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Who Are Those People In Crawford Anyway?

The media seems to be covering the pro and anti war protests in Crawfor (Cindy Sheehan and all that) as some sort of showdown between the pro and anti war families of soldiers (this article from the Washington Times of pro-War parents protesting the political use of their kids' names by anti-War protestors was an unusual twist on the story that I had not seen elsewhere).

Has anyone actually tried to enumerate how many of those on site, either pro or anti War, actually have anything to do with active duty military or Iraq War casualties? My impression is that the overwhelming number of those down there are primarily professional activists rather than grieving family members suggested by the media. Nonetheless, the story I see coming from most of the media focuses on family members, thereby suggesting that most of the protestors are related to service members. I don't know that it changes the story that much, but to my mind, it would change my impression of the degree to which the various protestor sides actually speak for service members in any meaningful way as opposed to just grinding political axes.

SP:
Whatever their opinions are, I'm assuming they all share the status of being unemployed, because Crawford's a bit out of the way for most of us workin' folk.
8.26.2005 3:39pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
It's a non-story.
8.26.2005 3:42pm
Brian Cook (mail) (www):
I had the nerve to ask this question on DailyKos, and (despite being a frequent commenter for a year and a half) got myself banned for it.

All I want to know is, if losing a child in the war gives a parent unlimited moral authority, then how many of those people in Crawford posess unlimited moral authority?

If this is a collection of bereaved parents, why is Cindy Sheehan the only one we ever hear from? If she's the only parent there, then shouldn't we wonder why there aren't more?
8.26.2005 4:16pm
JBL:

I haven't followed the story, but wasn't it originally just a citizen who wanted to talk to Bush about his policies? What's wrong with that? Since a four-year term lasts for about 126,230,400 seconds, each citizen should get about half a second with the president. Or, if he spends six hours a day eating and sleeping, and six hours doing his job, each citizen should get about a fourth of a second, right?
8.26.2005 4:20pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
She already got at least 15 minutes the first time... I think she missed her chance.
8.26.2005 4:48pm
Chris L. (mail):
Has anyone actually tried to enumerate how many of those on site, either pro or anti War, actually have anything to do with active duty military or Iraq War casualties?

This may provide a clue, from the Sheehan side:

"The key for the antiwar movement is to use Sheehan as a symbol but not to make the movement about her. Last night was an effort to broaden beyond Sheehan to other parents. That's why MoveOn told people to bring pictures of children even if they aren't in the military, and organizers handed out stickers saying 'mom' and 'uncle' and so forth, even if the 'son' or 'nephew' wasn't in Iraq."

(Washington Post, via Tim Blair)
8.26.2005 5:07pm
Cyril (www):
Nobody says anywhere that "the various protestor sides actually speak for service members". They speak for grieving and concerned citizen. That's different, and that's just true, whether they're activists (ie: very concerned citizen who act on their concerns) or not.

Even Cindy Sheehan doesn't pretend to speak for service members. She speaks for herself, not for her son. *She* wants to know why he died.

People are concerned that we went there for the wrong reasons, and the wrong way. And that even now, we're handling the situation very badly, by stirring insurection with what looks like a permanent presence, instead of really working toward a working exit strategy.
8.26.2005 6:10pm
Chris L. (mail):
Cyril: I disagree that Cindy Sheehan ever spoke other than as the mother of a son who died in Iraq. Her demands to meet with Bush are not in her capacity as a "concerned citizen," but in her capacity of a Gold Star Mother. She didn't make anti-war speeches before her son was killed. Since then, she has rarely (if ever) made a speech that didn't mention her status as Casey's mother. Articles and interviews rarely speak of her without describing her as a "grieving mother."

It is solely her status as the mother of a dead soldier that caused Maureen Dowd at the NYT -- and doubtless countless others -- to imbue her with "absolute moral authority." And it is that status (and the moral authority that allegedly comes with it) that those who support her use to attempt to silence criticism of her. "How can you attack a poor grieving mother?" is the line; not "How can you attack a poor concerned citizen?"

Move.On knows exactly what it's doing when it asks adults to carry pictures of children, whether or not they are related or serving in the armed forces. They want to arrogate some of that "absolute moral authority" to themselves, since simple "concerned citizens" doesn't get anywhere near the same publicity or power as grieving loved ones.
8.26.2005 6:35pm
Cyril (www):
Chris, I was only responding to the original entry, which wonders if "the various protestor sides actually speak for service members".
They don't pretend they do. They speak for themselves, and support a grieving mother.

Cindy speaks as a grieving mother, and other concerned citizen support her as such. You don't have to loose a child to be grieving, or to be concerned about the many who actually are grieving a child.
We all just don't want more children (american or iraqi) to die without a real good reason. And "staying the course" (and our indefinite presence in Iraq) doesn't seem to be one.

Cindy is the symbol, and her supporters are just that, supporters.
8.26.2005 6:55pm
gr (www):
"It is solely her status as the mother of a dead soldier that caused Maureen Dowd at the NYT -- and doubtless countless others -- to imbue her with "absolute moral authority.""

And pat buchanan too.
8.26.2005 9:45pm
rayabacus:
Cyril,
How does this show that the US has designs on having a permanent base in Iraq? Are you trying to start some "urban legend"?
8.26.2005 10:13pm
The General:
"It is solely her status as the mother of a dead soldier that caused Maureen Dowd at the NYT -- and doubtless countless others -- to imbue her with 'absolute moral authority.'"

