In Defense of Cindy Sheehan

All the usual suspects are lining up to slime Cindy Sheehan: Mr. Smarm, AKA James Taranto; the pretentious twits over at Powerline blog; and of course Matt Drudge, who ought to make his role as a sounding board for the Republican National Committee official. Yet none of these worthies were really up to the task. Drudge took Sheehan’s statement after her first meeting with Bush out of context and was contradicted by his own source. Taranto mocks Sheehan’s grief at the combat death of her son, Casey Sheehan, by titling a link to her account of her job loss over repeated absences “the sorrow and the pity.” Taranto feel pity for anybody except, perhaps, a “settler” in Gaza, or maybe Ahmed Chalabi? Forget about it!

Sheehan, according to Taranto-la, is the adherent of “a grotesque ideology” because she believes “the mainstream media is a propaganda tool for the government.” You know, the same MSM that printed Judy Miller’s fantasies of WMD on the front page of “the newspaper of record” – the same folks who never challenged the fusillade of lies being fired at the American public by the Pentagon. How could anybody believe that this very same “mainstream media” could possibly be a tool of the government – why, it’s “grotesque,” doncha think? John Bolton is visiting Judy Miller in prison not because they’re playing on the same team, you understand, but because Bolton wants to make international prison reform the centerpiece of his tenure as UN ambassador.

Taranto is a nasty piece of work whose scribblings are of little consequence, but the truly vile stuff – the heavy lifting – is done by his counterparts in the “blogosphere,” the self-important little “warbloggers” whose natterings are dutifully recorded by Slate interns and the right-wing radio screamers: Powerline takes up the theme that maybe, just maybe Sheehan’s crusade against this war constitutes a “hate crime”:

“Cindy Sheehan: is she a poor, benighted woman unhinged and rendered irrational by grief, or is she a calculating, vicious anti-Semite and anti-American like the extremists with whom she associates? I don’t know, and I’m not sure there is any way to know. But either way, is there any reason why she should be glorified by virtually every American media outlet?”

The Powerline cowards don’t want to take a definite stand one way or the other, you see, but it’s clear what they would like you to believe.

It’s amazing that a blogger who cites David Horowitz’s “FrontPage” dares breathe a single word about “extremism.” Horowitz, for his part, gets the Over the Top Award for this headline:

COINCIDENCE OR PLANNING? Cindy Sheehan’s Planned Protest Will Coincide with Expected Terror Attacks in Iraq

Is there anyone on the Right loonier than Horowitz? If so, I’d sure like to know who it is. At least Ann Coulter has a sense of humor, and some sense of irony. Horowitz, who likes to imagine that the antiwar movement is being personally directed by Osama bin Laden, is just plain bonkers in the dourest, dreariest way imaginable.

Leave it to Horowitz’s buddy Christopher Hitchens, however, to synthesize all these varieties of the same poison, while adding his own distinctively astringent (some would say bitter) flavor to the brew. Hitchens is furious over this statement by Sheehan:

“Am I emotional? Yes, my first born was murdered. Am I angry? Yes, he was killed for lies and for a PNAC Neo-Con agenda to benefit Israel. My son joined the army to protect America, not Israel. Am I stupid? No, I know full well that my son, my family, this nation and this world were betrayed by George Bush who was influenced by the neo-con PNAC agendas after 9/11. We were told that we were attacked on 9/11 because the terrorists hate our freedoms and democracy … not for the real reason, because the Arab Muslims who attacked us hate our middle-eastern foreign policy.”

He leaves off the final sentence of that paragraph, however:

“That hasn’t changed since America invaded and occupied Iraq … in fact it has gotten worse.”

