• Home
  • About
  • Guest Post


    Sheesh. Next time I decide to click on a link to AMERICAblog, can someone kindly break my wrist for me? Thanks. Especially if I decide to scroll down from the post that someone linked and sample some of the other goodies available.

    I’m not going to get involved in opining about Cindy Sheehan and what kind of person she is. I will, however, ask my fellow gay guys this: Is it really a good idea to be fawning over a mother whose authority in argument is implicitly predicated on the belief that she gets to own her son’s memory and legacy now that he’s dead? No matter what allegiances he publicly and consistently took while alive, as an independent adult? Even if what she supports is diametrically opposed to the way he lived? Do gay men really want to do that? Really seriously really? I’m thinking maybe it’s not such a hot idea.

    Added on 20 August: Henry Lewis gives the obvious response:

    So, yes, she gets to ‘own’ her son’s memory and legacy – because he was her son, and she loved him. The allusion here (I think, since the question is about whether gay guys should fawn over Cindy), is if you’re gay and your parents don’t agree, should they be able to use your memory (assuming you’ve died) to promote their anti-gay agenda? The comparison, though, is a false one. An anti-gay parent who uses the memory of a dead gay-child to promote their anti-gay agenda is (arguably) actively working to tear down their son’s memory. Sheehan isn’t doing that.

    She hasn’t had anything bad to say about the military and, to my knowledge, hasn’t said she opposed Casey’s choice to be in the military. What she has said, is that she doesn’t understand what her son’s sacrifice was for. I suppose you might argue that if Casey was staunchly pro-war-in Iraq (as opposed to pro-doing his duty as a member of the military), you might argue that his mother’s anti-war activities somehow go against his wishes, but even then, it’s not the same thing. Cindy is proud of her son, she misses him, and there’s no indication she wanted him any different than he was – that she didn’t support him.

    I find it hard to criticize a guy who may actually use more parentheticals than I do–which is saying something–but this is hair-splitting with a vengeance. The man reenlisted after the start of the Iraq conflict (as his own unit was getting ready for deployment, from what I’ve read). It’s hard to imagine him, from the available information, as being anything but in favor of the Iraq invasion. Even so, how Ms. Sheehan’s thinking actually relates to her son’s thinking was not the point I was addressing.

    As far as I’m concerned, it’s all over after that first sentence: “So, yes, she gets to ‘own’ her son’s memory and legacy – because he was her son, and she loved him.” Whatever you say, honey. I’m less concerned with what Sheehan thinks herself than with the uncritical acceptance of the idea that her being a bereaved mother gives moral weight to the way she invokes her son’s memory to support her political opinions. It simply doesn’t. My mother loves me, sure–but if I died and she started going around and implying, however sincerely, that I’d only chosen an out life because I’d been suckered by the gay establishment…well, I hope it would be duly noted that she was calling into question my considered judgment as an adult.

    8 Responses to “Expediency”

    1. Flea says:

      This is the most important observation I have read on the subject.

    2. Sean Kinsell says:

      Thanks, Flea. I don’t mind that gay leftists are falling in line with Ms. Sheehan’s view of the war. Well, I mind the content of the opinion, but there’s no reason they shouldn’t say they support someone they agree with. It’s just the way they’re doing it–uncritically accepting the nonsense that her being a grieving mother means we should all pay especial attention to her beliefs.

    3. Aron says:

      I disagree with your premise, Mr. Kinsell, though perhaps I should mention that I am not terribly well-informed of the facts of the matter.

      Mrs. Sheehan is not merely appropriating her son’s legacy, she is making her own statement. And while yes, she is getting press because of her son, it’s not clear to me that this constitutes ownership of her son’s legacy. It is about who she is – a grieving mother – that provides her narrative with whatever power it may have. She herself has suffered a loss and is acting thereon.

      People’s opinions get press for a lot of reasons – their singing ability, etc. – and it strikes me that this reason is at least relevant to the opinion being expressed. But I suppose I agree with you that her having lost her son does not give her any deeper understanding of world politics than the rest of us; however, for those who believe the current policy is wrong (or just don’t like the President), it makes a darn good piece of political theatre.

