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By Tom Hayden

Cindy Sheehan represents an alternative world of meaning that more Americans need to experience before this war can end. She represents the survivors' need to define a meaning in her son's death - and her life - that is counter to the meaning offered by President Bush. That is why she refuses any condolences, and why she continues to ask the President what was the "noble purpose" for which Casey Sheehan died.

All wars take on a new momentum when the survivors believe that those killed represent a "noble sacrifice" and hear repeated assurances from authority figures that they "shall not have died in vain." The momentum begins to reverse when the survivors question deeply the justification for all the suffering.

Robert Jay Lifton reported this phenomenon among Vietnam-era soldiers and their families. He wrote that "when the alternative survivor mission takes hold, victims become ignoble sacrifices, products of crual deception. Their deaths then have meaning only in serving to expose the grotesque truths of the war. The alternative survivor mission can become one of oppostion to the war, its advocates, and their policies." Lipton writes further: "[we become] survivors of a death encounter, and survivors of all kinds are hungry for the meaning of that encounter - meaning that is inevitably associated with the authority of the dead."

An alternative survivor mission took hold of Americans after World War I and Vietnam. It is taking hold among Americans once again because of Iraq. Cindy Sheehan's war is for this alternative meaning. She is bringing many Americans to confront the awful fact that nearly 2,000 soldiers have died and 13,000 been wounded in a war fought for fabricated reasons. She is challenging George Bush never to use those deaths as justification for more killing. She wants the truth, nothing more than the truth, because that will stop George Bush from desecrating the dead all over again through deceit. By embracing an alternative meaning, Cindy's war suggests to young Americans and their families that they are under no obligation to keep the faith with the dead by continuing to die or kill Iraqis.

The reason she is such a threat to Bush is that she claims the "authority of the dead" as a justification for peace. So do an increasing number of Gold Star mothers and military families and Iraq veterans. What is striking so far is that the Bush operatives have been unable to organize a committee of pro-war families who lost sons or daughters in the war. [Nixon did so against John Kerry and the Vietnam Veterans Against the War]. The White House has only been able to mobilize the Bill O'Reilly, who never fought a war, and Cindy Sheehan's in-laws.

Cindy is winning the war for meaning. Only the families, friends, and buddies of the dead can carry this lonely burden for the rest of us. As they do, peace movement slogans like "bring them home now" will have deep resonance with all Americans.

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What kind of psycho uses the death of their child as political capital for a freak anti-israel anti-USA (i wont pay taxes) political tyrade?

OK, nutcase don't pay your taxes- and stop using our roads, librarys, water systems, sewer systems etc. etc. etc.

Aug. 22, 2005 issue - The grieving room was arranged like a doctor's office. The families and loved ones of 33 soldiers killed in Iraq or Afghanistan were summoned to a large waiting area at Fort Bragg, N.C. For three hours, they were rotated through five private rooms, where they met with President George W. Bush, accompanied by two Secret Service men and a photographer. Because the walls were thin, the families awaiting their turn could hear the crying inside.

President Bush was wearing "a huge smile," but his eyes were red and he looked drained by the time he got to the last widow, Crystal Owen, a third-grade schoolteacher who had lost her husband in Iraq. "Tell me about Mike," he said immediately. "I don't want my husband's death to be in vain," she told him. The president apologized repeatedly for her husband's death. When Owen began to cry, Bush grabbed her hands. "Don't worry, don't worry," he said, though his choking voice suggested that he had worries of his own. The president and the widow hugged. "It felt like he could have been my dad," Owen recalled to NEWSWEEK. "It was like we were old friends. It almost makes me sad. In a way, I wish he weren't the president, just so I could talk to him all the time."

Quite the contrast to the image Sheehan is trying to put forth.

Sheehan is a liar. A publicity-seeking liar who is at home in front of fawning hangers-on and others who admire her "professional victim" status

Obviously Cindy, a woman of true convictions, is making you neocons very, very nervous. A "self thinker" amongst the masses will tear this administration to shreds. A person who simply wants answers is a threat??? PLEASE!!! All of the elected officials are employees of THE PEOPLE and it's high time they start humbling themselves to that mission!

I believe you are right, or at least a woman that is a convict if she doesn't pay her taxes. I though taxes were great with all you liberals? As for you comment that government officials work for the people that is true, but only the ones who pay there taxes. The ones who don't are called convicts.

