore gets a residuals check.

Linda Chavez:
Interestingly, of the journalists who have canonized Sheehan, none has seen fit to report her earlier remarks or her advocacy on behalf of [attorney Lynne Stewart, who represented the mastermind of the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993 and was convicted earlier this year of providing material support for terrorism when she acted as a conduit for terrorist instructions from her client Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman].
Kathleen Parker:
Every movement has its backlash, and now Cindy Sheehan is getting her turn. Her sudden departure from Crawford to tend to her ailing mother in California changes only the characters in place, not the nature of confrontation.

On Aug. 27, a caravan of military families who support the war in Iraq is scheduled to arrive in Crawford. The backlash battalion, which is calling itself the "You Don't Speak For Me, Cindy" tour, is starting in San Francisco Monday and is composed of parents whose sons and daughters are in Iraq and Afghanistan.

…No human being has absolute moral authority on this or any other issue, though I think I know what Dowd meant. That parents who bury their children have a right to complain and to have their voices heard. That's the theory, anyway.

In practice, of course, it means that people lost in their emotions get a pass from the usual standards of debate and fair play, as Sheehan has. That's about to change. As others arrive in Crawford who share Sheehan's grief and her moral authority — but not her politics — her free pass expires.

Fittingly, Ronald A Griffin adds:

I lost a son in Iraq and Cindy Sheehan does not speak for me.

I grieve with Mrs. Sheehan, for all too well I know the full measure of the agony she is forever going to endure. I honor her son for his service and sacrifice. However, I abhor all that she represents and those who would cast her as the symbol for parents of our fallen soldiers.

Listen to Ann and Dale Hampton… Listen to Stacey Sammis… Speak to Joan Curtin… Speak to Karen Long… Listen to Griffin's wife, Robin:
"I don't care what she says or does. She is no more important than any other mother."
Edmund Morris evokes two days that he spent in the company of Ronald Reagan:
…the individual cry for attention at the heart of it — "Mr. President, feel my pain!" — is misguided. Ms. Sheehan cannot expect a commander in chief to emote on demand.

…Some presidents are better than others at handling this relentless demand for a show of personal involvement.

…Maybe one day some such document will reveal what President Bush really feels about his own "honored dead." For the meantime, he is our elected president, with the business of a nation to run. Ms. Sheehan has gotten more time with him than most grieving mothers, and if she felt, during those unsatisfactory minutes, that there was a glass wall around him, it unfortunately comes with the job. A president has to protect himself from emotional predators, or he'd be sucked dry within a week of taking office.

Christopher Hitchens chimes in by pointing out that
The president has compromised by sending his national-security adviser, Stephen Hadley, down that Crawford road to meet the PR-knackish Cindy. Not good enough, exclaims Dowd. Hadley was pro-war and has even been described as a neocon! Clearly, then, the Sheehan demand is liable to expand the more it is met. President Bush must either find a senior staff member who opposes the war and then send him or her down the track to see if that will do. Or else he must, like the Emperor Henry of old, stage his own Canossa and attend on her himself, abject apologies at the ready. After all, we mustn't forget that we are dealing—as was that emperor in his dispute with Pope Gregory—with "an absolute moral authority."

What dreary sentimental nonsense this all is, and how much space has been wasted on it. Most irritating is the snide idea that the president is "on vacation" and thus idly ignoring his suffering subjects, when the truth is that the members of the media—not known for their immunity to the charm of Martha's Vineyard or Cape Cod in the month of August—are themselves lazing away the season with a soft-centered nonstory that practically, as we like to say in the trade, "writes itself." Anyway, Sheehan now says that if need be she will "follow" the president "to Washington," so I don't think the holiday sneer has much life left in it.

There are, in fact, some principles involved here. Any citizen has the right to petition the president for redress of grievance, or for that matter to insult him to his face. But the potential number of such people is very large, and you don't have the right to cut in line by having so much free time that you can set up camp near his drive. Then there is the question of civilian control over the military, which is an authority that one could indeed say should be absolute. The military and its relatives have no extra claim on the chief executive's ear. Indeed, it might be said that they have less claim than the rest of us, since they have voluntarily sworn an oath to obey and carry out orders. Most presidents in time of war have made an exception in the case of the bereaved—Lincoln's letter to the mother of two dead Union soldiers (at the time, it was thought that she had lost five sons) is a famous instance—but the job there is one of comfort and reassurance, and this has already been discharged in the Sheehan case. If that stricken mother had been given an audience and had risen up to say that Lincoln had broken his past election pledges and sought a wider and more violent war with the Confederacy, his aides would have been quite right to show her the door and to tell her that she was out of order.

