A month ago, Cindy Sheehan described America as “a country which cares more about who will be the next American Idol than how many people (American troops in Iraq) will be killed in the next few months while Democrats and Republicans play politics with human lives.”
The description was found in Sheehan’s “farewell” to the organized (?) anti-war movement, entitled “Good Riddance Attention Whore.” Her screed and her opinions were roundly ridiculed and termed “bitter” by both sides of the political spectrum.
The MSM covered Sheehan’s adieu for about 9.6 minutes, concentrating, instead, on the travails of Paris Hilton, Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan and the “who’s your daddy” Anna Nicole Smith case. Predictably, our Iraq debacle got second billing to all of the above.
As usual, Sheehan was dead-on in her assessment and, as usual, she was dissed for it. In a Frank Capra film, she’d be the female Jimmy Stewart character who beats the system in the final reel. In real life, the system pummeled her, costing Sheehan her marriage, her savings and her health.
What I liked most about Cindy Sheehan was what she wasn’t. She wasn’t a politician, a pundit, a professional celebrity, a national leader wannabe, a hawker of books or a paid geopolitical expert. She was a mom whose son, Casey, died in Iraq. All she wanted was to meet George W. Bush and ask the question: “Why did my son die?”
Known and very popular cialis coupon which gives all the chance to receive a discount for a preparation which has to be available and exactly cialis coupons has been found in the distant room of this big house about which wood-grouses in the houses tell.
Her honesty and humanity touched a nerve in both left and right political circles. The right loathed her. “Cindy Sheehan supports Michael Moore!” and “Remember 9/11!” anti-Sheehan demonstrators barked in San Diego.
MSNBC’s Norah O’Donnell asked her: “How do you expect to get change by going around the world and trashing the president of the United States?”
Glenn Beck referred to her as the “tragedy pimp.”
Rush Limbaugh belched “she doesn’t have the IQ of a pencil eraser.”
Right-winger Mark Williams, appearing on Fox, sniffed: “Cindy Sheehan’s not interested in the memory of her son. She’s only interested in using her son as a prop to advance her own hatred for the American troops…Cindy Sheehan is on a mission to figuratively urinate on her son’s grave and make his death stand for nothing.”
Bill O’Reilly opined “other American families who have lost sons and daughters in Iraq…feel that this kind of behavior borders on treasonous.”
All because she dared ask the question “why.”
Some Lefties got annoyed when she began criticizing Democrats as well as Republicans. “I guess no one paid attention to me,” Sheehan wrote, “when I said that the issue of peace and people dying for no reason is not a matter of ‘right or left,’ but ‘right and wrong.’”
And statements like “I have also tried to work within a peace movement that often puts personal egos above peace and human life,” didn’t make her any new friends after her fifteen minutes of fame had officially run out.
As a former anti-Nam organizer, someone just as politically naïve as Sheehan when I first started out, I can see the truth in her statements. And, believe it or not, Vietnam still looms over our country’s current malaise.
During Vietnam, there were all sorts of protestors: intellectuals, guerilla theater experts, kids who didn’t want to get drafted under any circumstance, Vietnam veterans and kids who wanted to close down their campuses so they could get a jump start on vacation. And, of course, every faction argued. The earliest protestors were sure they were “right.” The later protestors thought they were “righter.” Bringing up the rear were the “rightest.”
So, why didn’t they all turn on each other? Why did young people and, later, their parents turn out for mass demonstrations again and again whereas, today, most Americans will say they’re opposed to the Iraq war as long as they don’t have to put down their TV remotes?
That’s easy. Vietnam was an equal opportunity death trap. The Iraq fiasco is open only to those who volunteer.
During Nam, everyone between the ages of 18 and 26 had a draft card. Initially, there were deferments for hardship cases (like Cheney) and students. They soon evaporated. As the amount of troops bogged down in Nam ballooned towards 500,000, a lottery was put in place. On December 1st, 1969, the Selective Service instituted what we called the “Death Lotto.”
366 blue plastic capsules containing birth dates were placed in a large glass container and drawn by hand to determine who’d go first into the abyss. The first capsule picked was September 14th. So, all those born within the age grouping on September 14th were tagged numero uno for 1970 deployment. Every young male was in the government’s sights. And so it went.
And the demonstrations grew.
Today, most Americans aren’t directly affected by the Iraq war on a personal level. There are about 1.4 million men and women in the armed forces - both on active duty and reserve.
By year’s end, there may be as many as 200,000 troops in Iraq, alone. (Let’s not get into Afghanistan!) In Iraq, 3577 American troops have died, thus far, 100 this month as of this writing. 126 died in May. 104 died in April. The last three months represent the deadliest quarter year in the war’s history.
Putting the amount of those in harm’s way into perspective, there are currently 301,139, 947 people living in America. The median age for males is 35.3 years. There is no draft.
So, let’s all watch Larry King interview Paris Hilton for an hour. (They actually bumped Michael Moore from the show to get the full story of Paris’ time in The Big House!)
To an extant, this viewing of Iraq in the abstract by hundreds of thousands of Americans, while deplorable, is explainable.
Plus, there is no one to rally around. There are no RFKs, Gene McCarthys or George McGoverns. Memories of the Chicago 7 are neatly filed away in “past tense” territory with those of the Berrigan Brothers.
In terms of today’s political leadership? Anyone who subjects themselves to C-Span will note that most members of Congress have the ability to expound on any subject, say absolutely nothing for extended periods of time and serve as nothing more than a sleep aid.
The Democrat Presidential debates, thus far, have pretty much resembled a love-in while the Republican get-togethers inspire one to party like it’s 1899.
America, today, is in a semi-comatose state, battered by exaggerated threats of terrorism, outright lies and enough government corruption to make the Soprano clan come off looking like the Von Trapp family.
Americans have a tendency to think that all is well in Washington as long as we’re assured it is. Sometimes, it takes a few years for the populace to wake up. Perhaps, now, with a new Administration scandal breaking almost daily, Americans will finally realize that Bush has not only broken the Middle East and international law but our system of government as well.
Some of us, of course, have smelled the putrid odor of the Bush camp from the outset (earning ourselves the label of “radical Lefties”). With 70% of Americans deeming the Iraq war a mistake, a majority stating that the country is heading in the wrong direction and with Bush’s popularity rating right up there with hemorrhoids, perhaps this country is heading towards its own “radical” phase. You know, the mind-set of the radicals who founded this grand experiment way back when.
Cindy Sheehan ended her letter with “Good-bye America…you are not the country that I love and I finally realized no matter how much I sacrifice, I can’t make you be that country unless you want it.
“It’s up to you now.”
Yes, it’s up to us. All of us.
To quote the learned Jefferson Airplane: “Got a revolution, got to revolution.”
Stay informed, blog, march, organize, rant to your local representatives, break down the issues into neighborly talk.
And keep your mitts off the remote for a couple of hours a day.
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