Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Cindy, Gaza and Rape?

Question: What do Cindy Sheehan, the Gaza Strip protestors and a rapist all have in common?
Answer: The actions they take mask their true motivation.

We all know that rape is not about sex. Rape looks like it's about sex. It may appear to be about sex because it includes an overt sexual act. But it's not about sex. It's about some sick need for control. The rapist only chooses sex because that particular act, violating women in the most intimate way, provides for him the greatest feeling of power. Serial killers use murder in the same fashion. It's not about killing, it's about ultimate control.

So what about the Gaza strip protestors? Isn't that episode about Jewish homes and Israeli land and fairness? Then why is it that people from outside of the settlements are the last ones to leave? Don't the residents themselves have the most to lose?

Cindy Sheehan says she is a grieving mother who only wants the war to stop before other young men lose their lives. But doesn't she realize that we lost 3000+ people BEFORE we took up the fight. Doesn't she understand that shirking the battle now only leaves future generations with a more ominous problem?

I would contend that you cannot truly understand Ms. Sheehan and the Gaza protestors if you only look at their actions. Like the rapist, their actions do not accurately reflect their true motivations. What they really want, even if they don't understand it themselves, is power and control. Now that's a pretty bold statement and I don't make bold statements lightly. I would not make such an outrageous charge unless I had a direct personal experience to back it up. Let me explain.

Today, I walk and talk like a conservative duck (because I am…now) but there was a time when I was young and foolish not so conservative. In fact, you might say I was a regular rebel. But the beginning of my “conservative period” actually came about when I was called upon to be my “most liberal.” My fate was to become a protest organizer!

While attending college, our professors made it known that the University administration was going to close our college as a cost saving measure. This news, of course, infuriated many of the students. Consequently, small group of my compadres and I began to organize a protest. We knew that something loud, exciting and attention getting would surely get the administration to change it's mind.

In just a matter of two or three days we had organized all the students in the college for a powerful day of protests. We were going to start the day off with a class walk out and then hold protest speeches on the front step of the college. The speeches consisted of 8-10 students and one professor, each giving a hard-hitting, impassioned plea about how closing the college was unfair and the administration was tyrannical for even considering it. I capped the speeches with a barnburner that got everyone cheering. We had (by police estimates) only about 1200 people show up but we were a lot louder than those numbers would indicate.

At the conclusion of my speech, all the students grabbed white crosses (built especially for the occasion) and we proceeded to march around campus. Our final stop was the Administration building. Can you imagine 1200 students marching through the hallowed halls of a building as sacrosanct as the Administration building? When we aligned ourselves for a second march through the building, the police stopped us and said that the first pass packed so many marching students into that old building that we had shaken some of the plaster off the walls and we would not be allowed to enter again!

With our final pass through the building thwarted, we gathered on the front lawn of the admin building and proceeded to drive our crosses into the ground like gravestones. We then lay on the ground in front of our crosses; 1200 bodies in 1200 graves all due the uncaring decisions of university administrators was the message. That scene made the paper and the news that evening.

The next day we held another protest rally at high noon (for dramatic effect) on the front steps of our college. We demanded to meet with the president of the University. About the same number of people showed up as the day before but now a larger part of the audience was students from other colleges on the campus. We were really beginning to have an impact! After a couple more speeches from our “dead” classmates, a representative of the President's office showed up, the Public Relations rep, if I remember correctly. She announced that the college would not be closed. A resounding cheer went up from the students. I can still remember the tremendous sense of pride and accomplishment I had. We had BEATEN the Administration!

But then the PR Rep said something unusual. She said that the administration had never decided that our college was going to be the one to close. The option of closing our college was only one of many that had been discussed. She added that she was glad to know the feelings of the students as they were expressed in the protest.

At the time, nothing could have dampened the exhilaration of the moment. That feeling continued for several days, or even weeks, but her final statement began to eat at me. Our professors had told us that the school would be closed. Did everyone misread the administrations intentions? Or had we, the young impressionable students, been misled, even prodded into a protest by our professors? I finally came to the conclusion that we had been manipulated. For what? Because they needed our masses to make the political point.

As I have grown older and wiser, I have gleaned several life lessons from my experience in organizing and participating in that protest.

  1. Organizing such a protest is a heady, intoxicating experience. You are on a mission. You become full of righteous indignation and you are willing to fight for your rights. In the end, I feel that the intoxicating effect of protest, like most intoxicants, is addictive. This addiction drives the addicted person to lead a life full of protests.

  2. Participating in a protest is very much a mob mentality. You suspend reason believing all that is told to you. This unreasoned belief can become a powerful motivator in your actions, making you more susceptible to outside forces.

  3. Buzzwords play a major role in inciting a protest. We expended great effort on writing speeches that talked about fairness to the students, pride in the program and financial burden on those who could not afford more expensive colleges. While there was truth (at least from the information we were fed) in these points, the buzzwords elicited cheers and whipped the crowd into a frenzy. This type of rhetoric then fed our addiction.

  4. Finally, protestors can be manipulated by others. In fact, I believe that most protests are started by a very small but persuasive group. Our professors were threatened by the thought of closing the school. My professors served that purpose in my example.

I tend to feel that liberals are much more likely to organize and participate in protests than are conservatives. I truly believe that most people who are motivated to showy protests only do it for the intoxicating effect. Note the Gaza protesters. These are people who are there for the protests! The people with the most at stake have already left.

And finally there is Cindy Sheehan. I don’t doubt that she is grieving (and we all grieve with her), but what is her goal? I know her stated goal, to make President Bush “end the hostilities,” but what hope does she really have of achieving that goal. Is she deluding herself? Is she really there for the “rush” of the protest?

Now it appears that Cindy Sheehan may lose her entire family over this protest. For what? Will her protest bring back her dead son? I don’t think so. You know, I hear that heroin addicts will sacrifice all that they have for their next fix. Almost as if the act of protest were addictive!