I don’t wonder about that omission, since it explains the enormous appeal of Sheehan and her lone crusade against the Powers That Be: Americans are thoroughly sick of this filthy war, and are likewise riled up at those who lied and hectored us into it. What Hitchens and his fellow neocons hate is that Sheehan, no intellectual but an ordinary housewife and mother, names them for the evil swine they are: her accusing finger pointed in their direction rightly terrifies them. After so many years of operating in the dark, it is shocking to be pulled, suddenly, into the spotlight – and there are at least two prosecutors looking to shine yet more light on their subterranean activities. Until now, this has all been inside baseball for the delectation of the Beltway pundits, but these days ordinary Americans are beginning to realize who and what the “neocons” represent – and that can’t be good for the War Party. No sirree!

Hitchens is livid:

“I think one must deny to anyone the right to ventriloquize the dead. Casey Sheehan joined up as a responsible adult volunteer. Are we so sure that he would have wanted to see his mother acquiring ‘a knack for P.R.’ and announcing that he was killed in a war for a Jewish cabal? (a claim that has brought David Duke flying to Ms. Sheehan’s side.) This is just as objectionable, on logical as well as moral grounds, as the old pro-war argument that the dead ‘must not have died in vain.’ I distrust anyone who claims to speak for the fallen, and I distrust even more the hysterical noncombatants who exploit the grief of those who have to bury them.”

David Duke defends Cindy Sheehan. What more does anyone need to know? If Duke were to point out the rather bluish color of the sky, anyone who followed suit, in Hitchens’ book, ought to be charged with a “hate crime.” Yet, it is fair to ask, just who is flying to the defense of the war Hitchens tirelessly agitated for? None other than Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, and the millions of Bible-thumping, snake-handling, trailer-trash fundamentalists whom “The Hitch” purports to despise. Well, what of it? No doubt some prominent Satanists support the war – not that there’s anything wrong with that – such as Peter H. Gilmore, high priest of the Church of Satan. Asked “which side is the Church [sic!] rooting for?”, His Evilness answers:

“Most Church of Satan members would support victory for the United States, since its secular form of government, as well as its culture, promotes individualism and freedom. This secularism is seen as ‘Satanic’ by fanatical Muslims and rightly so – from their perspective. The architects of the U.S. Government were Freemasons and they held many Satanic values, so we feel that Americans should embrace the role they give to us as ‘The Great Satan.'”

The “Great Satan” – oh, that’s too funny. Top that, Hitchens, you moron!

The point is that Hitchens’ invocation of Duke tells us nothing about Sheehan – and speaks volumes about Hitchens, whose viciousness is surpassed only by his intellectual dishonesty.

That this drink-soaked Trotskyite popinjay, as George Galloway incisively dubbed him, has the utter gall to bring up “ventriloquizing the dead” has got to be the most appalling act of hypocrisy since anti-vice crusader and noted “war on drugs” hardliner Rush Limbaugh pleaded for “understanding” (and a reduced sentence) for his drug habit. Wasn’t it Hitchens and his fellow “idealists” whose rationale for war with Iraq was revenge for Saddam Hussein’s many victims? The murdered Kurds, Hitchens tirelessly reminded us, cried out for “vengeance,” as did the heroic Marsh Arabs.

What is particularly loathsome about Hitchens is that his “argument” consists entirely of epithets: to speak of “neocons,” he avers, is to speak of a “Jewish cabal.” But why is that? Most American Jews are vastly unsympathetic to George W. Bush, his party, and his war. Aside from that, however, is neoconservatism suddenly and inexplicably disappeared, even as one of its leading exponents triumphantly brays that the “neoconservative movement” has succeeded? Sheehan never once used the word “Jew” to describe anyone or anything for the simple reason that “neocon” is not a synonym for a person of the Jewish faith. Hitchens himself is a living example of why this is true. There are others: Jeanne Kirkpatrick, Michael Novak, Victor Davis Hanson, and Bill Bennett, not to mention former Pentagon analyst Larry Franklin, indicted spy for Israel and devout Catholic.

You don’t have to be Jewish to put Israel first, even over and above your own country, as the Christian fundamentalists of the Darbyite persuasion have made all too painfully plain. Franklin spied for Israel and handed over [.pdf] top-secret information to his Israeli handlers, trying to push American foreign policy in an even more Israel-centric direction and avidly enlisting AIPAC to manipulate the U.S. into a confrontation with Iran.

