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.
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