Finally, we get the story from the source.
Activist Cindy Sheehan, arrested for wearing an antiwar T-shirt, inciting a riot, demonstrating in the Capitol, plotting to embarrass a sitting Resident, unlawful behavior, not being Republican and pro-war — take your pick — is speaking out about her experience at Dubya Bush’s State of the Union address last night. Check out her story at Buzzflash: It tears at the heart to see this woman, who loves her country and the ideals it claims to have (but doesn’t), continually be kicked in the teeth by her uncompassionate government.
At Blogcritics, where folks are debating my report on the Sheehan arrest (an excerpt from my Annotated State of the Union), an interesting factoid emerged. Right-wingers say the antiwar activist was arrested and removed from the gathering simply for violating the Capitol dress code, and they pointed out GOP types who met the same fate. (One got the boot for wearing a T-shirt that said, “Bill Doesn’t Inhale, He Just Sucks.” (Funny!) Of course, it turned out that while these people were removed from the Congressional chamber, they weren’t arrested. One T-shirt wearer, a guest of vehemently antigay, antichoice Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA), was banned from the Capitol for the rest of that day, but ended up with a souvenir photograph.
Don’t let the pro-Shrub/pro-war crowd fool you: The Sheehan incident, where a woman was arrested more for her reputation and for what cops assumed she might do than for any action she took (is that the American way?), is about punishing leftists, period.
An excerpt from Ms. Sheehan’s recollection of last night’s sorry events:
I had just sat down and I was warm from climbing 3 flights of stairs back up from the bathroom so I unzipped my jacket. I turned to the right to take my left arm out, when the same officer saw my shirt and yelled; “Protester.” He then ran over to me, hauled me out of my seat and roughly (with my hands behind my back) shoved me up the stairs. I said something like “I’m going, do you have to be so rough?” By the way, his name is Mike Weight.
The officer ran with me to the elevators yelling at everyone to move out of the way. When we got to the elevators, he cuffed me and took me outside to await a squad car. On the way out, someone behind me said, “That’s Cindy Sheehan.” At which point the officer who arrested me said: “Take these steps slowly.” I said, “You didn’t care about being careful when you were dragging me up the other steps.” He said, “That’s because you were protesting.” Wow, I get hauled out of the People’s House because I was, “Protesting.”
I was never told that I couldn’t wear that shirt into the Congress. I was never asked to take it off or zip my jacket back up. If I had been asked to do any of those things…I would have, and written about the suppression of my freedom of speech later. I was immediately, and roughly (I have the bruises and muscle spasms to prove it) hauled off and arrested for “unlawful conduct.”
After I had my personal items inventoried and my fingers printed, a nice Sgt. came in and looked at my shirt and said, “2245, huh? I just got back from there.”
I told him that my son died there. That’s when the enormity of my loss hit me. I have lost my son. I have lost my First Amendment rights. I have lost the country that I love. Where did America go?
I ask myself that very question every day. The answer: It has never existed except in people’s hopes and dreams. More than two centuries ago, John Adams was in the forefront of those who ached for a land where all would be equal and free. When this nation was born, however, slaves weren’t equal under law. Neither were women. As time went on, non-homeowners were less-than in the eyes of the law. The same was true for many melanin-defined minorities and — as Shrubbie noted last night — GLBT Americans are second-class citizen and their “president” is determined to keep us in that demeaning, dehumanizing state. So, where did America go? It has never been what it claims to be, what some of its founders hoped it would become. That America is a fantasy, just like that nonsense about compassion and hope Bush spouted last night.
For 10 years now, this entity — whether called AF&O, The Armchair Activist, or Grateful Dread the BBS and Web site — has pondered the question, “Can America be saved?” I go back and forth on the answer. Sometimes I think that perhaps this nation can become what it claims to be, a land of liberty and equality for all. At other times, I am convinced that this construct is doomed. Right now is one of those other times. And that hurts.
Please read the article in its entirety and then decide what you will do. Will you join the go-along to get-along brigade? Will you throw up your hands and close your eyes to the truth? Or will you commit to taking action to creat positive, progressive change in the hopes of doing the impossible: making America become what it claims to be?
God bless Cindy Sheehan. And God help the US.