Cindy Sheehan: Alone at Martha’s Vineyard


The Silence of the Antiwar Movement is Deafening
Cindy Sheehan’s Lonely Vigil in Obamaland

By John V. Walsh / August 26, 2009

Cindy Sheehan will be at Martha’s Vineyard beginning August 25 a short way from Obama’s vacation paradise of the celebrity elite but very far from the Afghanistan and Pakistan and Iraq where the body bags and cemeteries fill up each day as Obama’s wars rage on. She will remain there from August 25 through August 29 and has issued a call for all peace activists to join her there. For those of us close by in the New England states and in New York City, there would seem to be a special obligation to get to Martha’s Vineyard as soon as we can.

A funny thing has happened on Cindy Sheehan’s long road from Crawford, Texas, to Martha’s Vineyard. Many of those who claim to lead the peace movement and who so volubly praised her actions in Crawford, TX, are not to be seen. Nor heard. The silence in fact is deafening, or as Cindy put it in an email to this writer, “crashingly deafening.” Where are the email appeals to join Cindy from The Nation or from AFSC or Peace Action or “Progressive” Democrats of America (PDA) or even Code Pink? Or United for Peace and Justice. (No wonder UFPJ is essentially closing shop, bereft of most of their contributions and shriveling up following the thinly veiled protest behind the “retirement” of Leslie Cagan.) And what about MoveOn although it was long ago thoroughly discredited as principled opponents of war or principled in any way shape or form except slavish loyalty to the “other” War Party. And of course sundry “socialist” organizations are also missing in action since their particular dogma will not be front and center. These worthies and many others have vanished into the fog of Obama’s wars.

Just to be sure, this writer contacted several of the “leaders” of the “official” peace movement in the Boston area – AFSC, Peace Action, Green Party of MA (aka Green Rainbow Party) and some others. Not so much as the courtesy of a reply resulted from this effort – although the GRP at least posted a notice of the action. (It is entirely possible that some of these organizations might mention Cindy’s action late enough and quickly enough so as to cover their derrieres while ensuring that Obama will not be embarrassed by protesting crowds.) We here in the vicinity of Beantown are but a hop, skip and cheap ferry ride from Martha’s Vineyard. Same for NYC. So we have a special obligation to respond to Cindy’s call.

However, not everyone has failed to publicize the event. The Libertarians at Antiwar.com are on the job, and its editor in chief Justin Raimondo wrote a superb column Monday on the hypocritical treatment of Sheehan by the “liberal” establishment. (1) As Raimondo pointed out, Rush Limbaugh captured the hypocrisy of the liberal left in his commentary, thus:

“Now that she’s headed to Martha’s Vineyard, the State-Controlled Media, Charlie Gibson, State-Controlled Anchor, ABC: ‘Enough already.’ Cindy, leave it alone, get out, we’re not interested, we’re not going to cover you going to Martha’s Vineyard because our guy is president now and you’re just a hassle. You’re just a problem. To these people, they never had any true, genuine emotional interest in her. She was just a pawn. She was just a woman to be used and then thrown overboard once they’re through with her and they’re through with her. They don’t want any part of Cindy Sheehan protesting against any war when Obama happens to be president.”

Limbaugh has their number, just as they have his. Sometimes it is quite amazing how well each of the war parties can spot the other’s hypocrisy. But Cindy Sheehan is no one’s dupe; she is a very smart and very determined woman who no doubt is giving a lot of White House operatives some very sleepless nights out there on the Vineyard. Good for her.

Obama is an enormous gift to the Empire. Just as he has silenced most of the single-payer movement, an effort characterized by its superb scholarship exceeded only by its timidity, Obama has shut down the antiwar movement, completely in thrall as it is to the Democrat Party and Identity Politics. Why exactly the peace movement has caved to Obama is not entirely clear. Like the single-payer movement, it is wracked by spinelessness, brimming with reverence for authority and a near insatiable appetite to be “part of the crowd.” Those taken in by Obama’s arguments that the increasingly bloody and brutal AfPak war is actually a “war of necessity,” should read Steven Walt’s easy demolition of that “argument.” (2) Basically Obama’s logic is the same as Bush’s moronic rationale that “We are fighting them over there so we do not have to fight them over here.” There is a potential for “safe havens for terrorists,” as the Obamalogues and neocons like to call them, all over the world; and no one can possibly believe the US can invade them all. However, the ones which Israel detests or which allow control of oil pipelines or permit encirclement of China and Russia will see US troops sooner or later.

