[Marxism] Lila Lipscomb profile

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Jul 8 07:45:27 MDT 2004

The lie that killed my son

Lila Lipscomb believed in Bush's case for war in Iraq. But when her son 
died in action, her faith in the American way was shattered. Emma 
Brockes meets the Michigan mother at the heart of Michael Moore's 
Fahrenheit 9/11

Thursday July 8, 2004
The Guardian

Two years ago, if you had asked Lila Lipscomb what she stood for, she 
would have referred you to the flag in her garden and her four grown-up 
children. Her priorities were, in descending order of importance, 
family, faith, country and a place where all three met, what she might 
have called "service": two of her children were in the military and she 
worked in the public sector, at an employment agency designed to get 
people off welfare. She is, as she puts it, "an extremely strong woman. 
And I've raised my daughters to understand that they come from a long 
line of strong, independent women. So the men in our lives have to be 
very unique. Hence Pops."

Pops is her husband, Howard, a car-factory worker. He has accompanied 
Lipscomb to London today by way of moral support and sits across from 
her in the hotel suite, eyes brimming. What she is saying is not easy 
for either of them. Lipscomb describes an event that changed their lives 
and forced a seismic shift in their political perceptions; a shift that 
she hopes millions of her fellow Americans will be making between now 
and election time in November. To her surprise, and the surprise of all 
who know her, Lipscomb is becoming a figurehead in the fight to oust 
George Bush.

It is two weeks since Fahrenheit 9/11, Michael Moore's polemic on the 
war in Iraq, was released in America, and in that time Lipscomb's voice 
has emerged as the film's most powerful. As with any project generated 
by Moore, the film will be loved and loathed in equal measure, but 
whatever one thinks of him, it is hard to resist the testimony of 
50-year-old Lipscomb, a mother from Flint, Michigan, who still flies a 
flag in her garden, but is down to three children and a handful of 
ruptured assumptions where other certainties used to be.

The scenes in which she recounts the story of her son Michael's death 
have had cinema-goers sniffing into their sleeves. "For many years," 
says Lipscomb, "I thought I had to control everything. I had a real 
controlling spirit. But, boy, when the army stands in your house and 
tells you that your oldest son is killed, all that flies out the window. 
Over this last year and a half, I've been known to cry a bit."

The power of Lipscomb's story lies in the sharpness of the U-turn she 
made and her eloquence in speaking about it. Initially, she supported 
the war, on the assumption that the government knew best. But just two 
weeks into the conflict her 26-year-old son, a sergeant in the US army, 
was shot down while serving as a door gunner in a Black Hawk helicopter. 
Five other soldiers died with him. A week or so later she received his 
last letter, in which he told her he thought Bush had lost the plot and 
that they shouldn't be in Iraq, that the whole thing was folly. Moore 
got wind of it when Lipscomb and her family were featured in Newsweek 
magazine and he flew to Flint, his hometown, for a meeting.



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