Monday, August 15, 2005

My new hero -- Cindy Sheehan

Have you been following the Cindy Sheehan story, Alice? She's definitely become my new hero. Here is a military mom who lost her son last year after he had been in Iraq for only a few weeks. Now, she camps down the road from King George's Crawford, Texas, ranch (where he is taking another one of his vacations, does the man ever work, Neo?) and refuses to leave until King George agrees to meet with her to tell her for what "noble cause" her son died. I really don't think that's asking too much, do you, Dorothy?

In fact, I think King George owes the whole nation an explanation. Yes, please tell us, Mr. Bush, for what "noble cause" our troops are fighting -- and more lies don't count. We already know there were no weapons of mass destruction. We all know that neither Saddam, nor Iraq, were connected to the attack on 9/11. We now know through the Downing Street memos that the Bush administration fixed intelligence to justify the invasion of Iraq. We already know that we're not fighting for freedom and democracy. So, let's cut the bullshit. Why are America's sons and daughters still dying in Iraq? Moreover, why are America's sons and daughters still killing innocent Iraqis, and why were they sent there in the first place?

Cindy is just one of many military moms who've lost their sons or daughters in Iraq for no just cause. Needless, senseless violence -- for no just cause. Another mom's story is told on She hasn't lost her son yet, but the Costs of War have had their toll on her. Here's some of Teri Wills Allison's story:

I am not a pacifist. I am a mother. By nature, the two are incompatible, for even a cottontail rabbit will fight to protect her young. Violent action may well be necessary in defense of one's family or home (and that definition of home can easily be extended to community and beyond); but violence, no matter how warranted, always takes a heavy toll. And violence taken to the extreme -- war -- exacts the most extreme costs. A just war there may be, but there is no such thing as a good war. And the burdens of an unjust war are insufferable.

I know something about the costs of an unjust war, for my son, Nick -- an infantryman in the U.S. Army -- is fighting one in Iraq. I don't speak for my son. I couldn't even if I wanted to, for all I hear through the Mom Filter is: "I'm fine, Mom, don't worry, I'm fine, everything is fine, fine, fine, we're fine, just fine". But I can tell you what some of the costs are as I live and breathe them.

First, the minor stuff: my constant feelings of dread and despair; the sweeping rage that alternates with petrifying fear; the torrents of tears that accompany a maddening sense of helplessness and vulnerability. My son is involved in a deadly situation that should never have been. I feel like a mother lion in a cage, my grown cub in danger, and all I can do is throw myself furiously against the bars…impotent to protect him. My tolerance for bullshit is zero, and I've snapped off more heads in the last several months than in all my 48 years combined.

For the first time in my life, and with great amazement and sorrow, I feel what can only be described as hatred. It took me a long time to admit it, but there it is. I loathe the hubris, the callousness, and the lies of those in the Bush administration who led us into this war. Truth be told, I even loathe the fallible and very human purveyors of those lies. I feel no satisfaction in this admission, only sadness and recognition. And hope that --given time -- I can do better. I never wanted to hate anyone.

Xanax helps a bit. At least it holds the debilitating panic attacks somewhat at bay, so I can fake it through one more day. A friend in the same situation relies on a six pack of beer every night; another has drifted into a la-la land of denial. Nice.

Then there is the wedge that's been driven between part of my extended family and me. They don't see this war as one based on lies. They've become evangelical believers in a false faith, swallowing Bush's fear mongering, his chicken-hawk posturing and strutting, and cheering his "bring ‘em on" attitude as a sign of strength and resoluteness. Perhaps life is just easier that way. These are the same people who have known my son since he was a baby, who have held him and loved him and played with him, who have bought him birthday presents and taken him fishing. I don't know them anymore.

But enough of my whining. My son is alive and in one piece, unlike the 1,102 dead and 7,782 severely wounded American soldiers; which equals 8,884 blood soaked uniforms, and doesn't even count the estimated 20,000 troops-- not publicly reported by the Department of Defense -- medivaced out of Iraq for "non-combat related injuries." Every death, every injury burns like a knife in my gut, for these are all America's sons and daughters. And I know I'm not immune to that knock on my door either.

And what of the Iraqi people? How many casualties have they suffered? How many tens of thousands dead and wounded? How many Iraqi mothers have wept, weep now, for their lost children? I fear we will never know, for though the Pentagon has begun --almost gleefully -- counting Iraqi insurgent deaths, there is little chance of getting an accurate verification of civilian casualties. You know, "collateral damage."

Back to the mother camped in the ditch in Crawford. The right wing "clappers" have been all over Cindy, trashing her character on the talk shows, dragging her name in the dirt, calling her names, like "ignorant cow," and doing the usual damage control -- by all means, they must discredit the dissenters, Neo. Remember, to expose their lies is to usurp their power. For real insight to Cindy's character, read the daily blogs from protesters camped out with her on the Code Pink website. I think you'll find more insight there than watching the neocons do their usual ragging on anyone who questions this illegal war or the Bush administration in general.

Unless we support folks like Cindy and add our voices to the growing roar, the right to speak out will soon be crushed by the likes of King George and his court. I hope you'll add yours, Dorothy.


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