The bottom line is that everyone in New England and NYC who is a genuine antiwarrior should join the imaginative effort of Cindy Sheehan in Obamaland this week and weekend. We owe it to the many who will otherwise perish at the hands of the war parties of Bush and Obama.

1.See: original.antiwar.com/justin/2009/08/23/war-coverage-and-the-obama-cult/

Or go to Antiwar.com and make a contribution while you are there. It’s almost as good as CounterPunch.com.

2.See: walt.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2009/08/18/the_safe_haven_myth

[John V. Walsh can be reached at John.Endwar@gmail.com. He welcomes comments, and he looks forward to seeing crowds of CounterPunchers at Martha’s Vineyard this week and weekend.]

Source / CounterPunch

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17 Responses to Cindy Sheehan: Alone at Martha’s Vineyard

  1. masterspork says:

    Why is anyone surprised a this? She was being supported by groups like Code Pink because it was convenient. But the second it become a inconvenience or another issue is seen as more important, people like her get tossed aside. I think Code Pink went to Gaza instead. It is a obvious signal that she is getting the curtain call from these groups because in their mind her purpose is done.

    It is the reason that people are leaving IVAW because of the fact of how the ISO is pushing non-veteran issues ahead of everything else.

  2. The war they fight ‘over here’, is pretty much already won in their eyes. They ‘war against the common man’s rights’. They feel they’ve got a ‘handle on it’, so I’m guessing that’s why they fight a ‘war over there’, when those they fight against, might actually upset the economic balance the wealthy in the USA, enjoy.

    That’s why the elite run from the ‘terror’ of not having the imported resources that serve to enhance their personal lives; their business investments, and their political ambitions.

    The man has pretty much given everyone a clue as to why we’re ‘over there’, when he wrote:

    However, the ones which Israel detests or which allow control of oil pipelines or permit encirclement of China and Russia will see US troops sooner or later.

    As I read of America’s history, they won their war against the Native-American; they won their war against Mexico – they had their revolution; their civil war, and now they’ve got it all ‘tidied up’ just as they wanted, and it’s not something new – it started the minute the white-man set his foot on the soil that belonged to indigenous people.

    It was a ‘constant war’ with ‘spurts’, as were necessary to quiet those who didn’t agree with the founding fathers; the ‘elite’, and the industrialists who were just as evil and greedy as they are now.

    When there’s more profit in making war, than there is in making peace, you can bet there will be ‘battles’ … always.

    The difference today, is there is the I-net; the web – the television and radio who allow for rapid communication, and we no longer have to look for a smoke signal in the sky…..

    The best any person can do nowadays, is be peaceful; seek peaceful surroundings, and devote their efforts by seeking others with the same peaceful goals, and do their best to live out their lives as they would like to see others adopt. Never ever, expect ‘media attention’, because it’s quite clear by the 24/7 television programs that are written, ‘peace’ is not profitable to the media industry either.

    In fact, if there was peace, we’d find few web-sites and blogs at all, because there’d be little to write about; to warn about, and to challenge.

    The history of the world is congested with stories of conquests; wars, death and dying – I don’t expect to see it change during my life-time.

  3. masterspork says:

    Well that first sentence could be applied to ether groups since both side of the healthcare are making similar claims of each other. Also the credit card and loan problems started the economic troubles and not the conflicts in Afghanistan or Iraq.

    The rest of the post your all over the place. So I have to ask what is the over all point with Afghanistan and Iraq. Because a lot of you sentences you should spend time on rather then trying do what even you where doing.

  4. masterspork says:

    Also if I where her i would not be hanging out with Matthis Chiroux. He is one of the big reason that IVAW is losing members along with Carl Webb.

  5. Also any media exposure she might have received was trumped by the health care reform town hall screaming matches and the death of Teddy Kennedy. And the dog days at the end of August are not a good time to try to invoke support. Her anti-war message, any anti-war message, is always valid . . . but it is sad to see her still seeking publicity without realizing the perfidy of today’s media coverage and the general public feeling that she is only motivated by her 15 minutes of fame which she is just trying to keep alive. It would be good if a sincere media adviser would help her present her message in other more effective ways rather than being a lone voice on a barricade.

  6. masterspork says:

    Except she has done nothing to distance herself from that image. Also her comment about ‘being in the Shadow of the Death Star’ dd not help much.

