August 18, 2005

Lileks on Cindy Sheehan

James Lileks takes issue with argument that it is inappropriate to criticize Cindy Sheehan:

Might as well get it out of the way: This is a cruel, false, chicken-hearted attempt to smear Cindy Sheehan, the protesting mother who lost a son in Iraq.That's not the intent, but that's how some will respond. Some people think that any time you argue back, you're Stifling Dissent. For them, merely discussing Ms. Sheehan's views is the rhetorical equivalent of sending her to Abu Ghraib.

Just for the record, then: She has the right to her opinions, she certainly has the right to her grief, and she has the right to say provocative things. She even has the right to ask for a second conference with the president in order to accuse him of killing her son. This is not about that. No one is suggesting she be stripped of the First Amendment and forced to sing patriotic Irving Berlin tunes.

Now that the preambles are done, a question: Is anything she says subject to criticism at all?

Your first response might be a wince and a shrug: Who are we to judge, the woman's clearly in pain, best to leave it be, please change the channel. But if she wants to be a spokesman for the anti-war cause, is it beyond the pale to examine her remarks? If she blames the war on, say, Zionist fiends, ought not one wonder why the anti-war crowd seems deaf or indifferent to the loathsome underpinnings of her remarks? Perhaps they agree with her when she says this is a war for Israel. David Duke certainly does.

From my standpoint, it is wholly appropriate to question Ms. Sheehan. She has become the "voice" of the anti-war movement and has been embraced by all anti-war and Democratic advocacy groups. She has used her personal tragedy to rally support for her cause, to slander her political enemies, and to shield herself from the repercussions of some very radical and disturbing views. She may be a grieving mother, but she made the conscious decision to enter into the political world.

Lileks has more:

See Byron York's National Review account, "Thank God for the Internet, or we wouldn't know anything, and we would already be a fascist state," Sheehan said. "Our government is run by one party, every level, and the mainstream media is a propaganda tool for the government." It seems churlish to point out that the mainstream media -- you know, the papers and networks that relentlessly hype Iraqi progress and downplay casualties -- have helped make her a celebrity. It would be obvious to note that we went to war to depose an actual fascist state.

But she is right about one thing: The Internet is helpful. Thanks to the Web, we know that Sheehan spoke at a rally at San Francisco State University in April. It wasn't a Mothers Against Pre-emptive War With Ambivalent U.N. Approval meeting. It was a rally for a lawyer convicted of aiding Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, the terrorist connected with the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993. There's a transcript [here].

"The biggest terrorist in the world is George W. Bush," Sheehan began. After calling for Bush's impeachment and making a demand that Bush send his "two little party animal girls" to war, she makes this nuanced assessment: "What they're saying, too, is like, it's OK for Israel to have nuclear weapons. But Iran or Syria better not get nuclear weapons. ... It's OK for Israel to occupy Palestine, ... for the United States to occupy Iraq, but it's not OK for Syria to be in Lebanon. They're a bunch of (expletive) hypocrites."

The hard left in America needs to realize a bald, cruel fact: Anyone who sees no moral distinction between Israel and the mullahs of Iran, or sees the U.S. attempt to set up a constitutional republic in Iraq as equivalent to the Syrian occupation of Lebanon, suffers from incurable moral cretinism. The more the fervent anti-war base embraces these ideas, the more they ensure that no one will trust the left with national security. Ever.

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