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Cindy Sheehan's Seeming Support for the Insurgents in Iraq:

See here, where she refers to the foreigners who are coming to Iraq to join the insurgency as "freedom fighters," a term that I take it is a term of approbation for a person and his cause. (The statement is in an interview off the bus with a bearded interviewer — I'm told it's Mark Knoller of CBS — I'm about 1/4 of the way into the file; I wish I could give a minute/second mark, but I can't seem to get it to appear for me when the file is in this format.) I haven't been following the Cindy Sheehan story much, since I'm not sure that there's a lot of there there. But this particular item really struck me in a way that her attacks on President Bush did not.

Needless to say, I sympathize a great deal with Ms. Sheehan's loss, but when she's voluntarily made herself into a political figure, it seems to me that her views are legitimately open to criticism. Thanks to WorldNetDaily for the link, but I've checked it myself.

A.S.:
Once more into the breach!

Prepare for many comments to the effect that she was "explaining" and not "justifying". So I'm curious about this "explanation", who exactly does she think would be so free if the "freedom fighters" won?
8.26.2005 3:21pm
Challenge:
This is kind of off topic, but how did her son feel about the Iraq war? Is that known? Whatever his thoughts, I have trouble thinking he would like his mother referring to those who killed him as "freedom fighters." What does that make him, exactly?
8.26.2005 3:36pm
SP:
From what I have read, Casey Sheehan voluntarily reenlisted for a second tour of duty. Of course, once the military has their hands on you, they have various means of "encouraging" that choice, but my impression is that his involvement was entirely his own decision.
8.26.2005 3:41pm
Jerome C. Austriaco (mail) (www):
Good point, Challenge. Does she mean to suggest that her son was "an enemy of freedom"?
8.26.2005 3:43pm
Pritesh:
Eugene,

Do you believe she supports the killing of American soldiers?
8.26.2005 3:53pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
I've deleted the BevD thread (including my post) because it seemed like a huge distraction from the substance. If posters disagree, and think their posts were important enough to retain, please feel free to re-post.
8.26.2005 3:54pm
BevD:
Here's a question you might answer; if the Iraqis were here occupying us, how would you react? Would you act with sullen passivity or would you fight to remove them even to sacrificing your life?

This is exactly why this war is failing - the inability to empathize and recognize the humanity of our enemies. When you lack this ability you're unable to predict and prepare for any other outcome than the one you wished for.

The very least you owe to us as mothers of soldiers is an explanation of why we're fighting this war. I don't see that as too much to ask, and every day that she demands an explanation is a day that Bush is ducking the answer.
8.26.2005 3:57pm
JoeSlater (mail):
Man, if Sheehan were only a lesbian seeking converts -- in blue states only -- we could debate whether assassinating her would be appropriate, and this whole blog might implode on itself.
8.26.2005 4:03pm
Doubter (mail):
O.K., no one else is saying it, so I'll be the jerk and just come out and say it.

I highly doubt Ms. Sheehan is really all that broken up about her son's death.

Her son committed his life to fighting folks that Ms. Sheehan is now referring to as "freedom fighters." Does this disgusting woman despise her President more than the vile trash that murdered her son? She stands as a very useful example to the entire country as how depraved the Left has become, and how willing the media is to propagandize for it. All we need now is John Kerry holding a joint press conference with Sheehan, explaining what a war criminal her son was, and the Left will have hit rock bottom.

Sorry to add this unecessary rant. This woman just makes my blood boil. I didn't even know her son, but something tells me the man deserves better than what his own mother is doing to him.
8.26.2005 4:06pm
Hank:
Sure, Ms. Sheehan's views are legitimately open to criticism. But are her views important? She is not important as an individual. She is important as a symbol for the fact that Bush is unable to explain why people are dying in Iraq. Criticism of her views is a way to avoid that fact.
8.26.2005 4:06pm
NickM (mail) (www):
Bev, you're a troll on this comment board. You haven't made any posts that I've seen that haven't been replete with logical fallacies - you even worked a fallacy and a false implied statement of fact into an 8 word post!

It is apparent that your purpose here is to distract other posters into responding to attempts to hijack threads .

You owe your son or daughter an apology.

Nick
8.26.2005 4:06pm
Mark Poling (mail) (www):
BevD, it would depend if Iraq came over here to overthrow a ruthless dictator in the midst of grooming his more ruthless children to succeed him.

Then, you know, maybe I wouldn't mind so much....
8.26.2005 4:07pm
SP:
Bev, perhaps I shouldn't be responding, but your analysis is hurt by the fact that a significant amount of the "freedom fighters" have ties to countries other than Iraq. Additionally, it couldn't be plain that the US DOES want out of Iraq and has no interest in a long term occupation. Which is the "freedom fighters" are only prolonging the occupation, without any indication that they're doing much to win support or sympathy for their cause. Your argument that this is simply their reflexive and understandable reaction to foreign occupation does not explain why, for example, a significant civil war broke out in Eastern Europe following the second world war, when it was clear that there was an occupying nation in place that had every intention of remaining there long term.
8.26.2005 4:12pm
Doubter (mail):
O.K., to the folks demanding that the President "explain" why soldiers are giving their lives in Iraq, where have you been for the last two years? The President explained in numerous speeches, public appearances, and the like, why he felt invading Iraq was necessary.

The problem isn't that he hasn't told people that he believes in bringing freedom to the oppressed and eliminating terrorism on its home turf. The problem is that you simply don't agree with him. No one has been dishonest, you have just reacted like a two year old with his fingers in his ears, chanting "nanananananana" so you don't have to hear the President.

Mr. Sheehan heard. And that man gave his life for the ideas the President is committed to. He deserves better than what his own mother is doing to him. Shame on all of you.
8.26.2005 4:13pm
BevD:
Nick M., that's just nonsense.

Mark Poling, I won't make the obvious joke.
8.26.2005 4:15pm
Carol Anne:
For those who don't want to download the 66 MB QuickTime file, here's my (unofficial) transcript, as I heard it, starting at 5 minutes, 35 seconds into the movie:

INTERVIEWER: You know that the President says you're wrong. That the central is terrorism. Don't you believe that?

SHEEHAN: Uh, no, because it's not true. You know, Iraq was no threat to the United States of America and we invaded. I mean, they're not even a threat to the United States of America. Iraq was not involved in 9/11. Iraq was not a terrorist state. But now that have decimated the country, the borders are open, freedom fighters from other countries are going in and they have created more terrorism by going to an Islamic country, devastating the country and killing innocent people in that country. The terrorism is growing and people who never thought of being car bombers or suicide bombers are now doing it because they want the United States of America out...out of their country.

INTERVIEWER: Do you want America to withdraw from Iraq immediately?

SHEEHAN: Immediately, as soon as possible. It is fueling the insurgency. That's what's killing innocent Iraqis, that's what's killing innocent Americans. You know, my son was a war victim. Now we have over 1800 war victims...over 1800 families in our country that shouldn't be going through what we're going through. It's a travesty, it's a monstrosity. It would save some lives, and, like, um, since it was based on a lie, why are people still dying every day? For lies. That's what they're dying for, and as soon as we get them out of the country, people...the insurgency will go down. They might have a little trouble at first, but, you know what, every Iraqi tells me, "We're a civilization that's been around for thousands of years. We can handle our own problems."

Sorry if I've made errors in transcription; I've tried my best. --Carol Anne
8.26.2005 4:16pm
Steven:
I think it's interesting that you and other supporters of the Bush policy spend so much time convincing yourselves and others that Cindy Sheehan isn't a serious person. As if discrediting her personal views somehow allows you to ignore the utter incompetence of this administration in the conduct of affairs in Iraq and to convince yourselves that all is well.
8.26.2005 4:20pm
Hank:
Doubter: Platitudes are not explanations. Bush's actions speak louder than his words. When he makes the torture and murder of prisoners official U.S. policy, his claims to bring freedom to the oppressed are not credible. And when he lies about connections between Saddam and al Qaeda, and when the war in Iraq creates terrorism where it did not exist before, his claims to be eliminating it are not credible.
8.26.2005 4:21pm
Bryan DB:
Carol Anne, I think your transcription is pretty accurate.

I'm amazed at the amount of indignation about Sheehan's choice of language. Granted, she said something awfully ignorant, but it's not completely without argument to call people "freedom fighters" who we might otherwise like to call terrorists. Not so long ago, the U.S. was pretty fond of "freedom fighters" who conducted terrorist activities against invading foreign nations. In fact, we used to supply them with weapons and advice when it suited our purpose.
8.26.2005 4:22pm
Carol Anne:
Mark Poling wrote, BevD, it would depend if Iraq came over here to overthrow a ruthless dictator in the midst of grooming his more ruthless children to succeed him.


According to whom? Yes, we see Saddam Hussein as a "ruthless dictator," but what if the Iraqis, from their perspective, saw G. W. Bush as a "ruthless dictator?"

In general, national sovereignty should be largely respected, and the U.S. (IMHO) should have waited for the U.N. to take action (and, yes you can argue that they wouldn't've). But, by going it alone, with token support from ostensible allies (who are now abandoning the cause), it seems to me that we've done grevious harm to international relations, and made it more "legitimate" for other nations to invade nations of whom they disapprove.
8.26.2005 4:22pm
Doubter (mail):
I'm sure that Sheehan is a "serious" person. That's why her husband divorced her and the entire family issued a press release disowning her.

But, for some reason, no one is interested in how Mr. Sheehan's other survivors feel about his mother pissing all over everything he gave his life for.

Shame on you.
8.26.2005 4:22pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
I'm looking forward to the end of summer when hopefully the posts will return to legal academic topics instead of this (sorry, I don't mean to sound insulting, but I can't think of a better word...) demagoguery. Posts on topics like Sheehan, the gay rights movement, and the pseudo-treasonous statements of a small but definitely non-zero class of people on the left are fun, but they're not what I come here to read about.

Also, I've noticed a steadily increasing troll count since the discussion has focused on these topics. It's hardly worth reading the comments anymore.
8.26.2005 4:23pm
goldsmith (mail):

Here's a question you might answer; if the Iraqis were here occupying us, how would you react?

Interesting assumption that the "insurgents", with all their "humanity", are Iraqis. In your scenario of an Iraqi occupation of America, would the Mexicans (and south Americans) be streaming across the border to blow themselves up for the cause? It seems that the "freedom fighters" have killed more Iraqis than anyone else.

Honestly, government by emotionalism is a frightening idea, but that is what's being espoused by Cindy Sheehan and the Merry Pranksters. The army of professional "activists", socialist rejects, and various other disturbed individuals that are surrounding her at the moment will milk her dry and drop her as soon as they find someone else to add to their cast of victims. I would feel sorry for her, but she knows exactly what she is doing.
8.26.2005 4:24pm
Hank:
Doubter: "Shame on you," with which you've ended two posts, does not add to the cogency of your arguments; it is effectively name-calling. Let's avoid such remarks.
8.26.2005 4:26pm
Carol Anne:
Bryan DB wrote (in part): Bryan DB:
Carol Anne, I think your transcription is pretty accurate.

I'm amazed at the amount of indignation about Sheehan's choice of language. Granted, she said something awfully ignorant,


First of all, thanks for the compliment.

And, about "...she said something awfully ignorant." Actually, I think I can identify several things she's said that were "awfully ignorant." On the other hand, she is a mother who lost a son, not a specialist in international affairs or modern history. Personally, I cut her some slack about that.