      So, no, she doesn’t get to own his legacy, but what she’s doing is not about that; it is her own history she is legitimately using.

    4. Sean Kinsell says:

      Maybe I’m just not putting this very clearly. I don’t object to the fact that people find Ms. Sheehan’s actions more emotionally moving because her son was killed in Iraq. Nor do I think it’s her responsibility to suppress any mention of the connection between his death and how she views the WOT–she’d have to be an android to do so. Your own version of things strikes me as reasonable enough.

      What I’m talking about is not her conduct–it’s the way some people are defending her. “She’s a bereaved mother who loved her son, so how dare anyone contradict her views of what his life and death meant morally or politically” is, as a flat and unqualified statement, ridiculous. I am floored at the idea that any gay man who’s been out since before last Thursday does not think it’s ridiculous.

      I work hard not to jump to conclusions about people’s beliefs from a single blog post, and I went back and read through the rest of AMERICAblog’s entries on this topic after encountering the first one that ticked me off. Nowhere did I find any mention that, gee, even if we agree with Cindy Sheehan ourselves, maybe it’s important to bear in mind that Casey Sheehan’s own actions indicate that he probably thought the invasion was just and his sacrifice worthwhile.

    5. Uncle Mike says:

      To paraphrase a caller on a radio show, while it is true Casey re-enlisted and, from that, we can assume that he fully supported the war, after having been killed he might have had a change of mind on the subject.

    6. Greg says:

      You know, it is interesting to hear people debate whether or not someone has the right to say this, or use this for whatever. Everyone has the right to voice themselves and to present their case to the best of their ability.

      It really doesn’t matter whether she is presenting herself as a grieving mother or a pissed-off constituent. Is she lying about anything? I don’t know, I honestly haven’t kept up with this story too much, just skimming the papers. If she is lying to people about information that is pertinent, then no one should give her a second look. Otherwise, like everyone else, she is as valid as the next person.

      It is also amusing to hear people say that troops are willing to give their lives for certain causes. I’m not so sure that is always the case. Most of the people in the Military are there for the career and pay, not the patriotic drivel. Maybe he re-signed because he liked the combat pay, I don’t know.

      One thing I do agree with is that you should not fall into the trap of allowing yourself to become so closed-minded that you cannot change your opinion. To think that we should listen to this woman because she is a grieving mother is a bit dense. To listen to her because she has an opinion is fair. To call her a media whore because you don’t agree with her, well, that is insensitive. Disagreeing is fine, denegrating her isn’t.

      I remember how some people were adament that it was not right for people to criticize the Iraq invasion after it had begun. “Support the boys overseas”. That type of attitude breeds stupidity among people, the kind of blindness that Jerry Falwell looks for in a congregation.

    7. Aron says:

      Oh, well sure, Sean, I can agree with you there.

    8. Sean Kinsell says:

      Uncle Mike, a willingness to participate in a war as long as it doesn’t put one in mortal danger is such a preposterous attitude that I can’t imagine it’s common in the armed forces.

      “You know, it is interesting to hear people debate whether or not someone has the right to say this, or use this for whatever.”

      Has anyone actually questioned her right to speak, Greg? I’ve seen her criticized pretty viciously–the attention paid to her divorce and other elements of her personal life is revolting–but I’ve actually kind of been surprised at the lack of comments of the flat, undeveloped “she needs to shut up” variety. I agree that accusing her of being a media whore is silly–the whole point of raising a cause in public is to get people to get attention.

      My doubts are related to why non-Cindy Sheehan people are saying she’s worth paying attention to. She doesn’t appear to have a fresh perspective or new information about the situation on the ground. All anyone is touting is her mother-ness. There is no question in my mind that if the situation were reversed–say, for example, if Rachel Corrie had been the daughter of conservative, Israel-supporting parents who had demanded that the anti-war organizations that helped send her to the Middle East explain why she died and to what end–the gay wacko-leftist line would be, “We recognize that the Corries have suffered a great loss, but what we must remember is that Rachel chose to assume risks, and she obviously thought they were worth taking.”

    Leave a Reply