Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Questions without answers

I don't support the war in Iraq, but that's old news and that isn't what this post is about. I just wanted to get it out of the way, and give a little background before I charge head first into this rant.

There's been more and more talk about Cindy Sheehan, in the papers, and on the various news programs. Whether she is vilified (say, by Foxnews), put up on a pedestal (MoveOn.org), used as a jumping off point for discussion (Newsweek) or mined for comedy (The Daily Show) no one can seem to shut up about her and her protest down in Texas.

Now whether you agree with her motives or not, you should concede it takes a very strong woman, and strong sense of commitment to do what she is doing. There are those who are denouncing her motives saying she is just using her grief and the death of her son for political gains, but then again many of those same denouncers are the ones who supported Terry Shiavo's parents who used their grief over their daughter for political gains (the denouncers political gains, not the parents). But the left isn't blameless either, just look at the recent attack adds on Judge Roberts NARAL pulled because they were just too damn mean (and by and large, blatantly ignored the facts). Both sides like twisting the truth for their own political gains.

To be honest, I don't really care about all of that. It's back story. Here's my real issue. In her protests Sheehan asked if this war was so important why hasn't he (President Bush) sent his daughters off to Iraq. This question, if you recall, was used by Michael Moore in his documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 as he approached Senators who voted for the war whether they would enlist their children to fight. The point being, if the Senators and President Bush aren't willing to sacrifice their own children it must not be a just war. I find that to be very flawed reasoning for a few reasons. First, I can't think of a single parent who would willingly sacrifice their children's lives for any cause. There are parents who swell with pride when their children choose to join the army, and fight for their country, even with a strong possibility that their children will die fighting. That being said, no parent I know would sign their children up themselves if given the choice.

Which brings me to the second reason. It's not the parents choice. My parents can't sign me up for the military. The only person who can sign me up is me. Even if they wanted me to be a soldier, if I didn't want to be a soldier, there was nothing they could legally do about it. The same is true for the first daughters. Even if President Bush wanted them in the army (which I doubt he does, as Jon Stewart of the Daily show said, "Are you kidding, I thought we wanted to win this war?") with out their consent he couldn't do anything about it, legally. The same applies to the children of Senators, or Congressmen or women. It's the children who have to choose to volunteer, that's why it's called volunteering.

The question "would you send your children to war?" is a divisive one. There is no way one can answer it and look good, sound good, or be righteous. It's asked simply to make the recipient look selfish, greedy, and - for lack of a better word - bad. Bad as in evil, morally repugnant, and hypocritical. These sorts of questions just make protesters on both sides of the aisle less palatable to the other side. They just entrench us in our beliefs that those on the other side are wrong as we think to ourselves: "I mean look at the kind of cheap tricks they pull to get some sympathy." To really spark a helpful debate we need to start asking better questions, not just divisive ones.


writergurl said...

While your sentiment about most parents not voluntarily sending their children "off to war" is correct, you neglect the actual make up of our volunteer service. As Micheal Moore pointed out in Farenhiet 9/11, our Armed Forces, these days, are mostly made up of lower to lower middle class people. These are the people who parents can't afford to send them to college nor do these people's parents have the contacts needed to have their sons assigned to something like, oh say, the Texas Air National Guard like Bush's father did for him. Our service members who are fighting, dying and being maimed by this conflict (it's not a war, since Congress did not declare war upon Iraq) are often our poorest members of society. Meanwhile every child of the Senate, Congress, and Judicairy have the means available for them to have an option. The option? NOT to serve. In many, many cases, the ONLY reason our service members have volunteered is because that's the ONLY WAY they can break the cycle of poverty and gain some marketable skills. Mr. Bush's children have many options available to them. Just like the children of Conressional members and Senators. Mrs. Sheehan, whom you take such umbrage with, is not someone who has the contacts, and judging solely from what IS known about her and her family, they are amoung those who would be considered lower middle class as she worked as a youth minister at a Catholic church.

Finally, consider this quote from Bush about Mrs. Sheehan and her vigil at his Crawford ranch... "I think it's important for me to be thoughtful and sensitive to those who have got something to say. But I think it's also important for me to go on with my life, to keep a balanced life ... I think the people want the president to be in a position to make good, crisp decisions and to stay healthy. And part of my being is to be outside exercising. So I'm mindful of what goes on around me. On the other hand, I'm also mindful that I've got a life to live and will do so." Yep, sounds like our Prez is certainly doing his best at all times for the country, right? Riiiighht.

Amichai said...

You bring up many valid points, and on a whole I do not disagree with you. However, I was trying to comment more on the way the debate is phrased by both sides, and how the sheer refusal to ask or answer useful questions is a big part of what is hindering our government from doing anything progressive, and actually rectifying situations (be it our national or international policies) instead of making them worse. Right now I feel the left (and just for posterity, I am a Massachusetts liberal democrat) is being just as divisive as we have accused the right of being. As I said in the post I respect Mrs. Sheehan for what she is trying to accomplish. I could have pulled a quote from either side of any issue from anyone on either side of the aisle (your Bush quotes are equally applicable) to try and make my point. I used Sheehan solely because her story was the most recent I read right before writing my post.

I was in no way trying to diminish Sheehan or her grief over the loss of her son, her socioeconomic standing or anything else about her or her family. And any perception as such is only due to my bad writing.

writergurl said...

No, your writing is fine. It's just that most EVERYONE (especialy the media) either ignores or is unawarre of who exactly is sacraficing their lives for this country. And it sure as hell isn't the children of Bush's "base" as he so fondly refers to them.

I am in agreeement with you that BOTH sides are to blame for this mess, The right becuase of their policies and fea mongering that lead to this, and the left for being ineffectual and allowing this sort of shti to happen. The media also needs to be given it's fair share of the blame.