When I read that Move America Forward's "You Don't Speak for Me, Cindy" tour, a counterweight to Cindy Sheehan's hate—America brigade, was stopping for a press conference in nearby Burbank, I made my way there to provide another face in the pro—America crowd. By my best estimate, there were some 30 to 40 of us, all agreed on what seemed to me an uncontroversial purpose —— to express support for the troops who put themselves at risk on our behalf.
That wasn't an agenda that a half dozen Anti—Everything agitators could countenance.
When articulate and poised military mom Deborah Johns spoke proudly of her own son serving in Iraq, the AEs tried to shout her into silence, forcing her to supplement her microphone with a bullhorn. I recalled Cindy Sheehan's wild charge that Congress had "made our Constitution null and void" (I'd love to hear her legal analysis) and wondered what she'd think about her new supporters' disregard for the right of free speech as applied to anyone but themselves. Maureen Dowd's principle that a war mother's "moral authority" is "absolute," apparently, applies only to moms who are avidly antiwar.
Such rudeness annoyed but didn't surprise me. The Left could be defined by its contempt for opposing viewpoints. Thus its preference for ad hominem attacks —— Republicans are Nazis, Bush is Hitler, war supporters are chickenhawks —— to reasoned argument. What did strike me, though, was the utter vacuousness of that side's slogans and, apparently, its thought.
Typical signs: No War for Oil. Bush Lied, My Friend Died. War Isn't the Answer. If You Like War, Send Your Own Children. US Out Of ... blah blah blah.
Granted, a slogan is what's suited to a poster board. But thoughtless cliches reflect no shorthand for reasoned positions, only empty—headed detachment from reality. War for oil? I thought 3,000 Americans were incinerated less than four short years ago right there in New York City. Send your own children? I'm not aware that the "children" now fighting for this country were sent by their parents. War isn't the answer? What, exactly, is the question?
One protester shrieked that "fifteen of the nineteen hijackers were from Saudi Arabia! Why didn't we invade THAT country?" I challenged: "If we had, you'd be here protesting that." "I'm against all war" was the anti—response before she stormed off in search of a TV camera to scream into.
Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes famously wrote "that the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market." The marketplace—of—ideas metaphor has an implicit corollary: that responsible speech ought to contain some meaningful and coherent thought. The Left contributes nothing to the intellectual marketplace when it has but a single, paranoid notion —— that the United States can do nothing but evil.
Sheehan, the Left's latest hero, expresses that view in multiple, delusional ways: "Since we first stepped on this continent," she barks, "we have been responsible for death and destruction." "We are waging nuclear war in Iraq right now." (Which would explain the "100,000 innocent Iraqis died" I read about on another poster.) And my favorite: America's greatest talent is "killing people."
All of which sum to the sentiment at the core of Left—thought everywhere: "This country is not worth dying for."
But such single—minded hate and paranoia is worse than just thoughtless and anti—American. It pointedly ignores, and implicitly embraces, true evil: Saddam's penchant for filling mass graves with children, for instance, or the Iranian mullahs' sponsorship of terrorism and their subjugation of all people under their boot, particularly women.
Worse still, such non—thought inevitably devolves into vicious fantasy, like the anti—Semitic canard that it's the Jews who cause our problems, the Jews who bring us war.
"My son," Sheehan rants, "joined the Army to protect America, not Israel." "It's okay for Israel to occupy Palestine ... but it's not okay for Syria to be in Lebanon." (Conversely, one wonders: if Syria's longtime occupation of Lebanon never troubled her, why does Israel's "occupation" of "Palestine" fill her with such rage?) And foulest of all: "Neo—conservatives [read: Jews] killed my son."
No wonder Sheehan is praised by neo—Nazi David Duke and by the white supremacists at National Vanguard, where she "has moved the hearts of millions" for recognizing that "Jewish power is toxic to any society that allows it to exist."
At the least, Sheehan and her hate—abetting hangers—on —— who now include race baiter Al Sharpton, sixties relic Joan Baez and fake president Martin Sheen —— should be treated as what they are: non—contributors to the marketplace of meaningful ideas.
Steven Zak is a writer and attorney in California.