Cindy Sheehan’s 52nd birthday was Friday, and who from the media showed up at Edgewater Park to wish the press-annointed Peace Mom well, around the pulse of a six-piece bongo circle? Scene. The Plain Dealer and local TV crews crews attend any of Sheehan’s four events in Greater Cleveland over the past three days, not even to goof on her latest book, Myth America: 10 Greatest Myths of the Robber Class and the Case for Revolution.
“There’s a lot of responsibility they have for the mess we have with the entire system,” says Sheehan of the mainstream press from coast to coast, “which actually happens to include them, the corporate media.” They’re the robber class’s public face, she says, telling the public how much the government says we all should worry about. (According to the Seattle Times, six mega-corps now own most major media: Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, Time Warner, Disney, Viacom, Bertelsmann and General Electric. The story marveled about how, as late as 2005, “56 percent of Americans still [thought] Iraq had weapons of mass destruction before the start of the war, while six in 10 said they believe[d] Iraq provided direct support to the al-Qaida terrorist network.”
It’s enough to make Sheehan admit to losing at least a little steam. Did she at least get what she asked for this year, aside from the obvious?
“I’m not going to be Miss America here and say, ‘world peace,’” she says sheepishly. “But… I’d be great to have the troops come home. But it’s not happening on my birthday this year, and it’s probably not going to happen on my 75th birthday either.”
Though the peaceable filled St. Colman’s Church on Thursday night to hear Sheehan rail against the power conglomerate, and many hundreds more visited her at other events, just 12 people showed for lunch on Friday. And still not a camera in sight.
“I called [PD editor] Susan Goldberg this morning and told her, ‘You guys never come through,’” says Mike Fagan, leader of the Northeast Ohio Anti-War Coalition, which, with Peace Action Cleveland, tries to find new ways to arouse a long apathetic giant. (See the great videos of NOAC’s delivery of a highly symbolic Sunday dinner to Sen. George Voinovich's house in ’07.) "I mean, this is Cindy Sheehan! Her son died.”
“People automatically think that a Democrat got in the White house and everything is now okay,” says local activist Janet Smith, another Friday visitor. “It’s still the same thing.”
She’s with Sheehan about the possibilities for true change, outlined in her new book, that begin with an enhancement of the country’s inspired-but-now-corporate-dominated, two-headed political monster. To have a third (or more) party, runoff voting would be an easy way to show how all ideas don’t always fit into two narrowly defined columns of thought. Sheehan says the public financing (and monitoring) of elections, as well as hand-counted paper balloting and an enhancement of options for voters is the only way to revolt from within the wheel.
“All these things actually contribute to democracy, to freedom,” she says, noting helpfully how the mainstream media recently focused so fervently on Iran’s stolen elections but have given conspiratorial undertones to anything written about our own stolen elections. “So the only solution is revolution.”
Smith sums it up nicely: “Back in the day, corporations had to answer to the state. That’s why Rockefeller left Cleveland, because the government was always setting tough rules. Now, corporations are people, with rights and everything.” And a whole lot of wrongs. — Dan Harkins
Sheehan portrait by Robert Shetterly, from Americans Who Tell The Truth.