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Cindy Sheehan Meets Her Muse:

The Islamist terrorists in Iraq are "freedom fighters" declares Cindy Sheehan. The September 11 terrorist attacks were entirely legitimate, according to Italian playwright Dario Fo, who shortly after September 11 wrote: "The great speculators wallow in an economy that every years kills tens of millions of people with poverty — so what is 20,000 dead in New York? Regardless of who carried out the massacre, this violence is the legitimate daughter of the culture of violence, hunger and inhumane exploitation."

Fo, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1997, is also well-known for criticizing the Italian Communist Party for being too right-wing.

Now, the two famous admirers of terrorism have come together, in a new play by Fo, based on the life of Cindy Sheehan. "Peace Mom" stars Frances de la Tour, who recently portrayed the giantess Madame Maxime in "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire."

Personally, although I believe that Leni Riefenstahl was a very talented actress, her participation in any movie subsequent to "Triumph of the Will" would have made me enjoy the movie less. Likewise, although I enjoy the Harry Potter movies from Warner Brothers, I will enjoy future installments less if they include Ms. de la Tour, who, like Ms. Riefenstahl, has chosen to devote her considerable talents to promoting advocates of terrorism and mass murder.

Stormy Dragon (mail) (www):
You'll be happy to know then that Madame Maxine did not appear in either The Order of the Pheonix or The Half-blood Prince
12.12.2005 1:30am
Buck Turgidson (mail):
Irrespectively of what one thinks of Sheehan, your screed here is known in common parlance as a "smear". If some Neo-Nazi thinks that George W Bush is the second coming of Hitler, would you hold W responsible for the rantings of a lunatic mind? Of course not! You would be able to separate the wheat from the chaff, would you not? So why do this? Because you don't like Sheehan? So what? I don't like her either (although I do think that she initially did have a point).

As for Riefenstahl, I don't know how talanted an actress she is, but her directorship was quite remarkable for the period. Nonetheless, you're simply wrong to mark the change over as the making of Triumph of the Will--she bought into the movement long before that. Was she a Nazi? We'll never know. Was she a Nazi sympathiser or simply a personal friend of one of the most insane personalities of the XXth century? Again, we'll never know. She claims that she, like many Germans, simply bought into the economic propaganda and did not believe that the proposed ethnic cleansing was anything other than rhetoric. I think it a load of horseshit, but that's what she says. So either you have to accept all of her body of work or reject all of it. And, if you are studying history of cinema, the question is simply irrelevant--should we discard all Soviet film directors simply because they were Stalinist flunkies?

I normally do not enjoy your posts--you usually take a legitimate argumen a step or two too far. This post is an exception--you have no legitimate argument to begin with.

By the way, David, what do you think of the right of Iraqis to bear arms? Let's take your own arguments to their logical conclusions. I, for one, would like to see if your line of reasoning lends support to terrorists. Wouldn't you?
12.12.2005 1:34am
hoystory (mail):
I'm sure I'll be corrected if I'm wrong, but if I recall correctly, Ms. Riefenstahl was a director/cinematographer, not an actress.
12.12.2005 1:48am
Cornellian (mail):
IMDB.com lists 10 movies that Ms. Riefenstahl acted in. All of them are in German, which would probably explain why hardly anyone over here would have heard of them. Considering they're all between 1925 and 1933 (except one in 1954) it's probably a safe bet that she didn't have much of an acting career.
12.12.2005 2:04am
eric:
Sheehan's a bit loopy, but I'm not sure that her term for the Iraqi terrorists -- or 'resistance', or 'freedom fighters' -- is that far out of line. They don't like what is being done to their country, and they're responding in kind.

When the Rebels refused to line up and do battle as a regular army against the British, what are the chances that they were labeled cowards and the period equivalent of terrorists?
12.12.2005 2:32am
Lawbot2000:
eric: Since when did American Revolutionary war soldiers pour in from other countries and come to America with the sole purpose of killing as many men, women and children before they themselves were killed in battle?

