Sunday, August 28, 2005

The art of condemnation

I've been having a long and sometimes heated argument over at All Things Conservative about the right-wing effort to smear Cindy Sheehan as an anti-semite.
It has gotten to the point where I have been accused of being an anti-semite myself because I will not condemn Sheehan as an anti-semite.
The charges apparently stem from an e-mail that Sheehan supposedly wrote in which she says:

"...(my son) was killed for lies and for a PNAC Neo-Con agenda to benefit Israel. My son joined the army to protect America, not Israel."

There has been some question as to whether Sheehan actually wrote those words. She apparently is now claiming that her e-mail was altered and changed by somebody else who wanted to make her look bad. But assuming that she did write the above during a fit of anger, is it proof or evidence that she is racist against Jews as many on the right now allege?

Another commenter at ATC insists that the above statement is "accusing Jews at the highest levels of American government of manipulating policy to get the United States to go to war to defend Israeli interests."
He then goes on to claim that anyone "who can't see that this is bald anti-Semitism, consistent with right-wing extremism, Nazism, Islamic extremism and every anti-Semitic theory going back to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion," is "beyond the pale of intelligent debate."

I don't agree with the statement above. I don't believe we went to war in Iraq to defend Israeli interests.
But it is true that we would go to war to protect Israel if they were ever seriously threatened. And it is also true that the security of Israel was one of the factors raised by the Bush administration prior to launching their invasion of Iraq. The long-range missiles that Saddam was said to have in violation of U.N. dictates were said to be a threat to Israel - they were certainly no threat to the U.S.

But even if we did go to war to protect Israel, does it mean that someone who opposes that war is necessarily racist towards Jews?
To frame this question differently, I posed the following analogy: Let's say the mother of a soldier killed during the First Gulf War is angry and says she did not want her son to die defending Kuwait. Does that mean she is racist towards Kuwaitis?
Of courst not.

I for one am not happy with a lot of things that Israel does right now, but it is not because it is a Jewish state. Rather it is because they are currently guided by the right-wing Likud Party which, in my opinion, is screwing up things over there just as badly as the Republicans are screwing things up around here. The fact that I am critical of the Republicans and their political agenda does not make me anti-American.

But defending Cindy Sheehan right now is not a popular thing to do at a lot of right-wing blogs. She has become a real pariah for the right and they are looking for anything they can grab to try and tear her down.
But the point about Sheehan is not what her views and prescriptions are for resolving Middle East conflicts. It is simply the fact that she is there taking a stand. She is not a politician or a spokesperson for the Democratic Party. She is not a polished speaker with an army of handlers watching over her constantly to make sure she never says anything that is politically incorrect. She is just an average citizen who had the courage to stand up in the glare of the national media and say that enough is enough.
In that sense, she is like Rosa Parks was for the Civil Rights movement. She is a symbol that people can rally around. It did not matter what Rosa Parks views on race relations were. Likewise, I could really care less about what Sheehan has to say on the political topics of the day. So attacking her for holding some wrongheaded ideas on certain subjects is just missing the point and shows a lack of understanding about the significance of her role in this ongoing debate.
Republicans are finally starting to lose this political battle back home and that is why there has been rumbling recently that they will have a major drawback of troops next year in time for the 2006 mid-term elections. They had better do something quick because Bush's poll numbers are in total freefall right now and while he may not be running again he is going to be an albatross around his party's neck at this rate.

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