I also agree with your point about the "freedom fighter/terrorist" definition, which is clearly in the eye of the beholder. The label one chooses conveys more about the speaker's mindset than the parties being described.
8.26.2005 4:28pm
Doubter (mail):
Prof. Volokh,

It appears you have taunted the deranged folk from Anti-War.com et al. to come over to the Volokh Consipracy. Those types of sites often urge their barely coherent flock to swarm much more intelligent sites on their behalf.

By the way, speaking from experience, they REALLY hate it when you just delete their posts. Not that I'm suggesting you stir up the hornet's nest.
8.26.2005 4:28pm
Pritesh:

"freedom fighters from other countries are going in and they have created more terrorism by going to an Islamic country"



She say's the "freedom fighters" are responsible for the terrorism. What is the the problem with this statement? How does this show support for the insurgency?
8.26.2005 4:29pm
Scipio (mail) (www):
Iraq was not a terrorist state in the sense that state actors were not killing foreigners outside the territory of Iraq using terrorist methods. But, in the sense that Saddam Hussein's government paid compensation to the families of Pally suicide bombers, in the sense that he tortured and murdered thousands of his own citizens and used his army against the people of Iraq, Iraq was a terrorist state under Saddam Hussein.

Perhaps there is no manifest destiny for the United States to promote republican and Western values around the world. But when faced with the prospect that failing to promote our values creates a vacuum that other promoters can fill, and considering the vibrance of militant Islamic fundamentalism, we appear damned if we do, and are certainly damned if we don't.

If abandoning all of our interests in the Middle East would prevent terrorism against Americans, I think that cost is too high. Abandoning Israel (which is a key component in Islamic terrorist demands) is not an option.
8.26.2005 4:29pm
Carol Anne:
Finally, I'm very frustrated by the inability of some posters here to be able to see the world through other people's eyes, and to engage in ad hominem attacks that add nothing of noteworthy information.

If all one has to say is, "she's a jerk," or "He's a jerk," I'd really prefer not to see it. I'm capable of making up my own mind, as are other contributors to this thread.
8.26.2005 4:31pm
Carol Anne:
Pritesh: I suspect the term "they" in that sentence is ambiguous in context, and could also be interpreted as "the U.S. Military."
8.26.2005 4:34pm
Glenn:
It seems to me that Sheehan is playing two roles: grieving mother and political activist. One of these roles may be legitimately criticized (i.e., that of activist) while the other is very difficult to criticize without severe consequences to the critic (assuming anyone were actually so inclined). With the help of many in the media, she has successfully conflated the two roles into one.

By doing this, she has somewhat successfully innoculated herself against criticism. Unfortunately for her, when she makes outrageous statements like this one it becomes harder and harder for her to hide behind her role of grieving parent. Even the media will eventually realize this, and drop her from their daily agenda. It will probably happen shortly after Labor Day.

Personally, I think she wasted a perfectly good opportunity to advance the cause of the anti-war left by keeping her comments within the bounds of mainstream liberalism, but she seems to be an extreme left-winger at heart and unable to control herself. It is ironic indeed that her statements lately have tended to support the very people who killed her son - something I never actually expected to happen.

I wonder what she will think of all this 20 years from now?
8.26.2005 4:34pm
Bryan DB:
As a p.s.: Eugene, you definitely should have put a warning into your post about the guy with the guitar. Yikes! I almost had to close the movie long before I got to the interesting parts.
8.26.2005 4:41pm
BevD:
To Goldsmith:

If you're unable to recognize your enemies as human beings, you're unable to predict with any kind of reliability how they would react in a given situation. The reason Robert E. Lee was a great general was because of his ability to put himself in his adversary's place. When he began to lose was when he was finally matched with someone with the same ability. Recognition of another person's humanity isn't approval of their actions, it's a tool in planning.

Secondly, I'm not making any assumptions about insurgents in Iraq. Not enough is known about the movement to make any assumptions about them. Our own military doesn't have enough intelligence to say with any confidence who they are or where they come from.
8.26.2005 4:42pm
RogerA (mail):
Daniel Chapman has nailed it--summer press doldrums and ersatz news with an MSM that is incapable of finding news. Looking forward to the Roberts confirmation hearings and the take on them from TVC. To those posters who regard the insurgents as freedom fighters: would you really choose to live in a state that their ideology and beliefs create? That their idea of freedom creates? If the answer is in the affirmative, I wish your hopes to be fulfilled. You missed your opportunity in the Talibanic Afghanistan.
8.26.2005 4:42pm
Doubter (mail):
Carol Anne, some of the folks Ms. Sheehan believes to be "freedom fighters" would gladly cut your head off for speaking your mind so arrogantly (in their eyes). Their culture teaches that women are to be seen, and certainly not heard more than once. Should we close our eyes to the inherent evil of turning 50% of the population into baby-producing furniture, or should we rightfully condemn them as EVIL? (Of course, something tells me you aren't very concerned about the millions of women whom you would condemn to a life of slavery and abuse.)

I personally do not take seriously any woman who asserts cultural equivalence with Muslim fundamentalism. She is either not taking her audience seriously, or is an empty-headed fool. Ad hominum? Maybe. Then again, a wise man once said that stupid is as stupid does.

I still mean it. Shame on all of you for pissing on what Mr. Sheehan gave his life for. Shame on you for ignoring the wishes of his family. But most of all, shame on you for thinking for a moment that you are somehow morally superior to the grown-ups trying to actually make this world a better place.
8.26.2005 4:47pm
Mark Poling (mail) (www):
Steven, there are of course valid arguments to be made supporting your statement, but serious people are either not making those arguments or are being drowned out by the very unserious Cindy Sheehans and BevDs.

(BevD, of course I laid the trap for you. You almost -- but not quite! -- managed to avoid it.)

Even if I were to grant the supposition that the current administration is doing a lousy job, that doesn't imply that its opponents would do any better. The cohort rallying behind Cindy Sheehan, I believe, would do far worse, for reasons well-stated by many above in this thread.

The logical vaccuum that lies at the heart of the Left's opposition to the war is truly disheartening. Fine, I'm convinced that the Left hates Bush. Got that. What I'm looking for are solutions. Pardon me, Cindy doesn't look like a solution.
8.26.2005 4:47pm
Glenn:
Steven said:
I think it's interesting that you and other supporters of the Bush policy spend so much time convincing yourselves and others that Cindy Sheehan isn't a serious person. As if discrediting her personal views somehow allows you to ignore the utter incompetence of this administration in the conduct of affairs in Iraq and to convince yourselves that all is well.

Do you think that is actually what Prof. Volokh is doing, Steven?

She may be serious in intent, but her from a consistency standpoint she seems like a flibbertigibbet. How can one take her seriously as a critic of the war when her statements are often wildly illogical to the point of infirmity? It is much easier to take her seriously as a mother who's grief has made her even more irresponsible than she was prior to Casey's unfortunate demise. Grief can do that to a person.

I think almost everyone is willing to, and in general has, cut her a great deal of slack. Even so, there is only so much slack available in any given rope, and in my opinion, her rope is now as taught as a piano string.
8.26.2005 4:48pm
Glenn Bridgman (mail):
I think this whole business is ridiculous. Cindy Sheehan is nuts, the smearing of her is nuts, it's all just nuts.
8.26.2005 4:51pm
devil's advocate (mail):
1. If Casey Sheehan supported the war, and knew his mom opposed it, he might oppose what she is doing, but I don't see how that ends her right or justification for doing what she is doing. Cindy has an interest in her son, even if they disagree about things, and the fact is that even if Casey wanted to invade Iraq, he couldn't go unless Bush ordered him in. So what is going is between Cindy and Bush. She can be upset Bush sent him, even if he wanted to go. I think that is probably pretty common throughout history. Young men typically are the most enthusiatic about wars, mothers typically less so.

2. The media made Cindy Sheehan, in a summer with little interesting news and low Bush ratings (40% in latest Gallup), as a "human interest" story to illustrate the displeasure with Bush. The "left" did not create her, but leftist activits definitely took advantage of her.

3. I agree with Daniel Chapman. There are lots of interesting legal issues I come here for to read. These sorts of topics are well covered on the more partisan, less legal blogs.

4. Cindy definitely messed up if she said "freedom fighters." But it is accurate--they are fighting for freedom of muslim lands from Americans. I don't think we should be there, but the word "freedom" is useless in this context on both sides. They are not fighting for "freedom" and we are not fighting to bring "freedom." They are fighting out of spite, for power (freedom for self but not for others), for their idea of religion, and other reasons. We are fighting for vengeance (misplaced or not for 9/11), for geopolitical resource security, for our own protection against WMDs (that turned out to be non-existent), and for global pride and PR. Anyone who actually believes we are fighting for their freedom (not just trying to convince fools) is a fool.
8.26.2005 4:57pm
Scipio (mail) (www):
We are not fighting to bring freedom to Iraq. We are fighting to secure for the Iraqis the benefit of ordered liberty.

John Stuart Mill
Of his own free will
On half a pint of shandy
Was particularly ill
8.26.2005 5:00pm
Mark Poling (mail) (www):
Carol Anne
According to whom? Yes, we see Saddam Hussein as a "ruthless dictator," but what if the Iraqis, from their perspective, saw G. W. Bush as a "ruthless dictator?"


Do the opinions of the people buried in the mass graves count? I'm pretty sure they had opinions about which would have been the lesser of two evils, at least before the 9mm slugs hit their skulls.

And of course, the Kurds are naming streets after W. as I understand.

Carol Anne, I find it a little ironic that you can argue that those of us who support the war aren't "able to see the world through other people's eyes" while you blithely ignore all the factors that might produce perspectives different from your own. By all means, ask me to walk a mile in someone elses shoes; I'll ask you to do the same, and imagine the guy behind you might be with the Secret Police.
8.26.2005 5:05pm
FrankR (mail):
The problem with Islamofundamentalists is that they do not think the same way that most of us do. They have no need for what we consider to be acceptance of different opinions. They do not care if we are Democrat or Republican, left winger or right winger, christian or athiest. They hate us for what we are, not for our politics. Look at how they treat their own, and you get an idea of how they wish to treat us. They look at our way of life, the fact that there is equality between male and female (or at least we try to achieve that equality). They do not understand that skimpy clothing on a female is not or should not be an invitation to rape her. They look at the fact that you can see skin on a female as proof of our debaseness and depravity. Freedom is a curse for them. They would rather cut our heads off, if given the chance, than discuss our differences. They look at us as weak, soft, and without resolve. That is the real enemy that we face. Until we really see the evil doers for what they are, a portion of Americans will continue to forget that 3000 Americans died for no reason on September 11th. They will continue to call the animals that perpetrated this evil upon innocent Americans as insurgents, and continue to blame America first.
8.26.2005 5:08pm
Jim O'Sullivn (mail) (www):
Challenger: all I know, and all I need to know, is that he re-enlisted with the knowledge that he would probably go to Iraq. He was Cindy Sheehan's son, but no longer her "child," when he re-uppped at age 23.

Steven: you on the left can't have it both ways. Not only has voluntarily stepped into the public arena for the purpose of influencing public policy, she is being held up by anti-war forces as a symathetic figure whose "moral authority" entitles her to a louder, more influencial voice than the rest of us. Should we not point out exactly what that voice is saying? Do we not have the right to let it be known that she blames our nation's government for the death of her son more than the "freedom fighters" who actually killed him. Does the public not have the right to know that she wrote that her son died for Israel, then lied about writing it, before determining whether or not to be swayed by her highly personal, emotional arguments? I think so. Oh, and I dare you to say I can't back up what I've said about her with proof.
If you on the left want to debate us on the war, debate us on the war. Our side didn't make her a superstar; your side did.
8.26.2005 5:10pm
Carol Anne:
Doubter writes (in part): Carol Anne, some of the folks Ms. Sheehan believes to be "freedom fighters" would gladly cut your head off for speaking your mind so arrogantly (in their eyes).