230 years ago they were fighting against an army for independence of their country. Today they are blowing up school buses and assassinating politician's nieces and nephews in the name of...what? Iraq? No.
12.12.2005 2:54am
David M. Nieporent (www):
Irrespectively of what one thinks of Sheehan, your screed here is known in common parlance as a "smear". If some Neo-Nazi thinks that George W Bush is the second coming of Hitler, would you hold W responsible for the rantings of a lunatic mind? Of course not! You would be able to separate the wheat from the chaff, would you not? So why do this? Because you don't like Sheehan? So what? I don't like her either (although I do think that she initially did have a point).
I don't quite understand your analogy. Who is being smeared by Dave's post? Who's analogous to Bush? If your argument is that Fo is the neo-Nazi and Sheehan is Bush, that doesn't work, because Sheehan is not an innocent bystander in all this.
12.12.2005 3:56am
Buck Turgidson (mail):
To Lawbot:
Your argument is nonsensical. The "rebels" had only one country--the one they were fighting against. The country you allege they were fighting for did not yet exist.

You're also off on the "pouring in" part--the estimates on the ground are that over 90% of the "insurgents" are native Iraqis. And if terrorists are indeed "pouring in" through porous borders, what does that say about the US control of the region? It's either incompetence or impossibility, probably a little of both (or a lot of both).

To David M. Nieporent:
Nor is Bush.

To hoystory and Cornellian:
Riefenstahl had the lead role in a small number of historically significant German films that preceeded the Nazi period. She became the Party's official film-maker largely because of those films that served to glorify the German spirit. There are quite a few books on German cinema that discuss the issue in great detail. I would not recommend to anyone to make claims on this subject that are based simply on a number they pulled from a database.
12.12.2005 7:07am
Daniel Chapman (mail):
Buck: Got a link to those "estimates on the ground?" I've heard just the opposite, actually... most of them are foreign these days.
12.12.2005 7:28am
RichardP:
Daniel,

Buck appears to have the correct figure. About 90% of the Iraqi insurgency are native Iraqis.
According to CENTCOM: "90 percent of the insurgency is Iraqi and Sunni, with a maximum of 10 percent foreign contribution to insurgent manpower."

According to the Center for Strategic and International Studies : "Only 4 to 10 percent of the country's combatants are foreign fighters."
However, perhaps you were thinking of the percentage of suicide bombers? They appear to be largely drawn from the ranks of foreign fighers.
According to Maj. Gen. Mark Lynch: "At least 96 percent of suicide bombers are from outside of Iraq."
12.12.2005 8:33am
Huh:
Why anyone thinks either of these people need to be debated is beyond me. I'm used to being asked to defend Hillary Clinton and Ted Kennedy as the ridiculous proxies for my own liberal beliefs.

Yes, indeed. "Why-do-you-crazy-liberals-support-these-people?"

Blah, blah, I usually explain. I'm from Texas. For me, being liberal means not supporting jerks like Tom Delay and asking the government to pay its bills. It means opposing "starve -the-beast" fiscal policy and considering a more efficient, inclusive, and affordable health care solution. I did not vote for Hillary Clinton or Ted Kennedy. But thanks for asking.

Now, when people like Cindy Sheehan enter the debate, I wonder. Is this an attempt to paint the mainstream American left as America-hating, terrorist supporting fools? Sure looks that way. But I don't think half the country is rooting for terrorists. So it's difficult for me to figure out why we're seriously debating the views of Cindy Sheehan five months after her 15 minutes of fame expired. Sure, she has her supporters. And many of them probably don't agree with her views on terrorism.

I'm just suggesting there are more serious boogeymen on the left the right could be addressing. For example, I'm surprised no one mentioned Clinton's about-face on Kyoto. Remember BILL CLINTON? The man that launched 1,000,000 idiotic "Don't Blame Me" bumper stickers? Yeah, him. He's probably still the most effective politician in the country. Maybe he's the one you should be rushing to discredit. I know I scratched my head when I read his Kyoto remarks, given his own lack of support for the treaty as President.
12.12.2005 8:38am
Daniel Chapman (mail):
That could be what I heard. Thanks for the reference.
12.12.2005 8:57am
George Gregg (mail):
So, Sheehan's muse/inspiration is a neoNazi film director?

This post is an egregious example of bad analysis and the cognitive bias at play is palpable.

You're better than this.
12.12.2005 9:47am
Visitor Again:
When the Rebels refused to line up and do battle as a regular army against the British, what are the chances that they were labeled cowards and the period equivalent of terrorists?

