Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Exit of Cindy Sheehan ~ Ron Jacobs anaylzes Cindy Sheehan's declaration to leave public life.

First, read Good Riddance Attention Whore
by CindySheehan ~ May 28, 2007

Then:
Don't Go Too Far Away, Cindy

I have to admit that I was quite surprised when I read that Cindy Sheehan is leaving the peace movement. After reading her explanation for the move, I was less surprised, but still a bit disappointed. After reading the piece, it is clear that Sheehan has discovered that politics can be an ugly affair. When one is the focus of a political movement like Ms. Sheehan became, they become even uglier. Her departure will leave a hole, but it should not leave a vacuum. After all, there are thousands of US residents that have been hurt by the loss of a loved one in Iraq or Afghanistan, unfortunately. In addition, there are millions around the world that are just plain fed up and pissed off about these wars and the death and destruction they are causing.

Ms. Sheehan is planning to go home and raise her remaining children. That's a good thing. Her screed makes it clear that she is burned out from her past two years of antiwar activism and doing something real like caring for children will surely put her back in touch with the better side of humanity. This move is similar to the retreat from politics and the streets that much of an entire generation underwent in the years following the government murders at Kent State and Jackson State in 1970 during antiwar protests. Another side of this retreat was the turn away from politics and towards cultural and religion. Unlike caring for one's children, the latter two were mere escapism and somewhat solipsistic. One could argue that these phenomenon destroyed the potential for radical change in the United States, but a more appropriate analysis would merely claim that here in the US we had (and have) the luxury to stop fighting against the war because we do not live where the bombs are exploding and the assault weapons firing.
and
The most poignant paragraph in Sheehan's statement begins with her sad acknowledgment that her son died for absolutely nothing. One can only imagine the emotions that come from this realization. Like many of her fellow citizens, Sheehan wants to believe that the United States is a good place and that the people who live there do believe in the principles espoused in its documents and by its greatest leaders. Her discovery that "(her son) Casey died for a country which cares more about who will be the next American Idol than how many people will be killed in the next few months" is a difficult thing to take. Yet, this is not a reason to quit. It is, instead, a motivation to change things at an even more fundamental level. One may not like being called a radical because they oppose the wars Washington has dragged us into, but one must also become aware that only radical analysis and action undertaken by millions will change a system that requires those wars to survive.

I recall a discussion I had with a friend during the buildup to the first Gulf War. We were talking about activist burnout and egotistical activists as we watched the antiwar movement in Olympia, WA. grow by leaps and bounds while it struggled with internal conflicts that were primarily ego-driven. I said to my friend that whenever I felt an organization couldn't live without me, then it was time for me to step back from whatever high-profile position I happened to be in and go back to the grunt work of passing out leaflets and setting up stages. After all, it wasn't me that mattered, but the movement.
Read all of The Exit of Cindy Sheehan
by Ron Jacobs ~ Counterpunch) ~ May 29th, 2007

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