I have no doubt about that. But that doesn't prevent me from trying to understand their motivations.

I learned a long time ago that if I asked to help a drunk become sober, it does no good to say, "Well, when you've finally reached sobriety, I can help you." That's the very outcome they want. It also does no good to say, "Well, lets both go down the bar and talk about it over a pint." What's much, much harder, is to try to enter into the drunk's reality...without giving up your own, and help them in their own terms and language how to see a better way to live life without hiding behind a drunken haze.

(And, for those of you who don't understand metaphor, please don't bother responding; all metaphors are inherently false, but if you understand how they're constructed, this one makes sense.)

Are the insurgents in Iraq being paid? If so, by whom? I'd sure like to know (some suggest Iran is the paymaster).

Are the insurgents lashing out in frustration, in anger, in hunger, in religious fervor (or many of these, including some I've not listed)? If so, who's contributing to those motivations? I'd sure like to know, because it would begin to give us a "handle" on how to deal with them by offering them something they would value.

Do you have fact- andevidence-based answers to these questions? If not, what are you doing to find out?

As BevD points out, If you're unable to recognize your enemies as human beings, you're unable to predict with any kind of reliability how they would react in a given situation. Irrespective of whether you agree with BevD's other posts, that statement is valid.
8.26.2005 5:12pm
RogerA (mail):
I would hope that the concept (OK: the judeo-christian concept) of freedom would be something to be valued as an absolute. Perhaps I am simply not understanding the nuances, but I number myself among those in FrankR's camp. Islamo-facism is evil,pure and simple, and should be extirpated. People who saw off the heads of others are evil, pure and simple, and are vermin and not freedom fighters. Perhaps I should see more shades of grey, but it looks black and white to me. And it seems to me that is what this conflict is ultimately about.
8.26.2005 5:15pm
Cyril (www):
But they are, freedom fighters!

The fact is that, whether they're wrong or right, Iraqi insurgents at least think they are fighting for their freedom.
And as long as we will look like we're building a permanent presence over there (which seems to be the case), we will only legitimate that feeling.

So What can we do about it?
We need to make it clear we are not on their turf forever, which we haven't made clear (probably because we are planning to stay...).
There are initiatives in that direction, you can support them.

Don't just complain, take action!
8.26.2005 5:18pm
anonymous coward:
The fact that the blogosphere has followed TV news' obsessivon with the Cindy Sheehan Show is incredibly depressing. Do you care? I hope you don't.
8.26.2005 5:19pm
Carol Anne:
Mark Polint wrote (in part): ...you blithely ignore all the factors that might produce perspectives different from your own.

No, I do not. I may not agree with them, or with the people who hold those perspectives, but I'm not attacking them. I've offering my own view and experience for those who might want to consider an alternative.

I'm not interested in trying to change your opinion. I'm interested in putting yet another viewpoint out for view, which you're free to accept or reject as you see fit.

You assume you know that I "...blithely ignore all the factors that might productive perspectives different from your own." If those "perspectives" are yours, I don't generally agree with them, that's true. However, the broad claim that I "...ignore all the factors..." is one for which, I believe, you do not have sufficient evidence. Unwarranted generalization seldom leads to productive perspective change.
8.26.2005 5:20pm
Carol Anne:
(Sorry Mark, I mistyped your name, above.)
8.26.2005 5:22pm
Steven:
Mark Poling and others~

My point is this: Cindy Sheehan is not a serious political figure and everyone knows it. She is a symbol of opposition to the Iraq War. As such, I agree with Eugene that it is fair to criticize her views and statements. But to what end? My guess is so that she can be ignored as a symbol and the position for which that symbol stands dismissed, without ever having to deal with the merits of the underlying position.

In today's WaPo, for example, Wesley Clark has an op-ed on the conduct of the Iraq war and a plan for how it should be conducted. Like him or not, Clark is a serious political figure and is quite critical of the conduct of the Iraq War. Now it's Eugene's blog and he can write about whatever he wants, but if he's going to venture out of legal matters and into public policy, why not take on Clark rather than Sheehan?
8.26.2005 5:31pm
arbitraryaardvark (mail) (www):
The islamic militants call themselves something like mujahadin.
Ronald Reagan (or his speechwriters) translated that as 'freedom fighters.' I do not recall specifically if Bush I continued to use the term, or used the term when he was Reagan's veep. So that this won't look partisan, I'll point out that Carter reinstituted draft registration to support the "freedom fighters" in afganistan, which is when I became a draft resister. And Clinton bombed al Quaida, and missed, shortly before 9/11. If EV has a beef with CS using term freedom fighters, take it up with the GOP.
Red Dawn was a movie about insurgent teenagers taking on foreign invaders. I'm not pro al-Quaida, but I'm not pro-Bush either. Saddam was bad, very bad. But it doesn't seem that Bush is doing much to promote freedom either in Iraq or in the US. I was personally disillusioned by the Iranian revolution circa 1980. The shah was bad, very bad, but what came after was worse. It isn't clear when or if things in Iraq will return to the 'good old days' (which were awful) under Saddam, of if things in the US will return to the 'good old days' (which were awful) under Clinton.
I am a fan of this blog and agree strongly with EV on many topics, but respectfully disagree with his support for Bush's war. Neither side is fighting for freedom. It doesn't even seem to be about oil. The gulf conflict seems more to resemble, on a larger scale, the drunken frat boy brawls that break out after sports events. I suspect if the US and Iraq had had women leaders, they would have sat down, had tea, and worked things out. Cindy, like Lysistrata or the Trojan Women, is a small voice crying out that to women, and people, all this violence just looks crazy. That's not the only possible perpective, but it's one which should be part of the debate.
8.26.2005 5:32pm
NaG (mail):
The problem with "freedom fighters" is that it implies that the insurgents are interested in actual freedom, when in fact they are only interested in re-establishing the power that Hussein held. It is like saying that the South in the Civil War were "freedom fighters" while they fought to maintain the institution of slavery. Insurgents, yes; terrorists, perhaps; but "freedom fighters" is about as ironic as it gets.
8.26.2005 5:32pm
john (mail):
Think about when the British occupied North America. Some americans joined the british side and fought against their fellow countrymen. Where they traitors? That is why the insurgents are targeting iraqi security forces and anyone helping the occupying forces. It seems to me that Iraq is turning into a fiasco and the Bush admin needs to find an exit strategy. One thousand eight hundred young amercans dead so far, for what? What will the death toll be in five years time, and what about the thousands of american wounded? Was any of this worth one american life? really?
8.26.2005 5:34pm
RogerA (mail):
John: I guess my point would be to what end are insurgents/freedom fighters/whatever are fighting. My focus is on those ends. In terms of your last question about the value of deaths of American soldiers. It is an interesting question but consider: the 55,000 deaths in Viet Nam were not enough (IMHO) to cancel the millions of deaths caused by Pol Pot and the North Vietnamese. I think the deaths of the American soldiery that save lives in the future are extraordinarily important--even if those lives are Cambodian, Vietnamese, or Arab.
8.26.2005 5:49pm
Jimbeaux (mail):
"That is why the insurgents are targeting iraqi security forces and anyone helping the occupying forces."

I don't think suicide bombers blowing up children is really the same thing as tar and feathering a loyalist in New Jersey who openly claims his allegiance to the crown.
8.26.2005 5:51pm
Carol Anne:
Steven writes (in part): My point is this: Cindy Sheehan is not a serious political figure and everyone knows it.

Another unwarranted generalization. I, for one, do not know that. You may legitimately claim that "Cindy Sheehan is not a serious political figure," but I don't know that for sure.

I don't know it because I can't see whether her behavior will endure; she might, in fact, become one; would that discount her existing behavior? At what point would she become "serious?"

Clearly, today, she is a "political figure," and she is (to my view) "serious" about her intentions. Her politics may not agree with mine, but casting aspersions does not advance the argument.
8.26.2005 5:54pm
Observer (mail):
I think we should all respect Mrs. Sheehan's privacy and henceforth ignore everything she says and everything anybody says about her.
8.26.2005 5:54pm
Observer (mail):
One other point: The phrase "paramilitary death squads" would more accurately convey the nature of the enemy we face in Iraq than "insurgents" or "terrorists" or "freedom fighters."
8.26.2005 5:58pm
Carol Anne:
To Observer: But, Cindy Sheehan is no longer private; she has definitely "gone public." She's responded to the press, and her views resonate with some people in this country.

Is it now conventional wisdom to decide that any citizen who's views we don't like should be ignored?

Just because we disagree doesn't mean that you (or I, or Sheehan) is to be summarily dismissed. Creativity comes from those disagreements, for as long as we cling to our own beliefs as unchallengable, we stop learning.
8.26.2005 6:00pm
Carol Anne:
To Observer: "paramilitary death squads"

I like that: Descriptive and probably more accurate than the vague "insurgents."
8.26.2005 6:02pm
Jimbeaux (mail):
"Is it now conventional wisdom to decide that any citizen who's views we don't like should be ignored?"

Well, I ignore David Duke and the American Nazi party, whose views on Bush happen to mirror Ms. Sheehan's.
8.26.2005 6:02pm
Carol Anne:
Jimbeaux: Good one!

Would you put Sheehan in the same class as Duke &the Nazi party, just because they agree on one thing?
8.26.2005 6:04pm
Jim Lindgren (mail):
Bev D.:

You wrote: "The very least you owe to us as mothers of soldiers is an explanation of why we're fighting this war. I don't see that as too much to ask, and every day that she demands an explanation is a day that Bush is ducking the answer."


Have you seen Scrappleface's explanation, in his mock leaked Bush reply?:



Dear Mrs. Sheehan,
You have asked me to identify the noble cause for which your son died. I have not answered you personally out of respect for the nobility of your son's sacrifice.

Being president forces me into the spotlight, but I would rather stand in the shadows of men like Casey Sheehan.

Directing national attention on my response to your protest creates a distraction from what matters. The focus of our attention, and our admiration, should rest on people like Casey Sheehan, who stand in the breach when evil threatens to break out and consume a helpless people.

The running story on the news networks should be the valiant efforts of our troops -- the merchants of mercy who export freedom and import honor. They trade their own lives for the sake of others.

As a result, we live in a nation where a woman can camp outside of the president's house and verbally attack the president for weeks on end without fear of prison, torture or death. And the number of nations where such protest is possible has multiplied thanks to the work of our military.

You ask for what noble cause your son died?

In a sense he died so that people like you, who passionately oppose government policies, can freely express that opposition. As you camp in Crawford, you should take off your shoes, for you stand on holy ground. This land was bought with the blood of men like your son.

Now, 25 million Iraqis cry out to enjoy the life you take for granted. Most of them will never use their freedom to denigrate the sacrifice of those who paid for it. But once liberty is enshrined in law, they will be free to do so. And when the Iraqis finally escape their incarceration, hope will spread throughout that enslaved region of the world, eventually making us all safer and more free.


The key is in the lock of the prison door. Bold men risk everything to turn it.

