While the passionate antiwar protests of the Vietnam era have come and gone along with the draft, there are still a few emboldened people who will do whatever necessary — including getting arrested countless times — to stop the seemingly pointless loss of innocent lives. Cindy Sheehan is among those on the front lines, waging the war against war.
When Sheehan lost her son Casey to the war in Iraq in 2004, it became her life’s goal not to let the same fate befall others. Her goal: stop the violence by any means possible. Her dedication to her cause has put her on the map, and among those who know her or of her, she is either loved or hated. Despite her critics, her mission continues on, including leading a protest in Pennsylvania last month against the use of unmanned drone aircraft to attack al-Qaida and Taliban.
With the publication of her new book, Myth America: The Twenty Greatest Myths of the Robber Class and the Case for Revolution, she hopes to enlighten others, maybe even spark a demand for true change, one reader at a time. She will be speaking at area Unitarian Universalist churches, starting Feb. 11 about her new book and her role as a “Peace Mom.”
Sheehan spoke to the Reporter this week about politics, war and her new book.
VCReporter: When you began your antiwar activism, your main focus was George W. Bush and the deceitful tactics of declaring war due to weapons of mass destruction. Now, with President Barack Obama at the helm, what do you think of this administration’s direction for the war in the Middle East?
Sheehan:I think this administration’s direction looks a lot like the last administration’s except Obama has tripled the troop strength in Afghanistan and is making a habit of using robotic technology in Pakistan. Many people who voted for Obama (not me — I voted for Cynthia McKinney) thought he was going to end the wars, but I have no idea where they got that impression.
What do you think of the latest surge of 30,000 troops into Afghanistan?
I think all of the surges (this is the third one) have been a bad idea.
What kind of strategy do you think would be the best regarding our presence in Iraq and Afghanistan? Do you believe our efforts there are in vain?
I think our efforts there have been very lucrative for the war profiteers and the military industrial complex. Over 1 million people are dead, and millions of people have lost their homes in Iraq-Af-Pak — lives here and over there are ruined for nothing.
It is not my job to make a strategy for withdrawal — but my strategy would be speedy withdrawal, not sending more troops or more contractors (which outnumber our troops, anyway).
I know you stand firm against war, but what are your thoughts on terrorism? What do you believe is the diplomatic approach to handling those who try to attack or succeed in attacking our country?
Hmmm … I believe that we are not waging a war against terror in the Middle East; I believe we are waging a war of terror. I don’t know how anyone can believe that killing an innocent man, woman or child can end terrorism. Don’t you think that flying drones over people’s wedding parties and homes causes terror? Don’t you think torture prisons and indefinite, preventive detention and tortures cause people to hate us?
Even if we believe the official story of 9/11, sending hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops to catch one person was and is insanity at the highest level.
Your new book, Myth America: The Twenty Greatest Myths of the Robber Class and the Case for Revolution, what inspired you to write it?
Observing how my fellow USAians believe that we live in the greatest nation in history and if our government does anything wrong, it’s an aberration instead of a habit. I have broken society up into two classes: the Robber Class and the Robbed Class, and the Robber Class has waged a war against the Robbed Class since this nation was founded. It is a war of divide and conquer and making us bicker and feud with each other so we don’t notice the Robbers are stealing from us.
What is the main focus of your book and what do you hope might come of it?
Divorcing ourselves from the Robber Class systems (i.e., the government, the banks and the military industrial complex) to create healthy communities and families that keep our resources and stop being co-dependent with the Robber Class. There is tons of more info about my book on my blog, www.CindySheehansSoapbox.blogspot.com
Our struggle is not for or against any politician or political party — it’s with the entire system. George Bush was no more a willing tool of this system than Obama is.
Your name always seems to be in the midst of conservative conversation when it comes to war and the military. What do you think of your critics? Is there a middle ground for you and them to meet on?
I think there are as many critics on the so-called left as there are on the right now because I criticize the system — and no matter who is president. At least 23 percent of the country will lock onto that person no matter what he does.
What can we do locally to make a difference?
Buy my book, and in the Conclusion Revolution chapter I give dozens of solutions to build community and to take care of each other. Come to my talk — let’s begin, or build on dialogues and actions that are already happening in your community.
One of the most effective activities for peace workers is counter-recruitment, and we may be saving one life at a time — but to me, that’s worth it!
Cindy Sheehan will be speaking at the Unitarian Universalist Church, located at 5654 Ralston St. in Ventura, on Thursday, Feb. 11, at 7 p.m. A $10 donation is requested of all adults, with those younger than 18 admitted free, and no one will be turned away for lack of funds. She will also be appearing at the Conejo Valley Unitarian Universalist.
Fellowship Community Forum on Friday, Feb. 12, at 7:30 p.m. in the church sanctuary at 3327 Old Conejo Road in Newbury Park.
Sheehan’s new book, Myth America: The Twenty Greatest Myths of the Robber Class and the Case for Revolution is available online for a small donation to Cindy’s Soapbox at CindySheehansSoapbox.com.