combat writing badge C O M B A T
the Literary Expression of Battlefield Touchstones
ISSN 1542-1546 Volume 05 Number 02 Spring ©Apr 2007

Dear Cindy
an Open Letter to Cindy Sheehan

"If Americans knew the full extent of U.S. criminal conduct, they would receive returning Iraqi veterans as they did Vietnam veterans. In Vietnam, our soldiers came back and they were reviled as baby killers, in shame and humiliation. It isn't happening now, but I will tell you – there has never been an [American] army as violent and murderous as our army has been in Iraq."
by Seymour Hersh

Dear Cindy,

This is an open letter in response to your passionate message of verbal abuse ... obviously ghostwritten, since your medicated state makes you incapable of coherent thought, much less enthusiastic conviction ... but then you've been a shill for agitators and propagandists for years. We normally don't respond to praise or blame or spam, and I know that you don't expect a reply, but this is still a constitutional republic, and the right of free speech means that I have the option of refutation, of rebuttal, of rejecting allegations and accusations ... a situation terribly shocking for you and your ilk, but when you're wrong, you're WRONG! American latitude grants you the privilege of being indubitably wrong, so go for it!

And besides Cindy (may I call you Cindy? ... you can call me Ed, because I don't respond well to baby-killer and warmonger), you, as a national spokesperson, despite being a pathetic puppet of the fifth column though you be, are a fairly big cheese compared to the small beer of our little literary magazine on the ramifications of war. Or should that analogy more accurately be: that you are a pretty fat rat in our little trap. So, we shall avail ourselves of this opportunity, be it merely a paltry squeak against the coordinated media roar of your backers, to address your indictments.

Without an investment or payment of any kind, you have inherited the right to complain ... and though you despise me and mine, we are the guarantors of your indulgence. You needn't thank us, because we too are beholden, but we strongly object to the disdain and disrespect shown our way of life ... imperfect though it may be, it has been a model for the modern world. Although you are merely a dupe of the monolithic exclusivity that has been attempting to hijack our culture in recent times ... radical Liberalism is the successor refuge of stymied communists and toppled fascists ... we are the most heterodox nation in history, and that freedom bothers you. Well Cindy, that's too bad ... into every life a little rain must fall.

image of
protest flags from Zombie Time archive

In your backers' continuing effort to promote you as a symbol of suffering and sacrifice in the ongoing War Against Terrorism (and let's get our terms correct; the War in Iraq has been over since the old regime fell and was replaced by a new government ... they've even had free elections under new laws!), as if you are the only mother in history to have ever lost her son in battle; but that's just more rhetoric, more style over substance. Let's not quibble, since there's no sense in attacking your style when your substance is so easily assaulted. Not only have you changed your position on the value of this war since your son's death, alienating your now divorced husband, who is also mourning his deceased son, but you have personally benefited from your son's demise by receiving all of the tax-exempt payments authorized an unmarried servicemember killed in the line of duty. The only problem with your claim to fame is that you haven't bothered to mark or maintain your son's gravesite ... like your SGLI and DIC benefits, the grave marker would be provided by the heartless government at no charge to you! Just in case you don't know, due to your busy schedule of political commitments, your son's gravesite is being tended by veterans who have volunteered their time for a fallen comrade.

These petty details would be irrelevant if they were not your principal credential for protesting the war. Motherhood has not distinguished you, neither has your mortification been noteworthy ... there are more weeping mothers in Iraq and Afghanistan than America, just as there were more widows in Vietnam than America. Your son made the sacrifice deserving of note and respect, not you!

One might reasonably inquire about whether the public paradigm of protest shouldn't be an unimpeachable paragon, an impeccable apotheosis? ... and if not, why not? But like the saying goes: I've known some brave and noble martyrs, and Cindy, you're no martyr! But consider who's uplifted you, promoting you to a level of high-visibility incompetence ... are any of them superlative exemplars of venerable idealism? Simply calling the representative mediocrity a proletarian elite does not make it true, even if the mutual contradiction could be assimilated.

Ironically, you have challenged our credentials to publish a literary magazine, as if your mythical knuckle-dragging savage were peopling the various branches of the uniformed services ... wishing won't make it so. It's ironic because, unlike those of you who have made a profession of dispensing opinions, the military is the closest organization to a meritocracy yet invented by mankind ... if someone doesn't perform to standard then they don't get promoted, and if they don't get promoted then they don't stay. I won't belabor the point, and I won't provide you with free ammunition (I believe the apt cliché is: pearls before swine), so when you finally discover everything, and it's been explained to you ... well Cindy, read 'em an' weep. As for editing and publishing, you don't want to go there either ... I am poor but honest, and your ilk will not bear comparative scrutiny.