Mrs. Sheehan, everyone dies. But few experience the bittersweet glory of death with a purpose -- death that sets people free and produces ripples of liberty hundreds of years into the future.

Casey Sheehan died that freedom might triumph over bondage, hope over despair, prosperity over misery. He died restoring justice and mercy. He lived and died to help to destroy the last stubborn vestiges of the Dark Ages.

To paraphrase President Lincoln, the world will little note nor long remember what you and I say here. But it can never forget what Casey Sheehan did during his brief turn on earth. If we are wise, we will take increased devotion to that cause for which he gave the last full measure of devotion.

Our brave warriors have blazed a trail. They have entrusted the completion of the task to those of us they left behind. Let's, you and I, resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain.

Let's finish the work that they have thus far so nobly advanced.

Sincerely,
George W. Bush
8.26.2005 6:05pm
Jimbeaux (mail):
No. But I do ignore them.
8.26.2005 6:05pm
0 (mail):
They are freedom fighters to about the same extent the south were "fighting for freedom" in the civil war. I don't think the freedom to keep people in slavery is a valid goal, and I don't think the freedom to impose an islamist dictatorship dictatorship is much better.

So in short, these aren't "freedom fighters"; they aren't fighting for freedom - they're fighting to get their own way. Sheehan is either blinded by grief, avarice or addiction to transient celebrity, but either way, she is still blind, and I agree with observer that the appropriate response is that "henceforth [we should] ignore everything she says and everything anybody says about her."
8.26.2005 6:11pm
Carol Anne:
Jim Lindgren (&Scrappleface): Awesome! Wish he really had the competence to write it himself.
8.26.2005 6:11pm
Steven:
I'm really sure Mrs. Sheehan would be moved by the President's standard stump speech. There is an interesting line in it though:


And when the Iraqis finally escape their incarceration

Just curious as to who the current jailers are?
8.26.2005 6:17pm
john (mail):
Hi Roger, thanks for your thoughtful comment. I don't know exactly to what end the enemy are fighting for but my gut feeling is that they do not want us there. Thousands of sunis and shias marched in demonstrations accross iraq today demanding "US out". There may be some who want us to stay but I feel the majority do not want us there. I may be totaly wrong, convince me otherwise. Can we force 'freedom' onto anyone?
8.26.2005 6:18pm
TomH (mail):
By Mark Poling -



BevD, it would depend if Iraq came over here to overthrow a ruthless dictator in the midst of grooming his more ruthless children to succeed him.

Then, you know, maybe I wouldn't mind so much....



Hear, hear
8.26.2005 6:20pm
RogerA (mail):
John: I concur that some/many of the insurgency do not want us there--you get no disagreement from me on that score; and as to you ultimate question, I fear you may be correct, but the idealist in me hopes otherwise. And for what it is worth, if the democratization experiment fails in Iraq, then I do have grave doubts about democratization/self-governance/or any of those pesky Judaeo-Christian concepts ever succeeding in the Arab world--and, perforce, I would declare the President's ultimate aim a failure.
8.26.2005 6:26pm
jchfleetguy (www):
She called the foreign jihadists "freedom fighters"; not Iraqis opposing US occupation or the current Iraqi government. These "freedom fighters" have made it clear that they will try to kill any Iraqi - Sunni, Shia, or Kurd and including their current allies - who participates in any political activity; and they have carried that out. They have also made it clear that a constitutional, parlimentary democracy (by its very nature) is opposed to Islam and subject to attack by them.
8.26.2005 6:27pm
JoeSlater (mail):
Sheehan is the media's way of finally addressing the fact that a majority of the country (rightly or wrongly) now thinks that the Iraq war was a mistake in the first place, and an overwhelming majority think that Bush is mishandling it. In my opinion, she's done some courageous things and also said some things with which I strongly disagree. But the big picture here isn't, or at least shouldn't be, about her personally. I agree with the poster that said we should be debating what Wes Clark said. Or is it just easier to make the story about Sheehan when the real story out of Iraq is continuing problems with the Constitution?

To the person who said that Sheenhan had been cut some slack.... No. Just plain no. She was being viciously attacked on Fox and the usual right-wing talk radio/blogs etc. IMMEDIATELY (she changed her story! and much worse) and WAY before she said any of the more controversial (and again, in my opinion, wrong) things for which she's now being taken to task.
8.26.2005 6:29pm
Houston Lawyer:
Interesting how the Sheehan supporters characterize those fighting evil as the true source of evil. I also see her compatriots are now picketing outside Bethesda. Sounds like they're only short steps away from spitting on returning veterans. Clearly if you believe our troops have no moral authority higher than the evil bastards who are trying to kill them, you should spit on them.
8.26.2005 6:32pm
BevD:
To Jim Lindgren:

The fact that Bush didn't write this or anything like it demonstrates how tone-deaf the admin. is on this situation. By not meeting with her he is exacerbating the situation - that's just bad strategy.

Mark Poling:

Claiming you set a trap and "I fell into it" is not an answer nor even a coherent argument. I have to say that I choose not to believe that you would passively allow another country to occupy the United States. That's not very reassuring for the future of the country.
8.26.2005 6:39pm
TomH (mail):

By John -

Thousands of sunis and shias marched in demonstrations accross iraq today demanding "US out".



Yes, and hundreds of thousands did not. From what I glean from the universe of news is that generally speaking, the average Iraqi people would rather have the "freedom fighters" cut it out, and go about their lives without worrying about some guy from the old Baathi party, Iran or Syria blowing up a car in their neighborhood and killing their children as they try to go about their average Iraqi daily lives.

But just like everywhere else in the world, on every other issue, domestic or foreign, the average peolple are not heard, only the extremists.

Really, if the prople running around blowing folk up were forced to express their views like civilized human beings, rather than savages, they would lose. Thus they have to take the argument to the lowest common denominator of all methods of arguing, they kill the opposition, that way the opposition can't explain its own point of view.

IMHO, the American soldiers are there at the moment protecting the lives and the natural rights of property, security and welfare of the average Iraqi from those that can't convince anyone of their point of view except by violance. Again IMHO, they can not convince anyone, because, at least by the judgement of the norm, they are wrong.
8.26.2005 6:40pm
RogerA (mail):
Joe Slater: Pardon the nit pick here, but your first sentance was telling: "...the media's way of telling...etc). Gee--is that the job of the media? they could report on the polls--or are you suggesting this is just a media circus in the dog days of August when everyone is on vacation? Remember Rove/Plame? Remember John Roberts? nahhh--Rove isnt THAT SMART
8.26.2005 6:41pm
Cityduck (mail):
Doubter says: "Should we close our eyes to the inherent evil of turning 50% of the population into baby-producing furniture, or should we rightfully condemn them as EVIL?"

Are you talking about: (1) pre-war Iraq, which was more secular than most of the Middle East and where women were treated better than in Saudi Arabia, for example; (2)post-war Iraq, where GW's administration is apparently setting up an Islamic Republic; or (3) anti-abortionists?
8.26.2005 6:41pm
JGUNS (mail):
Let's try to analyze the situation for what it is. Cindy Sheehan has always been against the war. That much is documented. She also raised her son with that ideology. What did her son do? He enlisted in the army, in fact knowing that in all likelihood he would be sent to Iraq. He then volunteered for Reenlistment and even volunteered for the daring mission in which he was killed. Let's be dimestore psychologists here. Could it be that Casey's actions were a rejection of his mothers belief system? could it be that his Mother's "crusade" is less about her being angry at Bush and more about her anger with her son for dying in a cause that goes against everything that she believes in?

You must ask yourself why a son who has been raised by an anti war, anti military parent, would go to such lengths to distance himself from that ideology.
8.26.2005 6:41pm
RogerA (mail):
apolgies: PIMF: sentance = sentence
8.26.2005 6:42pm
Clint:
Re: "Can we force 'freedom' onto anyone?"

Of course not. The concept doesn't even make sense. People are innately and naturally free.

The role of force in such matters is to force their oppressors to leave them alone.


Re: your "gut feeling"...

May I humbly suggest that perhaps that's just indigestion talking? In case you were unaware of it, the Iraqi people are now represented by elected officials --- who have formally asked the U.S. to stay, not forever, but for a bit longer.

Unless you have something more than a gut feeling to counter such strong evidence (and no, thousands of demonstrators is not strong evidence placed against millions of voters).... well... the intestinal tract only moves in one direction. When your gut has something to say, we all know which orifice it speaks out of.
8.26.2005 6:53pm
MatthewM (mail):
Prof. Volokh,

Looks like the brouhaha of the last few weeks has been resolved in your favor -- there are substantial political figures out there who support the "insurgents" in Iraq and want them to defeat the United States. Sheehan is being supported wholeheartedly by MoveOn, not only with moral support but with significant dollars. They are not backing away from her one inch since her professed support of the "freedom fighters" in Iraq. There is no doubt that MoveOn represents a significant portion of the left today, indeed a "substantial" one.

Case closed.
8.26.2005 6:56pm
JoeSlater (mail):
RogerA:

I don't mind nitpicks (and I'm guilty of typos too). My first sentence began: "Sheehan is the media's way of finally addressing the fact that a majority of the country (rightly or wrongly) now thinks that the Iraq war was a mistake in the first place, ..."

You say: "--is that the job of the media? they could report on the polls--or are you suggesting this is just a media circus in the dog days of August when everyone is on vacation?"

I hope you didn't take my comment as praise of the media, because I didn't intend that. And while I'm tempted, I'm not going to get into the broader issue of whether the media has been too hard or too soft on Bush in general re this war (I'll bet you can guess my opinion, but let's talk specifics about this case).

My point was that today's media seems to like to attach some particular face to an issue -- or, if it's a pretty blond face, run a story into the ground even if (with all due respect to the relevant family) there's not much of an issue there. The media could report on polls, sure. More broadly, the media could try to explain why this dramatic erosion of support for the war has taken place across the nation. But it's easier to pick a face/person, and make the issue about that. Is that great reporting? No.

But that doesn't mean this is merely a "media circus" either, because this is the one way the press has gotten at this incredibly important issue: the fact that most of the country thinks we made a mistake going to war and an overwhelming majority think Bush is screwing it up whether it was right or wrong in the first place. The media wants particular faces, but so does Bush -- why do you think he picked a pro war mom to single out in his Iowa speech?
8.26.2005 7:00pm
RogerA (mail):
Prof Volokh: (OT obviously) your thoughts on Sens Schumer and Leahy's recent letter to Judge Roberts about recusal on the Hamdi case while he is a nominee? Is this as much a non-issue as I see it, or does their argument have merit
8.26.2005 7:02pm
Greedy Clerk (mail):
what if the Iraqis, from their perspective, saw G. W. Bush as a "ruthless dictator?

Unfortunately, I think a good chunk of them do.

And the quote by Doubter that Ms. Sheehan does not care that her son is dead is so fu--ing disgusting that I can't believe it --- if I saw you in person I'd break you jaw. But people who write that kind of crap on internet comment boards are never the types who would have the guts to say anything even remotely similar in public. Indeed, I bet "Doubter" would be too scared of getting his ass kicked to even challenge a 90 lb 5'0" vegetarian war-protester. And accuse my comments of being "uncivil" but they are 10X more civil than Doubter's who would lob such an outrageous insult.

