Hey gang. Sorry I’m late again today. But I had to go and get my hair done for tomorrow’s big event: Cindy Sheehan’s coming to town! As my eight-year-old niece would say: oh-my-god. But, then again, that’s pretty much what every do-good liberal is saying, too. Oh-my-god, oh-my-god, oh-my-god, can you believe it? Cindy is going to be here!
And therein lies the problem: It’s all celebrity worship and little action. Mark my words, the ninnies organizing this little love-fest will do little but swoon over the opportunity to gaze at Cindy and be in her presence while the media snaps photo after photo of the spectacle. Her chief Vermont cheerleader, Joe Gainza (aka: the wet blanket, for his uncanny ability to stymie any and all real anti-war activism), will be up all night worrying about the possibilities of some “radical” crashing his tightly orchestrated event and thus forcing him to side with the police state and shout down those who think doing nothing is – well – doing nothing.
Don’t get me wrong, Sheehan is wonderful. But when the Sheehan’s of the nation start touring, they inevitably get hooked up with the wrong local people and, worse, her radical message gets sanded down to palatable pulp.
Oh wait, you don’t believe me? Well, look at Sheehan’s agenda tomorrow in Montpelier. She’s scheduled for exactly one public appearance: To sit before a Vermont Senate committee to speak on behalf of toothless resolutions on the war and the impeachment of George Bush. Now that would be fine and all if the folks sucking at her infamy had something else up their sleeves. But they don’t. Instead, they’ll just be elbowing each other to see who will get on the WCAX news broadcast with her. Yawn.
What they’re all forgetting, however, is how Sheehan got to the place where she is today. In case you, too, forgot, let me remind you: She went against the tide. She broke the law. She confronted Bush to the point of being arrested for trying to confront Bush too directly. She believed oh-so deeply in the words uttered by the woman suffragist, Emily Collins, upon her arrrest:
"I revolted in spirit against the customs of society and the laws of the state that crushed my aspirations and debarred me from the pursuit of almost every object worthy of an intelligent, rational mind."
Sound familiar? It should. Because that’s what Rosa Parks did. And John Brown. And Susan B. Anthony. And Dave Dellinger. They had convictions AND the courage to stand behind those convictions. Yep, they were LEADERS. And they weren’t just leading people to watch them be media darlings or to lead mostly ineffective public displays of their own narcissistic pursuit of faux-martyrdom. Nope, they were putting their lives and their livelihoods on the line.
If Sheehan were going to be among leaders tomorrow, they’d be proposing more than a mere photo-op at the Statehouse. They’d be using her presence to ignite a more creative and effective anti-war movement here in Vermont and across the nation. Instead of politely sitting across from Senator Illuzzi and smiling for the cameras, they’d be marching up to Douglas’ office, occupying it, and demanding that he issue an immediate and unequivocal statement of opposition to the war directly to President Bush. Remember, Douglas and his wife just got back from a trip to the Lincoln Bedroom in the White House as “honored guest” of the First Family. And, at today’s press conference, Douglas was nothing but smug and coy about his conversations with Bush about the war. Well, Vermonters, are we going to let him get away with being the Commander-in-Chief of the Vermont National Guard and the governor of the state with the highest per capita Iraq War death rate in the nation and just bullshit us blind with his doublespeak on the war issue?
I hope not. But I guess we’ll just have to see what the sleepy leaders of Vermont’s oh-so-peaceful movement have in store for us tomorrow.
Personally, I’m hoping Sheehan realizes that she’s being surrounded by a bunch of activist cowards who think lighting candles at the Post Office every Friday afternoon is “radical.” And then she turns to them and does the modern rendition of the Thoreau/Emerson moment and asks those seeking to sponge off her glory while doing nothing that she’s not looking for groupies, but rather cohorts in her courageous confrontation of the powers that be. And here in Vermont, folks, that would be Mr. Douglas.
But I’m not holding my breath. I’m only dreaming.