It has been noted that a reasonable contrarian is the rarest of human elements, and I am cognizant of the Leftist appeal to emotionalism, having forsaken rationalism (even under the guise of dialectical materialism) as too intellectual and unproductive. There can be serene communion in the comfortable commonality of belief, in shared effort and satisfied fulfillment. There is a sacrament in meeting the challenge and resisting defeat. Kindred spirits can touch one another's hearts and minds in a manner so overwhelming that it is as near transcendence as mere mortals are ever likely to emulate. I have felt it with others in combat, and you have felt it with others in the Peace Movement. We have sung our separate anthems: mine a sacred paean, and yours a secular doxology. We have been able to sympathetically finish other's sentences because we share their perspective. What reinforces me is knowing that I'm sustaining our cultural tradition; and what reinforces you is finding another escaped mental patient to share your diagnosis. Your ilk has proclaimed the death of God and converted politics into a new religion. This is America ... and Cindy, you have the inalienable right to be wrong.

image of
protest sign from Zombie Time archive

Because free speech encompasses a multitude of sins, there need be no consensus on ascertained truth or received wisdom, just as there is no criterion for speakers. If the government cannot censor, and specialist only regulate themselves in each separate discipline, then the reader or listener is enjoined to act as his own filter ... caveat lector. This is particularly evident with business advertising and political sloganeering, wherein whatever's prima facie is misrepresented by weasel words. A military crudity defines this state as: Opinions are like assholes, everybody's got one, and they all stink! But this phenomenon is no less true in the realm of hard evidence where there is no consensus on data, and every advance has been against the prevailing conventional wisdom. A comrade once asked me: Why should your opinion matter more than your percentage of the population? ... and I, like you Cindy, answered: Because I have knowledge and insight that others lack. But whether that sincere belief is persuasive is someone else's decision, for which conclusion they must assume their own responsibility.

Based upon the proposition that most people are too stupid to conduct their own affairs, you and your ilk have presumed to arrogate our shared institutions unto yourselves for your own ends. Your presumption is ludicrous since you, individually and collectively, lack the experience and expertise to manage the systems you are perverting or dismantling under the rubric of good intentions ... thanks anyway Cindy, but not only don't I need a nanny but I don't want to go where you are pushing me! Your presumptuous underestimation of your fellow citizens ... you really can fool all the people all the time ... doesn't empower you and your Cause, but demonstrates how profoundly and acutely embarrassing your allegations and exaggerations truly are for the general public, whom you'd better pray never loses patience with your childish exhibitionism! ... how do you expect normal people to seriously consider your platform when a procession of freaks and creeps are mocking the very rights they're abusing?! Will you wrinkled old radicals PLEASE put your unfashionable clothes back on? ... your pudges and prolapses are a final revenge on the Sexual Revolution!

Not that proof is either necessary or sufficient when contending with such as you, but even the recent anti-war march from the Vietnam War memorial to the Pentagon is a case in point ... presumably reminiscent of levitating the Puzzle Palace way back in the Good Ol' Days. Wake up Cindy, this is not 17 March 1967 and Vietnam, but another era and another region, with new troops fighting a different enemy. This march was supposedly organized as a nationwide coalition of protest groups with substantial funding and media support, but the grass-roots counter-protest, coordinated by a Gathering of Eagles and Move America Forward, that was organized by word-of-mouth by volunteers to prevent the vandalism your groups have engaged in previously, had a much better attendance that sent a truer message about popular support for the war. It's not that America loves war, it refuses to quit and permit desecration of its tenets. And although you were outnumbered, you were neither molested nor silenced ... there was no Saint Patrick's Day Massacre on the fourth anniversary of the so-called Iraq War. In the arena of honest disagreement, you and your ilk have never shown that level of restraint, of self discipline, of reciprocal respect.

Being lectured by failed has-beens and misguided wannabes reminds me that, to paraphrase Schopenhauer, What you say about us says more about you than about us! As a writer, researcher, and editor, I know this to be true; and this insight may be extended to speakers and actors, such as yourself ... people who follow a script, a catechism or a little red book. You and other traitors sincerely believe that you will be exempt from the consequences of your duplicitous aid and comfort to our enemies, from their reactionary repression, because you were a willing cat's-paw (yes Cindy, there really is a sucker born every minute, and guess who she is?!), but that's only because you are purblind. The history of man's inhumanity to his fellow man is too well documented for any sentient adult to pretend otherwise; and if so, then that individual needs a guardian to prevent her from hurting herself or others. Thus because you believe a certain thing ... right, wrong, or indifferent ... you believe that it's the only certain thing, and that others should believe it as certainly ... and if not, should be made to believe it, or be made to act as though they believed it ... which you further believe will insulate you against ever being confronted with your own foibles and fallacies. Cindy, that kind of rote homogeneity is stifling, and anti-American.