8.26.2005 7:03pm
RogerA (mail):
Joe Slater--thanks for the thoughtful response--point taken--all sides need faces to frame the arguments, and the anti-war media now have one--and I agree the administration does precisely the same thing.
8.26.2005 7:09pm
Splunge (mail):
I think Mrs. Sheehan is transferring her rage and anger at her son onto the President. Fact is, she was always opposed to the war, and opposed to the military as an institution, yet her boy not only enlisted, he re-upped after the Iraq war started, and he volunteered for the mission on which he was killed.

Like any parent in such circumstances, she has a great deal of anger and hurt directed at her son, 'cause he ignored mommy's wisdom and went and got his ass killed, bereaving her greatly. (Calvin's father in Calvin and Hobbes observed that being a parent is often wanting to hug and strangle your kid at the same time.)

But Mrs. Sheehan can't handle that truth, it seems. So she has semi-deliberately mis-identified the object of her anger and sorrow. It's not that Casey let me down (she may think), but that that awful bastard George Bush tricked Casey into letting me down...

Every parent has to cope with this sort of disappointment and hostility towards his or her child, especially as they grow older and deviate further and further from your wishes and dreams and advice. Most normal parents recognize the hostility for what it is, do not project it onto others, and discharge it in some private and healthy manner (e.g. by humor, or by evolution of your own philosophy -- seeing things more from your child's point of view, for example).

The sad thing is that Mrs. Sheehan, unusually, can't do this. She is unable to resolve her sorrow and hostility towards her child, and instead projects it inappropriately on to the President, Israel, the neo-con think tanks, et cetera.

Her inability to recognize the real object of her grief and rage, her farcical fantasy that the resolution of her maternal distress lies in a political development, or in a show-trial "meeting" with the President, or by enhancing her own stature as a media darling and within the ranks of the Left, and her willingness to turn her own son into a cheap media caricature, all bespeak an unaware and deeply narcissistic personality. On this basis I suspect Mrs. Sheehan was a poor mother to her son, and this greatly mutes my sympathy for her.

Indeed, I wonder whether her son's choice to volunteer to fight in Iraq, in direct contradiction of his mother's strongly expressed wishes, was his "statement" about Mrs. Sheehan's moral authority as a mother. It is not complimentary.
8.26.2005 7:15pm
Postscript:
Am I the only one who thinks that, in context (relying on Carol Anne's transcript) she's not supporting the terrorists at all? Yes, she used the term "freedom fighters" which is ignorant. But I think it was probably a lingustic mistake; the sentence as a whole cannot possible be interpreted as an endorsement of the insurgency. It is a criticism of the events that led to the current point.

The reason I think she made this mistake is because Sheehan now lives in the world of demagogues. She is inadvertantly picking up labels and platitudes, and they are affecting her speech.

Sheehan strikes me as a mother who suffered a tragic loss and who is now being exploited by a good portion of the people surrounding her. The story has caught traction not because of her quest per se, but because of plumetting public belief in the war. The juxtaposition of her and Bush's extended vacation, too, is just a little too juicy an angle for a bored August media to resist.

I think there is little to be gained by crticizing Sheehan, regardless of the fact that she is now a media figure. Ultimately, our national security decisions should not be made by the mothers of soldiers. I think each person's reaction to Sheehan says a lot more about them than it does about the "rightness" or "wrongness" of her protest.
8.26.2005 7:19pm
Greedy Clerk (mail):
The sad thing is that Mrs. Sheehan, unusually, can't do this. She is unable to resolve her sorrow and hostility towards her child, and instead projects it inappropriately on to the President, Israel, the neo-con think tanks, et cetera.

And the right wing smeer machine goes on. . . . Find me the evidence she said anything negative about Israel . . . Keep looking because that does not exist. ABC news got it dead wrong. And yet you people who only get your news from Michelle Malkin and her "intellectual" buddies Volokh and the Volokhteers (Lingren, Zywicki, Orin et al.) are still repeating the lie because you only read what you want.

8.26.2005 7:22pm
Greedy Clerk (mail):
Eugene, Michelle, everyone, start sliming these people: http://www.crooksandliars.com/2005/08/26.html#a4641 You are going to have a hard time as Shrub called them a "model" American family as a way of subtly attacking Sheehan. I am sure that in three weeks, we will see a Volokh post (after a Lindgren or Zywicki warmup) that will attack these people as well --- after Michelle Malkin, Hugh Hewitt and Glenn Reynolds first go on for a while. . . .
8.26.2005 7:25pm
Steve P. (mail):
It seems to me that the term 'freedom fighter', when taken to its logical conclusion, should say far more about the subject than the speaker. If these insurgents believe that they are fighting for their freedom, then they are, in fact, freedom fighters (whether or not their goals are realistic or sensical is irrelevant). If the insurgents are fighting because they hate Americans or rap music, then they deserve a different moniker. Why can't a freedom fighter also be a terrorist?

Incidentally, I'm a bit unclear on why Casey's posthumous musings on his mother's actions are the slightest bit important. First of all, it's completely hypothetical -- we can't know for sure what his thoughts are on the situation. Secondly, it's a red herring. Cindy lost something (a son), indirectly because of the President's actions, and now she wants an explanation. Whether he would believe it was worth it isn't the question -- how she feels is, even if she couches that in other terms.

By the by, Cindy's stated goal (an explanation from the President) doesn't appear to hold much water. After all, hasn't he been explaining almost non-stop since 2002? Whether or not she thinks his explanations are cogent and reasonable are a completely separate matter.
8.26.2005 7:26pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
Good heavens, what a molehill-into-mountain machine the Internet (and increasingly VC in particular) has become.

"Freedom fighter" has positive content only for those who, like our dimwitted president, use "freedom" as a mantra rather than a concept.

Freedom from what? Freedom to do what?

"Freedom from American occupation"? Okay, they're freedom fighters.

"Freedom to download porn, mouth off on comment threads, and vote for the candidate of one's choice"? Okay, they're not freedom fighters.

It's getting a little depressing to see the VC's determination to equate war protesters with traitors. Were we to judge Sheehan's beliefs by her actions &words as a whole, rather than obsessively searching them for a silly line here or there---in a manner that looks particularly sad when lawyers are doing it---then there wouldn't be this absurd notion that she is "against the troops" or whatever.

(I admire her restraint. If my boy died in Iraq, and then I saw Bush doing his "look under the table for the WMD's" skit, I'd want to shoot the s.o.b., not ask questions. What an evil little man.)

And as far as opening one's mouth and having unfortunate expressions come out, I think Sheehan could take the Pepsi challenge against George W. Bush anytime and come out looking immensely more articulate.
8.26.2005 7:30pm
Steve P. (mail):
Folks, once you start using terms like 'right wing smeer machine' [sic], you've already lost the argument. I'd be more inclined to ask for the source of the statement that Ms. Sheehan is projecting sorrow and hostility towards Israel. That may be true, I am just unaware of any quotes to support it.
8.26.2005 7:35pm
RogerA (mail):
Anderson: both David Chapman and I have already expressed our thoughts about the value of VC for discussions of legal issues. Yes, we probably should take our thoughts about the administration, the war, cindy sheehan etc etc to democraticunderground or freerepublic. The insults there are much more pungent and personal as is the language (esp on DU). I am guessing that Professor Volkoh as already arrived at that conclusion :)
8.26.2005 7:36pm
RogerA (mail):
And Anderson: I certainly hope you werent criticizing Pat Robertson for his call to assasinate Hugo Chavez, viz: "I'd want to shoot the s.o.b., not ask questions. What an evil little man." I think you were referring to President Bush.
8.26.2005 7:41pm
Carol Anne:
Responses to several posts above:

TomH: Right On! I think you're right on the mark.

JGUNS: Fair point; nice analysis.

MathewM: Do you have even the hint of a scintilla of a clue?

JosSlater: One of the things taught in journalism schools, and enamored of editors, is the question, "Where's the drama in the story?" Hence the focus on "faces."

GreedyClerk: If you so abhor Volokh so much, wny do you even bother to read or post here? To equate Prof. Volokh with Michelle Malkin is wa-a-ay over the top and I can't recognize either one in the reflection of the other. I may sometimes (maybe often) disagree with the host of this blog, but at least he thinks!
8.26.2005 7:41pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
RogerA: Yes, I was echoing y'all. And I hope Prof. Volokh does arrive at that conclusion. Maybe the Conspiracy can spawn a spinoff blog for political discussion. I suppose it will not be called "the Volokh Insurgency."

Sigh.

It's just so grimly ironic to see hordes of naive, talking-point commenters lambast Sheehan for exhibiting those qualities. ---My own naivete, etc., is of course not at issue, as I am *not* lambasting Sheehan... ;)
8.26.2005 7:43pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
Oh, and regarding Rev. Robertson, I was not advocating the President's assassination---Patriot Act spooks, take note!---but remarking upon circumstances which would make me *want* to commit that act. I would hope that I would resist the temptation. Since my older boy is only 10, this president is safe, from me anyway.

Also endorse Carol Anne's distinction of Prof. Volokh from Malkin. EV is actually competent and interesting on his areas of expertise. Malkin's area of expertise, if we grant that she has one, is to be interestingly incompetent.
8.26.2005 7:47pm
RogerA (mail):
Anderson: good for you! well done, good and faithful servant.
8.26.2005 7:47pm
RogerA (mail):
My beloved wife is always on my case about my participation on weblogs--and I keep telling her that where else can you send letters to the editor--and the editor (or someone answers you). Even though Al Gore invented it, this internet is OK.
8.26.2005 7:50pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
How exactly is accurately quoting what people say, and criticizing them for it, "sliming" or "smearing"?
8.26.2005 7:58pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
Even though Al Gore invented it, this internet is OK.

I think Al was commenting under a pseudonym, up above. Didn't quite understand what the Florida recount had to do with anything, but now it makes sense.
8.26.2005 7:59pm
Jim Rhoads (mail):
I am afraid both sides commenting on this thread need a dose of perspective from an old man.

George Bush is no Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He is not as eloquent. He has not articulated his administration's strategy as well as FDR or Reagan might have. Let's all agree on that.

But the initial Administration decision to invade Iraq was strongly supported by our country and had colorable authority from a plethora of UN resolutions. If you do not believe me read the bill passed overwhelmingly by both Houses of Congress.

How many of the 22 Whereas clauses in that bill are not in fact supported by substantial evidence? Not many is the answer.

Once the decision was made, our troops went in and accomplished the first phase of the mission in a stunningly successful manner against all of the predictions of those who are in Crawford.

At every turn, the Administration said this was going to be a long hard slog. That was 29 months ago. We have lost 1900 military personnel during that time in Iraq or about 66 killed per month. Compared to any other armed conflict in which this country has been involved, that number is astonishingly low. As a comparison, in the last battle of World War II, Okinawa, we lost 13000 soldiers and sailors in a little less than three months, or over 4300 killed per month. The total troops engaged for the U.S. were about 150,000, roughly comparable to the forces engaged in Iraq.

In 1967 and 1968, I served in Vietnam. There, from 1966 through 1975, we lost over 50,000 troops. This is an average rate of over 460 killed per month.

Combat has always been terrible. Those who endure it are rightfully respected and honored by their country. Those who volunteer to be subect to it are heroes. All those serving in Iraq are volunteers.

Every war in history has been beset by failures of leadership, strategy and tactics. Every war in history has had moments which the troops used to describe pithily as FUBAR (F***** Up Beyond All Recognition.

