The Mama and the War President
By Mumia Abu-Jamal
The sight of Cindy Sheehan, bereaved California mother of her soldier son Casey, holding a protest in the summer heat of Crawford, Texas, drives to the hearts of many—perhaps millions—but certainly of those parents whose sons and daughters are being sacrificed on the altar of oil wealth in the urban wilds of Iraq.
It is a measure of American disengagement with the processes that lead to war that when a U.S. network attempted to get an opposing view, it interviewed a Hispanic mother who lost a son in Iraq and who predicated her “support” of the continuing presence of U.S. troops on the events of 9/11. Sheehan, her presence fueled by a mother’s loss of her child, would never make such a mistake.
She speaks clearly, knowingly, and condemns not merely the meaningless loss of her son, but the war proper. She notes in clear undeniable terms that there is no connection between the events of 9/11 and Iraq. And reminds us of the dreaded weapons-of-mass-destruction lie that convinced many to suspend their objections and misgivings and support this bone-headed imperial dream of remaking the Middle East.
Sheehan has demanded a brief but substantive meeting with a man who sent her child into death. America’s war president, who will be in Crawford for about a month, has declined her invitation. In his stead, right-wing talking heads and propagandists have taken to the airwaves and op-ed pages to attack the woman for daring to really exercise her alleged constitutional rights of protest.
She is essentially told to be loyal, which means shut up, go home, and don’t criticize the Commander-in-Chief. As a matter of fact, a similar sentiment seems to obtain for soldiers: shut up, follow orders and kill or die for your Commander-in-Chief. In short, in the service of empire, both the views of parents and the lives of young recruits are expendable. The common denominator is “shut up.”
What a strange message to emerge from a country claiming to be a democracy, engaged in building democracy in the Middle East. Funny, how come there is no serious effort to build democracy in Israel, which has been standing for half a century? Sure, there is some degree of democracy for folks who happen to be Israeli Jews, but what of the millions who are Palestinian Arabs? They have the right to occupation.
So much for the building democracy line. One could of course point to America’s closest Arab allies in the region and democracy gets no closer. Egypt—a kingdom in everything but name. Saudi Arabia—a kingdom where a prerequisite for ministerial posts is to share the blood of the founding king Saud and to be male. Pakistan—a military junta. Afghanistan—an American-installed and -preserved puppet. Iraq—a collection of ex-CIA assets and informants or former recipients of MI5 largess. People whose greatest fear is leaving the Green Zone and walking among the people they claim to represent.
Cindy Sheehan has every right to be in Crawford and every right to protest the bogus war that snatched the promising young life of her son, Casey. She knows as thousands of other mothers and fathers have come to know that their sons and daughters did not die to bring democracy. Their lives were lost to insure the wealth and maintenance of princes, kings and presidents, of corporate directors of Halliburton, of the rights of the elite, not the working many.
She has every right to protest. She has every right to pitch a fit. She has every right to rage. The wonder is that there are not tens of thousands more.
From Death Row—this is Mumia Abu-Jamal.
—Copyright Mumia Abu Jamal, Aug. 16, 2005