Precisely. I went through English schools in the Forties and Fifties, and it was referred to as the Colonial Rebellion or Revolt, not the American Revolution. The American soldiers indeed were thought of as cowards and terrorists. They refused to fight in the open and many of them didn't even wear identifiable uniforms. The British formed a square in an open field while the Americans fired from cover--a most unmanly way of fighting. The same sort of complaints were heard about the guerillas in Viet Nam; they were terrorists, sneaks and cowards because they hid themselves away very well. Why, we couldn't tell combatants from noncombatants and so we had to kill them all.
12.12.2005 9:50am
Arthur (mail):
Godwin's Law violation. Five yard penalty and loss of down.

Additonal five yard penalty for reviewing a play without seeing it, or even reading a review by someone who has seen it.
12.12.2005 9:52am
GMUSL 2L (mail):
Buck, Visitor Again, et. al. --

Get back to me when you find the American Revolutionaries targeting people voting in Colonial elections and kidnapping and executing redcoats, loyalists and their families.

Your comparisons are morally repugnant.
12.12.2005 9:55am
Justin (mail):
Arthur's call is being reviewed upstairs. Upon review, the call was correct. Kopel is charged with a time out.
12.12.2005 10:05am
Per Son:
GMUSL 2L:

Read "Hamilton" by Ron Chernow. After the war, in New York, Loyalists were regularly harassed, assualted, tarred and feathered, homes burned down, etc.
12.12.2005 10:26am
Per Son:
I should add that few survive being tarred and feathered.
12.12.2005 10:27am
Ofc. Krupke (mail) (www):
Kopel's Riefenstahl comparison is being drawn to Francis de la Tour, not Cindy Sheehan or anybody else.

As to the Iraqi insurgency, how old is that CENTCOM info? If I recall correctly, the balance of native Iraqis vs. foreign fighters has been changing over the course of the conflict, with more and more foregners coming in. And anyway, I would argue that just because someone is Iraqi and fighting the U.S. doesn't make them a patriot.

Per Son,

Those were mob actions incidental to the American cause, not the actions of the Continental Army as a military strategy.

Visitor Again,

The lack of uniforms among the Continentals was a supply issue, not a tactical decision. They were a largely conventional military force, they carried flags, set up bivouacs and hauled horses and cannon. Comparisons with the VC are a reach.
12.12.2005 10:49am
Anon1ms (mail):
Oh my gosh . . . an actor is playing a role! What next?

How about we go after Robert Duvall for playing Adoph Eichmann, or Bob Hoskins for playing Mussolini, or Anthony Hopkins for playing Adoph Hitler, or even John Wayne for giving a sympathetic portrayal of Genghis Khan . . .
12.12.2005 10:52am
Lawbot2000:
"After the war, in New York, Loyalists were regularly harassed, assualted, tarred and feathered, homes burned down, etc."

Are you really be so obtuse as to think what happened to a few Loyalists after the Revolution is even in the same ballpark as what is going on in Iraq? Every week there are reports of dozens of young men being dragged out of their home and executed. Foreigners terrorists coming in and blowing themselves up outside of mosques, shopping areas, school buses, any place where people gather without regard to whether or not they are "loyalists" towards America. Surely you have seen as many different horror stories as I have.

I've never, not once, accused anyone of hating America or supporting terrorists, but if you have actually deluded yourself into thinking that the Iraqi insurgents are the equivalent of the Americans 230 years ago then you honestly hate America and sympathize with the terrorists. There is no other way to explain how you could possibly be so intellectually dishonest with yourself.
12.12.2005 11:17am
RichardP:
Ofc. Krupke: The CENTCOM quote comes from three months ago.
12.12.2005 11:18am
Ofc. Krupke (mail) (www):
Anon1ms,

Fair point. But the safe assumption here is that "Peace Mom" is going to be a sympathetic, lioizing piece.

So while it's not fair to go after Robert Duvall for playing Eichmann, if he's doing it in a movie directed by a Nazi sympathizer, which argues that Eichmann was a good guy, it changes the equation.
12.12.2005 11:21am
Gordon (mail):
An actor is like a lawyer - representing the client's, or the playwrights/director's best interests. Within reason of course, but I don't see how a sympathetic portrayal of Cindy Sheehan in a play written by an Italian Communist is the equivalent of a dis-barrable offense.

