Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Less Than Zero

It’s not clear to me what more Hyman can do to reveal himself as a low-life thug. Perhaps kicking puppies? Cat juggling?

Even those seem positively refined behavior compared to the politically motivated savaging of a mother who lost her son.

As far as celebrating the nuclear family and honoring the families of those who serve in the military, it all goes out the window when politics is at stake, at least for Mark Hyman and many others on the Rabid Right. In his commentary "Heroes and Zeroes," Hyman joins
the rogues’ gallery of talking heads who have called Cindy Sheehan every name in the book because she has committed the sin of not grieving for her son in what they deem a politically correct manner.

Those of us who have lost someone we love know that there’s no “right” way to grieve. Everyone does it in their own way. Cindy Sheehan has turned to protesting the war in which her son was killed as a way of expressing her grief. That’s every bit as valid and understandable as those families who vocally support the war, hold “support the troops” rallies, and praise President Bush to the skies. I might disagree with the opinions of those who’ve lost a child and are in favor of the war, but I would never suggest that they were somehow expressing their grief in an inappropriate way or were “wackos.” I can only imagine what it’s like to lose a son or daughter, particularly if they are the victim of violence. Whatever helps such families keep their sanity is fine by me.

Which is simply to point out the obvious: you can disagree strongly with Cindy Sheehan’s opinions on the war without lowering yourself to going after her personally. After all, she’s a mother who raised a son of apparently strong character, conviction, accomplishment, and bravery. Then she lost that son. You don’t have to agree with her ideas or her actions. It’s certainly fine to voice these feelings. But Goddamn it: show the woman some basic human decency—she’s earned it.

Would you be surprised to learn that Mr. Hyman falls a bit short of this minimal goal? Rather than acknowledging her pain and offering a thoughtful argument to counter hers, we get more of Hyman’s ad hominem attacks—this time against a Gold Star mother!

Hyman labels Sheehan an “obnoxious” woman who has “exploited a family tragedy.” He says her husband divorced her over her “antics” and that she was fired from her job for absenteeism. In fact, her marriage broke apart long before “Camp Casey” was formed under the stress of the grief the couple felt and their different ways of working through it. Absenteeism? You bet—she was busy dealing with the aftermath of losing her son. Yet Hyman suggests that these are somehow indicators that Sheehan is a bad human being. Heck, even if her husband divorced her because she was cheating on him and she didn’t go to work for a week because she was on drugs, it wouldn’t mean that her grief isn’t real or suggest that she was wrong to say the things she’s said.

Hyman erroneously tells us that Sheehan’s entire family has begged her to stop her “shenanigans.” He repeats the falsehood that Sheehan’s story has mysteriously changed over time. He also accuses her of making “totally wacko” claims that the U.S. has used nuclear weapons in Iraq and of making anti-Semitic remarks. Both of these accusations are patent nonsense. Sheehan never suggested the U.S. is dropping hydrogen bombs on Baghdad; she did suggest that the war is causing nuclear contamination in Iraq, a reference to the use of depleted uranium ammunition by the U.S. And the charge of anti-Semitism is even more distorted and obscene, based on the assertion that when Sheehan has criticized “neo-cons,” that she is actually just using a code word for “Jews in the Pentagon.”

Can there be a better example of an utter lack of class than this? As I say, one need not give Sheehan a free pass to show her basic decency. Being a Gold Star mom doesn’t mean she automatically becomes some unchallengeable oracle of truth. It does mean she deserves respect. But as we saw last fall with Hyman’s slander of John Kerry’s service record, honoring the troops and their families is just something that’s given lip service by the Rabid Right. When ideology gets in the way, lying and dishonoring are par for the course.

Hyman ends his commentary with a comparison that is as dopey as the rest of the commentary is despicable. Hyman claims that the coverage of Sheehan has dwarfed the media attention paid to Paul Smith, the first soldier to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor in Iraq (Smith received the award posthumously after being killed in a firefight last April). A brief Googling of Paul Smith reveals good and plenty of press coverage of his award. That Sheehan would get more coverage makes sense simply because hers is an ongoing and developing story; Smith’s story is dramatic and touching, but static. Should the media have offered recaps of the medal ceremony at the White House for an entire month?

But for Hyman, this basic reality of journalism is somehow evidence of a vast media conspiracy to side with the “obnoxious” Sheehan and her political views.

But I can’t help wondering, Mark: Smith was killed nearly six months ago, and as far as I’m aware, this is the first time you’ve mentioned him on “The Point.” Over that period of time, how many commentaries have you devoted supporting your own political causes and attacking your enemies, commentaries that could have been used to celebrate the sacrifice of Sergeant Smith? If you’re really concerned about the media ignoring his story in order to advance certain political positions, perhaps you should take a good look in the mirror before you point fingers.

And that’s The Counterpoint.

Hyman Index: 5.39


At 3:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Ted,

Inspired by your text, I sent this note off to Mr. Hyman:

Dear Mr. Hyman,

{Disagreeing with Ms. Sheehan's politics is one thing, but using your Sinclair bullhorn to call her "obnoxious", with "wacko" views, and other character smears has no place in civilized, public, discourse.

Have you no shame, sir? Is your anger so great that you must lay waste to a mother who raised a hero son, even when Ms. Sheehan is very much yesterday's "news"?

P.S., I would appreciate it if you would not manipulate my comments by selecting bits out of context. Thank you. }

We live in sad time, don't we?

CM from IC

At 3:48 PM, Blogger Ted Remington said...

Yep, we sure do (although I try hard not to let Hyman's existence color my general view of the world).


At 12:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


If only if were just that bloody Hyman. No, its also:

- a country so in love with capitalism and greed, that it can't control a ridiculously overpriced "health" "care" "system" that routinely ups its price by 10% a year.

- an opposition party so afraid of the Religious Right that it can't do the obvious thing: call for a political ethos of humanism and "secular Christianity" -- a policy where we actually care about each other enough to sustain a society! Such a modest and values-driven attitude would defrock these selfish, self-proclaimed mouthpieces of God and reduce the level of us-against-them partisanship. We need a party of principle, but one that sees the folly of unfettered capitalism, greed, and self-absorption.

Instead, the former Democratic party just tries to somehow out Republican the Republicans. Until it can take principled approaches to our society's problems, it can never capture voter's hearts. And how stinkin bad do the Repugnicans have to get before the Dems take stock?

If this goes on much longer, the Repugnicans will legalize the extraction of oxygen from the air, so that it can be sold back to us all (why not, all other public resources are handled that way?). We'll all go around in our private little space suits (as Halliburton/Enron/Disney will have reduced the partial pressure of 02 in the air down to lethal levels). Don't worry... the space suits WILL have built in cell phones, MP3 players, and masturbation units! We'll all have big tanks for supplying "air conditioning" to our homes. Think of the revenue possibilities! Let's get on this idea. Now!

- And that apple don't fall far from the Bush... look at our Queen Mother Bush.. so lacking in empathy for others, that she sees a poor person on a cot in the Astrodome as "lucky" even though he or she just might have had:
a home
a neighborhood
a job (albeit crummy)
a sense of place.
some privacy.
some respect, at least greater than
that granted by Mother Bush

Shameful. Yet where is Pat Robertson on the real evil of lack of empathy?

Okay, I'll stop. Sorry.

But whoever steals my idea for atmospheric 02 extraction, ya better at least credit CM in IC for the idea, if not for the royalties!

CM in IC


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