How Could Anyone Still Be Sitting on the Fence?

 by Attila Gyenis

Those words were recently spoken by Cindy Sheehan, who lost her son in Iraq as part of the president’s ‘noble’ cause. It illustrates the frustration felt by some who are astonished that certain segments of our population still don’t think they have enough information to see that this war is based on lies, deceit, and greed. Someone had cautioned her on her ‘forceful’ language, saying that it might turn off some people who were sitting on the fence. Her response was, “How could anyone in the world still be sitting on that fence.”  

That is the $64,000 question. How could anyone in their right mind not see through the lies and deceit that this war is based on? They must know that they are being betrayed by the very people they place their faith in. And by ‘they,’ I mean the republicans and democrats who supported the president and the Iraq war. They must realize that their sense of patriotism is being manipulated against them, and that they are allowing injustices to occur under their watch. They must see that our soldiers, and Iraqi civilians, are dying in vain while oil prices keep going up and the oil companies keep making their greatest profits ever. And yet they don’t.

The world is full of contradictions, and the president is using it to his advantage. We live in a fragmented world, with the have-mores versus the have-nots, the powerful versus the powerless. This division is not based on justice or truth, but simply by the power that one group holds over the other, and the willingness to use that power for selfish reasons regardless of who gets hurt. Of course, that doesn’t answer why some of the poor actually support the president and the war. Don’t they realize that the majority of the sacrifices that the war demands come from their ranks? That is just one of the many contradictions that are inherent in the human condition.

Meanwhile, we see the president urging us to just keep spending money and consuming like we have been, because our economy is more important than the lives that are ‘sacrificed.’ Heaven forbid if we spend less money on non-essential consumables or raise the tax on gas as a way to reduce our reliance on oil. That would cut into the profit margins. As Cheney so eloquently stated, ‘I would never ask the American people to conserve.’ So let’s keep the sacrifices a secret, and if the majority of the people don’t have to feel the pain, then we can all pretend that the ugly war isn’t there. Good thing that we don’t figure the value of our dead soldiers into the price of a barrel of oil.

War is not a failure

Among some supporters (think of the neo-cons and corporate elite of Halliburton, etc), this war is a success as it has accomplished many of their goals. After all, control of the region and its oil is now in the hands of U.S. corporate control. They don’t see the lack of a democratic government in Iraq see as a failure because that was never their goal. The U.S. has always been the supporter of undemocratic governments as long as they kept the U.S. dollars flowing (witness the Shah of Iran, Marcos of the Philippines, and most South American dictatorships). How many people are killed in the process is never a consideration.

Big lies, little lies, lies of omission, the lie of denial

Another contradiction is that ‘they’ continue to believe in the ‘lie’ even with the preponderance of evidence to the contrary. Even with the evidence that no weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq; the release of the Downing Street Memos which showed manufactured evidence for the war; and the fact that none of the 9/11 terrorists were from Iraq or linked to Saddam, they still don’t feel the president lied about the war.

In fact, the president continues to mention 9/11 and Iraq in the same breath. Like the typical liar, he has to add new lies to protect the original lie. And he will have to continue to lie, until (and if) he confesses. In the meanwhile U.S. policy will continue to operate under those falsehoods.

There is an unspoken secret about maintaining a lie— it’s hard work, but lying works. Just ask all the liars. So don’t wait until Bush admits he lied, act when you have proof he lied.

Some people want to know why Bush would lie. The answer is simple. The real cause of this war is not to fight against terrorism or protect democracy, but to promote corporate and economic interests in the region. Bush lied because he wouldn’t have gotten enough support from the American people to go ahead with the war plan. If ‘they’ knew the truth, they would be outraged and demand Bush’s resignation.

Chickenhawk n. A person enthusiastic about war, provided someone else fights it; particularly when that enthusiasm is undimmed by personal experience with war; most emphatically when that lack of experience came in spite of ample opportunity in that person’s youth.Or is that just wishful thinking on my part? After all, they accepted Guantanamo Bay, and the Abu Ghraib torture scandal without much of a protest. And another thing— it seems (based on my unscientific survey) that the same people who support the Iraqi War also believe that our involvement in Vietnam was the right thing to do. It seems that this support for the Iraq War is not an aberration, it is a pattern. Did I mention that Bush is a chickenhawk? As well as Cheney?

The ends justify the means? Not usually.

It is important to recognize within us the human trait that allows us to justify any act we commit at the moment that we do it— even if it is wrong and hurtful. It may be years later before we can admit that we were wrong, and then we are left with regret that we didn’t do the right thing earlier. For those people on the fence, you have an opportunity to avoid that regret by acting as soon as you have evidence that convinces you that there is a disconnect between what the president is saying, and the evidence of his actions.

Even if your mistaken belief was the result of someone else’s lie, you still must do the right thing as soon as possible. You can worry about the sense of betrayal after you correct your actions. However, it is perfectly reasonable to hold the person doing the lying accountable for their lies.

Democratic Party also receives a failing grade

And I’m pissed off at the democrat party. The time to come out against the war was three years ago, not next year after it is politically expedient to do so. To the courageous few who have publicly opposed the war from the start, you have my unending gratitude.

As far as Kerry goes, he is the worst type of politician (i.e. - hypocrite). Not only did he sell out the soldiers in the Iraq war, he also sold out his Vietnam war buddies by downplaying the injustices of the Vietnam war during his presidential run.

And while I supported Kucinich during the 2004 primary for the positions that he represented, he made an unacceptable statement by withdrawing from the presidential race days before the Democratic Convention. And the statement is this- Kucinich implied that party loyalty was more important than standing up for peace. (PS- I voted for Nader)

[Editor's note 10 years later- It is possible that there had been tremendous pressure put upon Kucinich by the democratic party leadership to withdraw from the race and it is very difficult to stand up against that pressure, and if that is the case I will lessen my critical view of his withdrawing from the race at such a crucial time.]

