This is a radio show on our local university station cfuv.uvic.ca monday at 5 pm PST. Chris Cook is the host and he writes also for PEJ news -www.pej.org
From the beaches of Iwo Jima to the desert sands of Iraq, American anti-war veterans met last week at the annual Veterans for Peace convention. The meeting was highlighted by the address of Cindy Sheehan, the founder of Gold Star Families for Peace. Sheehan, the mother of a soldier son killed in Iraq last year, issued a challenge to “the murdering bastard, George Bush” to explain why, after every “justification” his administration cited as good cause to invade and occupy Iraq has proven false, her son died.
She’s gone further, leading a protest camp outside the gates of Bush’s Crawford, Texas ranch to wait his answer. Mike Ferner is a writer, and veteran member of Veteran’s for Peace and has written a piece about Cindy Sheehan’s case. He’s also a past Coordinator for the Program on Corporations, Law, and Democracy, and has made two trips to Iraq, one just prior to the invasion with the peace organization, Voices in the Wilderness and again as a freelance writer during the occupation. His experiences there are the basis of a forthcoming book.
Mike Ferner and Waiting for W. in the first half.
Saturday, August 13, 2005
That Lying Bastard, George Bush
Cindy Sheehan in Dallas
What One Mom has to Say to Bush
August 9, 2005
“That lying bastard, George Bush, is taking a five-week vacation in time of war,” Cindy Sheehan told 200 cheering members of Veterans For Peace at their annual convention in Dallas last Friday evening. She then announced she would go to Bush’s vacation home in nearby Crawford, Texas and camp out until he “tells me why my son died in Iraq. I’ve got the whole month of August off, and so does he.”
Sheehan left the VFP meeting on Saturday morning and is now in Crawford with a couple dozen veterans and local peace activists, waiting for Bush to talk with her. She said in Dallas that if he sends anyone else to see her, as happened when national security adviser Steve Hadley and deputy White House chief of staff Joe Hagin did later that day, she would demand that “You get that maniac out here to talk with me in person.”
She told the audience of veterans from World War Two to today’s war in Iraq, that the two main things she plans to tell the man she holds responsible for son Casey’s death are “Quit saying that U.S. troops died for a noble cause in Iraq, unless you say, ‘well, except for Casey Sheehan.’ Don’t you dare spill any more blood in Casey’s name. You do not have permission to use my son’s name.”
“And the other thing I want him to tell me is ‘just what was the noble cause Casey died for?’ Was it freedom and democracy? Bullshit! He died for oil. He died to make your friends richer. He died to expand American imperialism in the Middle East. We’re not freer here, thanks to your PATRIOT Act. Iraq is not free. You get America out of Iraq and Israel out of Palestine and you’ll stop the terrorism,” she exclaimed.
“There, I used the ‘I’ word – imperialism,” the 48 year-old mother quipped. “And now I’m going to use another ‘I’ word – impeachment – because we cannot have these people pardoned. They need to be tried on war crimes and go to jail.”
As the veterans in Dallas rose to their feet, Sheehan said defiantly, “My son was killed in 2004. I am not paying my taxes for 2004. You killed my son, George Bush, and I don’t owe you a penny...you give my son back and I’ll pay my taxes. Come after me (for back taxes) and we’ll put this war on trial.”
The co-founder of Gold Star Mothers for Peace objected to hearing that her son was among the soldiers lost in Iraq. “He’s not lost,” she said tearfully. “He’s dead. He became an angel while I was sleeping.”
She railed against the notion expressed by officials in the Bush administration that bringing the troops home now would dishonor the sacrifice of those who have died. “By sending honorable people to die, they so dishonor themselves. They say we must complete our mission…but why would I want one more mother to go through what I have, just because my son is dead?”
The Vacaville, California resident said she first heard of Veterans For Peace in early May last year, during a CNN report about an exhibit of white crosses arranged in rows in the Santa Barbara beach. The exhibit was organized by VFP Chapter 54 to memorialize each U.S. soldier killed in Iraq. Her son had died the month before. “I decided there was only one place I wanted to be on Mother’s Day that year, and it was Santa Barbara,” she told the VFP members in Dallas.
