Friday, December 09, 2005

The Guardian breathes new life into Sheehan mania

After having been used by the media to liven up the otherwise monotonous days of August down in Crawford, Texas, and with her extended 15 minutes of fame rapidly coming to an end in the US, Cindy Sheehan has apparently decided to seek out an environment a bit more amenable to her publicity seeking ways by making the trek across the ocean, arriving here in Britain yesterday. Not surprisingly, The Guardian’s Duncan Campbell did not waste any time at all in obliging, conducting an interview with her in a taxi on her way to London from the airport. (I wonder who picked up the taxi fare.)

The article is, naturally, a complete puff piece, turned over primarily to Sheehan’s own views with nary a word of criticism or contrary point of view to be heard. Campbell certainly show no interest in challenging her bizarre take on things. But he can’t even get the simplest facts correct. He begins the sympathetic portrayal of Sheehan by describing her as “a housewife and a mature student.” Well, let’s see: she’s spends most of her time at protests rather than at her house; she’s no longer a wife;according to Campbell himself her “campaigning work leaves her no time for anything else,” which presumably includes enrollment in any class that would qualify her as a “student”; and she engages in the most unserious, childish rants against the president. She is, on the other hand, a ripe old 48 years old, so perhaps Campbell was just using euphemism to avoid describing her as “middle aged”. We’ll give him a dubious pass on “mature”.

Of course, given that Sheehan’s rise to prominence has come primarily through the exploitation of her soldier son’s death in Iraq, Campbell would be remiss if he did not engage in at least a little exploitation of his own. Hence he opens his piece by introducing us to young Casey.
When Casey Sheehan joined the army in May 2000, he was assured that he would never see combat. Four years later, he was killed in Iraq.
And, just in case you didn’t get the point, Campbell reiterates it later:
Her son Casey signed up in the final months of the Clinton era, at a time when there seemed to be little possibility of war in foreign fields. "His recruiter told him that even if there was a war, he would never see combat because he had scored so high in the entrance exam - he'd only be in a support role," says Cindy.
Ah yes, poor Casey was lied to, and he paid the ultimate price for that lie. Trouble is, the facts sort of get in the way of that narrative. This is a classic case of The Guardian lying through omission.

The truth, according to a David Gelertner article in the LA Times, is that Casey’s obligation to the army ended in 2004, with him alive and well, despite the war having been going on for the better part of a year. He then took it upon himself to voluntarily re-enlist, in full knowledge of the on-going situation in Iraq and that he would most likely be sent back there. He then was sent back as a mechanic attached to an artillery division…or, put another way, in a non-combat “support” role. When a convoy was attacked in Sadr City, Casey volunteered to go on the rescue mission, despite having no formal obligation to take on that combat role. And it was on that mission that he was, sadly, killed.

In other words, Casey Sheehan exhibited all of the virtues that mark the best of a military hero. Yet, rather than celebrating him as the hero he was, Campbell and The Guardian instead choose to paint him as nothing more than a witless victim from beginning to end…a victim of his recruiter, of Bush, of the nation.

Cindy Sheehan, at least, has the fact of her obvious grief at losing a son to explain her tenuous grip on reality. How Campbell excuses his shoddy reporting and his exploitation of Sheehan’s grief, I don’t know.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Someone joins the army and is upset when they are asked to go to war? That's certainly a bizarre take on military service. He shouldn't have joined in the first place. End of story.

1:44 AM  
Blogger Alison said...

Is this the piece where they photographed her lying on her sons grave? We should consign this awful woman to the publicity dustbin!

12:16 AM  
Blogger Alison said...

is this the reason she is gracing us with her prescence?

12:19 AM  

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