Just read 1776 to see how Washington blundered. Read any detailed history of the Civil War to see how Lincoln and Robert E. Lee blundered. Read any history of WW I and II to see how historical heroes like Churchill, Wilson, Pershing, Roosevelt, MacArthur, Eisenhower, Patton and Montgomery blundered. And Vietnam shows plenty of examples of blunders of Kennedy, LBJ, McNamara, Nixon, Westmoreland and others.

In the face of Bin Laden's statement after the Somalian debacle, no rational leader in this country can pull the troops out of Iraq now. That simply will not happen. Having said that, what are the alternatives that have not been thoroughly explored?

I think if you folks who are much smarter than I would noodle on this question, you might be doing our country a valuable service by providing possible solutions, not just complaints.

Respectfully,

Jim Rhoads (vnjagvet)
8.26.2005 8:01pm
guest:
goddamn fags. Wait, wrong thread...
8.26.2005 8:01pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
How exactly is accurately quoting what people say, and criticizing them for it, "sliming" or "smearing"?

It's not. Those words are helpful indications of which comments can be safely ignored. (A similar principle underlies my support for Texas v. Johnson.)
8.26.2005 8:02pm
RogerA (mail):
Jim Rhoades--Also a Viet Nam vet, 69-70. Does that status, BTW, give us "absolute moral authority?" No--but I think it does give us a bit of perspective. We have become a nation of instant gratification--we want it now; perhaps it would be valuable to reread the history of WWII and the occupations of Germany and Japan after 1945. I think arguably those occupations were extraordinarily successful in transform two heinious regimes into full fledged democracies--but it took at least five years to bring about the result. Contrast those occupations with our withdrawal from South East asia and the result: Pol Pot, the Killing Fields of the "agraraian reformer," and the reeducation of the Viet Nam and the boat people. Do we not remember history? do we not take the long view?

Fast food, instant gratification, and reality TV--wow, what a concept
8.26.2005 8:12pm
Jim Rhoads (mail):
No claim of "absolute moral authority" here, Roger. But the country needs some moral leadership in addition to the right strategy and good (if not great) tactical leadership to see us through what has been accurately described as a "long hard slog". Speeches and repeated mantra mouthing will not do it.

I agree with you regarding the obstacles in the way. But as you know, it doesn't matter if the obstacles are because of flaws in society or not. Those flaws must be repaired and the obstacles overcome if we are to prevail. It is up to the Nation's leaders to accomplish that. Washington, Lincoln, Roosevelt all found a way to do that. In a sense, their efforts killed each of them, for they all died achingly young (at least from this end of the telescope).

That is the price this type of conflict exacts, unfortunately.

BTW, Welcome home. Thanks for your service.

Jim Rhoads (vnjagvet)
8.26.2005 8:30pm
Noah Snyder (mail):
I don't see why "Freedom fighter" can only be used in a positive light. The Mujahideen in Afghanistan were often referred to as "Freedom fighters," and that group included Osama bin Laden. Is the Iraqi insurgence a totally different kind of group than the Mujahideen or the Contras?

Given that she also calls the same people terrorists in the same sentence, this is really much ado about nothing. The gist of that paragraph is *not* that the insurgency is good, it's that the invasion of Iraq turned Iraq from a non-terrorist country, to a magnet for terrorists who come there to supposedly fight for freedom from outside control.
8.26.2005 9:01pm
Noah Snyder (mail):
Incidentally, that's not at all the comment I expected to write before watching the video. I'd assumed that she'd actually made an unequivocally positive statement about the insurgents. That seemed plausible enough from a political neophyte who is probably not knowledgeable and is very emotionally involved in the subject. Furthermore Eugene is typically trustworthy. But when I actually listened to the video, this turned out not to be the case. The actual quote is not an endorsement of the insurgents at all.

Why didn't you include the whole sentence on your post so that people could judge for themselves without listening through a rather painful 5 minutes with the crazy guitar guy? I get to see enough crazy guitar guys on my walks through Berkeley, I don't need more of them.
8.26.2005 9:06pm
NickM (mail) (www):
GreedyClerk has become an embarrassment.
A left-wing, anti-Bush, anti-Israel site (Representative Press) has posted a detailed record of the evidence that Sheehan actually wrote the letter she later claimed to have been hacked.

Meanwhile, if he read the comments thread of the link he posted to attack Eugene, he would find that the link left off the part of the story where Mrs. Pruett, while empathizing with Cindy Sheehan and saying it's wonderful that she has the right to protest, DISAGREED with what Sheehan was asking for.

And if anyone wants evidence of Sheehan saying negative things about Israel, read the transcript of her speech at a rally for Lynne Stewart (the attorney convicted of aiding World Trade Center bombing mastermind Sheik Rahman by communicating his messages to his followers):



First, I want to give my little story about Lynne. Of course, you all have read To Kill a Mockingbird. Lynne is my human Atticus Finch. He did what he knew was right, but wasn't popular. And that's what Lynne is doing. {applause}



We are not waging a war on terror in this country. We're waging a war of terror. The biggest terrorist in the world is George W. Bush. {applause}



How many more people are we going to let him kill before we stop him? I'm going to talk about free speech and recruitment. Do you know that it costs $66,000 to recruit one recruit? That's continuing all of their -- you know, the recruiter's salary, the recruiter's bonus, the place that they rent to recruit and things like that. All the perks they get and everything. That's not even training the recruit. It costs our government about $6,000 a year on each child in California. $46,000 a year to house a prisoner in our state. Our priorities are seriously screwed up, as I mentioned.



I really want to thank you guys for doing this, especially the young people. It gives me so much hope to know that there's young people who care more about who's our next American Idol -- less about that. You guys care more about people being killed. There's too many that care more about the next American Idol. Too many people in our country that don't even really know we have a war going on. You know, they never have to think of the war, and I'll never, ever forget this war. I can never forget it, even when I'm sleeping {tears} I know that we're in a war and I know that George Bush and his band of neo-cons and their neo-con agenda killed my son. And I'll never, ever, ever forget.



I take responsibility partly for my son's death, too. I was raised in a country by a public school system that taught us that America was good, that America was just. America has been killing people, like my sister over here says, since we first stepped on this continent, we have been responsible for death and destruction. I passed on that bullshit to my son and my son enlisted. I'm going all over the country telling moms: "This country is not worth dying for. If we're attacked, we would all go out. We'd all take whatever we had. I'd take my rolling pin and I'd beat the attackers over the head with it. But we were not attacked by Iraq. {applause} We might not even have been attacked by Osama bin Laden if {applause}. 9/11 was their Pearl Harbor to get their neo-con agenda through and, if I would have known that before my son was killed, I would have taken him to Canada. I would never have let him go and try and defend this morally repugnant system we have. The people are good, the system is morally repugnant. {applause}



Please -- teach your babies, teach your babies better than I taught my babies. When Congress gave George Bush the right to go to war, they abrogated their constitutional responsibilities and they basically made our constitution null and void. We have no checks and balances in this country. We have no recourse. If they're going to what they did to Lynne, they don't have backs they call names, what we need to be is, we the people, we're their checks and balances. We're the only checks and balances. We have to stand up and say, Not only is this our school, this is our country. We want our country back and, if we have to impeach everybody from George Bush down to the person who picks up dog shit in Washington, we will impeach all those people. Our country needs to {unintelligible} we need to start over again.



I just want to say that you students, Students Against War, you have all my support and all my organization's support. I told Kristen if you have any actions and you need a ringleader, that I only live about an hour away. I'll be here. If I can sleep on somebody's floor, we can have this, we can camp out, do whatever we need.



And I just want to way to George Bush and I want to say to the people who are here, that are still sheep {unintelligible} and following him blindly: if George Bush believes his rhetoric and his bullshit, that this is a war for freedom and democracy, that he is spreading freedom and democracy, does he think every person he kills makes Iraq more free? It doesn't make us more free. It damages our humanity. The whole world is damaged. Our humanity is damaged. If he thinks that it's so important for Iraq to have a U.S.-imposed sense of freedom and democracy, then he needs to sign up his two little party-animal girls. They need to go this war. They need to fight because a just war, the definition of a just war, and maybe you people here who still think this is a just war, the definition of a just war is one that you would send your own children to die in. That you would go die in yourself. And you aren't willing to send your own children, or if you're not willing to go die yourself, then you bring there rest of our kids home now. It is despicable what they're doing. {applause}



What they're saying, too, is like, it's okay for Israel to have nuclear weapons. But Iran or Syria better not get nuclear weapons. It's okay for the United States to have nuclear weapons. It's okay for the countries that we say it's okay for. We are waging a nuclear war in Iraq right now. That country is contaminated. It will be contaminated for practically eternity now. It's okay for them to have them, but Iran or Syria can't have them. It's okay for Israel to occupy Palestine, but it's -- yeah -- and it's okay for Iraq to occupy -- I mean, for the United States to occupy Iraq, but it's not okay for Syria to be in Lebanon. They're a bunch of fucking hypocrites! And we need to, we just need to rise up. We need a revolution and make it be peaceful and make it be loving and let's just show them all the love we have for humanity because we want to stop the inhumane slaughter.


[transcript from Discover the Network]

It's not a message about Israel, but "Lynne is my human Atticus Finch"????? This is a prepared speech. She has just called Lynne Stewart a hero precisely FOR aiding a terrorist! Is there anyone here who agrees with her on this?

Nick
8.26.2005 9:36pm
Michelle Dulak Thomson (mail):
This is a long thread, and someone might well have said this without my seeing it, but isn't the very idea of "freedom fighters from other countries" just a little odd? The interest by the nationals of other countries now waging jihad in Iraq in the "freedom" of Iraqis is, at minimum, rather abruptly expressed, both in that it seems not to have manifested itself while Saddam was massacring his citizens, and in that it seems largely to involve killing lots of Iraqis without any particular information as to whether they themselves are promoting "freedom" (however defined) or not.

I don't recall anyone in the Reagan Administration describing the Contras, or indeed anyone else describing anyone, as "freedom fighters" who were not fighting against another force in, and for, their own country. Can anyone find anyone describing the non-Afghani mujahadeen this way? Or foreign forces assisting any indigenous struggle?
8.26.2005 9:52pm
Carol Anne:
I am deeply suspicious of anything taken from DiscoverTheNetwork.org. As a David Horowitz product, I'm just not secure that the claimed "transcript" is accurate (although it may be). All sources I can find seem to point to FrontPage Magazine, which is affiliated with the DiscoverTheyNetwork.org site.

I've looked for any reference to Sheehan being at UC Santa Cruz on April 27, 2005, and I'm coming up blank.

So, Nick, can you provide another, more neutral source, for that transcript? If they agree, I'd be happy to confirm that here.
8.26.2005 10:11pm
Tom952 (mail):
WMD aside, the only remaining objective of the U.S. occupiers in Iraq is establishment of a democratic government. In what history may judge as a ludicrous display of respect for democracy, the U.S. has consented to the establishment of a goverment dominated by Islamic interests, as long as it is democratically composed.

Now, what exactly is it the "Freedom Fighters" are fighting for? Well, I think we can presume that their goal is something other than a democratically composed government representing all the people of Iraq. I suspect the "Freedom Fighters" want to establish a form of government that permits them exclusive control of the Iraqi oil money -- which is looking bigger all the time.

Now, if the freedom fighters are against a democratic government in Iraq, and Sheehan supports the freedom fighters, is Sheehan against a democratic government for Iraq?

