Cindy Sheehan – Waking Up Is the Hardest Part

Cindy Sheehan snaps out of it.

With respect to her position on this war, she occupies the same position once held by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The absurdity of Democrats actually celebrating King’s legacy (when they were set to comprise his greatest opposition had he lived past 1968) should not be lost on Ms. Sheehan or other Americans who are opposed to this war. Like Vietnam, it constitutes a criminal, imperial gangster smack down of a resource rich little brother with arms to short to box with The Decider. The Democrats are not new whores. They’re old, stank, skanky whores with no front teeth and sagging policies. It takes a bit of time for American reformers to realize that the institutional left was co-opted over six decades ago.

The late University of Michigan professor Harold Cruse wrote about the demise of the radical left in great detail in Crisis of the Negro Intellectual. I do not suspect that Ms. Sheehan has read Professor Cruse. I doubt that any of her teachers or her son’s teachers ever read this book. I doubt that a critical mass of her critics or supporters on the left read this book. It is their loss – but it is also their source of comfort. Harboring notions that the Democrats are somehow substantively different from Republicans when it comes to war is a convenient myth.

The myth is propped up by moral critiques of Republicans and George Bush which highlight his evasion of the draft, drug use, membership in a secret society and violations of the Constitution to advance what is considered a uniquely personal agenda. Democrats and the liberal left, however, cannot or simply refuse to connect the dots between American wars and deceit on both sides of the aisle. Was LBJ’s war substantively different from this engagement? Was FDR’s withholding of critical information BEFORE the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor any different than Bush’s fumble upon receiving confirmation of the WTC attack? I bet if Ms. Sheehan knew the sinking of the USS Maine was a farce she’d feel a little better. Maybe if she knew about the Bay of Pigs invasion in that context, she could find some solace in looking at things along a broader historical continuum. Maybe if the knew the Gulf of Tonkin fiasco was an American creation it would ease some of her pain. Maybe if she knew that George Washington was America’s number one whiskey distributor before kicking the bucket and that FDR’s grand-father sold opium to the Chinese, she could get through her travails.

I don’t believe there will be much peace ahead, though. The skeletons are not merely in the closets of Democrats and Republicans. The skeletons are in the closets of duped Americans celebrating their war-dead yesterday.

“Our brave young men and women in Iraq have been abandoned there indefinitely by their cowardly leaders who move them around like pawns on a chessboard of destruction and the people of Iraq have been doomed to death and fates worse than death by people worried more about elections than people. However, in five, ten, or fifteen years, our troops will come limping home in another abject defeat and ten or twenty years from then, our children’s children will be seeing their loved ones die for no reason, because their grandparents also bought into this corrupt system. George Bush will never be impeached because if the Democrats dig too deeply, they may unearth a few skeletons in their own graves and the system will perpetuate itself in perpetuity.”

Cindy Sheehan has awoken from a fog – but she is only partially awake. She has had a glimpse of the complete bullshit on both sides of the aisle and feels like a fatherless child. She feels used, disrespected and isolated. She feels like a nigger. What could be more American? Niggers were here before apple pie and baseball and the flag – and they’ll be here long after apple pie has been displaced by peach cobbler and baseball has been supplanted by the NBA. That’s already happened…nothing left but the flag – 27 down, 1 to go. I’m sure that this “new nigger” is still a patriot – the problem is that the ideals to which she dreams of returning her homeland were never established. After all, when were those “glory days” when some American grandparents weren’t being duped in this corrupt system? There has always been a big lie just under the surface – and there has always been a left and right opposition willing to look the other way.

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Welcome to the club Cindy – and don’t forget that knowing the real deal and choosing friends accordingly often means being on the outside.  I suppose this is the “local moment” – when activists get overwhelmed by the magnitude and tenacity of empire, the delusions and small-mindedness of fellow activists, and by the psychotic, visceral anger of the opposition.  Waking up is the hardest part.

5 comments

  1. Hi, I’m a lurker on Sylvia’s blog and linked here from there.

    I suppose this is the “local moment” – when activists get overwhelmed by the magnitude and tenacity of empire, the delusions and small-mindedness of fellow activists, and by the psychotic, visceral anger of the opposition. Waking up is the hardest part.

    Cindy Sheehan has awoken from a fog – but she is only partially awake.

    I’m sure that this “new nigger” is still a patriot – the problem is that the ideals to which she dreams of returning her homeland were never established. After all, when were those “glory days” when some American grandparents weren’t being duped in this corrupt system? There has always been a big lie just under the surface – and there has always been a left and right opposition willing to look the other way.

    Thank you for saying these things!

    My response to her statement has been: I understand she’s tired and upset at seeing what she didn’t see/know before and being targeted by the ugly when before she was more protected. But some things in this public response to the situation seem — off to me somehow. And I think you’re comments about partially awake and still being a patriot are a clue (at least for me, for my understanding) about why it feels like that to me.

    Like: I am going to take whatever I have left and go home. I am going to go home and be a mother to my surviving children and try to regain some of what I have lost. reads to me like a white woman’s statement of withdrawing into her privilege after experiencing the reality and pain of stepping out as an activist and feeling the pain of the reality that other people don’t have a choice about feeling. That could be from being partially awake and having a retreat because ooooh, it hurts!

    But then she says: This is not my “Checkers” moment, because I will never give up trying to help people in the world who are harmed by the empire of the good old US of A? and also: but I am finished working in, or outside of this system.

    And I am getting out before it totally consumes me or anymore people that I love and the rest of my resources.

    It’s just … I don’t like smell of the “injured white woman” public self-pity and wanting to regain what she has lost. What is the actual basis of her having the resources she has? Same empire she is so upset about. If this empire were truly threatened, so too would be her normal life as a citizen in it and as a white person. What does she mean with that thing about “helping” people in the world who are harmed by the empire…” Well, her ability to “help” is based in the empire, why is she using that word help?

    I kind of want to say that I hope she doesn’t stay in the partial-awake state but maybe starts to educate herself on the history and origins of this country, listen to the people who know what she is only starting to begin to comprehend. But at the same time, I wish that were true for a lot of white people, and I have to say I don’t feel that she is any more special than anyone else. Just very visible right now in a situation that many others share.

    Anyway, thank you.

  2. Your welcome – and thank you. I certainly feel your sentiment regarding her capacity to “fall back” to a life of relative privilege. It’s a truly interesting thing that I believe purely escapes folks on the left and the right. Her son paid with his life for her acceptance of a particular mythology. I suppose on some level, we all do, but in this case, Americans have deemed these deaths “tragic” for all the wrong reasons.

  3. “Like Vietnam, it constitutes a criminal, imperial gangster smack down of a resource rich little brother with arms to short to box with The Decider.”

    Lethal poetry. And the rest got even better.

    Thanks for writing the best Memorial Day post I’ve read.

  4. Thank you. There’s a part of me that is saddened by this whole thing…the notion that 20-year olds are being killed, maimed and psychologically tortured for something many will never, ever understand. On the other hand, death goes on.

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