Do the Right Thing

It certainly is hard to admit when you are wrong, especially when there are deaths involved. But the time to correct the course of action is as soon as you can do so. If there is a wall in front of you, you cannot continue to maintain the course straight ahead and not expect to bang your head. If you want to stop banging your head against the wall, you need to take a different path. 

Wanting to believe that the president is acting in a manner that protects liberty and democracy is admirable, but if it is contradicted by facts and evidence, then it is foolish and shortsighted, and the dead and their families bare the brunt.


I offer a possible explanation for the chasm that exists between the two sides (though solutions may be a little more difficult to come by). A key element may be the ‘conservative’ view of ‘faith.’ They have unquestioning faith in the surpreme rulers because they have been taught to have unquestioning faith in god. They may simply be transferring their concept of faith in god onto the president but that is based on a flawed logic. This is the planet earth, and there is no one deserving to have their actions go unchallenged because of a misplaced belief in faith, even if the candidate insists they are a man (or woman) of god. Furthermore, as history has shown, unconditional belief in a president, or any other political leader, cannot take the place of responsible citizenship. If you become aware that their actions contradict their words, then you can no longer sit on the fence. You must act. As Theodore Roosevelt said, “That we are to stand by the president, right or wrong is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.”

The president couldn’t lie without the consent of the media

The president and the media do a good job of telling us about the righteousness of the war, and that the majority of Americans support the war and don’t believe the president lied. This fits in easily with what we are taught at a young age. We naturally want to assume that everyone is telling the truth, and we want to go along with the crowd. However, that is not responsible action when something as critical as war and death is occurring. Then we must hold ourselves to a higher level and be willing to face the truth, no matter how uncomfortable it makes us feel. We also need to accept the fact that people lie, even if it is the president.

Clearly, a certain percentage of Bush supporters are not on the fence, but are firmly entrenched on the other side of the fence. They fully support the war and think that it is our oil under Iraq’s sand.

But if you say (and believe) that you are for liberty, democracy and freedom, then you have to realize that this is an unjust war based on lies based on the evidence presented to you. Lies should not be acceptable, even when they are supposedly being said to justify a ‘greater truth.’

An ethical person will correct their actions as soon as they discover that they had done something wrong (even if unintentionally). If a person realizes that the war is based on lies, it is not acceptable to still stay on the fence. Those republicans and conservatives need to jump the fence and start walking their talk, and stand up against the war.

I can’t believe that anyone is still on the fence, but if there is a chance that at least one person hasn’t been hit in the face with the truth often enough, it is important to continue the dialogue to explain how this war is wrong and illegal, and that our elected officials and media are misleading the American people by protecting the lie instead of shining the light on the truth.

To claim that this is a noble war is a disgrace to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice; a horrific mistake to the ones that are going to die or get maimed; and a betrayal to liberty and democracy for all.

Peace and justice.

© 2005 Attila Gyenis

War creates peace like hate creates love. ~ David L. Wilson

It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, more vengeance, more desolation. War is hell. ~ Gen. William T. Sherman

Paramount among the responsibilities of a free press is the duty to prevent any part of the government from deceiving the people... ~Hugo Black, Supreme Court Justice

"It’s difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it." ~ Sinclair Lewis

"The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt." ~ Bertrand Russell


Link Pages:

Hypocrites and Liars by Cindy Sheehan - Cindy Sheehan talking about why she stood along the road in Crawford, Texas, waiting to talk to the president. It inspired me to write the above essay. -  website urging the president to meet with Cindy Sheehan (her unofficial website)

Life is Beautiful - Another view of life in Iraq

Words Have Meaning - People have a responsibility to say what they mean, and mean what they say. To accomplish this, words cannot be allowed to change their meaning midstream.

Not One More! - Not one more unnecessary death, not one more day. Stand up and be counted. Demand that your elected officials stand up and be counted. 

Dis-civil Obedience - If you are obedient to a government that is acting in a way that is not beneficial to society (civilization), you are practicing dis-civil obedience.


Chickenhawk: (from Wikipedia) is an epithet used in United States politics to criticize a politician, bureaucrat, or commentator who votes for war, supports war, commands a war, or develops war policy, but has not personally served in the military, especially one who opted out of a previous war on dubious grounds. Generally, it is not a label applied to essentially "dovish" leaders who support defensive wars, "humanitarian interventions," or UN operations.

The term is generally used in the ad hominem circumstantial context: since a supposed "chickenhawk" has not served in war, the implication is that the person is morally ill-equipped to support a war. On the contrary, implication is that any person who has served in a war is morally better-equipped to make decisions about war.

Chickenhawk links:


Previous articles

Mr. Kerry on the Yellow Brick Road - If only Mr. Kerry had some courage to stand up against the Wicked Witch of the East. Beating Mr. Bush should have been a no-brainer. [2004]

The American Dream? - What exactly is the American dream? We are at a crossroads and have to start making choices about which dream we want to follow. Who will make the choice, the community or a corporation? A look at the struggle in Humboldt County, CA, between community members and the Pacific Lumber/Maxxam corporation that  spent nearly a quarter of a million dollars into an attempt to recall the District Attorney in March of 2004. The recall attempt was not successful. But the struggle continues.

"Those who already enjoy democracy, liberty, and human rights, in particular, should not allow their own personal happiness to lull them into forgetting the many others who are still struggling against tyranny, slavery, and poverty; and all those who are suffering from unimaginable forms of oppression, exploitation, and massacres," Wei Jingsheng, Chinese Human Rights Advocate, and political prisoner in China for 15 years.

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