By the way, Eugene sure hit the hot button with this one.
8.26.2005 10:16pm
rayabacus:
Every statement that Sheehan utters regarding US Policy is fair game for criticism and/or debate. If, by disagreeing with her statements and her point of view, we are "smearing" her, then I guess we are "smearing". Using that same logic, by making the statements she is making, is she "smearing" all of those parents who lost children in Iraq who do not agree with her? If we cannot debate and disagree with her without "smearing" her, then how can her supporters agree with her statements? What gives them the right to agree when we do not have the right to disagree?

It seems to me that she has put herself in the limelight to specifically draw attention to what she says. Had she not changed her story of her first meeting with Bush, she would seem to have more credibility. Before all the trolls jump on me, I am not saying that she changed her mind about the war, (She has always been against it) I am saying that she did a 180 degree turn in describing the first meeting with Bush.

She has every right to express whatever views she wishes; however, she is not entitled to be immunized from disagreement and criticism. The very "authority" she possesses to air her views is the same "authority" that I have to disagree with her.
8.26.2005 10:37pm
Anon1ms (mail):
Is it really critically important if Cindy Sheehan's son supported the war and she does not? Her arguments should stand on their own.

Consider a different situation. Suppose her son loved to ride a motorcycle without a helmet and was killed in an accident doing so. Should his mother not be taken seriously if she then spoke out on the need to wear helmets and lobbied for legislation requiring such?

And please, no posting on the merits of helmet laws.
8.26.2005 11:50pm
Rick Ballard (mail):
I can't quite see why every stay the course supporter of the war would not be actively supporting the publishing of every syllable that Cindy utters. I'd like to know if she is going to attent the ANSWER rally in LA, SF or DC on Sept. 22. Will she sit between Jane Fonda and Tom Hayden? Will Rev. Al introduce her? Will she wear a Pali kaffiyeh or just something simple in hemp? Burning questions that cry for an ANSWER.

It's terribly important that she be listened to by as many people as possible. I'm sure that we will learn a great deal about who she truly supports simply by paying very close attention to every word she says.
8.27.2005 12:06am
Rick Ballard (mail):
I can't quite see why every stay the course supporter of the war would not be actively supporting the publishing of every syllable that Cindy utters. I'd like to know if she is going to attent the ANSWER rally in LA, SF or DC on Sept. 22. Will she sit between Jane Fonda and Tom Hayden? Will Rev. Al introduce her? Will she wear a Pali kaffiyeh or just something simple in hemp? Burning questions that cry for an ANSWER.

It's terribly important that she be listened to by as many people as possible. I'm sure that we will learn a great deal about who she truly supports simply by paying very close attention to every word she says.
8.27.2005 12:07am
Stephen M (Ethesis) (mail) (www):
My blog comments as a parent.

I think that most people misunderstand what is going on due to a lack of life experience.

I'm posting now, when the topic is exhausted, because I don't think that most people are ready to understand or have a reasoned discussion on the topic.
8.27.2005 12:50am
arbitraryaardvark (mail) (www):
One other point: The phrase "paramilitary death squads" would more accurately convey the nature of the enemy we face in Iraq than "insurgents" or "terrorists" or "freedom fighters." Halliburton?
8.27.2005 1:15am
Challenge:
"Is it really critically important if Cindy Sheehan's son supported the war and she does not? Her arguments should stand on their own."

It shows a distinct lack of respect for him and what he believed he was fighting for. She is entitled to her own opinions, but she is using his death to denigrate a cause he apparently supported. The only reason she is given any attention is because of HIS sacrifice. Yet he apparently believed in the mission, a mission his mother now wishes to harm using his death.

I'm still not sure what his feelings about the war were, but from some of the information provided by commenters, it seems he was likely a supporter of the war and his role in it. Even if he wasn't, I am sure he wouldn't be too happy about his moonbat mother calling those who killed him "freedom fighters."
8.27.2005 3:06am
llamasex (mail) (www):
I find it disappointing after all the criticism leveled at bushisms, that Eugene would not put the quote in proper context.
8.27.2005 3:43am
CrazyTrain (mail):
The Perfesser asks: How exactly is accurately quoting what people say, and criticizing them for it, "sliming" or "smearing"?

Well, where I come from implying that someone supports those who killed her son because she said this: "freedom fighters from other countries are going in and they have created more terrorism by going to an Islamic country" counts as sliming someone.

If you ever get that judgship you want so bad there perfesser, I hope and pray to G-d that I never have to appear before you with your "logic." (Almost as good as your apologism for those who claim that homosexuals are out to "convert" others because they want those who are like them to live comfortably and do what they want —- Eugene Volokh, famed boy genius (the key being "boy".) Enjoy your time being the next Glenn Reynolds there Perfesser — from thoughtful analyst to partisan hack so quickly . . . .

8.27.2005 5:45am
Public_Defender:
The media needs to stop sticking microphones in Ms. Sheehan's face. The Left needs to stop lionizing her. The Right needs to stop attacking her.

She has lost her job, her marriage, and her son. Her life is falling apart. Why would anyone expect her to add thoughtful comments to the dialog on Iraq?

The most appropriate reaction to her is pity.
8.27.2005 10:26am
Glenn:
CrazyTrain said:

Well, where I come from implying that someone supports those who killed her son because she said this: "freedom fighters from other countries are going in and they have created more terrorism by going to an Islamic country" counts as sliming someone.

Really? It seems to me that Prof. Volokh said, in regard to Sheehan's reference to the terrorists (can we call them terrorists here?) as "freedom fighters" that it was "a term that I take it is a term of approbation for a person and his cause."

Here in Red State America, when we use words like "freedom fighter", we aren't referring to people we see as terrorists. Now maybe the liberal translation of "freedom fighter" is morally neutral - I confess my liberalspeak is pidgin at best. But I believe the vast majority of Americans would consider "freedom fighter" to be a term of approbation, as the good Professor suggests.

It is therefore fair and logical for him to conclude at the very least that Sheehan is not condemning the cause of the terrorists by describing them so. Hearing a woman describe people closely associated with the people who killed her son as "freedom fighters" in this context is certainly noteworthy and surprising, even shocking.

So I conclude here that Prof. Volokh is hardly "sliming" her by noting his surprise at her choice of words. It was she who said them, not the professor.

If you ever get that judgship you want so bad there perfesser, I hope and pray to G-d that I never have to appear before you with your "logic."

So what conclusion would you draw from Sheehan's comment? Since you didn't bother to offer one, we are left to wonder. And by the way, since when did something so completely common-sense as what Prof. Volokh said become at odds with logic?

Since the rest of your post is irrelevant vitriol, one can only suppose that you just don't agree with the good professor's conclusion and want to get in a little slime of your own. Too bad.
8.27.2005 10:59am
Glenn:
Public_defender said:

The most appropriate reaction to her is pity.

I would agree, except that is clearly not appropriate in her case. As the Prof. Volokh suggests, she has made herself into a public figure and manifested a specific agenda by capitalizing on the sympathy of Americans for a mother who has lost a son in battle. Her purpose is to achieve a political result by using public sympathy as a vehicle for notariety and justification for moral authority. This is not the action of a grieving mother - it is the action of a political activist.

However, she is trying to conflate the two to magnify the impact of her activism. In doing so, she has abandoned her grief for a cause while telling us the opposite. As the old saying goes, "actions speak louder than words". In her case, actions and words speak volumes.
8.27.2005 11:14am
Poiema (www):
Carol Anne, you earlier stated:

I am deeply suspicious of anything taken from DiscoverTheNetwork.org. As a David Horowitz product, I'm just not secure that the claimed "transcript" is accurate (although it may be). All sources I can find seem to point to FrontPage Magazine, which is affiliated with the DiscoverTheyNetwork.org site.

I've looked for any reference to Sheehan being at UC Santa Cruz on April 27, 2005, and I'm coming up blank.

So, Nick, can you provide another, more neutral source, for that transcript? If they agree, I'd be happy to confirm that here.


Rocky Mountain News, paragraphs 4 &5 See also:

The Boston Globe, also paragraphs 4 and 5

Carol, the reason you are coming up blank in your search is that these comments were made at San Francisco State University, not UC Santa Cruz. Above are some newspaper links.

Do these qualify as neutral sources? BTW, I got the links from the San Francisco State University web site.
8.27.2005 11:32am
JoeSlater (mail):
Yep, Sheehan sure said some things about Iraq that I disagree with. Do those attacking her think that those statements are generally representative of the majority of Americans who now believe the Iraq war was a mistake in the first place, or of the big majority that disapprove of Bush's handling? If so, wow, quite a country of nuts you must think we have. If not, why talk so much about Sheehan?

RogerA: thanks for the polite exchange. I like to think that's what EV set this forum up for, and that it can still happen.
8.27.2005 11:39am
Public_Defender:
Glenn,

Yes, Ms. Sheehan chose to jump into the spotlight, but we don't have to chose to keep shining it on her. And given what she has gone through, we shouldn't.

She is emoting, not arguing. As I said above, the Left needs to stop lionizing her, the media needs to stop quoting her, and the Right needs to stop attacking her.
8.27.2005 12:11pm
Charlie Quidnunc (mail) (www):
I played the relevant clip in my podcast today. She clearly said that the "borders are open" and "freedom fighters from other countries are going in". They are in fact going in to kill American soldiers like her son, and innocent Iraqis.

I also play clips of Ralph Neas, Donald Rumsfeld, and read some spin from the NY Times. Give it a listen if you get a minute. Real people in their own words.

Charlie
8.27.2005 12:15pm
Public_Defender:
And one of her friends needs to tell her, "Cindy, you've made your point, but now you're just embarrassing yourself and tarnishing your son's sacrifice."
8.27.2005 12:22pm
Rick Ballard (mail):
Joe Slater,

Mrs. Sheehan is the symbol selected by the ANSWER/Moveon groups as representative of the antifreedom movement. The MSM has concurred in the selection and is providing free publicity. How are we to know with any certainty that she is not properly emblematic of those opposing the American imposition of freedom in the Middle East?

If there is truly a "big majority" who disapprove of the President's handling of the war, why aren't we talking about President Kerry's masterful handling of the withdrawal and surrender? At any rate, given the "big majority" in opposition, surely by this time next year the overwhelming majority of those who voted the authorization of the use of force will be packing up their offices in preparation for being soundly beaten in the November '06 election. Then in January the "Peace Congress" can insist on withdrawal and surrender and the children in Iraq can return to kite flying.

I can certainly commiserate with your reluctance to wear the albatross but isn't your argument better directed to the responsible editors in the MSM who have managed to move Mrs. Sheehan from pitiable through pitiful to contemptible so briskly? Perhaps a 'Not in My Name' could be formed contra Sheehan?
8.27.2005 12:25pm
Public_Defender:
Mrs. Sheehan is the symbol selected by the ANSWER/Moveon groups as representative of the antifreedom movement
Setting aside the dishonest argument that those who oppose the war oppose "freedom," you make a fair point. I blame liberal groups as much as anyone for keeping Ms. Sheehan in the news. That's just cruel to her.

One of the most decent responses to Ms. Sheehan has
come from President Bush, who ackowledges that she's grieving, says that he disagrees with what she's saying, and avoids attacking her directly. If only the rest of the Right could be as gracious.
8.27.2005 12:39pm
Rick Ballard (mail):
Public_Defender,

It's not an argument, it's a characterization based on probable objective results (see Orwell-Pacificists). Wrt the graciousness of the right it would be helpful if you provided citations - I believe that the initial reaction was, in fact, pity. The shift to contempt was occasioned by her acceptance of Ben &Jerry Cohen's offer to finance a "publicist" for her efforts. Having made the decision to allow herself (and her 'grief') to be used symbolically, it is only fair to judge current reaction as symbolic. Mrs. Sheehan as a person has ceased to exist, as a result of her own choice.
8.27.2005 1:05pm
Carol Anne:
Thanks to Polema for providing me with references to published summaries of what Sheehan said, and for correcting my misperception about where she spoke (her remarks seemed so logical in the context of UCSC :-).

