We are the 99%

August 20, 2005

The Power of Cindy Sheehan's Story

As is often the case, there's an interesting thread over at The Conversation. This time, it's on Cindy Sheehan. I posted the following couple of comments there:

In one sense, no, nothing will satisfy Cindy Sheehan because no one can bring back her baby. And, yes, he is her baby -- even at 26 -- just the same as when my grandmother insists on watching me walk down the sidewalk from her home after dusk until she can't see me anymore even when I remind her that I lived in NYC for 15 years and for five of those years had a job where I routinely left work around 2 or 3 in the morning.

And, of course she does not speak for all members of all Gold Star Familles -- I'm not aware that she claimed that she did.

Does she have any more right to the President's time than any other Gold Star Family member? No, of course not.

So why so much focus on her in the press? Is it because MoveOn is now backing her? ...Because she's supposedly being fed lines by the "Lefty" groups?

I would suggest it's the exact opposite of that. MoveOn didn't send her down there...nor did Michael Moore. Her pain as a parent who lost her baby sent her there. The fact that she thought the war was wrong from the start, that she tried everything that she could do to prevent her baby from being killed in a war which she believed was so much bullshit from the start, does not lessen her grief. She knew it was wrong from the start, and yet, she still could not prevent her own child from being caught up in it -- she could not save him from it.

And saying that she is somehow cheapening her son's service is just repeating the lie of the Right that you cannot support the troops and be against this war.

She has done something which MoveOn could not do. She did not create a crafty meme or slogan -- she told a story. A story which captured the attention of the American public that all the bumper stickers and T-shirts could not:


I am a mother. I bore a son. He died in this war. This war which many now believe was a mistake from the start. I want an answer as to why he died in this war which was based on lies. A war which makes us less safe -- not more. I will take my little lawn chair and sit in the hot Texas sun until I get an answer. I will sit in my lawn chair and wait until the President (arguably the most important man in the world) tells my why my boy (the most important man in the world to me) had to die in this war.

It's a very simple story that rings true to many. It's the story that the Bush Administration has the most to fear from. It is not talking heads, it is not Downing Street Memos that few have read. It is the coffins coming home that the Bush Administration has shielded the press -- and by extension -- the American public from seeing.

It's a story that can survive and surpass any circus that has built up around it.

I need to add one more thought:

You're acting as though the "other side" has had no say in any of this. As though the President has not met with Gold Star family members who approve of the war. As if anchors on Fox do not wear American flag pins to signify their approval of this Administration and its actions; as if Support Our Troops yellow ribbon magnets and decals have not only become ubiquitous, but synonymous in the media with support for the war in Iraq; as if Bush didn't use the troops as so many props during the election; as if there have not been families featured on local and network news who approve of their children serving in Iraq; as if the mainstream media actually really asked hard questions before we entered this war. You're acting as if Bush didn't ask everyone to show their support for the troops (BUT REALLY HIS WAR) by flying their flag on the Fourth of July -- as if we needed his direction and approval to fly it.

Yet, one middle-aged woman sends so many into such a tizzy.

That's the power of Cindy Sheehan's story.

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NOTE: Least I be misunderstood, what I wrote above is in no way meant to be any kind of slam at MoveOn or Michael Moore. I am on both of their mailing lists and am fans of both. MoveOn does a wonderful job of both educating people and giving them actionable items to work on and I'm glad that they're helping to spread awareness of Cindy's story. And, one thing that made Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 so compelling was the way he wove the story of another Gold Star mother throughout that movie. She was the opposite of Sheehan as she was a mother who approved of her son fighting in Iraq until his letters to home made her aware of the wrongness of this war.

For more on the "The Neglected Political Power of Story" go here.

2 comments:

KNMKY said...

CINDY'S IS A SAD CASE, SHE LOST A SON, HER FAMILY IS CRUMBLING AROUND HER AND SHE IS NOT DEALING WITH WHAT I THINK ARE HEALTHCARE PROBLEMS OF HER OWN { HER INABILITY TO COPE }.

HER SON SIGNED UP FOR THE MILITARY, HE WAS NOT STOLEN. HIS LIFE WAS NOT TRADED OR OFFERED UP FOR SOME TWISTED MOTIVATION.
IN SHORT A GOOD PERCENTAGE OF WHAT SHE HAS TO SAY IS FALSE ON IT'S FACE VALUE.

TO THOUSE WHO THINK SHE IS A HERO IN HER OWN RIGHT { LIKE BECAUSE SHE DID OR IS DOING SOMETHING PRODUCTIVE } WHRN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU WERE CONVINCED TO CHANGE YOUR MIND ON A SERIOUS ISSUE OF THE DAY BY A SHRILL OVER-THE-TOP INSULTING PERSON?

Maria said...

"TWISTED MOTIVATION"

Like the lies that got us into this war?

"IN SHORT A GOOD PERCENTAGE OF WHAT SHE HAS TO SAY IS FALSE ON IT'S FACE VALUE."

You mean like the lies that got us into the war, and the lie that it will make us safer, and the lie that they will get a democracy instead of a theocracy/civil war?

"SHRILL"
Yeah, the truth sometimes HURTS.

But, I must congratulate you on covering most of the Radical Right's Talking Points!