[Marxism] Lila Lipscomb profile
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
Thursday July 8, 2004
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
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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