You allege that anti-establishment civil disobedience is, a priori, more patriotic than conformity; and that deconstructive democracy is, ipso facto, more American than conventionality. It's irrational, nonsensical, and downright silly, but believe it if you must, Cindy. And despite your factionalism, partisanship, and gerrymandering, most voters are decent people trying to live uncorrupted lives in the septic effluence you are spreading. Unlike the earlier counterculture, which proffered positive alternatives to negative trends, your neo-contraculture is dispersing negativity and immorality, like an infestation of perversity. Although you and your ilk are claiming that defeat is a higher form of morality, you yourselves are not willing to accept defeat. Each time you are rejected, at the polls or the courts, you contrive a new methodology, a new maneuver or strategy, for imposing the unwanted upon the unwilling. Since you didn't learn this lesson on the playground as a child, on the sports field as an athlete, or on the battlefield as a soldier, allow me to tender this immutable truth: those who cannot accept defeat are condemned to extinction.

America does not, has never expected, everyone to agree, but we expect loyalty to that system of mutual respect, imperfect though it may be. Anyone can claim anything, and so it goes ... one obversive contradiction following another absurd inversion. When you define yourself as a better person than your opposition, your opposition is automatically discredited, and their arguments rendered moot. A proliferating Humpty Dumpty illogicality. Except for the facts, Cindy ... those boring mundane facts. You may want the inmates to run the asylum but, at least for the near future, sanity prevails over the unholy clamor of the kook fringe. You claim to oppose the war and support the troops, but you do neither! Pacifists without religion don't have a post-war life plan, and anti-war protestors are defined by the existence of conflict ... in fact, they are so aggressive and contentious that their behavior merely demonstrates their true motive: cowardice. Political demonstration is simply showmanship ... just pseudointellectual self-aggrandizement, or pseudo-altruistic self-indulgence. As for honoring the troops, we already know how you've dishonored your own son, but this doctrinaire shibboleth is just another canard perpetrated upon the innocent public ... despite the adherence of political-correctness, they are still naïve enough to believe that words mean something, and haven't realized the deception of your doublespeak. Parading our casualties, like an exhibition of victims in an indefensible enterprise, is NOT support ... it's obscene exploitation disguised as honorific pageantry with the cautionary subtext: this terrible mayhem is war's only result. I don't know if the nation has the will to resist such propaganda, but if it doesn't, the war will not just be over there. I reject your claim to superpatriotism, and dispute your arguments and tactics. This war is not about body counts ... no war has ever been ... but if the immaterial is sacrificed for the material, it will not only dishonor all material sacrifices, but will compel all the surviving material to endure under a new immateriality. In other words, your cohort of freaks and creeps, of kooks and cowards will have a new master ... not Neo-Puritans and Neo-Abolitionists, but genuine bad guys. And, having nullified the military and castrated all the real men, who will protect you from evil? Who will save you from the consequences of your own inanity? Who will save us from the destruction your malfeasance will wrought? It would almost be worth the inordinate devastation to see you et al get your just deserts!

Our disagreement is substantial and fundamental. There is no compromise on principles, and there can only be relative accommodation to a certain point before there's concession; so I don't expect either of us to ever persuade the other. However, we also disagree on the basis of our disagreement. Not only do you (and the Protest Movement) demand privileges, calling them rights, which oblige me (and other law abiding taxpayers) to tolerate your antics in the specious name of freedom, but you monopolize the debate, so that only one sanctioned version of events is circulated. In other words, you are using liberty to distort, if not destroy liberty! ... that is not an acceptable tactic on the battlefield, and neither is it acceptable in the public forum.

We think that most of our critics have reacted to the name of our publication more than its contents, since most (including you) have not bothered to read what we are saying, and yet you contend that we are illegitimate, unrepresentative, predisposed. In a way, there's no point trying to communicate with bigots like you, along the same line as arguing with a fool, but if we do not refute, or at least counter, your blatherskite, then some people might believe such tripe. I have encountered true believers on the battlefield, and when captured, they not only did not appreciate the difference between our two sides, but they thought me weak and stupid for not mistreating them ... giving them medical care after trying to kill them was beyond their comprehension ... so I don't expect you to understand either. I, and soldiers like me, and this magazine, and other unbiased publications, represent civilization; while you and your ilk and its one-sided agenda represent a New Dark Age, a form of reversionary barbarism.

