Momma, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cannon Fodder

by KARYN STRICKLER

The inclination of a mother to protect her children is instinctual and when violated, renders a pure form of justice that is powerful, swift and decisive. George W. Bush’s illegitimate war in Iraq is becoming the corporeality that got between the proverbial mother bear and her cub. Threaten a Grizzly bear’s cub and with unblinking furor, momma will take your head off with one swipe of her paw–just lookin’ out for her baby. Nature expects nothing less, neither should humankind.

Bush has raised the ire of the mommas who are sacrificing their babies as cannon fodder in his imperial oil war. As the death toll rises, so do the voices of the mommas who aren’t mincing words in opposition to George W. Bush for killing their babies.

First Lady Laura Bush was interrupted at a campaign event at a Hamilton, NJ firehouse last week by Sue Niederer. Mrs. Niederer, a member of Military Families Speak Out, was wearing a shirt with a picture of her son Army Lt. Seth Dvorin that read "President Bush You Killed My Son." Dvorin died in Iraq in February, 2004.

After Neiderer wondered out loud at the rally about why the Bush children and the kids of other politicians are not serving in Iraq, she was descended upon by people in black suits with earphones, pushed, shoved and arrested for trespassing. Sue Niederer said she had tickets to the event.

Seth Dvorin was 24 years old and joined the Army in order to enhance his employment prospects with the FBI or CIA. Seth was married to Kelly Harris just before he departed for Iraq. Seth, whose only training was on-the-job, was assigned to find bombs similar to the one that killed him in February.

Mrs. Neiderer was never a fan of the war, but when she heard that the entire "weapons of mass destruction" justification for going to war was a sham, she told Elizabeth Weill-Greenberg during an interview for CounterPunch, "I wanted to rip the president’s head off. Curse him, yell at him, call him a self righteous bastard and a lot of other words. I think if I had him in front of me I would shoot him in the groin area. Let him suffer…Put him through misery, like he’s doing to everyone else. He doesn’t deserve any better."

Rosemarie Dietz Slavenas, mother of an Illinois National Guard pilot, 1st Lt. Brian Slavenas killed in Iraq in 2003, emerged from her son’s funeral to tell the press that she holds George W. Bush personally responsible for her son’s death. She would not allow military trappings of any sort at the funeral. Speaking of her baby, she said, "George [W.] Bush killed my son. I request in Brian’s name a stop to the killing. No more preemptive wars."

Brian’s mom spoke out bravely, even in opposition to other family members who publicly disagreed with Rosemarie’s conclusion that Bush killed her son. In an interview with Socialist Worker Online, the long-time peace activist said, "There is…one man who’s responsible for it, and that’s George Bush. I hope he will live in history as George V. Bush–for George ‘Vendetta’ Bush. Or ‘Bush the Barbarian’ works for me. Or ‘Bush the Baby Butcher’–he butchered my baby."

Celeste Zappala lost her son Sgt. Sherwood Baker, a husband and father who died In Iraq on April 27, 2004. In an interview with The New Standard, Zappala said, "What about all the others who have died since [my son] and will keep on dying? I want to see it stop for all the families and the soldiers most of all. How sad. How sad that we are still letting this go on. Our voices must make an impression on the people. They have to hear us because we are the ones suffering the most."

In the same interview, Jane Bright of California, who lost her son, Sergeant Evan Ashcraft, on July 24, 2003, said she feels compelled to speak out as a way of coping with her loss. She refuses to "move on," as if she did not lose her son and says, "I won’t be quiet until everyone knows how bad it hurts. I won’t be able to ‘get over it’ as long as more of our children are dying in Iraq."

Lila Lipscomb, from Michael Moore’s hometown of Flint, Michigan has emerged as one of the most powerful players in both the documentary film, Fahrenheit 911 and as a spokesperson against Bush’s bungled foray into Iraq. In the film, Lipscomb reads a letter from her oldest son Michael Pedersen, written just days before his death. It urges his family to work for Bush’s defeat. Michael Pedersen wrote:"We are just out here in the sand and windstorms waiting. What in the world is wrong with George (trying to be like his dad) Bush? He got us out here for nothing whatsoever. I am so furious right now, Momma. I really hope they don’t re-elect that fool . . ."

Lipscomb’s experience has transformed her from an unquestioning matriot into a passionate, anti-war activist, who also works with Military Families Speak Out. In an interview in the The Guardian Unlimited, the mom from Michigan says that her entire world view was shattered as a result of the loss of her son and she is teaching her grandchildren to question authority.

Mommas of America are wise to Dubblyak. They know that they are sacrificing their babies to a war that violates precedent that has guided America’s entry into war from the beginning of our nation’s history. A declaration of war is usually spurred, either by a direct attack on the United States or our allies; or a broad consensus among our allies; or an imminent threat to our national security. None of these conditions existed for war in Iraq. Secretary-General of the United Nations Kofi Annan, recently told the BBC that he believe that this war is "illegal," under the U.N. Charter.

This historically unprecedented war is brought to those sacrificing their children, by a man who would not deign to put his regal butt in harms way during the Vietnam War, going AWOL while he was supposed to be serving in the National Guard. There are no weapons of mass destruction and no connection between 9-11 and the war in Iraq. Our children are dying for no legitimate reason.

Mother Freedom is shaking her fist at the President of the United States of America for needlessly sacrificing our children in the Iraq war. Right now the ranks of the armed forces are being filled by volunteers, many of whom have no alternative route out of poverty. Mommas of every income-level, shape, size, color, creed, and national origin need to join together and loudly resist this war. Because as the death toll rises, the situation in Iraq becomes increasingly chaotic, more people are needed and fewer people volunteer, George W. Bush is likely to advocate a national draft, putting all of our children at risk. He’s got nothing to lose.

KARYN STRICKLER is a political activist, and writer living outside Washington, DC. You can reach her at fiftyplusone@earthlink.net .

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