The real liar here is George Bush, as the Downing Street Minutes prove, as the fliers dropping the bombs on Iraq BEFORE the "war" have testified (remember when he was trying diplomacy and war was the last resort?), as the complete lack of connection between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda is now recognized (but known THEN), and on and on. Perhaps his tears are not of compassion but guilt for what he has done to this country and its people? I'm sure Hussein knows how to cry and probably even had his mother's love, but it doesn't make him any less a murdering monster. The above contributor should order his priorities better.

..we're learning why her son joined the military in the first place, to get away from his bitch mom...

Who are these shills posting these hate messages?

This surely must be a corporate-sponsored occupation of a liberal message board.

To all that oppose Cindy, go to Iraq.

Crawford is ground zero for the next American Civil War. Just read the comments by both extremes of the political spectrum and you will understand why. Neither side is willing to hold a civil discourse.

Put your body where your mouth is. . .

all that oppose Cindy - go to Iraq!!!!

She stood her ground and she faced him down, the great American cowboy.
With a mothers love for a murdered son, in a blistering sun, now with some, but at first with none. She stands there.
She stands there for mothers with sons to lose, she stands there for sons who still can choose. She stands there for me who's witnessed their crimes, and she stands there for you, putting herself on the line.
with determination and burning patriotism seldom seen in our time, she stands there.
With the sorrow of thousands of mothers and fathers and brothers and sisters and children and wives and friends and unborn babies and unknown potential endlessly weighing on her shoulders she stands there.
With the weight of attack ads and Republican talking points and mindless pundits mouthing the rhetoric of their masters, she stands there.
Our statue of liberty. Holding high in her hand the torch of her conviction. a picture of the son she sacrificed. And standing resolutely in her harbor of freedom she cries," we are your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, yearning to be free".
And like Lady liberty to NY harbor, Cindy Sheehan is to this nation. A beacon to those with hope that there will be an accounting for those responsible.
And as a beacon in a long dark night we are drawn there. if not in body, then in mind and spirit. United, We Stand our ground and we will face him down, This great American cowboy.

Bren Alleman

Nice post thank you.

that was very beautiful, thank you

So the neo-con-men want to talk about lies? Give me a break, please. That's fascinating, cause I don't think George Bush or his neo-con-man buddies know how to tell the truth and never have to my knowledge. The whole neo-con-man agenda is built on lies - and you apologists are so incredibly stupid that you are buying into their trash.

I have one question for those believe this crap and doubts the sincerity of Cindy Sheehan - have you enlisted and if not why not? And if not, then please, to borrow the phrase overused by O'liely of Faux News Corp, SHUT UP!

Hussein was an evil guy - after all, didn't we put him into power to begin with?

But let's see - (aside from the mass killing of Kurds with our approval more than ten years ago - (ever wonder why the Hussein trial is getting ZERO publicity?)) he was not responsible for the kind of death and destruction we are inflicting in Iraq. And according to every credible report, he was contained and did not pose a threat to his neighbors. Ms Rice and Mr Powell also agreed with this assessment and stated so publicly. Even Kuwait was publicly acknowledging this and did not want the US action.

Now, tens if not hundreds of thousands of CIVILIAN Iraqi's dead and wounded, an infrastructure in complete shambles and continuing to get worse, which for the survivors mean great suffering and hardship, torture at A-G (and you thought the rape rooms were gone after Saddam was ousted), depleted uranium all over the place which is going to cause untold damage to both Iraqi's and to American soldiers which we may never know the complete extent of - and this is the tip of the iceberg.

If you ask the Iraqi's, they'll tell you that things are FAR worse now than ever before when Saddam was in power.

This is not to mention the thousands of casualties of American soldiers which is what Cindy is trying to put a stop to. She is a true patriot and has every right as an American to say what she is saying. She has suffered enormous grief and deserves to be able to confront the president, even if it is to ask simple rhetorical questions that we already know the answers to.

I will leave those of you who believe the government's lies with the following URL, and you will hopefully begin to see that this whole deal had to do OIL and resources and projecting our power.

Cindy, keep up the good work, and please know that while I cannot possibly understand the pain you feel, that I sincerely mourn for your loss.

I have sent in a small donation and hope this helps in some small way to help with your fight, and encourage others to do the same.

Hi tom, I was a member of the 4th CAG Marine Unit in Vietnam from feb of 1970 to jan of 71 in a village of 60 people on the Ben Hai river in Qung Tri provence. We were pulled out because our politicians started to listen to like people like you. After we left our Vietnamise friends were raped and murdered. Of course you know what happened after the US pulled out altogether. 2.7 Million people were slaughtered in Veitnam and Cambodia.

Good job and peace brother

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