August 16, 2005

The "Grieving Mother" Status Doesn't Excuse Blaming Israel

Cindy Sheehan, in mid-March:
    Am I emotional? Yes, my first born was murdered. Am I angry? Yes, he was killed for lies and for a PNAC Neo-Con agenda to benefit Israel. My son joined the army to protect America, not Israel. Am I stupid? No, I know full well that my son, my family, this nation and this world were betrayed by George Bush who was influenced by the neo-con PNAC agendas after 9/11. We were told that we were attacked on 9/11 because the terrorists hate our freedoms and democracy … not for the real reason, because the Arab Muslims who attacked us hate our middle-eastern foreign policy.
Look, everyone feels sympathy for the relatives, friends and spouses of soldiers that died in combat zones. But sympathy doesn't elevate bad ideas into good or even neutral ones. The best sympathy does is to soften or silence our criticism of grieving relations that say stupid, bigoted or untrue thing. And example would be when Mrs. Cosby blamed her son's death on racism, and saying that the Slavic immigrant who killed him must've learned his racism in the US because there is none over there.

Sympathy can get us to ignore it when somebody says something inarticulate or awkward, bigoted or cruel, because we realize that under normal circumstances they might not have said it aloud or even have thought it. But sympathy doesn't lend any credibility to a dumb argument.

When she blames Israel as the source of terrorism against us she gives an unhelpful and anti-Israel view of the world more credence. When she asserts that we fought Iraq for Israel, and repeatedly refers to the neocon PNAC agenda, she sounds like a frothing anti-Semite. Unfortunately, anti-Semites seem to agree with that view of Sheehan. Aside from Michael Moore's support, Sheehan's anti-Israel comment garnered her the support of David Duke (renowned racist and former Klansman). Here's Duke's blog entry giving a point-by-point description of how this is a Jewish war for Israel against America's interests.

I don't know that Sheehan hates Jews, but I do know she clings to the same irrational arguments that bigots like David Duke and Jew-hating terrorists use to make their points. She didn't say anything specific about Jews, but she mentioned the major points - she blamed the US and Israel instead of the terrorists, she said this was nothing but a war for Israel, and she asserted that a neocon cabal led by PNAC was behind the conspiracy to 'murder' her son. Taken together, the neocon/PNAC reference is an allusion to Jews controlling the government.

When somebody makes a reference to a Jewish person as a Fagan or a Shylock, they don't need to be explicit to be understood as anti-Semitic slurs. By the same token, when somebody says that the neocons at Project for a New American Century are controlling the government to wage war for Israel, and that America and Israel deserve to be terrorized and bombed over our allegedly joint foreign policy, it's not unreasonable to connect the dots and see an anti-Semitic conspiracy of sorts.

Maybe she's just spouting off theories she read on the Internet or something and she would be genuinely disgusted by bigoted explanations behind the war (that could very reasonably be opposed without the slightest tinge of hatred for Jews), in which case she ought to be perfectly clear about it. It's possible somebody might reference Fagan only for the stingy aspects and not realize that it's a longstanding anti-Jewish slur, and it's possible that somebody might talk about a PNAC conspiracy to send Americans to die fore the world's only Jewish state, but I'd say the assumption in both cases leans toward anti-Semitism.

Either way, what she said is wrong even if she herself is Jewish. It's bad logic, it's bad policy, it's bad IR and it's just idiotic. The terrorists have it out for us no matter what, they aren't going to stop, and they haven't stated a point at which they will stop fighting, killing, bombing and murdering. The same people fight in Chechnya (some of the 9/11 bombers were on their way to fight in Chechnya when an AQ recruiter stopped them in germany and invited them to training camps in Afghanistan) and in Sudan and in Kashmir, and none of those things are about Israel or America. Wholly irrational.

Again, the lefties should be careful about giving too much of a platform to Cindy Sheehan or she'll become something like the Jane Fonda of the war in Iraq.


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