Wednesday, August 24, 2005

The difference between an “icon” and an “expert”

Patt Morrison, a columnist for the Los Angeles Times wrote an excellent column this week. I believe it fits in quite nicely with the theme that I have been writing about over the last several weeks about special celebrity status and accountability of experts vs. icons. Cindy Sheehan, the mother of a soldier that died in Iraq, is an icon. Though she has been treated as a celebrity, she isn’t. Sheehan is a grieving mother with a very understandable gripe with the President of the United States. If you’re an anti-war protester and you’re turning to this woman for guidance and leadership you’re in need of some serious medication and counseling. This is not a woman who should lead the anti-war movement; she isn’t nearly qualified for that. But she is a powerful image that evokes sympathy and outrage. Both of those emotions should be levied in this effort.

This woman is obviously grief stricken. And those on the right, with their kids safely tucked away at some expensive private university, should not judge this person until they have walked a mile in her shoes. Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, I don’t see many medals on your lapels. It seems that the most gung-ho are those that have never fought a battle in their lives. They should not rail that Sheehan is dishonoring her son’s memory. How would they know? Even if Casey Sheehan was a proud soldier who believed in his mission to the core of his being, his mother’s protests are totally appropriate. Cindy Sheehan is not trying to honor or dishonor his life; she is trying to protest the circumstances of his death and, in her way, make sure that no more mothers ever feel the way that she does.

I am glad that Sheehan has returned to Texas. The President will have to learn that this issue is NOT going to go away. The nation is not as easily fooled by the lame rhetoric that he throws around. He sounds like a tired old rock star belting out the same putrid clichés over and over again. Someone buy Dubya some leather pants and put him on stage with the Rolling Stones (sorry Mick). The administration needs to realize that the people who oppose the Iraq War are not an insignificant band of pitiful hippies. Not everyone is so easily reduced to stereotypes. Cindy Sheehan and her friends are the tip of the iceberg. The anti-war movement has been emboldened by this icon of anguish.

Likewise, when someone who already has attained celebrity, when they have a pulpit and captive audience from which to espouse an ideology which is not only morally reprehensible but also illegal. When this person is an influential member of a constituency which is closely linked to the President of the United States, is a member of the President’s party, and actively raised money to re-elect the President, I do not believe that his words should be cast aside so lightly. I do not believe that the Reverend Patrick Robertson should be written off as a private citizen; he isn’t. He is a self-proclaimed expert on just about everything.

Pat Robertson is not only the anti-Christian; he is also the most hateful hobgoblin to ever walk the face of this Earth. Like most neo-conservatives he claims to be a devout man, but has not a shred of Christian ethic in him. Neo-cons worship at the altar of American hegemony. They believe to the core of their soul that America is “god’s country” (sorry Bono) and that as such we should be able to impose our beliefs on any banana republic that we want.

The banana republic of the moment is Venezuela. Pat Robertson openly advocated the assassination of President Hugo Chavez. The specifics of his speech are not important because everything he said was rendered total rubbish when he proclaimed that the United States could save itself a ton of money if it just offed Chavez, a critic of U.S. foreign policy.

It seems that Robertson believes that El Presidente is a threat to the United States. He is, apparently, in league with (hold your breath) Fidel Castro. Can we find more ways to lose focus on the war on terror? First we bumble and stumble our way out of Afghanistan and into Iraq. Now we’re going to go all McCarthy on ‘em and take on the commies? Good grief! Are we really back to this again? I thought we were all done with the communists. Have we not already proven that free market societies are far superior to top-down autocracies? If we’re going to take on the communists again, why Cuba, why Chavez? Well, the Chavez part is simple, oil. Venezuela is the world’s fifth most oil-rich nation. Makes you wonder, do we ever get involved in humanitarian missions in countries that don’t have vast reserves of oil.

Everyone in the Bush administration seems to have received and read the memo because they are all reciting the same party line about Robertson being an individual citizen and being allowed to say anything he wants. They go on to say that they don’t assassinate foreign leaders in complying with an executive order handed down by President Gerald Ford. Well, it is good that they made their stance abundantly clear. I just have one tiny little beef. Robertson is an individual citizen? I don’t think so. This man is extremely influential among religious conservatives. President Chavez is coming to the United States next month for a United Nations General Assembly meeting and this “Christian” fundamentalist has issued a fatwah against him. Make no mistake, what Pat Robertson did in making this statement was exactly akin to what Osama bin Laden does. He has urged his followers to take matters into their own hands. Also, let’s be clear about one more thing, Pat Robertson knew exactly what he was doing.

We can fight a war on terror. We can be righteous and on the side of all that is good and right with the world, but not while trolls like Robertson make outrageous statements and his friends in government don’t take him to task for them. Is this war worth winning if we sink as low as our enemies? I know the position advocated by Robertson is not the policy of our federal government, but President Bush needs to publicly scold his ally in the clearest possible terms, not just distance himself from the comments. He needs to stand up and say that Robertson’s comments were foolish and the ramblings of an ignorant ideology of evil. Would he say any less about bin Laden?

As for you in the press, get with the program. Cindy Sheehan is an individual citizen expressing her opinion. Don’t grill her for insights into strategic foreign policy information. Pat Robertson on the other hand is an “expert” on everything. Fry him up with your morning bacon! Take him to task for what he says and how he says it. His influence has merits among a deranged constituency in this country. It is time to hold him accountable for this. Sure, he can say whatever he wants, but he should be challenged on it. Do your job Tucker Carlson, you twerp!


Anonymous said...

it's amazing the amount of spin power the media has over the general population and the amount of spin power politicians have over the media or vise versa, it's just a huge game of spin. It makes you wonder who really is calling the shots. But what I really wanna know is everyone gonna stop wearing those livesstronger lance Armstrong yellow bracelets after the shocking news that his 6 year old frozen pee tested positive for some banned substance or are the french just really poor losers, I mean is pay back for us wanting to rename french fries to freedom fries or what. Who cares but I see an awful lot of influential types wearing those yellow bracelets....

Eric the Papa said...

This is a thoughtful and interesting piece. I agree, but Robertson is not directly connected with the Administration. More important is discuss the disastrous US support for the anti-Chavez coup in 2002. That was another "neo-con" disaster for US foreign policy.