And back to post # 1, Madame Maxine does have a small role in Harry Potter Book 5: The Order of the Phoenix (she and Hagrid go as secret agents to the Giants' headquarters somewhere in Central Asia). But it's peripheral, and will probably be excised from the movie. So David can probably go to the next Harry Potter movie confident that the odious presence of Ms. de la Tour will not foul the screen.
12.12.2005 11:34am
Per Son:
Lawbot 2000:

Next time, do not be obtuse and actually read what is going on. GMSUL 2L said to get back to with stuff. I did. Can you explain how I said the behavior of the New York mobs (who were highly supported by George Clinton) was the moral equivalent of the insurgents?

I suggest you get off of your soapbox.
12.12.2005 11:34am
Skid (mail):



It seems to me others are making the same comparison. I think the general point is that it's all a matter of rhetoric in the end--your freedom fighters are my terrorists, etc...of course, this is not to suggest that Sept. 11th was justified, it's just to say that it's comes down to a matter of perspective: you can argue that the American revolutionaries were morally distinct from Iraqi insurgents (perhaps b/c the Americans filed a rather hypocritical mission statement?), but it's not that hard to envision British commoners reacting with the same revulstion during the war. It's funny though how one insurrection is automatically more justified than another.
12.12.2005 12:04pm
Skid (mail):
http://www.cnn.com/2005/POLITICS/12/12/bush.iraq/index.html

sorry, apparently i'm not smart enough to work this "link" button
12.12.2005 12:05pm
Ofc. Krupke (mail) (www):
Gordon, what do you mean by "the equivalent of a dis-barrable offense?" At most we're talking about a refusal to see any movie an actor's in because of distaste for their politics. It's not the same as a sanction by a higher body. Nobody's agitating for Ms. de la Tour to be booted from SAG, for example.

the behavior of the New York mobs (who were highly supported by George Clinton)

"I hereby tar and feather you...with funk!" :)

RichardP: Interesting, thanks.
12.12.2005 12:09pm
Yashar (mail):
To David:

Ms. de la Tour is a much smaller problem to the enjoyment of future Harry Potter movies than a much bigger star---Alan Rickman. He directed a London production of a small bit of propaganda devoted to the goodness and saintly behavior of Rachel Corrie, the pro-Palestinian activist, accidentally killed by an Israeli bulldozer. The play was an anti-Israel screed from start to finish. The only question is whether Rickman is merely anti-Semitic or a self-hating Jew; it's hard to tell from the last name.



[DK: Thanks for the info about Rickman. How depressing. I've written before about the Corrie, who was not a "peace activist" but a "terrorist activist." ( http://www.davekopel.com/Media/RMN/2003/Gulf-War-Two.htm ). And I knew about the play "My Name Is Rachel Corrie". But I didn't realize that Rickman was involved. He's so wonderful as Snape, a role which is important in OOtP, essential in HBP, and will necessarily be even more important in HPVII. So we'll almost certainly see much more of Rickman in the series. It will definitely lessen my enjoyment to know that he directed a tribute play about an enabler of killers of Jews.]
12.12.2005 12:14pm
Gordon (mail):
Gee, Krupke, I didn't mean to mix my analogies so poorly!

A better analogy: would David Kopel hire Barry Scheck to defend him after Scheck defended O.J. Simpson?
12.12.2005 12:14pm
Gordon (mail):
You know, Yashar, if you're really going to start boycotting movies based upon an actor's politics, you aren't going to be seeing many movies!
12.12.2005 12:16pm
Blar (mail) (www):
Kopel:
In an interview with Mark Knoller of CBS News, [Sheehan] explained that the foreigners who have to come to Iraq to battle the U.S. military are "freedom fighters."

The actual interview:

KNOLLER: You know that the president says Iraq is the central front in the war on terrorism, don't you believe that?

SHEEHAN: No, because it's not true. You know Iraq was no threat to the United States of America until we invaded. I mean they're not even a threat to the United States of America. Iraq was not involved in 9-11, Iraq was not a terrorist state. But now that we have decimated the country, the borders are open, freedom fighters from other countries are going in, and [U.S. troops] have created more terrorism by going to an Islamic country, devastating the country and killing innocent people in that country. The terrorism is growing and people who never thought of being car bombers or suicide bombers are now doing it because they want the United States of America out of their country.

You can draw your own conclusion before reading mine.