Retired Special Forces Sgt. and VFP member, Stan Goff, today initiated a “Talk to Cindy” campaign to get Bush to meet with Sheehan. Contact information for the White House is: (202) 456-1111 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Mike Ferner is a writer in Toledo, Ohio and a member of Veterans for Peace. He can be reached at email@example.com
Cindy Screws W.'s Vakay
The Huffington Post
A close friend of mine went cycling with President Bush on Crawford Ranch last year and described a focused, relentlessly aggressive man on a mountain bike. Bush hammered out a hilly 18 mile course and left behind the guests and secret service agents trying to keep pace with his frenetic pedaling. There was nothing but him and the bike and the road and the pound of his heart. Good athletes are like this. Decent presidents are not.
Most endurance athletes discover that their minds, stimulated by endorphins released through exercise, tend to wander across a landscape of subjects. And when you find one that is engaging or significant, solutions and sensitivities unknown are suddenly discovered. That's why I wonder how the president can hit the trails of Prairie Chapel or even linger over his morning coffee and not be fixed on the unrelenting grief and resolve of Cindy Sheehan. She is becoming the symbol of our American Tiananmen.
I met Cindy Sheehan this time last year when she was trying to decide what to do about the loss of her son. We were strangers when we spoke on the phone but she was as honest as she was angry. Before a news conference at the National Press Club, she stood in an anteroom holding a large color poster of her smiling boy and she ran her fingertips over his mouth as though he were alive and could feel this affection. In that moment, I hated my president. And I hate having to hate anyone or anything.
A group of us went to dinner that night across the river in Arlington and Cindy asked me about all the years I had spent being a reporter and all of the sadness and loss I had encountered. She wanted to know what it was like years later for the mothers and fathers and siblings of soldiers I had written about and how they had adjusted or if they ever did. I had to tell her and her daughter sitting across from me that I never met anyone who had reached a point of total acceptance. The most vivid memory I had was of an 82-year-old Texas man whose oldest brother was one of nine boys from the tiny farming village of Praha who left for World War II. All nine of them died in different theaters of battle in the final year. But this 82 year old man said he was still expecting his big brother, who had died over sixty years ago, to come walking in the door looking like he had the day he left.
There are things worth fighting for. And there are even some worth dying for. But Iraq is not one of them. And none of us asked enough questions when it came time to send the Casey Sheehan's of the country into the desert hell of Iraq. More of us ought to be asking the questions now because it is just as important now as it was the day the war was launched. But we at least have Cindy Sheehan to do our asking. There are mothers' sons out there who will live full lives because the pressure being created by Cindy Sheehan will accelerate the end of this absurd American involvement in Iraq.
In every standoff there comes a time when the tide will turn in one direction. In our culture, these moments are palpable because a complicated question has been rendered into a simple confrontation between the just and the unjust, the big guy and the little guy, the powerful and the weak. And we all know who Americans choose in those kinds of fights. Cindy Sheehan, with her soft voice and steely determination, has given us a simple choice. We can stand with a mother who doesn't want other mothers to suffer the way she is suffering; or we can side with a president who offers us platitudes instead of exit strategies and unfounded optimism instead of honest logic. I'm on Cindy's side.
I choose to believe that Cindy Sheehan is proving to us again that America still functions as a democracy. Power and the presidency are still accountable to the Cindy Sheehan's of our country. She is helping a lot of otherwise disconnected people realize that this president has made a mistake with Iraq and his refusal to acknowledge that mistake is leading to more death. And I am certain that Casey is proud of his mother.
Every other American ought to be, too.
This is the classic Diva and Goliath scenario. I wish I could be there too. What with your trumped up drug laws and a mere pot possession charge from the early 90's, I can't participate. As an alien I am a target, but so what. Better to get out a message and a stance than to sit on your laurels and play dead. Cindy is a typical American who found out too late what acceptance of the system and sacrifice to ideals really means to our power elite.
Don't let yourselves be fooled. Get out and give up your life for YOUR ideals of fairness and equality, not theirs- and you won't have to make a statement and a stand when it is too late.