Thursday, August 18, 2005

Some Thoughts on Cindy Sheehan

What entitles someone to speak?

What license is anyone given to have a point of view?

You know what folks say about opinions and what they are likened to...

I think about this when I watch how Cindy Sheehan camps out in Texas not too far from where the President is enjoying his five week, brush-clearing, bike riding vacation (I believe this is where Mel Brooks would look into the camera and with that smirk of exaltation announce, "it's good to be the king!").

Vultures from all sides of the political spectrum are working to make her a pawn or patsy in their game that dehumanizes anyone who would stand in the way of their ideology.

If you're on Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh's list (I don't count Bill O'Reilly, here, not because he's relevant, but because he's an absolute joke..I mean, really, anybody who would tell John McCain that torture is effective treatment of P.O.W.'s cannot be taken seriously), then you get my attention. What color does the "threat level" have to be toward W or to the body politic of the Republicans that constitutes a "contract" being placed upon this woman?

It's not that I think the President has sent folks to engage in the assassination of this woman's character. It's just the posture some folks take when a counterpoint arises. And even if the White House did not knowingly unleash the goons (like W's buddy Raphael Palmeiro didn't knowingly take steroids), they're sure not trying to stop it. Oh, yea, there's always that "plausible deniability" thing to consider, too.

I'm not clear what's happened to dissent in America. There was something noble about it once upon a time. We no longer honor dissent, we crush it. We discredit it.

But with Cindy Sheehan, who is, without any question, anti-war, politically liberal - there is this one point that gives her the right to have any opinion she chooses - she's a Gold Star Mother.

She's earned it.

She's paid a price that blowhards who hide behind their mics haven't the courage to consider.

And truth be told, if I suffered the same loss, I'd surely want to be clear in my own heart that there was a good answer to the question, "for what noble cause did my son die?"

The men and women who serve in the armed forces are to be respected and their service honored. All of which means, there needs to be some level of clarity that what they are being called to do carries with it the requisite justifications required to pull the proverbial trigger.

Mr. President, these are men and women who have, are, and will kill and die in the belief that what they are doing has honor for no other reason than that you say it does. So it's fair to ask, does it?

That's a question for politicos to answer, I guess, ... or, maybe those folks who would fail to honor this essential plank of the American voice, dissent, are afraid of what a growing number of Americans are starting to believe about why we're even there in the first place. This isn't about whether the President should give one lowly citizen an audience to field her question. On it's face, it's a silly proposition. One lowly citizen seeking a redress of her grievances from the powers that be....yep, pretty damn stupid.


But her question isn't hers alone, although she feels it with a passion that most of us do not. No, this is about something else. And it's about that which is not even hidden anymore - a carefully constructed and orchestrated machine that shields the Power from voices who counter the party line.

If the Commander in Chief who ordered Cindy Sheehan's son in harm's way can't, or won't, answer her inquiry because he fears dissent, such ignobility might also reflect upon whether there is any nobility in the elected leaders who lusted for this military action in the first place.

2 comments:

np3 said...

Johnny,

You are dead center on this.

Cindy Sheehan is one person that the pundits and the hacks are going to have trouble painting with the slanderous sound bite technique. After witnessing the agony and pain of my own mother 40 years ago (Can it be that long, and is our collective memory that short?), I have always believed that mothers are somehow the greatest victims of war. Their questions are simple, heartbreaking, and legitimate and they deserve candid answers from our leader.

Enough clever terms and catch phrases. Let’s put aside the questions about WMD’s, Abu Ghraib, preemptive strike foreign policy, terrorist connections in Iraq, or whether an imposed democracy can succeed. Let’s drop the Condy’s new word-of-the-month – PROCESS. We’re talking about lives here! And we’re talking about the right for the public to obtain the truth and debate it openly.

Come on Mr. President, what’s the plan? You and your neocons must have had one at some point. When are our men and women coming home?

Cindy, more than I, deserves to know your answer.

Chris C. said...

Oooh, I love this topic… I agree and, of course, disagree! Dissent is something to be respected. It can create change in the most needed ways. Also deserving of respect is the President of the United States – PERIOD. (Whether you voted for him or not.) No if's, and's, or but's. The disrespect that people openly show the office of the President, to me, is not dissent - it is disrespectful and petty. Call me trite and perhaps old-fashioned, but no matter who it is, the President deserves the utmost respect for taking on the responsibility of my life, your life, and everyone we see everyday of our lives.

In the case of the war in Iraq, it is easy for people to assign blame for the things they think are wrong in the world. It is easy because they have no control and, most importantly, no responsibility. Our decisions and righteous attitudes as to what needs to be done really hold no weight because our suggestions and answers are biased because we are not responsible for millions and millions of people! No President had control over Saddam Hussein when he was using humans as experimental subjects for his weapons. No President had any control over Hitler when he was doing the same with Jewish people. No President had control over the people doing the same thing in Vietnam. However, all that "experimenting" has stopped. Why? Somebody made a decision – albeit it an unpopular one, but one that had to be made all the same. There aren't people in those countries dying so the militaries that once protected them can perfect the use of mustard gas or see how long groups of people can stand hot or cold extremes. I can't believe that Bush would send troops to war so we could get our hands on some more oil. I can't believe that, and I don't think any rational person can say that is the sole reason that Mrs. Sheehan’s son died. People use the words "weapons of mass destruction" as a punch line these days. Are you kidding me? Cindy Sheehan's son died so I don't ever have to really know that they are out there – and I respect Casey for that. He died in a war that many say is unjust (is any war just?), people say that Bush moved too quickly (Hussein has been “experimenting” for decades and our talks haven’t stopped him…), and they say Bush did it all without proper intelligence (does anyone REALLY think that the intelligence we get from the NY Times is the same report that the freakin’ President gets? Seriously…). And anyway, what would it really change if we did find WMD’s in Iraq? Would Cindy be in Texas? Would we even have the same questions about our troops being in Iraq?

Does Cindy Sheehan have a reason to speak? You betcha. Do you and I? Sure. Is one more valid than the other? Not necessarily. (Although I am tired of John Mellencamp and Bruce Springsteen pushing their political views on me. I don’t care who you are; just because I wanna hear you sing doesn’t mean I want to hear your world views!) Do I think Casey would be happy that his mother is camped outside the President’s ranch to make her point? I don’t think so. (No, I didn’t know Casey…) I do know that if I gave my life in combat, I wouldn’t be happy if my mother said anything to anyone. I would want to be buried in Arlington with a proper headstone and hope that everyone – EVERYONE – went to vote in the next election. Somehow, in some very connected way, Casey’s death saved my life and it saved other lives and the best way we can honor him is to be in line at the polls each and every time they open. That is, after all, why we are America.

Dissent is something to be respected – however, it is something completely different when dissent turns insolent and catty. Dissent is meant to bring progress, not just attack something to destroy it. Being a “Monday Morning Quarterback” is fine. We all second-guess people – even the President. But to attack and second-guess a situation where we don’t have the same information is not dissent, it is just plain being un-informed. How do people attack something that they don’t full well know the answer to? How do people attack the intelligence Bush and his staff receive about Saddam and Bin Laden when we don’t know what that information is – and probably will never know.

Casey did not enter the service, just to get his college debt paid. He entered the military for you and I – and for George Bush and for his mother, Cindy. He knew that just by entering, he was laying his life on the line. For you and I. To date, Casey is one of 1,871 American deaths in Iraq. To me, every single one of those people gave their life for something honorable. They gave it for me. I don’t think it is a question for the politicos to decide, I think it is for each one of us to answer for ourselves…