  7. Sasha Crow says:

    I think the real question is WHERE ARE *YOU* if you’re anti-war? When Obama took the White House, the anti-war movement (the individuals in it – not only organizations) seems to have gone back to sleep. This cause does not “belong” to Cindy, no matter what you may think of her. If you still – if you ever genuinely were against these illegal wars and not simply “against Bush” or “for Obama” – then why aren’t YOU camping out wherever Obama is to let him know YOU want an end to these crimes?

    I work directly with Iraqi victims of war in Jordan. Support for our much needed projects have shriveled to nothing since the election. Yes, some of it is that the criminal and heinous attacks on Gaza have diverted attention away from *our* war on Iraq, but it is also that people (US citizens, not Iraqis who must endure being on the receiving end of the occupation) just don’t seem to care any longer.

    Is it more convenient to believe that either Obama has or will cure all the ills of our nation or to throw up your hands in exhausted defeat? Iraqis do not have the luxury of making these choices. Every day they wake up to the inescapable horrors and losses imposed on them by our war. If you could meet them – see and hear first-hand what they suffer, you would, if humane and compassionate, be working with everything you’ve got to end these continuing and new US wars.

    Excusing yourself from your responsibility of crimes committed in your name because you don’t like the personality of one of the few who still gives a rip and won’t give up is as bad as those who say they would have elected Palin to the White House because she’s a ‘down-home kinda gal’ they can relate to.

    This is not about Cindy – and she knows it. The image of her as someone seeking attention for herself and utilizing her son’s death to this purpose was created by the war-mongers to discredit her message.

    But even if you believe this about her, what does it have to do with YOUR responsibility to end the deadly imperialistic ventures done in YOUR name?

  8. masterspork says:

    The Wars n Iraq and Afghanistan are no illegal.

  9. Alan L. Maki says:

    In my opinion, Barack Obama, the Democrats and all these peace groups that have relinquished pressure on Obama and the Democrats… groups like “Progressives for Obama” and the front group they work through, “Progressive Democrats of America” are all biting their nails hoping that peace activists don’t see this fourteen-month “window of opportunity” that has opened up before us as Barack Obama’s Teflon coating peels away before our very eyes leaving a huge gaping hole for either the left or the right to walk right through… and make no mistake, if the left doesn’t mount a vigorous campaign for real health care reform while rejecting Obama’s and the Democrats phony scheme concocted by Wall Street profiteers, the same ones who profit from wars, we are going to be in one heck of a mess because the right-wing is on a rampage and gearing up for the elections in 2010.

    I would encourage the widest possible attendance and participation in this upcoming peace conference in Toronto, Ontario, Canada as a step towards activating the peace movement to take full advantage of this fourteen-month “window of opportunity” we are now looking at since the American people now have Barack Obama’s real number as Wall Street’s pre-eminent flim-flam man and con-artist extraordinaire— let’s make sure a Democrat can’t be elected dog-catcher in 2010 if they don’t deliver an end to these wars and put that money to good use building 800 public health care centers scattered all over the United States instead of 800 U.S. military bases dotting the globe on foreign soil (see Call to conference in comment below):

  10. Alan L. Maki says:

    For Unity in Action of the Peoples of Mexico, Canada and the USA, for Peace, Sovereignty, Anti-Imperialist Solidarity and the Rights of the Working People.

    Invitation to Participants from Mexico, Canada and the USA to Attend the Second Tri-Lateral Conference of the World Peace Council, October 2-4, 2009 Toronto Ontario, Canada

    In 2004, the Peace Movements of Mexico, Canada and the United States met in Puebla-Mexico, for the first Trilateral North American regional meeting. It was agreed then to invite to a peace promoting meeting all interested parties, every four years. This agreement was ratified last April during the World Peace Assembly called by the World Peace Council in Caracas, Venezuela.

    Acting without the approval of the people, big business governments in Mexico, Canada and the USA promote the interests of a small group of transnational corporate and banking monopolies. Driven solely by profiteering these interests trample the sovereignty of the peoples, exploit their labour, besmirch their achievements in culture, language and art and ignore and violate the rights of indigenous people.

    (continued in comments below)

  11. Alan L. Maki says:

    Driven by greed, corporate monopolies appropriate and wantonly exploit the energy, water and other natural resources of the continent with devastating affects on the environment. These interests treat the territory of North America from the far Arctic to the Yucatan Peninsula, from the Pacific to the Atlantic as a private domain of imperial power to subjugate the peoples of North America, the Caribbean, Central and South America to project their interests globally.

