I’ll sacrifice my whole family

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“If I have to sacrifice my whole family for the sake of our whole country and world, other countries that want freedom, I’ll do that.”

These are the dramatic words of former Marine Gary Qualls, whose son, Marine Lance Cpl. Louis Wayne Qualls, died in Iraq last fall at the age of 20. Qualls is a friend of Crawford gift shop owner Bill Johnson, who established the pro-Bush/pro-war camp that is now opposing Camp Casey in Crawford, Texas.

Qualls, you’ll recall, is the man who removed the cross with his son’s name from the group crosses set up along the road that leads to Bush’s ranch. Speaking on Air America last week, Cindy Sheehan said that Qualls had been quite friendly with her, had drunk a beer with her, and told her he didn’t share her views, but wanted to make sure his son’s cross was there with the others. The next day, he took it down.

Aside from any feelings we might have about people who support the war in Iraq, there are other issues in this story that bear noting. One is Qualls’ uber-patriarchal presumption that he somehow has the power to “sacrifice” every member of his family. He has a 16-year-old son who wants to enlist, and Qualls is solidly behind his son’s desire. One imagines that if the adolescent were eligible, his father would pack his bags for him.

The other item of interest is that the author of this AP article about Qualls, Angela K. Brown, begins by referring to the pro-Bush camp as “patriotic.” Reporters and anchorpeople have done this over and over for the last couple of years, and no one stops them.

Qualls is in agreement with Brown. He recently said of the protesters at Camp Casey: “They’re not really very patriotic. They’re trying to bring people down. They’re trying to demoralize the factors of being an American.”

I have no idea how you “demoralize a factor,” but I do get the part about trying to drag people down. It’s as though the alleged president of the United States were a cheerleader and Sheehan was confronting the empty content of his cheers. The reality is that Bush is a cheerleader–it appears to be the only skill in which he has ever had any training–and it is indeed a real drag to remind the flag-waving patriots that American soldiers are dying for Halliburton and PNAC. Because most of them don’t know what PNAC is. And none of them wants to believe that their children and spouses and brothers and sisters and friends were killed for greed, oil, and a misguided political agenda. Or that the war has made the world, including America, less safe.

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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