Wednesday, August 17, 2005

On Cindy Sheehan

If you're expecting a post saying that Ms. Sheehan is a nutjob, you might want to skip this post. If you are expecting me to show her as a saint, same advice.

I really don't know what to make of Ms. Sheehan. On the one hand, we see a grieiving mother who has been stirred to some activism. On the other hand, I'm confused about how she can in one article say that she had a fairly good meeting with the President last year, and another one of the same event that was less charitible.

Chris Battles has a critical look at Sheehan that I don't agree with on the whole. While I don't agree with her viewpoint of an immediate pullout, she does have a right to protest like any American should. Here is the money quote from Chris:

The problem with this woman is that she is basically a misquided lunatic. From allegations that her son died for a "Neo-Con agenda to benefit Israel" from her real reason for 9/11, that the "Arab-Muslims who attacked us hate our middle-eastern foreign policy," this lady proves repeatedly that she is no more in-tune with the issues than the tent she's sleeping in. And, true to form, the liberal media is giving her all the face time they can, including appearances on CNN's 'Hardball' and '360 With Anderson Cooper'. To Cooper's credit, he did catch her in a lie when she tried to deny the Israel statement, even though the letter that contains it included her signature. Despite her family's plea to leave, her husband, who is divorcing her in part because of her antics, and the angry words of President Bush's neighbors, Sheehan is refusing to leave or shut up. Lately she has become more radical, calling for the impeachment of the president and refusing to pay taxes until she gets her son back.

Here's my take (is it such a mystery?): Someone needs to call the men in the white van and the coats and take care of this lady. Rather than make sweeping generalizations about her state of mind, however, I'd like to refute some of her ridiculous arguments.

He also calls for the IRS to lock Ms. Sheehan up for not paying taxes.

There are a few things that I have to note here. I think it is wrong to say that a mother who lost her son as a lunatic. I don't know what her motives are. I don't agree with her viewpoint, but to say that she is crazy isn't fair.

I also think it is a leap of logic to assume that her foray into the ant-war movement is what caused her divorce. I have no idea what caused it, but losing a child could have something to do with it, not necessarily her politics. John Cole says it much better.

With some on the right demonizing her for daring to question the war, the left has made her a saint. I don't think either is right or even correct. Again, I don't know what to think. I do think both sides are using her.

As for the President meeting with her? Well even if he did, it wouldn't probably change her mind, but I still think he should. Since I have some experience with public relations, I know that it makes sense to handle public relation crises head on instead of ignoring them. The best way to defuse a situation is to face it. I doubt any minds would be changed, but it would show that the President cares and might defuse the anti-war left. I doubt the President will do that, since he has a penchant for not listening to any other viewpoints.

I for one don't buy the whole "let's pull out now" talk. Such a move would be disastrous. And yes some of her words border on weird conspiracy theories. But I do think we need to let her speak, even if her views seem beyond the pale because she is a grieiving mother. People who have expereinced some kind of loss sometime say things that make no sense. We've all seen how families react when they confront someone who murdered a love one. Sometimes what they say makes no sense. But we need to hear them because we need to hear what they lost. It's for that reason we need to hear Ms. Sheehan. While there are a lot of questions, one thing I can't question is the pain she feels about losing her son in a war she didn't agree with. She has a right to express her pain even if I don't agree with it because she is the one who has lost something precious to her.

I wish everyone , both on the left and the right, would just leave this woman alone.


At 10:40 AM, Blogger Brian said...

The president is in a tough position (not that I feel the least bit sorry for him). If he meets with her, then every family of every soldier who died is going to feel owed multiple meetings with him. 2000 families x multiple meetings = a lot of time.

And besides, I don't think such a meeting would defuse the anti-war left nor would it prove that he cares... especially since the meeting, if held, would only be a result of pressure and bad PR. He's repeatedly proven insensitive (not hostile, but casual and insensitive) toward non-fetal, non-embryonic and non-vegatative human life. One meeting with a 'nutjob' isn't going to change that.

That said, it infuriates me that those calling for withdrawal are consistently smeared as anti-troop by some. One can reasonably argue that such a withdrawal is an unwise idea. But to argue that wanting to troops removed from harm's way is like spitting in their face is an Orwellian contortion of logic that hurts my brain.

At 1:21 PM, Blogger Paul said...

Well Dennis, I disagree with you on this one. As I said on my own blog, this woman is rather shameful. She's already had her 15 minutes of fame, said how she feels to the public, and got all the news media involved. Now the citizens of Crawford are rightly pissed off at this woman hanging around constantly and possibly endangering the children of the community by bringing in unwanted and unknown elements into their community. I do say its time for the guys in white to come take her away. My advice to her is the old english addage from a famous writer: You can leave the stage on your own accord or be carried off, the choice is yours.

At 9:17 PM, Blogger The Truffle said...

Dennis, Chris Battles' arguments are full of incorrect facts. She hardly seems like a lunatic, and in fact one of Bush's neighbors is letting Sheehan use his land for protest. So the neighbors are hardly riled up by her.

Why does anyone believe she's being "used"? Is there any evidence to support this? Does it not occur to anyone that she's a grown woman who chose to do this?

And why are people riled by her comment that her son was "killed for lies and for a PNAC neo-con agenda to benefit Israel"? There is probably a grain of truth there (and no, it's not anti-Semitic to criticize Israel or US's policy re Israel).

Here's a link for the basic facts on Sheehan.

At 9:21 AM, Blogger Brian said...

Sorry Paul, but the citizens of Crawford will have to suck it up. I live in a tourist region. Tourists are really annoying, esp. since most of ours come from the New York City area, but they generate a ton of money and jobs for the region. Unfortunately, we have to take the good with the bad. The citizens of Crawford will have to do the same.

At 4:53 PM, Blogger Paul said...

C'mon Brian, tourists are one thing, these people are another. I don't think they came to Crawford for birdwatching. If they came to my community, I'm sure they'd be removed for not only the community's protection but as well as their own. Yeah you're right the good comes with the bad, but if we have the ability, we get rid of the bad and keep the good.

At 5:33 PM, Blogger Brian said...

Yes Paul, there is a difference. Freedom to be a tourist isn't mentioned in the Constitution.

Unfortunately freedom of speech and freedom to protest are not things that individual municipalities can annul when it becomes a bit of a hassle.

And for what it's worth: tourists can be just as obnoxious than protesters, if not more so. Many tourists think that the fact of their spending money allows them to be as big a jackass as they want.

But you know what, I don't demand a tourist be "removed" (a rather chilling euphemism, come to think of it) unless they actually commit a crime of some kind.

I suck it up and am glad that I live near a tourist town rather than in it.

At 6:57 PM, Blogger Christopher Battles said...

In my own defense:

I admit that 'lunatic' was a little harsh (and used tongue-in-cheek). But you have to admit that in some respects, Sheehan has gone over the edge. There is nothing wrong with mourning your son and protesting the war, but there is a way to do it, as my post went on to say. Indtead of acting with what many would call 'class' and 'respect for the freakin' government', she is turning this whole thing into a media circus. This just kills her credibility. Losing your son does not make you an expert on US-Israel relations, nor does it make you the forefront scholar on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. There is a right way to do this, and Sheehan is clearly doing it the wrong way.


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