[Marxism] Cindy Sheehan breathes new life into U.S. anti-war movement

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Fri Aug 19 23:17:19 MDT 2005

(Cindy Sheehan's had to take a break from Camp Casey outside of the
Bush compound in Crawford, Texas, but the camp is continuing and the
Gold Star mother's role as a leader of the anti-war movement becomes 
stronger with each passing day. On ABC national television yesterday 
viewers saw participants at Camp Casey maintaining their vigil while 
singing "Amazing Grace", a fully appropriate song for such an occasion.
Wednesday night a thousand or more vigils in solidarity with Cindy's 
protest took place throughout the United States. Groups from as wide 
a spectrum as ANSWER and IAC on the left to MOVEON.ORG on the liberal 
left helped turn the protests into a vital national moment. 

(Naturally Bush and the supporters of this war of violence, plunder and 
occupation are fighting back. They've begun a campaign of vilification 
against Cindy Sheehan. A sample is attached below from today's edition 
of the Wall Street Journal. You can rest assured that more efforts to 
destroy Cindy Sheehan will be forthcoming, but her moral and political 
clarity, and her skill at handling the hostile media will make it hard 
for this Gold Star mother to be defeated by the chicken hawks brigade.)

The next morning a Marine in dress uniform answer a reporter's query 
about Cindy by saying protests like hers were legitimate and what this 
country stands for. The uniformed Marine then simply said "I agree with 
Her," and ABC national simply played the clip without comment. Rightist 
sentiment has had a hard time mobilizing itself, and hasn't been able 
to match the anti-war sentiment. Cindy Sheehan's announcement that she 
plans to go to Washington at the end of September can be very much the 
critical element needed. Now that ANSWER and UFPJ have agreed to join 
forces for a common protest, it's possible to build a truly massive 
action, one which the national media won't be able to fail to cover.

The growing numbers of US soldiers killed in Iraq, and now also in
Afghanistan is raising consciousness across the United States to a 
new and higher level. A response has begun among elected officials 
which further legitimizez the much-needed public discussions and 
debate over the Iraq war. The broad united coalition effort which 
now is building around September 24th is one which supporters of 
Cuba need to participate in to the fullest possible extent. With 
the over-rich beginning to disagree among themselves about the war 
now, it's possible to strike a critical blow against the pretense 
of US national unity which is collapsing around the Bush regime.

Walter Lippmann, CubaNews

Havana. August 19, 2005

Cindy Sheehan breathes new life into U.S. anti-war movement


DALLAS,—The grassroots movement against the war in Iraq, led by
activist Cindy Sheehan, was well expressed by the 1,600-plus protests
against that war, according to Notimex.

Thousands of people gathered Wednesday night in parks and plazas
throughout the United States to express their solidarity with Sheehan
and the cause she is defending, according to the website of the
organization MoveOn.org.

Since August 6, Sheehan, a 48-year-old California resident and mother
of a young soldier killed in Iraq, has been camping outside of
President George Bush’s ranch near Crawford, Texas, demanding that he
explain the war to her and bring the troops home because the war is

The grassroots demonstrations were convened and organized in just
five days over the Internet by groups like MoveOn.org, True Majority
and Democracy for America.

MoveOn reported yesterday that 1,625 vigils in all were held,
including one outside the White House in Washington, and another at
the campsite maintained by Sheehan and another 100 anti-war
protesters near Bush’s ranch.

“This is an unjust, unjustified war,” said María Cecilia Salisbury, a
Colombian immigrant who participated in a vigil in a public park in
Plano, a northern Dallas suburb.

Salisbury held up a sign in Spanish demanding the return of the U.S.
troops in Iraq, and other demonstrators with her held candles and
placards demanding an end to the war.

The vigil in Plano was held in silence, as were the majority of those
held simultaneously throughout the country.

In Crawford, the demonstration led by Sheehan brought together 200

Sheehan has stated that she will abandon her “sit-in” near Bush’s
ranch if the president agrees to meet with her to explain why he is
maintaining the war on that Arab country.

If not, Sheehan has pledged not to leave until the end of the
president’s vacation – which he is spending at the ranch – at the end
of August or the beginning of September, to then take her protest to
the White House.

“The level of people’s frustration is growing,” commented Lon Burman,
a Texas state representative who leads the Dallas Peace Center, a
group that promotes pacifist causes. “This situation can’t go on much
longer,” he said.

August 19, 2005

Cindy Sheehan Inflates
The World of Media Moms
August 19, 2005; Page A12

When I returned recently from two weeks away, which included two
weeks away from television, meaning two weeks away from 21st-century
reality, I surfed into a cable station in search of news and
discovered a "Live" report, which said they were draining a lake in

I am embarrassed to admit that I thought the Aruba murder story had
faded. The embarrassment is that I'd underestimated the staying power
of Media Mom Beth Holloway Twitty, mother of Natalee, who disappeared
in Aruba on May 30 and is almost certainly dead.

