Cindy Sheehan: truth and propaganda

Anti-war protester Cindy Sheehan called her mother’s stroke a “devastating blow” that has forced her to leave “Camp Casey” temporarily. She left Crawford, TX, Aug. 18 to be by her mother’s side at a Los Angeles hospital. In a message posted on Michael Moore’s website, Sheehan said her fellow protesters will “keep up the pressure on the president to meet with us and answer questions about the war.”

Patricia Vogel of the anti-war group Military Families Speak Out also issued a statement, saying, “We needed Cindy to start this movement and now Cindy needs us to keep it going. We are staying in Crawford until we get answers, or until the president completes his five-week vacation.” Vogel’s son, Aaron, has served in Iraq and may be re-deployed.

On the 19th, protesters gathered near President Bush’s ranch plan for a prayer service, including a moment of silence for “the military serving around the world, those who have given their lives in combat, and their loved ones.” The protesters, some 100 strong, invited Bush to attend the prayer meeting; he declined to do so. A White House spokesperson quoted the president as saying that Sheehan has a right to protest but that he does not plan to meet with her again.

On Aug. 17, some 100,000 people took part in more than 1,600 candlelight vigils in support of Sheehan from coast to coast.

Move America Forward, a pro-war group, has taken a counter-mobilization on the road under the slogan “You Don’t Speak for Me, Cindy,” and says the tour will continue as planned, despite Sheehan’s departure from Crawford. (CyberCast News Service, Aug. 19)

Folk singer Joan Baez showed up at Camp Casey Aug. 21. “In the first march I went to [opposing Vietnam] there were 10 of us. This is huge,” Baez told relatives of fallen US soldiers before the concert.

Meanwhile, some 150 Bush supporters gathered at a downtown Crawford pro-Bush camp that afternoon. “I was going to say thank you for inviting me, but I already had my plane ticket,” Baez said to laughter from the crowd of about 500 who gathered for a free concert on a private 1-acre lot offered for the protesters’ use by a landowner who also opposes the war. (AP, Aug. 22)

Messages of support for Sheehan have been pouring in from all over the country and the world. This one is our favorite:

Greetings from Arabia:

Good luck to you and your just cause. You are a brave, bright, determined and articulate woman, and many people worldwide empathize with you and pray that you can find peace after the great loss that you have suffered. Because of the stand you have taken and the good that you are doing by trying to stop this senseless, murderous war, you can be certain that your son did not die in vain.

It is peace-loving Americans, and others like you in other countries, who can help build bridges and bring peace to this war-torn world by taking a principled, humanitarian stance, which regards all God’s children as one brotherhood.

You have made America beautiful in the sight of informed Arabs and Muslims the world over because you have protested in the same breath the death and maiming of Americans and Iraqis.

The world needs many more Cindy Sheehans. In admiration, and may God bless you, always.

Ismail Ibrahim Nawwab, Saudi Arabia
Retired university professor and oil corporation executive.
(Online at ElectronicIraq)

Unfortunately, Sheehan is also getting some support she could definitely do without—from, for instance, “former” Klansman David Duke, who is very happy with Sheehan’s assertion that “My son joined the Army to protect America, not Israel.” These words have been the only significant blemish on Sheehan’s otherwise unassailable moral credibility, and the right-wing media (e.g. National Review) have been having a field day with it, accusing her of anti-Semitism. Some of these criticisms are pretty hilariously hypocritical—such as that (noted by Uruknet ) from an admitted “former” admirer of Hitler, G. Gordon Liddy. IsraPundit, a right-Zionist blog, has noted the controversy around Sheehan’s recent conention that she did not, in fact, write the incriminating words, but that they were added by a volunteer editor without her consent in an e-mail to ABC’s Nightline. The right-wing bloggers are insisting she cc’d the e-mail to other sources, proving that it came from her, not a third party, and that she has written similar unsavory silliness elsewhere. Sheehan needs to address this question forthrightly, as soon as the cirumstances of her current family emergency permit. If she really did write those words but has now thought better of them, she should say so. She will lose nothing by doing so, and will only demonstrate that she is a bigger human being than her opponent on the ranch at Crawford–who has never admitted to any errors, over vastly larger matters.

See our last post on the politics of the anti-war movement.