"My Son Is a Murderer" -- The Gut-Wrenching Realities Facing Military Moms
Continued from previous page
In Palestine, every single day, there's death and destruction, and it's on their television. Sihan's point is that, "We can't take this anymore. This is too much." Their children have a syndrome called selective mutism. These kids are no longer speaking because they've been shocked. Their houses have been destroyed.
Her point is, we have to have some sort of context. In the United States, you need to see more. In Palestine, we need to see less. It's about how people take in information and what they do with it. These families are not able to function. We don't want to get to that point.
RA: Is anything standing out for you now that you're on the road? How are people responding to these stories?
SG: At every event, we've invited people from the community who are affected by war to speak. In Philadelphia, we had three Iraqis join us -- one doctor and two who have been displaced. In Washington, we were joined by Chantelle Bateman, a former JROTC commander who speaks out about the risks of military enlistment. In New York, we had Nurit's son Elik Elhanan. That's been gratifying. It's not just about me and my book. It's about people sharing their stories.
How are people responding? Well, the reception at the events has been great, but I have to wonder about the rest of the population. On the plane from New York to Boston, I saw very privileged, plump folks who might think that what's happening in the Middle East is fine because we're "protecting" ourselves. It really gives you a chill. I think about how they would respond if they met the people in my book.
They probably wouldn't be very concerned. I believe there's a sense that it's OK to be doing these things. I'm getting that sense more and more. It's OK because it needs to be done. I even hear young people say, "Well if those people weren't in the military, who would be?"
You realize the framework of the actual work that has to be done to change minds.
RA: What's next for you?
SG: I'm going to continue speaking out and trying to bring people together. It's important to reach across cultures, shake hands, look in one another's eyes and say, "I see you. I hear your story."
Rose Aguilar is the host of Your Call , a daily call-in radio show on KALW 91.7 FM in San Francisco and KUSP 88.9 FM in Santa Cruz, and author of Red Highways: A Liberal's Journey into the Heartland .