    Committed to the global ambitions of US imperialism and without regard for the consequences of the peoples affected, these corporate interests and the governments they control, collaborate to militarize and fully integrate the economies of the USA, Mexico and Canada, destroy the home markets and subvert and exclude the democratic oversight of the people.

    The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the Security and Prosperity Partnership, (SPP) are continental and integrationist agreements foisted on the people by big business proclaiming their right to develop the economies of Mexico, Canada and the USA exclusively in the interests of wealthy investor elites.

    The peace, labour and democratic movements resist and challenge corporate edicts over their lives and condemn governments that fail to uphold their vital economic and social interests. In Mexico, Canada and the USA workers and farmers oppose free trade pacts that destroy domestic industries and agriculture, weaken standards of protection for workers and farmers, promote discriminatory immigration laws, adopt labour mobility agreements, de-regulate food, safety and inspection standards, divert public funding from health, education and pension funds to private hands, and divest state property at fire sale prices to private investors.

    The struggle of the Mexican people to defend the gas industry, to modify the free trade agreement and to safeguard the country’s integrity are clear examples of the corporatist threats facing people.

    Of particular danger to the peace and security of the people of Canada, Mexico and the USA are over arching military and security pacts ostensibly protecting the continent that in fact harbor aggressive first strike weapons systems and rapid deployment forces incorporating operational use of nuclear weapons that in the era of Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) includes their deployment to space.

    The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), the US Northern Command (NORTHCOM), the US Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), the activation of the US 4th Fleet and extra-territorial attempts of US imperialism to impose Homeland Security doctrines on the people of Mexico and Canada, are flagrant violations of sovereignty that threaten peace and security and promote a new international arms race.

    The Tri-Lateral Conference in Toronto Ontario Canada, October 2-4, 2009 will address these problems, analyze the threats posed to peace, sovereignty, democratic and economic rights and present alternative solutions and programs to strengthen the anti-imperialist movements of the people.

    We invite your participation. An agenda will be forthcoming. The Canadian Peace Congress website, http://www.canadianpeacecongress.ca will publish information and documents of the Tri-Lateral Conference and exchange information, inviting contributions to the pre-Conference discussion and where registrations, travel and accommodation information can be accessed.

    Let Us Meet in Toronto Canada, October 2-4, 2009.

    In Peace and Solidarity,

    Canadian Peace Congress, MOMPADE, US Peace Council

  12. There are plenty of lessons here in Cindy’s current situation, but I think some of them are being missed.

    I liked the Cindy Sheehan that came to Chicago several times and deliver a strong and clear moral condemnation of Bush and the war.

    But she did that within a certain context, and her problem is that she hasn’t changed, even if the context. In that sense, there are others that share her plight.

    Bush is no longer in charge, and the wars are no longer the central focus.

    The economy and related issues like health care are the center of attention. The antiwar Democrats, and a huge chunk of the antiwar movement at the base was made up of Democratic Party member and voters, are no long the party in opposition, but now hold majorities, although, given the Blue Dogs, narrow ones. The new president is African American, and unlike Bush, has wide admiration among Blacks and labor.

    That’s the new context. You can adjust to it and reshape your tactics. Or you can ignore it, and blast away a the President and the dominant party as if nothing basic has changed.

    I will argue that those who ignore it will end up with very few allies, and will be regularly attacking their former friends. You’ll be like Cindy, organizing events where no one comes.

    It doesn’t have to be that way, and you don’t have to be uncritical of Obama or drop ‘Out Now’ from the wars.

    But you do have to know who the main immediate enemy is and where to deliver the main blow. You support Obama where he’s right, oppose him where he’s wrong, but you defend him against the GOP-rightwing populist alliance launching racist assault to take him down.

    With that approach, you can make lots of friends. But if you just want to tag Obama as ‘war criminal’ to take him out, all your new friends will be to the right.

    This is not a morality play. This is politics. And while politics and morality overlap, they are not the same.

    Cindy Sheehan and those like her need to think more politically.

  13. Alan L. Maki says:

    Mr. Davidson,

    Maybe you and those still slobering over Barack Obama and praising the Democrats simply because they were able to scheme their way to power shamefully using the problems of the people in a most demogogic and opportunist manner should think more about the problems Obama is creating for working people and all those people dying in these imperialist wars you have chosen to no longer focus on because you are more interested in saving Barack Obama’s worthless political butt.

    Your political transformation from supporter of Pol Pot to Barack Obama is not my idea of “thinking more politically,” although it does explain your lack of enthusiasm for a politics based on ethics and morality.

    Neither ethics or morality in politics appear to be your strong suits according to this comment of yours here.