This summer we have two Media Moms who came to dinner --the Aruba Mom
and Cindy Sheehan, the Iraq War Mom. If you watch cable news in the
evening, you are sharing it nightly with Cindy and Beth. The big
difference between the two is that half the country doesn't hate Beth
Twitty yet.

Media Moms come and go. There was Jon Benet Ramsey's Mom, Terri
Schiavo's Mom, Laci Peterson's Mom, Elizabeth Smart's Mom and the
Murdering Mom Susan Smith. Michael Jackson had a Mom, but she
couldn't compete with her son for airtime; or maybe the lawyer told
her there was no upside in sharing her torment with the country.

Cable news has a lot of airtime to fill. The problem is, it pumps a
lot of that air into its Media Moms, and the result is often slightly
weird. Cable takes familiar tales of tragedy and pathos, death and
desperation, finds a person to carry the narrative, often a Mom, and
then every night fills the Mom with more air until, like a balloon in
Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, she turns into something not quite
real, drifting past us night after night.

Greta to Natalee's Mom, Beth Twitty: "Take me to the Internet cafe.
It's a downtown area, main area of, a commercial area on Aruba or in
Aruba. You walked in the door, and what was the first thing you saw?
Did you see Deepak right away?"

Paula to Cindy Sheehan: "Cindy, you have said rather pointedly that
you refuse to pay federal taxes now because you don't want to fund
this war and yet you continue to enjoy government services and I'm
wondering how you justify not funding a war but at the same time also
the tax money perhaps not going to schools, not going to health care,
not going to the nation's infrastructure?"

Cindy -- what with everything else -- now has the weight of the
nation's infrastructure on her shoulders. Looks like she'll take it.

It's clear enough why Beth Twitty joined the circus. Sometimes good
things happen under the spotlight of the media's center ring. The
Elizabeth Smart kidnap story swung through the news for eight months,
and eventually they found her. Beth Twitty conjoined the normal
appetite for Agatha Christie mysteries with cable's dependency on
human melodrama and thereby forced a sluggish Aruban criminal-justice
bureaucracy to do something other than let her daughter's case drift
away. Good for her, though one hopes her 1,500 minutes of fame allow
her to go back to Alabama as the same person who left.

Cindy Sheehan may grow into the most potent Media Mom yet. In this
version of the parade, the Cindy balloon is doing battle with the
President Bush balloon. One side wants to make the Cindy balloon
bigger, while the other wants to blow a hole in it.

"Go, Cindy, go. You're the one. Stop this criminal and his insane

"Cindy, go away. You're a left-wing nut babbling, 'I want to put this
war on trial.'"

The ethereal Cindy floats past every night on three channels. So much
is happening all around her at Camp Cindy in the Crawford ditch. Two
nights ago, hundreds of pro-Cindy "vigils" were held across the
country, organized largely by MoveOn.org.

Probably Cindy is getting what she wants, but this Media-Mom event
may be taking the country to a place it should want to avoid,
whatever one's views on the war.

Losing a son in war and simultaneously losing perhaps half the
nation's sympathy is quite an accomplishment, but that's the way it
works now. Modern media has become an either/or, for-or-against
world. They create Media Moms because Moms are sympathetic figures.
But ultimately the audience in the new electronic Colosseum -- a
video-game experience for couch potatoes -- turns thumbs up or down
on most of these Moms. After a few weeks, people were either rooting
for Terri Schiavo's desperate Mom or saying she should shut up and go
away. How edifying.

Now we've got Cindy Sheehan, Media Mom superstar. She's using her
center-ring moment to divide an entire country over a war (fought by
volunteers), to get the blood boiling and people into the streets,

Yes, Cindy Sheehan is entitled to say what's on her mind, blah, blah,
blah. But the rest of us are equally entitled to understand that the
same forces that washed the moral and political complexity out of the
Schiavo case are gathering again inside the U.S. to do the same to

No doubt, the news from Iraq is wearing people down. Progress is
pedestrian and death is not. But this is not the moment to blow the
country over it. Want a Vietnam-like revolution over Iraq? Want a war
of absolute moral claims? Better think twice about it. The eminent
legal scholar Alexander Bickel did just that in 1975, reflecting on
the price paid back then and likely to be paid the next time: "If we
allow ourselves to be engulfed in moral certitudes we will march to
self-destruction from one Vietnam and one domestic revolution to

Never underestimate the power of a Media Mom. Sometimes for the
better, but here it will be for worse.Better think twice about it. 
The eminent legal scholar Alexander Bickel did just that in 1975, 
reflecting on the price paid back then and likely to be paid the 
next time: "If we allow ourselves to be engulfed in moral certitudes 
we will march to self-destruction from one Vietnam and one
domestic revolution to another."

Never underestimate the power of a Media Mom. Sometimes for
the better, but here it will be for worse.

More information about the Marxism mailing list