Monday, August 22, 2005

Sheehan is very American

The following was originally posted on the legal redux:

Cindy Sheehan, who has made national news by literally setting up camp in Crawford, Texas to protest the war in Iraq, has packed up to be at the side of an ailing parent. After arriving in memory of her son, she leaves for her mother 74 year-old mother, who just suffered a stroke. Now is as good a time as any to reflect on the lessons of the Sheehan saga, and the continuing protest vigil that permeates the exempt news.

Some have called the Sheehan protests “unamerican.” Sheehan was arguing against the troops, demoralizing the military and publicly attacking the Commander in Chief. These actions are a strike against what it means to be American and hit close to the heart of everyone in the USA. But Camp Casey and the gathering of anti-war protesters led by Sheehan is the embodiment of what it means to be an American.

What Sheehan has done at Camp Casey could not have been duplicated in most other countries – certainly in few eastern nations. China, India, and several African oligarchies are notorious for their denial of basic free speech rights. Sheehan may have been able to publicly state her opposition to the official policy of the government, in these countries, but the censored news media would be unable to inform the world of her statements and her protests would last only as long as her threatened life. The only way to get the word out, when the government restricts the free flow of information is by taking militant action and causing enough carnage that the attention of others has to be raised.

Consider the plight of Arthur Z'ahidi Ngoma, a former Congolese rebel who started the “Congolese Union for Peace.” Arthur’s voice would never have been heard and the media would never have reported his opposition were it not for the violent nature of his objections. Censorship means that to be heard one must take drastic actions. America does not censor, at least not much.

This “American” coin has a flip side. The DailyKos has a piece deriding “[conservatives’] unamerican disdain for [Sheehan’s] right to protest her son's death.” If Cindy Sheehan has a right to criticize the President, it can hardly be called “unamerican” to contradict Sheehan’s argument or say that she is wrong. Most of the unamerican accusations surrounding Camp Casey have been made by the Left, attacking conservatives for their criticism of Sheehan.

Ironically, while Sheehan protests what her son fought for, she exercises rights that her son died for.