AIPAC’s machinations replicated the methods utilized by the War Party in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. Sheehan is on target in naming Israel – not “the Jews” – as a major reason why the U.S. went to war against a country that represented no threat to us. In saying this, she is simply echoing the opinion of a great many Americans, including Michael Kinsley, General Anthony Zinni, intelligence expert James Bamford, former CIA analyst Michael Scheuer, and a host of others who plainly see the geopolitical implications of an American war to “democratize” the Middle East while leaving much of the region in ruins.

The ugliness of the War Party’s rhetoric is often its own undoing, and this is surely the case when Hitchens tries to prove that Sheehan has no particular moral authority on the subject of the Iraq war. Fresh from his polemics against Mother Teresa, Hitchens cruelly disdains a mother’s tears:

“What dreary sentimental nonsense this all is, and how much space has been wasted on it.”

Those poor sentimental Americans, always going on about their emotions! Why don’t they just stiffen and button their upper lips, and forget all this tripe about the sacredness of human life and the love of a mother for her son? Don’t they know there’s a war on?

Hitchens just wants us to get on with it. How dare a mother protest the death of her son – unless, of course, it’s an Iraqi whose son was killed by Saddam’s thugs. Then it’s okay, the more sentimental nonsense the better. We are supposed to be all bent out of shape about the fate of the Marsh Arabs, but God help us if we mourn the death of our own children – and try to stop their slaughter in the name of a perverted “idealism.” It is an “internationalism” of the heartless, the leftist origins of which are not hard to discern. Hitchens could care less how many Casey Sheehans have to die, as long as his cruel war against religion – and against anything else that conflicts with his arid, militaristic neo-Trotskyite ideology – is carried through to the end.

The War Party hates Cindy Sheehan for the simple reason that she speaks the truth – a truth that the overwhelming majority of Americans are now waking up to.

The neocons did bring us this war: they manufactured the lies, they promoted the phonyintelligence,” they went on television predicting that the Iraqis would shower us with flowers and hosannas. They aren’t scapegoats: they’re the culprits, and they deserve what’s coming to them – although not nearly enough are going to be called upon to account for their actions.

These neocons are, all of them, militant advocates for Israel, and that, as the Marxists used to say, is no accident. The blueprint for targeting Iraq – and “democratizing” the Middle East – as a strategy to take the pressure off Israel was originally laid out in “A Clean Break,” a policy paper prepared for then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 1997 by several neoconservative policymakers – including Douglas Feith and Richard Perle – who have held high positions in the Bush administration and are now implicated in the trail of ersatz “intelligence” that lured us into the Iraq trap. This policy paper targeted Syria as the main danger to Israel, and averred that the road to Damascus had to run through Baghdad. Before a single American soldier had set foot on Iraqi soil, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was already issuing his postwar marching orders. Speaking of Syria, Iran, and other recalcitrant Muslim nations, he brayed to a visiting delegation of U.S. congressmen:

“These are irresponsible states, which must be disarmed of weapons [of] mass destruction, and a successful American move in Iraq as a model will make that easier to achieve.”

John Bolton, then undersecretary of state, agreed. In a February 2003 meeting with Israeli officials, he declared “it will be necessary to deal with threats from Syria, Iran, and North Korea afterward.”

As I pointed out in USA Today on the eve of war:

“Our troops will be fighting a proxy war in Iraq, and beyond, not to protect U.S. citizens from terrorist attacks, but to make the world safe for Israel. When the dead are buried, let the following be inscribed on their tombstones: They died for Ariel Sharon.”

