Dishonesty and Opportunism in the Pursuit of Principle...
There's been a lot of press coverage regarding Mrs. Cindy Sheehan and her seige of Crawford, Texas. Mrs. Sheehan, for those of you living under rocks, is the mother of a soldier killed in Iraq, and Mrs. Sheehan is engaged in a quest to embarrass the President over the War. She has camped outside the Presidential Ranch in Crawford, supported by Michael Moore, half the press and an amalgam of groups (from MoveOn.org to even loopier organizations), in the hopes that the President will be either embarrassed or stupid enough to come out and speak to her in front of the cameras.
A few things need to be said here. Firstly, legitimate protest is the bedrock of democracy and I do not have a problem with Mrs. Sheehan doing what she's doing (how and why is a different story). Additionally, I don't have a problem with the press giving this story as much attention as they have: it's their job to report alternate points of view (even if they're dishonest in how they present those views). Finally, people do have a right to support any cause they want, provided it's not hurting anyone and that a reasonable person could find a logical, moral or legal argument for said protest.
That having been said, now I'll tell you why I do have problems with Mrs. Sheehan's tactics, and the tactics of those who surround her.
The press is presenting this story to the public as the story of a grieving mother, devestated at the loss of her child and searching for an answer as to why it happened. It's legitimate to ask those responsible for putting her son in harm's way to help her gain some answers, the "closure" that afficianados of Oprah love so much. However, this is a false representation of the facts.
Mrs. Sheehan's son was not a "child"; he was an adult who made a decision to join the armed forces of his country. The consequence of that decision was that if the country had to go to war, as a member of a military force he was obligated to go and take the risk of being killed. The press is having a field day presenting Mrs. Sheehan as some sort of Sacred Madonna and never ever mentions that her son was a thinking, rational adult who made the decision that ultimately killed him. Instead, it's George Bush's fault that he's dead.
It's also not ever reported that Mrs. Sheehan has already had her meeting with Mr. Bush, a meeting which was televised, in which he comforted her and in which she voiced support for the President and the troops and current policy. She apparently has had a change of heart. Fair enough.
However, it should be pointed out that this is not a story in the same vein as a 4 year old falling out of a window in a tragic accident with the attendant questions: why no window guards? Who was watching the child? Who do I sue? This is the direction those sorts of tragedies usually take. This one is different. You can't very well sue the president of the United States in time of war, can you? This story is being presented in that light and it's never about the bravery and deication of a dead man, it's always about a dead "child" who was killed by a sinister conspiracy or a chain of unfortunate (but totally forseeable) events.
Enter the Michael Moores, etc.
In Mrs. Sheehan people like this see a made-to-order martyr for the cause. In this case, the cause is not merely making an anti-war position, it's engaging in the personal destruction of the President of the United States. It would not surprise me if Mr. Moore's cameras are rolling 24/7 on Mrs. Sheehan and won't one day end up as a sequal to his disgusting (and mentally-unbalanced) Farenheight 911. It has been apparent for many a year now that he George Soros/Michael Moore crowd have never been about truth, principle or anything noble, but rather in vreating gaps in American society that can be exploited for political and personal gain.
Mrs. Sheehan has my sympathy and her son my thanks for his service. But she doesn't have the right to parade the bloody shirt of her dead son in the public square. It's undignified and disgusting. Mr. Moore and his idiotic fellow-travelers do not have the right to exploit a woman's grief for their own twisted and selfish ends.