Friday, August 19, 2005

Public Dissent Makes America Weak?

I haven't had much to say about Cindy Sheehan, but there was perfect storm in the Rocky Mountain News today.

Bill Johnson, in his column in RMN, is right,
That what she is doing has become a saga, that the influential and powerful in this country feel free to attack and belittle a woman who lost a son in the war and now refuses to remain silent in her grief, pretty much tells you everything you need to know of 2005 America.
Cindy Sheehan, like Vicki Bosley, ought to be afforded the same exportable freedom to express her views and beliefs as loudly or, perhaps, whacked-out, as she feels comfortable.

Yet in 2005 America, to our alarming detriment, way too many people disagree.

Mike Rosen also agrees both sides have the freedom to publicly spout their opinions.
While she's free to speak her mind, those who disagree with her are every bit as free to criticize her views and tactics.

Perhaps if that's all her critics were doing, it might be okay. But they are going after her personally.

Both columnists also play the "What would Casey say?" game. Bill Johnson

Were he still alive over there, and if his mother was still standing in the Texas heat and dust and calling for George Bush to account for the war, there is little doubt he would be personally embarrassed by the attention his mom's actions would bring to him.

And when reporters like me found him and asked him about it, I have no doubt that Casey Sheehan would have looked around, thought a little, spat and replied: "What the hell do you think I'm over here fighting for, if not at least for that?"

Mike Rosen
Her grief has metastasized into bitterness and rage as she turns her son's coffin into her own soapbox. Is that what Casey would have wanted? [emph. added] Or is this all about her?

It's an easy game to play, and while I agree more with Bill Johnson about what Casey Sheehan's sentiments might be if he were alive, I think it would be even more strident than that. Let me put words in his mouth, too
"You wanna argue with my mom about the facts, go right ahead. I may argue with her, too. But if you're only going to open you mouth to call her names and question her right to speak, then please just STFU."

I would add to that, in my joking way, but only if I were standing right next to my mom to put my arm around her, "No one gets to talk about my mom like that but me."

Perhaps Casey Sheehan would prefer his mom to be quiet, or more likely to change her mind, to convince her the war was worthwhile. But why don't the people who claim to support the troops and care so damn much about Casey Sheehan, but who are calling his mom names, have concern for how that might make him feel? Don't they have mothers? Would they want strangers saying nasty things about their own moms? DUH!

To top off the day, there was a letter to the editor in which the brilliant writer actually disagreed with the columnists about robust national debate
Let us not forget that we hired President Bush to do a job. His job is not an easy one.
While I certainly sympathize with [Cindy Sheehan's] loss, this type of behavior only creates a divided country. This type of behavior makes our country look weak and unfocused.

Since public dissent and discourse divides us and makes us weak, we must apparently agree with the letter writer's political views. The aforementioned Vicki Bosley, while agreeing that people have a right to speak, apparently doesn't believe that the American public has any business meddling in the affairs of state

"Yes, I was (angry) at Bush after Justin was killed.

"But you know, today I take the attitude of my son: 'He is the boss, and we have to do what the boss tells us to do. That is our job.'"

Is the President our boss or our employee? Is this a democracy or a dictatorship? Is there freedom of speech or isn't there?

These people who pay lip service to freedom of speech and democracy really seem to not want the responsibility that comes with freedom of speech and democracy. "Sure," they say, "Americans have the freedom to have political opinions and express them, but they shouldn't; and the fact that they are speaking out proves that they hate our freedoms and democracy."

The truth is, these people just don't want to have to deal with the subject matter, so they surrender all thought and action. It's easier just to tell people to shut up because they're aiding the enemy than to deal with the fact that the war in Iraq is not going well and that, despite all the evidence, the Administration is not taking measures to correct anything.

"War is hard," comes the answer. "Let us do our job. Even WWII had failures and mistakes. Support the troops, support the President, support the country."

I support the troops by expecting them to be armed and properly staffed or by bringing them home; I would support the President (though not vote for him) if he were actually taking steps to curb terrorism rather than just "[striking] down with great vengeance and furious anger" random evildoers; I do support my country by demanding that it act rationally and correctly, and by expecting vigorous debate, not quiet acquiescence.

"Cindy Sheehan, Michael Moore, Janeane Garofalo give aid and comfort to the enemy, weaken and divide our country, blahblahblahblah." Empty rhetoric from people who don't know how to debate issues, have nothing of substance to say, and would surrender their freedom and democracy to people who really don't give a damn about either one.

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