What I still don't know is where the Rosen and Young got their information. There's so much news today that is second- and third-hand, it wouldn't surprise me if these writers relied on DiscoverTheNetwork.org, or FrontPageMag, which would make the sources suspect (to me). Repeating the same thing many times doesn't make it true.

I'd still love to see an original transcription; I'll check the UCSF resources to see if there's one there (I sorta doubt, too, that DiscoverTheNetwork.org would be the only source of the transacription; it's a fairly expensive process for only modest value in undermining a liberal figure. So, I'd suspect there's a neutral transcription on the web somewhere.)
8.27.2005 1:17pm
JoeSlater (mail):
Rick Ballard:

Hey, I asked first if folks like you think that Sheehan is "emblematic" of the majority of Americans who now think the Iraq war was a mistake. You say:

"How are we to know with any certainty that she is not properly emblematic of those opposing the American imposition of freedom in the Middle East?"

Does that mean you aren't sure? Again, I ask: if she is, do you think we're living in a country of disloyal nuts (or whatever you think is a fair characterization of your opinion of Sheehan)? If she isn't, why spend so much time talking about her?

You then say:

"If there is truly a "big majority" who disapprove of the President's handling of the war,"

Interesting use of the word "If." I'm referring to recent, well-publicized polls. Do you doubt them? Here's a summary (courtesy salon.com:

Thirty-four percent of Americans believe in UFOs. Twenty-four percent believe in witches. And in the new AP-Ipsos Poll out today, 20 percent of Americans say they "approve strongly" of the way the Bush administration is handling the war in Iraq.

Another 16 percent say they "approve somewhat," taking the overall approval rating to 36 percent. Fifty-eight percent say they disapprove either "strongly" or "somewhat." And 53 percent of the public now says that the United States made a mistake in starting the war in Iraq. As the AP notes, that's about the same level of opposition measured for the Vietnam War in August 1968

You then say: "why aren't we talking about President Kerry's masterful handling of the withdrawal and surrender?"

My posts on this matter have noted that approval for the war has fallen dramatically. It, and Bush's overall numbers, were higher last November. My main point is, why aren't we talking about those plunging numbers?

You then say: "At any rate, given the "big majority" in opposition,"

Again, you seem to question the numbers, by putting "big majority" in quotes. Do you have access to polling data others haven't seen?

You then say: "surely by this time next year the overwhelming majority of those who voted the authorization of the use of force will be packing up their offices in preparation for being soundly beaten in the November '06 election."

It will certainly be interesting to see how this issue plays out in future elections. If you don't think Republicans are concerned about it, you're kidding yourself.

You then say: "I can certainly commiserate with your reluctance to wear the albatross"

I'm not sure who has the albatross here, those criticizing Bush or those continuing to pretend that his "strategy" is working.

You add: "but isn't your argument better directed to the responsible editors in the MSM who have managed to move Mrs. Sheehan from pitiable through pitiful to contemptible so briskly?"

Here we agree, although if you had read my exchange with RogerA earlier, you would have noticed that I do criticize the mainstream media for focusing so much on one person, as opposed to taking broader measure of why support of the war has dropped so significantly.

Now that I've responded to you, do you want to try to actually answer the question I asked in full? One more time. Do you think Sheehan represents the majority of Americans that now think the Iraq war was a mistake in the first place? If so, does that depress you? If not, why pay so much attention to her?
8.27.2005 1:34pm
Carol Anne:
Tracking down the facts:
The reference NickM cited at DiscoverTheNetwork.org says the event was held at UCSF on April 27th (a Saturday)

At 5:48 pm, April 26th, CNN filed a story saying Cindy Sheehan had just returned to Crawford to continue her vigil.

It would seem odd that she'd return to Crawford for one day, then go to San Francisco that night (or Saturday morning), although it's clearly possible. Since she lived in the Bay Area, it would've been a lot easier to go home (or friends) for a day then go to UCSF.

I don't have answers...just questions. Any help gratefully appreciated.
8.27.2005 1:39pm
Public_Defender:
To say that Sheehan or any anti-war group is "antifreedom" is either dishonest or meaningless. The expression implies an intent to end freedom, and that is not an honest argument.

If "antifreedom" means that you think the results of her actions will decrease freedom, then the expression is meaningless. The label can be applied equally to anyone you oppose politically.

Is Justice Stevens antifreedom because he voted for Kelo or is he profreedom because he thinks its bad policy? Or is he profreedom because he gave democratically elected governments the authority to buy land they believe they need to the good of the community? Is Bush antifreedom because he opposes abortion rights? Etc., etc., etc.

And back to the topic, I think that any liberal who encourages Sheehan is doing her a disservice. She's not ready for prime time. Let's agree that she's had her 15 minutes and move on.
8.27.2005 1:57pm
Rick Ballard (mail):
JoeSlater,

I believe that Sheehan represents a significant portion of the most rabid initial opponents of the war. I do not believe that she represents views of the current Ipsos/AP majority. I do not believe that the the war issue will have a substantive bearing on the '06 elections - which will be the next meaningful polls taken.

Sheehan is of significance to me only symbolically. She's just one more in a series of missteps by the hard left. Even the Dems recognized the stupidity of the move early enough to stay away from her, except for Rev. Al, of course.

She is also the focus of this particular post. If EV wants to post on the importance of off year summer polls, I'll be happy to comment.
8.27.2005 2:04pm
JoeSlater (mail):
Rick:

I think there is a better argument that Sheehan is a "misstep" by the right. Intially, she put a human face on increasing opposition to the war. From that moment on, the right has had a field day making criticisms of her that have ranged from entirely fair to morally questionable and false. But the right is making a big mistake by essentially conflating opposition to the war with the most dubious of Sheehan's statements. Although I note that you distance yourself from that position, that's what the continued focus on her implies.

You don't think the war will have a substantive bearing on the 2006 elections? Of course I can't prove otherwise, but I can say that a number of credible reports detail Republican worries on the matter.
8.27.2005 2:20pm
pbjosh (mail):
Just a couple things I have picked up. Not trying to add gas to this interesting flame war, but:

From what I have seen, the "freedom fighters" consider themselves "Jihadists." Some even carry notes with them to state that they are Jihadist in Iraq to perform jihad on American troops. For the most part, this is how they seem to want to be labeled. I think that might be a more correct and accurate term.

In several posts quoting Casey Sheehan's mother, we don't see or hear his name. She doesn't she seem to go into details concerning him as a child (to my knowledge. If you find something, please post.) Considering that I have 2 children of my own, you mention kids, and I can tell you all about them. In fact, generally it is an impulse to spurt out a bunch of stories about my kids, how they were, and what they do and love, before anything else. Given a similar platform and audience, you would hear all about my children. I doubt that will change when my children are adults.

But personally, I see (again, this is what is broadcast, and what is stated in her speech's) very little about him. Either an omission by networks or Cindy, I don't have a clue or a claim as to which. :P But disappointing, from a parent trying to understand another parents loss, as to why I don't hear more about her son. The focus of the loss I would think would be on what was lost. This is my child (insert details here.) This is what I have lost. Maybe I am wrong on that account.

Take away your knowledge that she lost a son, and her speaches seem no different than extremist commentary. Nothing new, nothing reflective, nothing personal. If somebody else is writing her speeches (as it has been claimed) they are missing the fact that the context is all there before she opens her mouth. None seem to really be added to the speeches or the comments by Cindy. They lack the ability to stand alone. You could quote quite a few people who didn't lose a child, and their speech would be nearly the same. I would like a new perspective, a personal one, concerning her son, and her loss. I have a hard time identifying with her personally till that point.

I am stuck with one question I want to ask her, in a private situation, where there is no pressure. Not a place to embarrass her in any way. But for my own knowledge (imagining my children in the same position). It would be:

"Did you talk to your son about why he re-enlisted, and if so, what did he say?"

Someday I might face the same situation. I don't know what I will say. I just hope that even if I don't agree with them, that I am smart enough and of sane enough mind to tell them I love them anyways. I imagine Cindy did the same.

Josh
8.27.2005 3:56pm
Glenn:
Public_Defender said:

To say that Sheehan or any anti-war group is "antifreedom" is either dishonest or meaningless. The expression implies an intent to end freedom, and that is not an honest argument.


That is absolutely right. At best, it is hyperbole, and at worst, total intellectual dishonesty.


And back to the topic, I think that any liberal who encourages Sheehan is doing her a disservice. She's not ready for prime time. Let's agree that she's had her 15 minutes and move on.


I rather agree that this is an ideal outcome, but the news media will not allow it. Let's face it - keeping this story alive is in their best interest for two reasons (both my opinion, obviously):

1. "The Media" (broadly defined as the traditional print and broadcast news) believe the anti-war cause has been given short shrift. Why? The liberals tell them so, and the news media are predominantly liberals according to most published reports. Hard to imagine they wouldn't accept that position at this point, and it may even be accurate for all I know.

2. There is very little to talk about right now. The Sheehan story is about the only thing they can find to fill the quiet of August.

I expect this will all fade out as soon as Congress gets back and the Roberts hearings begin in earnest.
8.27.2005 8:24pm
=0=:
Wow, Glenn. I have not expected to agree with you, given past contibutions, but you nailed it. My hat is off to you.
8.27.2005 11:11pm
Jim Rhoads (mail):
Carol Ann:

I believe you have August and April confused. The speech was in April. Cindy Sheehan didn't go to Crawford until August. The CNN article is in August.

There is no conflict here.
8.27.2005 11:38pm
mccannta (mail) (www):
I think she just sounds like a mother who is totally distraught and speaking out of a need to do something to make the loss of her son understandable. I don't think she is aware of the actual implications of her words. Wanting to do something with the pain she feels in her interrupted grieving, she has decided to do something, anything to make sense of her loss. She is not the composed, well thought-out media spokesperson that would normally head-up a public protest. Rather, she is a mess of a woman who lost her son in a war she didn't support and with her own mother who just had a stroke. She and her pain have been co-opted by a movement that cares less for Cindy Sheehan and more for their own political ends.
8.29.2005 10:36am
NickM (mail) (www):
CarolAnne - in addition to what Jim Rhoads pointed out (April speech, not August), San Francisco State University is known as SFSU or CSUSF, but never UCSF. UCSF is the University of California San Francisco medical school.

Nick
8.29.2005 2:21pm
jamal (mail) (www):
I totally disagree.

Why is it that as soon as someone openly considers fighters of the other side as "Soldiers" or "Freedom Fighters", rather than "Insurgents" or "Terrorists", there is a backlash?

Cindy Sheehan, has probably lost significantly and has earned the right to share her opinion that "Insurgents" in Iraq are "Freedom Fighters". Good for her!

Now you to pick up on her words, probably in order to divert from the message she is fighting to put accross. Do you forget that this War was not about "freedom", and even if it was, does the other side not have the right to protect itself as a Nation? I do not seem to remember the Nazi's in WWII" being called "Insurgents" or "Terrorists"!
8.29.2005 4:25pm
Glenn:
Heh. Godwin's Law is proven again!
8.29.2005 8:40pm