Finally, I think one must deny to anyone the right to ventriloquize the dead. Casey Sheehan joined up as a responsible adult volunteer. Are we so sure that he would have wanted to see his mother acquiring "a knack for P.R." and announcing that he was killed in a war for a Jewish cabal? (a claim that has brought David Duke flying to Ms. Sheehan's side.)

Lisa De Pasquale:
Ms. Sheehan's anti-American rhetoric should not tarnish her son and the thousands of other soldiers' dedication to freedom at home and abroad. How long would have Saddam or the Taliban allowed a hysterical mother to protest outside their private homes? How many TV cameras would have been allowed to capture the spectacle? Ms. Sheehan is able to criticize the military and essentially stalk the President because of the sacrifices made by her son and military members and families, past and present. By usurping her son's name, she is dishonoring the efforts of the thousands who continue to fight for freedom …
Here is what LDP wrote in March 2003 as the intervention to topple Saddam began:
Despite obvious human rights violations and limits on freedom, feminists, led by the National Organization for Women, ignore Saddam Hussein’s reprehensible treatment of women. Instead feminists talk about America’s “tyrants” and the threat of “tyranny in our homes, our workplaces and our schools.”

…Once again radical feminists are witness to a legitimate case of tyranny and violence against women, but they would rather remain steadfastly against any policies or actions taken by America and the Bush Administration. NOW President Kim Gandy stated, “The real terrorism is the Bush administration's disregard for international law and destruction of civil liberties at home. This has become an issue of one dictator versus another."

Feminists are more comfortable with allowing Iraqi women to endure torture than supporting the Bush Administration. For example, a report by Amnesty International documented the beheading of 50 young women in Baghdad. The report also said, “The heads of these women were hung on the doors of their houses for a few days.” Saddam’s son Uday led the group of men who beheaded the women and terrorized their families.

The US State Department reports that human rights organizations receive continuous testimony on the psychological trauma women have suffered after being tortured and raped by Iraqi military personnel.

Despite this overwhelming evidence, feminists in the US praise Iraq and cite a suspicious United Nations report that says Iraq “scored highest in women’s empowerment.” NOW stated in a recent press release that Iraqi women “currently enjoy more rights and freedoms than women in other Gulf nations, such as Saudi Arabia.”

At an International Alliance for Justice press conference, Safia al-Souhail, an Iraqi woman whose father was murdered for opposing Saddam, said, “We are here begging the support of the free world to liberate us from the nightmare we have been living in for the past three decades.”

A Kurdish woman from Iraq said, “Disarmament alone will not end our suffering. This regime should be indicted for its crimes against humanity.”

NOW and their cohorts are deaf to these women’s pleas. Feminist Majority leader Eleanor Smeal, also a supporter of the Code Pink rally, odiously said that the Bush Administration “needs to construct a foreign policy as if women mattered.”

These radical feminists’ stance on military action in Iraq and the global war on terrorism illustrate how they have consistently fallen short on their purported mission to “eliminate sexism and eliminate all oppression.” It is clear that their motives are political and not based on advancing the rights of women around the world. When faced with a war that would liberate the Iraqi people, a majority of whom is women, feminists would much rather turn a blind eye to the horrors of Saddam than support of America and the Bush Administration.

Cal Thomas has a message for Bush: "Go and meet again with Cindy Sheehan, Mr. President, but this time not in private and not alone".
Here's the reason he should meet with her, but not alone. Other relatives of dead and wounded soldiers and some of the soldiers, themselves, should be included. He might also invite a few Iraqis who support the effort to free a people long held in bondage by Saddam Hussein and who face new bondage under the totalitarian dictatorship of Islamofacism if this effort fails.

The president should hold the meeting in a public place. Let the criticism flow, but let Iraqi women tell their stories about rape and torture at the hands of Saddam's now-dead sons. Allow Iraqi men to tell about life under Saddam and how grateful they are that he is gone. Wounded soldiers and families of the dead would speak in support of the war effort. Members of Sheehan's own family could come. They posted a letter on the Drudge Web site in support of the president.

