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Cindy Sheehan’s Iraq War Protest: A Woman Scorned

Editorial by Balletshooz

It was once said that: “Hell has no fury like a woman scorned”. Everyone has seen the truth in this concept, and it has proven its relevance throughout history where at crucial moments an angry, frustrated woman, in a moment of outrage and civil disobedience, can do more to change a society than hundreds of thousands of infantrymen carrying machine guns going house-to-house.

Cindy Sheehan

The mother of fallen U.S. soldier Casey Sheehan, who last week started a quiet, roadside peace vigil near President Bush's sprawling ranch is drawing supporters from across the world, and has attracted the attention of the nation as many sympathize with her agony at the death of her son, and feel her frustration at the dismissive scorn of President Bush.

Hundreds of people have joined her, and others have sent flowers, food, and supplies. Cindy Sheehan, 48, of Vacaville, Calif., said she was surprised at the response. Though a few residents have complained about the protesters, “no one has been arrested because the group has been on the public right of way”, said Capt. Kenneth Vanek of the McLennan County Sheriff's Department.

Casey Sheehan was killed in April 2004 in Sadr City, only five days after he arrived. Since her son died, Casey's mother has come to realize, and various government and independent commission reports have confirmed, that the Bush administration's contention that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction was false --a contention that was the main justification for the invasion of Iraq and the main purpose by which her son was supposed to have laid down his life.

Wednesday, a coalition of anti-war groups in Washington called on Bush to meet directly with Sheehan, who they say has helped to unify the peace movement. "Cindy Sheehan has become the Rosa Parks of the antiwar movement," said the Rev. Lennox Yearwood, leader of the Hip Hop Caucus. "She's tired, fed up, and she's not going to take it anymore, and so now we stand with her."

Though she does not expect Bush to meet with her, she said that if he did, she would ask him whether he has encouraged his twin daughters to enlist. "I want him to quit using my son's death to justify more killing," she said. "The only way he can honor my son's death is to bring the troops home." And she vows to keep camping near Bush’s sprawling vacation ranch his entire, lengthy summer vacation and to follow him back to the White House, if necessary.

Other Women Scorned

Rosa Parks was the spark that ignited the civil rights movement because the African-American woman refused the request of several white men to move to the back of the bus. She had no agenda of her own other than to lash back at the injustice inflicted upon her in the only way she could. Her ability to summon her inner strength at a crucial moment, even in the face of the seemingly insurmountable white establishment, united the country behind her cause.

Two decades ago In Argentina, as a right-wing military dictatorship purged the country of its left-wing critics. Their mothers began to search for their “disappeared” sons and daughters. As the government stonewalled and covered up the political assassinations, a small group of the mothers began protesting in “May Plaza” holding signs with pictures of their sons - hoping that someone would take notice.

They carried signs around their necks with photos of their missing children. At first only a few mothers marched one day per week. The only people who knew about them were those who passed them by in May Plaza in the center of Buenos Aires. The largely ambivalent public ignored them for a long time.

It is hard to pinpoint exactly when or why people began to pay attention to the Mother’s of May Plaza. Perhaps people’s innate distaste for injustice overrode the indifference of the elitist supporters of the junta and the ambivalent upper classes who held sway. As the number of mothers grew, so did their sympathizers, and so did the media coverage that brought their message beyond May Plaza.

The “May Plaza Mothers”, through their persistence, exposed the terrorist war that the Argentine junta waged against its own people, and they helped toppled the right-wing dictatorship.

Similar is the plight of Cindy Sheehan as she camps out in a ditch near Bush’s Crawford vacation ranch and her struggle is no less important than the struggle of Rosa Parks or the May Plaza mothers. Cindy Sheehan, at her protest camp in Crawford, has tapped into the same universal truth that was uncovered by Rosa Parks and the May Plaza Mothers, because just as racial injustice and political killings are wrong, the pre-emptive war doctrine is wrong for this country. For reasons that become more and more obvious to many as every day passes and as more soldiers die, our foreign policy needs a course correction. Cindy Sheehan is an ongoing testament to that fact and an ongoing problem for George Bush and the supporters of his foreign policy.

Mrs. Sheehan is only the first person to capture national attention protesting our current foreign policy. Others will have to follow if there is any hope to make sense of what most Americans now consider to be the reckless foreign policy decisions of the Republican, neo-conservative administration. The president may continue to ignore Cindy Sheehan as he does most of his other problems and ethical lapses. The Secret Service may even arrest her as a threat to national security, as several blogs have rumored. But there will be more Cindy Sheehans. And – just as in Alabama and Argentina– a woman scorned cannot be suppressed.

Anatomy of a Right Wing Smear

The scorned woman does not always act out of a rational state of mind, and the right-wing media misunderstands this fact. There was no reason for middle-aged Rosa Parks to refuse to move to the back of the bus at the moment she did. It just happened. She was likely to have ridden in the back of the bus her whole life and never made a sound about it.

Perhaps Hannity would have accused Rosa Parks of flip-flopping because she used to sit in the back of the bus. Perhaps Drudge would have found three “in-laws, twice removed” of Rosa’s second cousin to say that Rosa doesn’t speak for them. Perhaps Limbaugh would have claimed to speak for the entire Parks family, and especially her children, to say that they were so embarrassed by their mother who was making a public spectacle of herself.

Perhaps O’Reilly would have stated with a serious face:

"To question the government of Alabama and implicitly the entire United States government by defying the political order like this has to be considered treasonous. Civil disobedience is a code word for I hate America. These people are criminals, simple criminals. It's ridiculous that they think they don't have to live by the same rules as the rest of us.”

Such a reaction would have been just as inappropriate then as it is now.

By Balletshooz
Cross-Posted at BNN and RAFC.org

Balletshooz blogs at RAFC.org.

Story posted to BNN 8/13/2005 10:58:15 PM

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I've withheld comment on the multi-faceted Cindy Sheehan spectacle. Until now. Western Society is certainly on the skids. People are whacked.


Comment by Dave Lucas, 8/14/2005 4:25:27 AM

An otherwise excellent article, but I think the theme of women scorned is sexist and detracts from the force of the article.

Women are no less than men able to respond to injustice, and men, no less than women, are entitled to be less than rational when responding to injustice.

It would seem to me that the common emotion in reacting to injustice is anger, whether the responder is a woman or man.

-Dave Haigler, Taylor County Democratic Chair
Abilene, Texas
editor, http://demlog.blogspot
(a place where there are many defenses of Cindy Sheehan and stories about her)

Comment by Dave Haigler, 8/14/2005 12:31:20 PM

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