It looks to me like Sheehan thinks that the car bombings and so forth in Iraq (which she calls "terrorism") are bad, and that the amount of "terrorism" in Iraq has increased as a result of the war, which is bad. She does use the words "freedom fighters", without any explanation for her use of that term, and apparently some people think that anyone who uses those words (outside of the cliche "one man's...") is an admirer and advocate of terrorism. Why did she use those words? My guess is that she thinks 1) that the US has unjustly attacked and occupied Iraq, 2) that many of the people using violence in Iraq have the goal of liberating Iraq from the occupying American army, and 3) that this is a legitimate goal. I don't see any sign of her cheering on the killing of civilians.

Fo also doesn't sound like he's admiring or advocating terrorism. He's just saying that violence against New York was a natural consequence of the violent and unjust culture of America. You see, "legitimate" has a different meaning when it's followed by "daughter." Also, I don't think it's appropriate to read much support for Islamist terrorism into the statements a man made about 9/11 before he knew who had perpetrated the attacks.

My views on Iraq and terrorism are rather different from Sheehan's and Fo's (although I do agree that we should not have gone to war in Iraq), but that doesn't mean that we should feel free to misrepresent them.
12.12.2005 12:17pm
Per Son:
Yashar:

What were the factual inaccuracies about the play?
12.12.2005 12:17pm
Lawbot2000:
God bless the freedom fighters who want nothing less than freedom for the Iraqi people!!! --
12.12.2005 12:30pm
Lawbot2000:
Oops, there was supposed to be a link to express the sarcasm of my last statement:
http://www.truthout.org/cgi-bin/artman/exec/view.cgi/37/9274
12.12.2005 12:34pm
Aultimer:
I don't know what to think about Sheehan, but I think Prof. V should do a Slate-Bushism debunk of the "freedom fighter" quote. Seems as much like a tongue-slip of "foreign fighter" as America-bashing to me.
12.12.2005 12:35pm
Visitor Again:
I've never, not once, accused anyone of hating America or supporting terrorists, but if you have actually deluded yourself into thinking that the Iraqi insurgents are the equivalent of the Americans 230 years ago then you honestly hate America and sympathize with the terrorists. There is no other way to explain how you could possibly be so intellectually dishonest with yourself.

One may detest the Iraqi insurgents, everything they stand for and everything they do--as you plainly do--and yet still recognize that, from their point of view, they are fighting against a monstrous occupying force in the most effective way they have available to them.

One of the reasons, perhaps the main one, the U.S.A. fared so miserably in every way in Viet Nam is that we never understood where the enemy was coming from, why he was fighting, for what he was fighting. This led us to miscalculate entirely the resources of the enemy, his morale, his willingness to suffer, his determination, his staying power and so on. We who said the Viet Cong were freedom fighters and that U.S. occupation in Viet Nam was wrong were told then that we hated America and supported terrorism.

Condemning the insurgents as evil simply is not useful. There was a lot of jeering after 9/11 when some average Americans asked, in genuine bewilderment, "Why do they hate us so much?" I think that was a proper question then and it is a proper one now. The good versus evil mindset is part of what got us into the mess we are in now and it won't get us out of it, no matter how strongly you feel about it.

It's not suprising you lack the capacity to assess the motives of the Iraqi insurgents. You can't even assess the motives of your fellow citizens who oppose what we're doing in Iraq.

Just for the record, I think the U.S. occupation of Iraq is very wrong and that Iraqi insurgents are freedom-fighters, and yet I do not support terrorism and I do not hate America (as opposed to some of the things it does). And I think you and the positions you endorse are ensuring that terrorism continues. Still, I don't think you hate America and support terrorism. I simply think you are misguided. It would be civil of you to give us the same benefit of the doubt.
12.12.2005 12:39pm
Gordon (mail):
In comparing Iraqi "insurgents" with American "minutemen," posters on this thread are confusing motives.

The motives of American minutemen 230 years ago and Iraqi insurgents today is similar in one way - get the occupying power out. But beyond that, the motives diverge wildly. The American minutemen wanted independence from Great Britain so that they would be left alone to prosper in their, in many ways imperfect, democratic republic. The Iraqi insurgents want America out so that they can either 1) reimpose Baathist totalitarian dictatorship, or 2) impose Islamic theocracy.

The methods of American minutemen 230 years ago were similar to Iraqi insurgents today in some respects (guerrilla war). But the Iraqi insurgents are objectively quite a bit more ruthless in their strategy. I don't remember any reports of American minutemen taking and executing hostages, or blowing up their own civilian populations. The loyalists were exiled, not killed.
12.12.2005 12:48pm
Lawbot2000:
Visitor Again: You are the misguided one. I might buy your argument if they were attacking U.S. soldiers and their main motivation seemed to be the liberation of Iraq. The 600 lb gorilla that you ignore is the fact that they spend more of their time slaughtering as many innocent Iraqis as possible than the "monstrous occupying force."

