In the United States of Amnesia, the press follows cage-rattlers and free thinkers only for a brief moment, and when its agenda is no longer being served, they are discarded into the wasteland of yesterday’s news. Remember Cindy Sheehan? After losing her son in the early stages of the US occupation of Iraq, she became one of the most outspoken critics of the war and of the US empire in general. A thorn in the right-wing militarists’ sides, she gazed inside our Boy Emperors’ suit, found it empty, and tirelessly defied the Pentagon’s global hegemony.
Sheehan, with courageous consistency, continues to speak out against US imperialism in the Middle East (and elsewhere) despite the new hope-and-change in the Oval Office. When President Obama began his vacation last weekend at Martha’s Vineyard, Sheehan planned to travel to the President’s safe haven and protest the Air Force killing machines that still buzz day and night over Iraq and Afghanistan.
But things are different now; a “historic” President is now doing the missile-lobbing. When asked about her protest plans on a radio program, ABC anchor Charles Gibson had simple advice for Sheehan: “enough already.” Their guy is in charge now, and her racket only stands in the way of the American media’s long and noble history of serving whatever regime happens to be in charge.
Gibson’s comment is especially ironic considering how he treated Sheehan just four years ago:
On August 9, 2005, the ABC anchor conducted an extensive on-air interview with Sheehan. ‘Cindy Sheehan is her name,’ Gibson began. ‘She says she’s not moving until the President meets with her, and I had a chance to speak with her a few minutes ago. Cindy Sheehan, bottom line, what do you hope to accomplish with all this?’
During the next week, Gibson and ABC continued to cover Sheehan. On August 17, 2005, when Sheehan left Crawford, Gibson reported, ‘We’re going to turn next to the standoff that is playing out near President Bush’s ranch in Crawford, Texas. Cindy Sheehan, you know, the mother who lost a son in Iraq, is now on the move, but she’s still standing her ground.’ ABC’s Geoff Morrell is in Crawford with the details…” The next day, Gibson reported, ‘All across the country last night, people held candlelight vigils in support of Cindy Sheehan…’
From candlelight vigils to the wasteland of amnesia.
The vitriol aimed at Sheehan isn’t just coming from nauseating news anchors like Gibson, but from people she calls allies. The “progressives” and the “peaceniks” have labeled her an “attention whore,” wishing her “good riddance” from the public eye.
The silencing of Sheehan is revealing more and more about Bush’s former opposition. During the last eight years, libertarians were tempted to break bread with the Left on a common cause: peace and opposition to empire. But as the pendulum of power swings back to their side, liberal criticism of Obama’s militaristic foreign policy is nearly absent, and in the case of groups like VoteVets, have their fists furiously beating the war drums in unison.
Despite this broken alliance, Sheehan and the always entertaining Code Pink will continue to rattle the cages of the US war machine, with numerous protests planned for this Fall.
Cindy Sheehan is an intellectual hero, someone who refuses to sell her soul to the current party in power, who can always be counted on to tell the truth, like it or not. Despite my many political differences with her, America needs Cindy Sheehan back in the public eye.