Still think the military is behind you, Cindy?
Cindy Sheehan failed to show up at Ramstein Air Force base this Saturday. That's too bad. I was waiting for her.
Last Monday, America's most famous gold star mother was arrested in New York City. She had travelled to the Big Apple to present a petition of 60,000 signatures to the US Mission to the United Nations. According to Sheehan, they refused to meet with her. According to Richard Grenell, the spokesman for the US Mission, “We invited her in to discuss her concerns with a US Mission employee. She chose not to come in but to lay down in front of the building and block the entrance. It was clearly designed to be a media stunt, not aimed at rational discussion.”
Lying down in front of the mission as a method of blocking the entrance is, of course, criminal trespassing. When the police were called, she resisted arrest, also a crime. She has been charged with both.
Sheehan backed out of her scheduled plans to bring her circus to Europe, and particularly to Ramstein and Landstuhl, locations of a vital American Air Force base and military hospital, respectively. "If I am there, I won't be anywhere near the Air Force base...or participate in the march. I was brutalized in New York the other day by the NYPD and I need to go to the doctor today (Wednesday)."
Brutalized? Well that's a strong word. I would suggest to Cindy Sheehan that officers of the law have the right to use force to subdue criminals who are resisting arrest. Not excessive force, but force. So if Cindy got hurt, her injuries her her own fault, not the responsibility of the New York Police Department. To me, it sounds like another "oh poor Cindy" media stunt mixed up with a little anti-police sentiment.
Cindy's supporters in Germany said that they would go on with the march despite the absence of their Dali Lama. That's fine. The loyal opposition came out to oppose her as well.
The weather was raw this Saturday. It was a cold Saturday afternoon in March, with intermittent rain, but that didn't stop about fifteen counter-protestors from coming out to meet Cindy Sheehan. Our message? You're dead wrong, Cindy. You don't speak for the military, and you don't speak for their families.
We positioned ourselves just outside of Ramstein's West gate, in full view of the road. Hundreds of airmen and their families passed by in the four hours that we stood there. We held signs that read "German-American Friendship" "One Iraqi Freedom vet against Cindy" "Our troops need support not pity" and "Democracy in Iraq", among other slogans. The reaction we got was overwhelmingly positive--thumbs up, horns honking, smiles and waving. It felt good.
To be sure, not every passerby was so positive. A few people gave us negative reactions: I counted two middle fingers, and one guy screamed out "go home!" as he sped past. But people who felt this way were definitely in the minority. For every middle finger we got, there were at least a dozen people who gave us the thumbs up or honked.
There's no denying that this war has divided our nation. People have different opinions, and no one can say that any organization--especially one as large as the US military--is of a single mind on the war in Iraq. There are Iraq war vets who favor "peace", and there are Iraq war vets who favor victory. I happen to be one of the latter. There are military spouses who oppose the war, and military spouses who support it.
But which group is larger? To hear the Left tell it, no one is more opposed to the Iraq War than the people who are fighting it. Why? Because anyone who has ever been to Iraq knows that this is an illegal, unjust, and unwinnable war. To prove this point, they parade out a small number of gold star mothers and veterans to speak, as if everyone in the military feels just the way they do.
Cindy Sheehan has never claimed to speak for every military family in America. But it wasn't until Move America Forward brought their "You Don't Speak for Me, Cindy" tour to Crawford, Texas that she even admitted that other military families, gold star mothers, and veterans of the Iraq War might have other opinions. "You know, I never got up here and said 'I speak for every gold star family, I speak for every military family.' I never said that. But I know I speak for thousands of them."
Yes Cindy, and thousands more oppose you.
Cindy's attitude towards military families who oppose her is reprehensible. According to Sheehan:
I have been silent on gold star moms who still support this man (President Bush) and his war by saying that they deserve the right to their opinions because they are in as much pain as I am. I would challenge them, though, at this point to start thinking for themselves...How can these moms who still support George Bush and his insane war in Iraq want more innocent blood shed just because their sons or daughters have been killed? I don't understand it. I don't understand how any mother could want another mother to feel the pain we feel. I am starting to feel a little compassion for them. I know that they have been brainwashed as the rest of America, but they know the pain and heartache and they should not wish it on another. However, I still feel their pain so acutely and pray for these "continue the murder and mayhem" moms to see the light. (Emphasis added).
"Want more innocent bloodshed"?"Brainwashed"? "'Continue the murder and mayhem' moms"? Is this lady for real? First of all, simply disagreeing with Cindy Sheehan does not make someone brainwashed. There are plenty of legitimate arguments-- indeed the bulk of all legitimate arguments-- that favor the pro-victory side of this debate.
Furthermore, gold star moms who support the Iraq War do not want to "continue the murder and mayhem", nor do they "want more innocent bloodshed." In fact, what they really want is to ensure that Iraq doesn't turn into the bloodbath that it will become if we fail to leave a competent Iraqi army and police force in place, and bloodthirsty terrorists overthrow the government. That is the worst case scenario, and Cindy Sheehan knows that if it happens--and it will, if Cindy has her way--there will be more "innocent bloodshed" and "murder and mayhem" than ever before.
So just how many gold star families does Cindy speak for? Well, I took a look at the website of her organization Gold Star Familes for Peace (www.gsfp.org). I was surprised to find a complete list of members, and even more surpised to read just how few gold star familes who have lost loved ones in Iraq actually belong to Cindy's organization.
GSFP is a rather small organization, with a total of 91 members. But please don't assume that these 91 members represent 91 servicemen and -women who have died in the Iraq War. Actually, they represent the families only 57 fallen troops. Seven of the 91 are part of the Sheehan family: Cindy and Pat Sheehan (Casey Sheehan's parents), Dede Miller (Casey Sheehan's aunt), and Carl, Andy, and Janey Sheehan (Casey Sheehan's siblings). Another GSFP member is Sabrina Worsham, who is not even related to Casey at all, but rather an "honorary family member". So obviously membership requirements do not stipulate that a person has to be an actual member of a family that has lost a loved one. Simply knowing a gold star family is good enough, and then you can call yourself an "honorary family member" and join GSFP.
Nor have all of these families lost loved ones in the current Iraq War. I think that Cindy would reply, once again, that she never said that they had. They aren't called "Iraq War Gold Star Families for Peace", but rather "Gold Star Families for Peace". True, but I know that the media leaves the impression in the public mind that these are all family members of troops who have died in the Iraq War. It's been very misleading, and Cindy knows this. I know that I held this false belief until I checked their website.
Actually, of the 57 fallen troops, nineteen of them did not die in Iraq. Four were killed in Afghanistan; one died in a car accident before being deployed anywhere; one committed suicide after coming home from Iraq; seven died in Vietnam; three died in World War II; two died in Operation Desert Storm, and one died in the Korean War. Some of those who were killed in the Iraq War actually died as the result of non-combat injuries, such as accidents, etc.
So when you subtract the nineteen troops who were not killed in Iraq, you can see that only 38 families of troops killed in Iraq have actually joined Gold Star Families for Peace. Total number of troops killed in the Iraq War so far? 2307. In other words, 1.65% of all gold star families who lost loved ones in the Iraq War have joined Cindy's organization. Not exactly a tidal wave of support.
Cindy doesn't speak for the majority of gold star mothers, and the military is not squarely behind her. As Army Staff Sergeant Genther put it, "Anything I would have to say about her (Cindy Sheehan), you couldn't print." Well said, sergeant. I agree.