If you honestly think the most effective way available for them to liberate Iraq is to blow up marketplaces and schoolbuses full of women and children then you are out of your mind. Clearly they don't give a shit about the liberation of Iraq.
12.12.2005 12:48pm
Gordon (mail):
Calling members of the Volokh conspiracy "IDIOT!" is a good way to end the "comments" experiment. Mellow out.
12.12.2005 12:51pm
Smallholder (mail) (www):
Lawbot2000,

I don't think anyone is arguing for moral equivalence. The world is not black or white. It is possible to condemn the Japanese internment without drawing moral equivalence to the concentration camps (am I skirting Godwin's law here?). It is possible to condemn Abu Ghraib without drawing a moral equivalence to videotaped beheadings. I have been increasingly disheartened by the common level of moral discourse -- anything seems permissible as long as the other fellow is worse.

Secondly, while we applaud the long-term goals of the American rebels, arguing that they did not employ terrorism is contrafactual. The Sons of Liberty used violence to enforce the various boycotts, engaging in property destruction, threats, torture, and murder to cow the majority into silence: as you will recall from your high school history class, only about one third of Americans supported the patriot cause.

You argue that insurgent oppression of their own people is ineffectual. History argues otherwise. We call the strategy the Lenin strategy after one of its most effective practitioners, but the theme is to trigger oppression by harming your own people, and then reaping the recruiting fruit generated by efforts to suppress your cause. The Sons of Liberty did this; when they burned the Gaspee and dumped the tea into the harbor, their goal was to preclude reconciliation and trigger parliamentary reaction (like, oh say, the Intolerable Acts), which would harm many neutral and loyalist citizens, pushing them into the patriot camp.

The Lenin strategy is pretty obnoxious. Unfortunately, there is not an effective way to combat it. Who gets blamed for the chronic lack of electricity? Not the guys who kidnap electrical contractors or blow up the power plants and lines. America gets blamed. Read the polls coming out of Iraq now -- the Iraqi people hold us as much responsible for their problems as they do the insurgents. This is patently unfair and just plain silly. Unfortunately, the average Iraqi isn't thinking rationally about those issues.

As a final aside, one might also note that we did have a fair number of outsiders joining the patriot cause -- either because of ideological commitment (think Lafayette) or hatred of the British (think the Irish coming out of Canada to strike a blow against John Bull).

Lawbot, your point about dissimilarity of the long-term goals of the insurgents and the American patriots is accurate. The patriots were ideologically motivated by the dream of creating a government based on the social contract. Many of the insurgents are ideologically motivated by an extraordinarily pernicious world view. If we are to combat the evils the insurgents would impose, we would do well to learn the lessons of history. Bullheaded denial of the tactical similarities of the patriot and insurgent movements doesn't advance our cause; it simply leads us down the primrose path.
12.12.2005 1:29pm
just me (mail):
Ofc. Krupke says, re American colonial rebels:

"Comparisons with the VC are a reach."

Did you mean Viet Cong, or Volokh Conspiracy? Because that Juan Non-V. is hiding in the trees without a uniform, ya know. And, just like the influence of those French and Polish guys helping the rebels, this crew is steered by some immigrant types. :-)
12.12.2005 1:33pm
Sheehan admirer:
Blar,

Thanks for posting the quote. I had a feeling she didn't make any substantive comment glorifying the terrorists as "freedom fighters."

First of all, it's unclear who she means by "freedom fighters." There is nothing indicating that she means those who target civilians.

Secondly, it's quite possible she didn't mean anything by the reference. I don't think there's much evidence indicating that she is a lawyer type.

Thirdly, if it indicates anything, it probably indicates simply that she rejects the rhetoric of calling all who are fighting us there "terrorists." After all, she asserts that we have killed innocent people too. Now, that's a complicated assertion, about which a lot can be said, but it certainly doesn't make her an "admirer" of terrorism, as stated above.

By all indications, Sheehan is a pacifist, not an admirer of terrorism. Mr. Kopel should retract that statement.
12.12.2005 1:34pm
The Minister of Propaganda (mail) (www):
I think the 'Harry Potter' movies are silly, and it doesn't matter to me who's in them.