    It is sad that you don’t believe in a progressive politics based upon morality and ethics… and peace.

    I say, with hold votes from the Democrats until they cough up the change they promised… perhaps you forgot what change it was that Barack Obama promised… but, you did support Obama claiming he was a peace candidate who would end the war… I don’t recall you or Barack Obama mentioning anything about the long-term occupation of countries and expanding these wars and the killing fields… not to mention the shameful waste of human and material resources that should be used for health care, instead.

    Why should anyone be interested in defending Barack Obama from anyone? Let him stew in his own poisonous concoction he created and let his political career come to a quick end like it should.

    Haven’t you learned anything in over fifty years of activism: The more you defend these Democrats and agree to all of there shenanigans like we see in HR 3200, the more they move to the right and the more they attack the standard of living of working people.

    It is not Barack Obama that we have to worry about the right-wing attacking… it is pushing forward people oriented programs unite people that form the material basis for driving the right from the political scene.

    It is taking up the struggle for vigorous enforcement of affirmative action in hiring and explaining why affirmative action is required that will beat back the right-wing.

    It is mobilizing the people for peace against Obama’s warmongering that forms a bulwark of protection for everyone against the right-wing.

    Saving Barack Obama’s political butt is not our business nor our priority nor goal nor objective… peace and a better life for all working people is what the struggle is about.

    Barack Obama has to save his own political butt by implementing the reforms advocated by progressives… otherwise, let his political butt take a beating just like the beating he and his Wall Street buddies are dishing out to the working class.

    I would encourage you to think about the politics and economics of livelihood… a politics based upon peace, morality and ethics where people come before Wall Street’s profits.

    It took you quite a while to realize that morality was an issue with Pol Pot… let us hope that you come to your senses about Barack Obama a little quicker because once again people are suffering as a direct result of Barack Obama’s actions.

  14. Your Redbaiting of me and opting out of any defense of Obama from racist assaults from the far right tells me all I need to know about your idea of ‘ethics,’ Maki. Thanks, but no thanks.

  15. JoJo says:

    the lack of coherence in every one of these posts, plus the petty personal attacks validate this piece.

  16. Alan L. Maki says:

    I think this is a pretty good discussion going here. I don’t take anything personally.

    People should be encouraged to state their views the best way they can. That’s what democracy is all about.

    As for Carl Davidson claiming that I “red-baited” him, I don’t understand that accusation but he is free to say whatever he wants to… I appreciate his opinion being aired.

    And as for Mr. Davidson thinking that Obama should be defended… here is a guy who doesn’t give two-hoots about anyone except for himself.

    I find it rather strange Barack Obama doesn’t make any attempt to defend himself nor does his high-paid, powerful entourage of the most capable stable of some of the most vicious party hacks and capitalist sooth-sayers who have yet to utter the words “affirmative action” let alone take action in defense of affirmative action.

    Barack Obama oversees the most powerful network of institutionalized racism in the world and he has yet to take a single action to once and for all break the back of this deadly cancer promulgating racism in our country.

    Mr. Davidson, why don’t you provide a “to do list” concerning what kind of defense Barack Obama requires… this would be a good start.

    But, at the same time, you should consider making up a “to do list” to defend people that are in much more precarious positions who don’t have access to the kind of defense mechanisms Barack Obama has access to should he decide to stand up and fight back against these bigots… kind of sad, but so far the only thing Barack Obama has stood up for is Wall Street… and maybe I am mistaken, but isn’t Wall Street the main spreader of this disease of racism?

    Again, you talk about fighting racism; but, I have yet to see or hear anyplace where you have called to anyone’s attention the fact that the Obama Administration has refused to send out a very clear signal that affirmative action must be enforced with an explanation why.

    Of course I notice that you fail to acknowledge that the wars in these three countries are racist wars which makes your statements about Cindy Sheehan sound rather racist to me.

    You are insinuating that Barack Obama is an anti-racist president… is there any evidence that he is taking any initiatives at all in the struggle to put an end to racism other than his one conversation over beers, which like his positions on health care and the wars doesn’t seem to have gone over too well or created any kind of confidence that he is a people’s advocate as you seem to be constantly suggesting without bringing forward any evidence to support your contention.

    Perhaps if Barack Obama is not capable of even leading the struggle to defend himself he should just simply resign.

  17. Carl Webb says:

    This is interesting because I was once told I was TOO radical to appear at event with Cindy Sheehan and now it turns out she’s far more radical than the organizers themselves.

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