Tue, 29 May 2007
Cindy Sheehan announced today that she is stepping aside from being the leader of the peace movement. Sheehan entered the public consciousness in the wake of her son Casey's death from an ambush in Baghdad in 2004. Sheehan was most famous for purchasing five acres of land next to President Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas and christening it "Camp Casey." She took up residence at Camp Casey in August 2005 and vowed to stay on the property while President Bush was on his vacation at Crawford and would not leave until he talked to her about her son's death. Sheehan had to leave Camp Casey after she was diagnosed with cancer, but the movement continued to flourish for a time.
Fast-forward nearly three years, and the peace movement is still ongoing, but Sheehan's charge of apathy and division seems to have merit. Sheehan stated that more people care about who wins on American Idol than how many people are dying daily in Iraq. Is it apathy, institutionalized censorship, or are we getting numb?
The war in Iraq has been compared ad nauseum to the war in Vietnam, and many of the same tactics have been used to diminish and repudiate the efforts of the antiwar movement. The major difference between the Vietnam era and now is that the news media has become the voicebox for the entertainment industry. The so-called "liberal media" has become less about reporting actual news and providing analysis of evidence than about selling stories carefully packaged with vetted messages, flashy graphics, theme music, and interchangeable talking heads, almost as if a script were being written and passed around to all of the networks. Is it news, is it propaganda, or is it entertainment? The lines between fantasy and reality are heavily smudged now, to put it mildly.
Cindy Sheehan was likely the victim of the fact that her protest effort became less entertaining as it became the mainstream opinion. Fewer people were against the war when she set up Camp Casey than they are now. The outcome of the 2006 elections seemed to be a public demonstration of frustration with the status quo and a call for change. Now that the new Congress has been in session for nearly half a year, it would seem that addressing the war in Iraq is less about doing the right thing than it is about looking right while doing nothing. Antiwar protests are becoming more commonplace, ranging from bumper stickers calling for an end to war to heavily-attended rallies in even the smallest towns. As anybody knows, the more common something is, the more it tends to fade into the background noise. Perhaps the reason that antiwar opinion seems to be waning is that it is so prevalent that it is actually the norm, and pro-war opinion is actually out of the norm.
Upon announcing her stepping out of the spotlight, Cindy Sheehan stated that it was "up to us." I would say that it was always up to us. It is up to all of us to stay focused on the issue. If as many calls were made to the offices of our Congressional Representatives and Senators as were made to so much as one episode of American Idol or Dancing With the Stars or any other of the reality shows, then we might see a different story coming out of Congress. We might see bills calling for troop withdrawal passing with veto-proof margins. We might see actual oversight of the White House occurring, and we might see an end to the escalation of engagement with Iran and Syria. In short, we might actually see a return of government that is truly "of, by, and for" the people. It was always up to all of us, and now it is again. What will we do?
Category:Extras -- posted at: 11:42am EST
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