What are we talking about again here?
12.12.2005 2:36pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
To Buck:
Nor is Bush.
He was in the hypothetical you provided. He wasn't working with the neo-Nazi.

Oh my gosh . . . an actor is playing a role! What next?
How about we go after Robert Duvall for playing Adoph Eichmann, or Bob Hoskins for playing Mussolini, or Anthony Hopkins for playing Adoph Hitler, or even John Wayne for giving a sympathetic portrayal of Genghis Khan . . .
Only the John Wayne example is analogous to the situation we're discussing. There's nothing wrong with portraying Hitler; there's something wrong with portraying Hitler _as a great guy._

V.A.:
One may detest the Iraqi insurgents, everything they stand for and everything they do--as you plainly do--and yet still recognize that, from their point of view, they are fighting against a monstrous occupying force in the most effective way they have available to them.
The claim that they are fighting against occupiers is absurd enough, given that their main target is Iraqi civilians. But to claim, as you do later in the post, that they're fighting for freedom is indefensible. These are a combination of Al Qaeda members and former Baathists, neither of which will be singing the Iraqi version of My Country Tis Of Thee anytime soon.


Greedy Clerk: I repeat the question I asked earlier: who is being smeared here?
12.12.2005 2:47pm
Jaybo (mail):
VA-

Just curious to know how you define a "freedom fighter" considering that the insurgents/terrorists are either Baathists who would want Saddam Hussein back in charge, or Al Qaeda members bent on Islamofascist rule through the old Caliphate, killing "non-believers" in their wake. If that's your idea of freedom, sign me up for any other side.
12.12.2005 3:02pm
Visitor Again:
Just curious to know how you define a "freedom fighter" considering that the insurgents/terrorists are either Baathists who would want Saddam Hussein back in charge, or Al Qaeda members bent on Islamofascist rule through the old Caliphate, killing "non-believers" in their wake. If that's your idea of freedom, sign me up for any other side

The insurgents want freedom from Amrican control and, as far as possible in this world, influence. What they would do with that freedom, if it is ever gained, would not be to my liking either.

The Viet Cong were freedom fighters, too, for national liberation. They didn't want our kind of freedom either.

The Mau Maus, often referred to as terrorists, were freedom fighters, too, in Kenya in the Fifties. Their leader, Jomo Kenyatta, condemned every night on the BBC as a bloodthirsty baby-killer (I remember being so propagandized as a boy), went on to become father of his country, hailed as a great statesman.

The Bushites seem to have coopted freedom-fighter to mean only those who fight for pro-American western style democracy.
12.12.2005 4:29pm
Buck Turgidson (mail):
The American minutemen wanted independence from Great Britain so that they would be left alone to prosper in their, in many ways imperfect, democratic republic. The Iraqi insurgents want America out so that they can either 1) reimpose Baathist totalitarian dictatorship, or 2) impose Islamic theocracy.

Gordon, WTF? The independence that the "patriots" desired initially was economic, not political. They actually considered themselves loyal subejcts, for the most part. It is only with the development of the rebellion that full independence became a legitimate target.

As for your goals for the "insurgents", the two are diametrically opposite. Are you suggesting that the Islamist militants are conspiring with the secular Baathists to take control and then fight it out among themselves? This runs into the same plausibility problem as the claim that Hussein supported al-Qaeda. There is simply no way that dictatorial secularists would ally themselves with Islamofascist. Even the Soviets did not do that! (But Americans did--on the principle that the enemy of my enemy is my friend. The real question is whether this is what we are doing now in Iraq.)
12.12.2005 4:35pm
CaseyAtBat (mail):
Many people are getting too caught up in the semantics of this situation, which is pointless and more appropriate for a group of Yuppie lawyers having a nightcap before climbing back into their coffins to avoid the sun. (Sorry, I can't resist a bad lawyer joke.)

What concerns me is the tendency of many here to steadfastly refuse any acknowledgement of historical truths and moral absolutes.

While I am not so naive to imagine the world as black and white, I nevertheless refuse to see the world in subtle shades of gray only. There me be some shades of gray but at each spectrum those shades become black and white. In other words, some things are completely good while others are dispicably evil. Strapping bombs to one's body and blowing up innocent women and children is evil. Period. Once that moral line is crossed the motivations are completely unimportant because the ends do not justify the bloody means.

