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The Grieving Activist
The Left's latest tactic - the Sheehan gambit...

[Selwyn Duke]

Cindy Sheehan’s son fought under our Commander-in-Chief. Cindy Sheehan fights against him. Cindy Sheehan’s son was killed on the front lines. Cindy Sheehan is pushed to the front because she toes the liberal line. We aren’t supposed to fight against Cindy Sheehan because she’s a wounded soul.

I’ll have none of it.

As you may know, Cindy Sheehan is the woman who has vowed to camp out near President Bush’s Texas ranch until the President capitulates to her demand for a second meeting [Bush met with her shortly after her son was killed in Iraq]. It seems that her thinking – or, more accurately, feelings – have evolved since their first encounter, and she now fancies that the President is in dire need of her counsel vis-B-vis Iraq policy.



Selwyn Duke is a regular contributor to The American Thinker [go to Guest index]

As you may know, Cindy Sheehan is the woman who has vowed to camp out near President Bush’s Texas ranch until the President capitulates to her demand for a second meeting [Bush met with her shortly after her son was killed in Iraq]. It seems that her thinking – or, more accurately, feelings – have evolved since their first encounter, and she now fancies that the President is in dire need of her counsel vis-B-vis Iraq policy.

Being the kind of prop leftist media and activist groups prize – a sympathetic and malleable character whose victim credentials are beyond reproach – such entities have seized upon her story and made her the poster-girl for hate-anything-remotely-conservative-no-matter-what activism. Thus, she has become the latest of a new breed of political animal: the Grieving Activist.

I know, alas, I must be a real ogre to not feel compelled to cast my lot with the compassion-über-alles crowd, fall all over myself issuing the expected disclaimers concerning the treatment of the grief-stricken, and imply that such status renders one immune from the criticism that usually attends being a left-wing, activist wacko. But let’s get something straight: if you want to grieve, grieve. If you want to play politics, play politics.

But my sympathy for the grieving ends where their use of their grief as a political battering ram begins.

I say this unabashedly, without apology or concession. In fact, those who use the Cindy Sheehans of the world for political advantage owe the rest of us an apology. And “use” is the operative word, because this is the most shameful sort of exploitation.

Do you really believe that Michael Moore or the New York Slimes cares about the plight of Mrs. Sheehan? Be not deceived: they use grieving activists because they know that such pawns are both handy conduits – through which they can damage political opponents and promote their agendas – and get-out-of-criticism-free cards. They’re doing nothing less than taking a leaf out of Saddam Hussein’s book, as they use these hapless saps as “human shields.”

The ascendancy of the Grieving Activist hurts our nation, too. While there are some who do God’s work, such as Mike Walsh of America’s Most Wanted, more often than not they are reduced to tools of leftist demagogues. As such, they exercise a negative influence over man and his government.
Really, it’s just the same as with all activism. Generally speaking, it’s the leftists who are so driven by dark emotions that they take to the streets and protest with twisted faces and snarling voices. Regular folks tend to behave, well . . . like regular folks. They exert their political influence in private. They help their families in private. They also grieve in private.

But the damage done is most profound when we place grieving activists not just on a pedestal, but a throne. I don’t know if you remember the names Carolyn McCarthy and Jean Carnahan, but they were grieving activists who rode a wave of sympathy to political victory.

Carnahan is the wife of late Missouri Governor Mel Carnahan, who died along with their son in a plane crash while running for the Senate in the 2000 election. Under normal circumstances, sanity would have prevailed and the people would have elected Mel Carnahan’s opponent, who possessed the definite political advantage of still being alive. But then acting Governor Roger Wilson entered the fray, stating that should the voters elect Mel Carnahan, he would appoint his widow to his seat. Thus was spawned both a Grieving Activist and a sympathy vote.

McCarthy’s story is similar. After her husband was killed and son partially paralyzed by Colin Ferguson in the Long Island Railroad massacre, she ran for Congress on a gun-control platform and won the seat. Her ideological persuasion didn’t seem to be a consideration, nor her qualifications or soundness of mind after such a traumatic experience. It was enough that she was a Grieving Activist.

The sympathy vote strikes again.

Do I need to visit the Wizard of Oz and get a heart? Well, call me crazy, but it seems to me that being a leader in our country – someone who’s going to shape policy that can affect us and our progeny and impacts on issues of life and death – is a pretty important job. Consequently, I’d like to see the candidates for leadership chosen based on whether or not they would be good for our nation, not on some misguided notion that they deserve a seat of power as a consolation for loss.

Now, if you’re an Oprah Winfrey acolyte who would dispute me, fine, but I demand some consistency. Please apply the blind-compassion principle to all areas of you life. If you’re scheduled to have brain surgery and the surgeon dies, request that his wife operate in his stead. Or, if your car is in the shop and the mechanic passes on, ask that his wife don the grease-monkey suit.

You wouldn’t do that? Oh, why not? Because such folly could result in eyes that no longer follow motion or a car incapable of locomotion? Because your brain and car are pretty important to you and it could mess them up? Well, my country is pretty important to me, and electing leaders on the blind-compassion basis could mess it up.

If you want to elect a leader, elect a leader. If you want to express sympathy, express sympathy. But if the latter, that’s what personal visits and a shoulder to cry on are for; merely pulling a lever for the person is a lazy and sad substitute.

Then, I have to shudder when I think of what our weakness for grieving activists could reap. What next? If one of Bill Clinton’s scorned damsels of decadent dalliances visits an untimely demise upon him, I can quite imagine the ensuing compassion-fest sweeping Hillary Rodham into the White House in a mudslide.

So, call me what you will, but my compassion is reserved mainly for the 300 million Americans who are affected when we anoint a media darling of a Grieving Activist an opinion or policy-maker.

There’s something else that strikes me. We’re supposed to be oh-so taken with the self-sacrifice and single-minded dedication of the Grieving Activist. Ah, the nobility of it all. Why, this person isn’t just retreating into a shell, he’s baring his soul in public to ensure that the world will become a better place and that his pain and loss won’t have been for nought.

Or, it could just be self-centeredness.

After all, when do grieving activists ever involve themselves in the furtherance of a cause that doesn’t have to do with something that affected them personally? After James Brady was shot during the attempt on President Reagan’s life, his wife, Sarah Brady, was transformed into a staunch gun-control advocate. Why didn’t she make eliminating abortion or Third-world hunger her passion? Because gun-control is an over-riding issue? Okay, then why did she wait until it affected her life before becoming a crusader for it?

We know why.

Now, don’t misunderstand me: a lot of good rises from personal tragedies that rouse one to action. But a lot of bad can rise from them too.

But we’re not supposed to say these things. You don’t challenge a Grieving Activist. You don’t question his motives or integrity. You just lie back and take it. That’s part of the game.

You see, it’s much like being a boxer and someone saying,

“Look, you’re fighting Southpaw tonight, the guy who just had a death in the family. So, I don’t want you to be mean. You can bob and weave, duck and cover and cower, but nothing more than pulled punches for you. You don’t want the spectators to think you cruel now, do you?”

Yeah, then you find out that the compassionate advisor bet on the other guy.

So, we’re supposed to discard the boxing gloves and don kid gloves. But despair not. If we exercise deft skill and fancy footwork we just may avoid a knockout.

We’ll just lose on points.

Well, I’m sorry. Grief? Listen, I grieve for my country every time I see a Grieving Activist deliver a series of unanswered, devastating lefts, and I’m sick and tired of taking it on the chin. If you can’t weather the blows, stay out of the ring. ‘Cause, Southpaw, this pugilistic pen hits back. TOR

This piece first appeared at The American Thinker




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