Harsh – yes. But also true. The full extent of Israel’s influence on the U.S. government is only now coming to light. With the indictment of the AIPAC Three – longtime AIPAC top official Steve Rosen, AIPAC policy analyst Keith Weissman, and Pentagon Iran specialist Larry Franklin – the real origins and ideological motivations of the War Party are about to be aired in open court. I couldn’t help but guffaw as I read the news that the three of them have pleaded innocent to the charges, and news accounts gave us a preview of their defense:

“Rosen’s attorney Abbe Lowell called the charges unjustified: ‘We expect that the trial will show that this prosecution represents a misguided attempt to criminalize the public’s right to participate in the political process.'”

Yeah, how can we possibly “criminalize” Rosen’s innocent act of routinely passing super-secret U.S. government documents to Israeli embassy employees in at least five instances – when he was really just exercising his “right to participate in the political process”?! Those dastardly anti-Semities in the FBI have been keeping tabs on Rosen and his Israeli handlers – er, I mean, friends – since 1999. And David Duke approves! Oh, the outrage! The injustice!

Contra Hitchens and Israel’s amen corner in the U.S., I think the FBI – and Sheehan – are on to something, and it has nothing to do with the dreary canards of classic anti-Semitic lore. The Israeli government made a conscious decision to influence U.S. foreign policy and drag us into war with Iraq – and much of the Arab-Muslim world – in order to pursue their own national self-interest. It wouldn’t be the first time foreign agents did their level best to drag us into an overseas conflict, and it won’t be the last. Mrs. Sheehan isn’t telling us anything new or particularly shocking, yet she is doing it in a way that has done much to open the national conversation and focus it on the crucially important subject of just who lied us into war, and why.

That’s why they hate her and are trying their best to slime her. The American people, however, are by now pretty much inured to the methods of the war propagandists – the slimey tactics of Hitchens, Rove, and the Horowitzian howlers baying for the blood of patriots – and they don’t believe a word of it. Especially if it comes from the mouths of government spokesmen or apologists for government policy.

My message to Hitchens & Co. is simple: It won’t work, guys! Not this time. You’re cornered. Now stand and fight fair, or go slinking back to your holes – and stop smearing patriotic Americans.


I see here (and here) that Sheehan is denying writing “My son joined the Army to protect America, not Israel.” That phrase, she says, was inserted into the text of a letter sent to ABC News on her behalf. Not that the War Party is going to let her off the hook so easily. They are obsessed with Israel: if you don’t kowtow to the Israelis, like Commies used to hail the Soviet Union, you’re an “anti-Semite” in their book, and they will latch on to something else she said, or reportedly said, to smear her in any way they can. There is, in short, no way to appease these people, and once Sheehan starts down that road, she is doomed, I don’t care how many media handlers Ben and Jerry buy her. What’s encouraging, however, is that Sheehan is apparently not letting anyone run her – not Fenton Communications, not, not the liberal advocacy groups – and is getting back to her simple protest of “A Grieving Mom Waits for George W.” She is also taking a principled stand on the war, as the Los Angeles Times reports:

“Though groups like MoveOn support the Jones-Abercrombie proposal for a gradual withdrawal, Sheehan told a conference call Tuesday that she considered that time frame ‘not soon enough.’ She is urging an immediate return of all U.S. troops.”

The Times goes on to say that this is something “most Americans don’t support,” but as usual the journalists are plumbing for the War Party. The point is that, unless we take a proactive stance, and begin to advocate this position, we cannot begin to move the debate in this country definitively toward peace instead of war. Unlike the Democratic party strategists – losers all – and the wishy-washy liberals who don’t know from one moment to the next what they believe, Sheehan clearly realizes this:

“’We’re not going to stop there, either,’ she said Tuesday. ‘We are going to join forces and we are going to just transform this country from a country that always supports war and killing to a country that is at peace.’”

Go for it, Cindy!

Author: Justin Raimondo

Justin Raimondo passed away on June 27, 2019. He was the co-founder and editorial director of, and was a senior fellow at the Randolph Bourne Institute. He was a contributing editor at The American Conservative, and wrote a monthly column for Chronicles. He was the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement [Center for Libertarian Studies, 1993; Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2000], and An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard [Prometheus Books, 2000].