Furthermore, many people here like to apply this same revisionist or postmodern view in interpreting history; that is, there is no absolute truth since truth is relative to each person's point of view. Therefore, the lessons of the past are seen to be as either irrelevant or subject to being twisted at the whim of whoever is trying to prove a particular point. I also reject this interpretation as inherently dishonest. While it may be true that there are two sides to every story, rational people should be able to interpret the available objective facts and arrive at a conclusion as to where the truth of the matter lies.
12.12.2005 5:42pm
Virginia:
Dave, thank you for this post; without it and the comments on it I never would have realized how representative Michael Moore is of the American left today.
12.12.2005 5:56pm
Anon1ms (mail):
Let's cut to the chase . . . can anyone provide any definitive proof (other than the "freedom fighter" phrase, which is open to various interpretations)that Cindy Sheehan has advocated "terrorism and mass murder"?

The definition of advocate is to plead in favor of. Where has she pleaded in favor of terrorism and mass murder?

Seems to me that there is a big difference between opposing the war in Iraq (a growing crowd, it seems), even vociferously, and David Kopel's charges.
12.12.2005 6:44pm
Justin (mail):
Mr. Kopel, as a Jew (and a pro-Israel one at that), I find this description of Rachel Corrie:

"an enabler of killers of Jews"

morally repugnant as to both Rachel Corrie and to those Jews, both pro-Israel and not, who believe to some degree or other in a future Palestinian state. I sadly do not expect an apology, but I hope one would be forthcoming.
12.12.2005 6:46pm
Gordon (mail):
Buck Turgidson: An "imperfect democratic republic" includes a level of economic freedom higher than that offered by the mercantilist British crown. Economic freedoms and political freedoms tend to go hand-in-hand, a point of view the democratic left has some problems with.

Yes Baathism and the Caliphate are in conflict. I don't know who has the upper hand among the Iraqi insurgents, or what the arrangements are. But are you going to deny that the Iraqi insurgency represents one or the other of these two philosophies, if not both? And are you going to deny that both of these philosophies are totalitarian monstrosities?

Yes, the North Vietnamese were nationalists. But the misery they put their nation through for 20+ years, a misery only being slowly ameliorated even today, is hardly an endorsement for the Iraqi resistance.
12.12.2005 7:41pm
dew:

While I don't always find Buck Turgidson's arguments convincing (sorry), he is correct on the Minutemen. In the beginning of the American Revolution, it seems accurate to say that most of the non-tory population wanted independence from *parliament*, not the crown. Many argued that they lived in crown colonies and should not be subject to parliament. There were appeals to George III to assist his colonies against the government (which fell on pretty deaf ears). Some Massachusetts Minute companies even required loyalty oaths to the king (for example, Lincoln, MA, right between Lexington and Concord). Of course, that distinction changed quickly over the first year of the war.

BTW, the Minutemen in Massachusetts were established and funded by their local towns at the authorization of the provincial legislature (although it was meeting illegally at the time), and organized into regiments. They weren't really partisan political organizations like the Sons of Liberty (I expect tories were not members though), so saying "the minutemen" believed in specific political purposes beyond self-protection against the ministry's army in Boston may be on shakey ground. They pretty much disappeared in Massachusetts after April 1775 (but there were "minute" companies in other colonies that may have lasted longer).
12.13.2005 3:04pm
TL:
I too want to say well-done DK: I appreciated following the links to Sheehan's quotes, of which I had been totally ignorant beyond her legendary camp-out at Crawford Ranch and like CNN coverage. The arguments above from folks with agendas notwithstanding, it is good for you to keep us informed, because the media does refuse to broadcast Sheehan's vulgarity and otherwise outrageous tone. Media paraphrases of what Sheehan really is--an angry activist--don't do justice to the full scope of the message. She is not just a sad mother. She is a person with a very strong and at times vitriolic agenda. And I say broadcast that message for what it really is, don't make her out to be a tranquil Mother Teresa-type who is to be emulated.
12.13.2005 8:07pm
maple (mail):
Good point, Virginia, this is another fine "flushing out" post.

To witness the spectacle of intelligent anti-war people seriously arguing the relative merits of George Washington and Zarqawi -- I wish every voter in America could hear this debate.

Please, Buck &Co, please -- SCREAM LOUDER.

Love, Karl Rove
12.16.2005 5:35pm