Your declaration of this literary magazine's illegitimacy is merely code speak for uncensored or unjuried, which means beyond your control. If your co-conspirators infiltrate an organization or institution, alter it fundamentally without alerting others to the change by an overt challenge, then you can claim authority by usurpation. This is as true for newspapers of record as it is for colleges and courts and hospitals. Humanitarianism is now political, businesses must be socially progressive, and government must not seek God's blessings. Taxpayers subsidize the persistent failures of humanism, but conventional wisdom is no longer concerned with success. Just as every discovery and invention has flouted the entrenched power of the status quo, any entrenched authority, for review or otherwise, becomes abusive without the checks and balances of redress. Your missive does not qualify as redress because redress in publishing is not pullulating hate speech.

The point of view of this literary magazine, posted repeatedly throughout this website, is an open forum on the insights of wartime experience. We don't tell writers what to say, except to make their presentations more effective or complete. The author is responsible for his opinions, and we have published works we personally disagree with, recognizing the perspective to be valid. We would publish more polemics but for the inferiority of their prose ... we would even publish you Cindy, even though you and your ilk would never publish us! Your dislike of or disagreement with the author's content or conclusion compels your progressive orthodoxy to prevent exposure of contrary perspectives. You particularly object to the humor we have featured in our collected aggregation, but Cindy, gallows humor is sometimes the only thing that keeps us from going crazy in combat ... too bad that you didn't learn that from your son. It's unfortunate that you have never discovered the joy of liberation, the happiness of security, the pleasure of freedom ... the laughter of well fed children cavorting in the shadow of protective arms is practically the only genuine repayment for the deaths of the few good men and women who bestowed it! ... that you are too lugubrious to appreciate this simple fact is another reason not to follow your grim doctrine.

You claim that we who serve, who have defended our nation's interests, who have gone in harm's way to preserve and protect, are mere pawns of a deceptive foreign policy ... and yet you are merely a professional mourner ... at least we pawns can be promoted, while all you can ever be is fired when a better prostitute is recruited for their righteous Cause! I have sworn an oath to preserve the Constitution and defend this nation against all enemies, foreign and domestic. Although I'm retired, that oath is still binding. I will defend your right to disagree with public policy, but when your disloyalty jeopardizes this nation's standing and security, you will have become just another target of opportunity. So be careful what you say and to whom, because words have meaning and acts have consequences.

I know that every epoch has been dismayed over the disintegration of their cherished traditions, but the past always came to us, regardless of the incremental decay, in a way that allowed us to extend our forebears reach. America seems to be suffering a moral and mental bankruptcy, and it appears that we lack the fortitude to control the social juggernaut that's careening through our streets. There are too many signs that we do not have the clarity and courage to defend ourselves, and those signs are visible not only in our political and judicial institutions but throughout American society and western civilization. Squeamishness about how this is done is not a sign of higher morality but of irresponsibility in the face of mortal dangers. We are dawdling while our enemies prepare our destruction, and we are sheltering fellow travelers who would aid them by weakening our defenses. Talk is not cheap if it forestalls adequate defensive preparations, since talk has then become a tactic, a ploy, a device in the Culture War. American culture, from its Judeo-Christian roots to its Enlightenment theories, is besieged by foreign beliefs and militaries. To paraphrase Otto von Bismarck, this pitch of contentious noise and deafening clamor, of bitter ardor and vengeful schemes practically guarantees that the great questions confronting our society will not be settled by reasonable debate and respectful tolerance, but by means of iron and blood.

Your hate mail proves to us that conflicts will never be resolved ... that we'll always have a new war to ponder and discuss, and that this magazine will not lack for subject matter. For those who understand, no explanation is needed; and for those who do not understand, no explanation is possible. Instead of sending more hate speech our way, try spending a little time caring for what your son cared for.

"Tolerance has been one of the virtues of western civilization. But virtues can be carried to extremes that turn them into vices. Toleration of intolerance is a particularly dangerous vice to which western nations are succumbing, both within their own countries and internationally. Double standards are being wrapped in the mantle of morality."
by Thomas Sowell

by Ed Staff
... who is retired from the U.S. Army, has since been a counselor, artisan, and writer, with numerous essays published in chapbooks and magazines.

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