Funny. Maureen Dowd and the other MSM haven't imbued any conservative parents of dead soldiers with the same "absolute moral authority," have they? They haven't because what they like about Sheehan is that she was anti-Bush/anti-war and anti-Bush activists think they can hide behind her loss to prevent any criticism of their wacko ideas. Listen to Sheehan spew hate against Israel, against Bush and and against America and you won't be able to tell her apart from MoveOn or Int'l ANSWER. Sheehan is their mouthpiece. That is who she is speaking for.

Sheehan is a tool being used by the anti-war crowd to try to nail the president. She represents nothing more than a photo opportunity/PR stunt. Why do you think Al Sharpton is going to Crawford? Because cameras are there. When they aren't there anymore, the anti-war activists will move on to the next tool, and then the next and the next.
8.27.2005 1:36am
DanB:
We all just don't want more children (american or iraqi) to die without a real good reason

Are we to conclude that "a fascist dictator had them killed" and "a Muslim terrorist blew them up" are good reasons for Iraqis to die? Sheehan appears to support the latter, and of course all opponents of the war tacitly supported the former.
8.27.2005 6:39am
jdacats (mail):
I am a veteran of the gulf war (first one). I served in the Air Force from 1982 to 1993. My job was called Tactical Air Control Party. If you doubt any of this I suggest you go to my brother's website at http://www.romad.com/description.htm
for a description of what I did and what we do. We are the best of the best. Even though most people don't know the Air Force has them, we are Special Forces. We are patriots who will kill or be killed to protect America.

I served in Iraq during Desert Storm and lost twelve friends - three of them I considered to be closer than brothers. I will not tolerate anyone questioning their loyalties or mine. So I want you to understand very clearly who is writing this. You will keep that in mind when you read the rest of what I have to say.

On the issue of Cindy Sheehan. I sympathize with her situation but she has no more right to meet with the President than any other grieving family that has lost someone in Iraq. Just because this has become a media situation does not grant her a special audience. So I think we are in agreement on this.

Having said that; George W. Bush is the single most dangerous threat that America has faced in 200 years.
I make that statement with a host of other servicemen who stand behind me. When CNN has their cameras on you can be sure that you will never hear a dissenting word, but I have been there when the cameras leave and I know and am willing to tell you that we are angry.

Clinton was a poser and a fraud but he was also a good car salesman. I voted against him as did most of my friends but when he became CIC we obeyed and served - that is our oath and our duty. Even in the worst times when Americans lost their lives because of his decisions, it was out of incompetence or ignorance. In time, that can be forgiven. What Bush Jr. is doing is unforgivable. He is throwing life after life over a cliff and into a fire that he has created all to serve his ego. Because he believes in the righteousness of what he is doing. That, my friends, is called a crusade, and it is exactly that kind of thinking that caused 9/11.

I have earned the right to say these things and I challenge anyone who says I don't. It is time for Conservatives and Christians and Republicans to get over their embarrassment and cowardice and admit that this man is a threat to our safety, as families and as Americans. The emperor has no clothes and you know it. Now be brave and courageous and patriotic and do something about it.
8.27.2005 9:36am
Brian Cook (mail) (www):
Jdacats: You're absolutely right--you've earned the right to say these things.

The problem is, you run into the same problem as Cindy Sheehan. While your service qualifies you to criticize the way individual missions are carried out, they don't necessarily make you any more qualified to condemn an overall military strategy. You don't like what he's doing, and that's fine--but it's not your service that proves that fact. You have to be able to justify your criticism based on something else at a higher level of reason. So what makes you think this is all predicated on his ego? What makes you think the strategy is just so send wave after wave of soldiers to their deaths?

These things do not come from your experience, nor are you more perceptive of them because of your experience. So why does your service have to do with your ability to judge the mission?

It doesn't; it's just intellectually easy to say "I served, so I'd know."
8.27.2005 3:26pm
Craig Oren (mail):
There is an excellent story in today's (Saturday's) New York Times on this
I hope the link works.
8.27.2005 4:09pm
DanB:
Having said that; George W. Bush is the single most dangerous threat that America has faced in 200 years

I'm a bit disturbed that the US military will actually hire and arm people who've never heard of the Second World War.
8.27.2005 8:24pm
Cyril (www):
Are we to conclude that "a fascist dictator had them killed" and "a Muslim terrorist blew them up" are good reasons for Iraqis to die?

None of which were happening before Bush and Co invaded.
Oh sure, before 91, when we were supporting him (under Reagan and Bush Sr), the fascist dictator had iraqis (and iranians) killed. For some reason we didn't mind then.
But once he started threateing Kuweiti and Saudi (Oil), we put the fasist dictator in a box, and under 2 no-fly zones to protect Kurds in the North and Shiites in the south. And the fascist dictator, allowing no religious fundamentalism in his secular police state, wasn't letting any Muslim terrorist blow anybody up either.

We broke all that. Now Iraqis and dying. Now Americans are dying at the hands of Iraqi insurgents (not on 9/11 in which no iraqis participated).

So What can we do?
We need to re-focus on the real War on Terror (you know, Al Qaeda), and make it clear we're not in Iraq to stay. But we can't if we are there to stay.
8.27.2005 8:37pm
Cyril (www):
How does this show that the US has designs on having a permanent base in Iraq? Are you trying to start some "urban legend"

I'm not starting anything.
It's been clear to any casual eye for at least a year.
You've missed the links in my entry:

http://www.juancole.com/2004/10/bush-v.html
http://www.csmonitor.com/2004/0930/p17s02-cogn.html
http://www.thenation.com/blogs/outrage?bid=13&pid=2132

Your thinking I'm just "trying to start some urban legend" just proves how much the media is totally off the real topic here.
If we want Iraqis to believe we're just there to help and leave them free, we can't build long term bases on their turf. And clearly, we are.

So What can we do?
Well, if you at least agree we shouldn't be there permanently, then let's say it clearly.
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