Dark Bilious Vapors

But how could I deny that I possess these hands and this body, and withal escape being classed with persons in a state of insanity, whose brains are so disordered and clouded by dark bilious vapors....
--Rene Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy: Meditation I

Home » Archives » August 2005 » On Cindy Sheehan being "unhinged": a few points....

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08/22/2005: On Cindy Sheehan being "unhinged": a few points....

Brian Leiter publishes a response to his takedown of James Taranto by a Chicago lawyer. In pertinent part:

It's beginning to appear that the closest thing to a substantive case against Cindy Sheehan consists of the following:

1) inconsistencies between her reports (a year apart) of her meeting with that grinning little Texas troll; and

2) her espousal of a series of left of center talking points.

As you've pointed out, the talking points are never, or hardly ever addressed on their merits; it's just assumed she must be loopy, or dishonest, or under undue influence to be expressing these opinions. It should be added, I think, that it is the height of effrontery for Bill O'Reilly, or James Taranto, who never utter anything but predigested right wing bromides, to be
attacking her for following an ideological dance card. I have no idea how well-considered her thoughts on, say, Israel are (urging Israel "to get out of Palestine" certainly cries out for a clarification of terms); but it really is neither here nor there.

I guess that everything else is just undiluted slime. Quite sickening.
Meanwhile, in comments we've received this challenge:
You never post on this site any of the "unhinged" things Cindy Sheehan has actually says, like:

"The biggest terrorist in the world is George W. Bush!"

"We are waging a nuclear war in Iraq right now. That country is contaminated. It will be contaminated for practically eternity now."

"The United States is a morally repugnant system."

"My son died to expand American imperialism in the Middle East."
Well, speaking only for myself, I'd have to say I hardly find any of these statements "unhinged", and that's why I don't bother posting them or dealing with them here. At worst, they might be overstated, and in at least one case misinformed, but hardly unhinged. Taking each statement in turn:

"The biggest terrorist in the world is George W. Bush!"
I prefer the term "war criminal" to "terrorist", but I don't disagree with the moral implications of this statement: George W. Bush (and his puppetmasters) are very evil people. I've stated here a number of times that it's my opinion that in attacking Iraq under the cover of lies and deception presented to the United States Congress, the U.S. public, and the United Nations, when Iraq posed little or no danger to the United States, constitutes crimes against humanity (specifically, waging aggressive war). As such, Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolofwitz, Feith, and a number of other bAdministration officials should be turned out of office, turned over to the custody of an international tribunal of competent jurisdiction, tried, and if convicted (as I believe they would be), punished appropriately. To the extent that U.S. military power has been turned against undeserving Iraqi and Afghan citizens, the term "terrorism" isn't necessarily too strong a term to use in this context. A bit inaccurate, but it gets the general point across.

"We are waging a nuclear war in Iraq right now. That country is contaminated. It will be contaminated for practically eternity now."
The term "nuclear war", of course, implies the use of thermonuclear weapons, and I've not seen evidence supporting the proposition that thermonuclear weapons have been used in Iraq or Afghanistan. [However, given the rumors filtering out that the Pentagon is actually drafting contingency plans for nuclear (as well as conventional) first strikes against Iran in the event of "another 9/11-type terrorist attack" regardless of whether Teheran was involved in the attack or not, doesn't exactly fill me with confidence that we wouldn't contemplate such an action.] However, this sounds like it might be a misunderstanding of legitimate concerns concerning the use of depleted uranium munitions in Iraq. I'd like to see more context on this one.

"The United States is a morally repugnant system."
The U.S. isn't itself have a morally repugnant system, but much of what I see the Bush bAdministration doing with the system I do find morally repugnant: cutting taxes for the very rich,, pushing the burden of taxation onto the states, trying to kill social security, committing crimes against humanity by waging aggressive war.... The list goes on.

"My son died to expand American imperialism in the Middle East."
Well, Casey Sheehan died in an occupation that stemmed from the Bush bAdministration deposing a head of state and his government (one which the same government officials had supported when it served their purposes) in order to install a government and a head of state more to its liking. If that isn't imperialism, I don't know what is. And for now, that's leaving open the question of to what extent we invaded Iraq to take their oil (not likely, but to keep access to it, more likely), or to acquire permanent military bases in Iraq (more likely).

Yep, looks to me like the only symptom of her "derangement" is that she indulges in a bit of understandable hyperbole that doesn't conform to the Approved Right Wing Talking Points. As Prof. Leiter's correspondent points out: ...the talking points are never, or hardly ever addressed on their merits; it's just assumed she must be loopy, or dishonest, or under undue influence to be expressing these opinions.

As Prof. Leiter (and Old Man Mickey before him) points out, that's the fallacy of ad hominem.

Len on 08.22.05 @ 12:58 PM CST

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