Here’s some interesting controversy surrounding Mr. Public-Meltdown-in-Progress, Christopher Hitchens. First, his rant about Cindy Sheehan in Slate: Cindy Sheehan’s Sinister Piffle – What’s wrong with her Crawford protest. Then, a nice, snarky debunking from Dennis Perrin in his Red State Son weblog: Even lower.
Of particular interest to me is the part where Hitchens says he is quoting from a statement that “comes from Cindy Sheehan, whose son Casey was killed in Iraq last year. It was sent to the editors of ABC’s Nightline on March 15.” Hitchens quotes Sheehan as follows:
Am I emotional? Yes, my first born was murdered. Am I angry? Yes, he was killed for lies and for a PNAC Neo-Con agenda to benefit Israel. My son joined the army to protect America, not Israel. Am I stupid? No, I know full well that my son, my family, this nation and this world were betrayed by George Bush who was influenced by the neo-con PNAC agendas after 9/11. We were told that we were attacked on 9/11 because the terrorists hate our freedoms and democracy… not for the real reason, because the Arab Muslims who attacked us hate our middle-eastern foreign policy.
Now, I don’t find that statement, in and of itself, all that ridiculous, and one could have a spirited discussion about the extent to which US support for Israel helpd to bring about the 9/11 attacks, or was a motivating factor in Bush’s decision to invade Iraq. But according to Perrin’s debunking:
Sheehan apparently told CNN that she never wrote those words about Israel, and I’ve been informed that the entire quote is a fake, intended to smear Sheehan, for rather obvious reasons (the evidence of this, I’m told, will soon appear, and I will link to it when it does).
As of now I don’t have any other evidence that this alleged Nightline letter is a fake, but I’d be interested in learning more about it. Anyone know about this?
Update: Well, of course someone knows about it. The answer (as it frequently is), is “look it up on Wikipedia.” So: Cindy Sheehan (Wikipedia), which discusses the issue, including linking to the following three items: ABC confirms: Sheehan wrote the letter (nationalreviewonline.com), Cindy Sheehan’s diary (dailykos.com), and A copy of the (alleged) original email (Google groups).
Hard to tell, at this point. Either Cindy wrote the email as quoted, and she’s willing to lie a little bit about it (or at least buy more or less sincerely into her own flawed, emotionally tinged recollection of it over the evidence of others), or a somewhat-unlikely, but not-impossible scenario has taken place, in which an email she sent (and which she apparently doesn’t have an original copy of) was doctored by her enemies after it left her hands in order to make it just a little more damning. Though in the latter case, the doctors were impressively subtle, making such a small change.
On balance, I think Cindy is just misremembering what she wrote, either intentionally (as part of her makeover into media-savvy activist), or unintentionally (as part of just doing her best to deal with the tornado of bullshit she’s currently at the center of). And again, I don’t think the statement as given is especially damning, anyway. Though certainly, if it’s accurate, and she’s now making a point of lying about it, that would tend to undercut her moral authority some in my eyes.
It’s an interesting paradox: I agree with her views, for the most part. And I applaud the political damage she’s inflicting on Bush. Given those facts, which would I prefer: That a media-savvy Sheehan lies in order to increase her effectiveness? Or that she undercuts that effectiveness by clinging to a scrupulous, and politically naive, honesty?