Here is a good point to end this piece, with commentary from Iraq (merci à RV):
…today I was looking at your picture and I saw in your eyes a persistence, a great pain and a torturing question; why?

I know how you feel Cindy, I lived among the same pains for 35 years but worse than that was the fear from losing our loved ones at any moment. Even while I'm writing these words to you there are feelings of fear, stress, and sadness that interrupt our lives all the time but in spite of all that I'm sticking hard to hope which if I didn't have I would have died years ago.

Ma'am, we asked for your nation's help and we asked you to stand with us in our war and your nation's act was (and still is) an act of ultimate courage and unmatched sense of humanity.

Our request is justified, death was our daily bread and a million Iraqi mothers were expecting death to knock on their doors at any second to claim someone from their families.

Your face doesn't look strange to me at all; I see it everyday on endless numbers of Iraqi women who were struck by losses like yours.

Our fellow country men and women were buried alive, cut to pieces and thrown in acid pools and some were fed to the wild dogs while those who were lucky enough ran away to live like strangers and the Iraqi mother was left to grieve one son buried in an unfound grave and another one living far away who she might not get to see again.

We did nothing to deserve all that suffering, well except for a dream we had; a dream of living like normal people do.

We cried out of joy the day your son and his comrades freed us from the hands of the devil and we went to the streets not believing that the nightmare is over.

We practiced our freedom first by kicking and burning the statues and portraits of the hateful idol who stole 35 years from the life of a nation.

For the first time air smelled that beautiful, that was the smell of freedom.

The mothers went to break the bars of cells looking for the ones they lost 5, 12 or 20 years ago and other women went to dig the land with their bare hand searching for a few bones they can hold in their arms after they couldn't hold them when they belonged to a living person.

I recall seeing a woman on TV two years ago, she was digging through the dirt with her hands. There was no definite grave in there as the whole place was one large grave but she seemed willing to dig the whole place looking for her two brothers who disappeared from earth 24 years ago when they were dragged from their colleges to a chamber of hell.

Her tears mixed with the dirt of the grave and there were journalists asking her about what her brothers did wrong and she was screaming "I don't know, I don't know. They were only college students. They didn't murder anyone, they didn't steal, and they didn't hurt anyone in their lives. All I want to know is the place of their grave".

Why was this woman chosen to lose her dear ones? Why you? Why did a million women have to go through the same pain?

We did not choose war for the sake of war itself and we didn't sacrifice a million lives for fun! We could've accepted our jailor and kept living in our chains for the rest of our lives but it's freedom ma'am.

Freedom is not an American thing and it's not an Iraqi thing, it's what unites us as human beings. We refuse all kinds of restrictions and that's why we fought and still fighting everyday in spite of the swords in the hands of the cavemen who want us dead or slaves for their evil masters.

You are free to go and leave us alone but what am I going to tell your million sisters in Iraq? Should I ask them to leave Iraq too? Should I leave too? And what about the eight millions who walked through bombs to practice their freedom and vote? Should they leave this land too?

Is it a cursed land that no one should live in? Why is it that we were chosen to live in all this pain, why me, why my people, why you?

But I am not leaving this land because the bad guys are not going to leave us or you to live in peace. They are the same ones who flew the planes to kill your people in New York.

I ask you in the name of God or whatever you believe in; do not waste your son's blood.

We here have decided to avenge humanity, you and all the women who lost their loved ones.

Take a look at our enemy Cindy, look closely at the hooded man holding the sword and if you think he's right then I will back off and support your call.

We live in pain and grief everyday, every hour, every minute; all the horrors of the powers of darkness have been directed at us and I don't know exactly when am I going to feel safe again, maybe in a year, maybe two or even ten; I frankly don't know but I don't want to lose hope and faith.

We are in need for every hand that can offer some help. Please pray for us, I know that God listens to mothers' prayers and I call all the women on earth to pray with you for peace in this world.

Your son sacrificed his life for a very noble cause…No, he sacrificed himself for the most precious value in this existence; that is freedom.

His blood didn't go in vain; your son and our brethren are drawing a great example of selflessness.

God bless his free soul and God bless the souls of his comrades who are fighting evil.

God bless the souls of Iraqis who suffered and died for the sake of freedom.

God bless all the freedom lovers on earth.

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