8/26/2005

RollingStone.com: Cindy Sheehan put the war pain on the front pages

Late that night, a car pulled up at the campsite. There was a woman at the wheel, and she was crying.

She was a Bush supporter who lives in the area, but her son was about to be shipped off to Iraq. She had made a special trip out here to complain about the long row of white crosses the protesters had planted along the side of the road -- each cross bearing the name of a fallen soldier. "Y'all are breaking my heart!" she cried. "My son hasn't gone yet, and I have to see those crosses every morning." She collected herself, wailed, and cried again, "You've broken one woman's heart!"

She drove off.

In the Sixties, the anti-war movement was part of a cultural revolution: If you opposed Vietnam, you were also rejecting the whole rigid worldview that said life meant going to war, fighting the Commies, then coming back to work for the man, buying two cars and dying with plenty of insurance. That life blueprint was the inflexible expectation of the time, and so ending the war of that era required a visionary movement.

Iraq isn't like that. Iraq is an insane blunder committed by a bunch of criminal incompetents who have managed so far to avoid the lash and the rack only because the machinery for avoiding reality is so advanced in this country. We don't watch the fighting, we don't see the bodies come home and we don't hear anyone screaming when a house in Baghdad burns down or a child steps on a mine.

The only movement we're going to need to end this fiasco is a more regular exposure to consequence. It needs to feel its own pain. Cindy Sheehan didn't bring us folk songs, but she did put pain on the front pages. And along a lonely Texas road late at night, I saw it spread.

RollingStone.com: Bush vs. the Mother : Politics

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