By BENNETT HALL, Democrat-Herald, May 28, 2009
Cindy Sheehan visits Oregon, promotes book
After years of attacking President George W. Bush for starting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, peace activist Cindy Sheehan is training her sights on President Barack Obama for not moving quickly enough to end them.
“I’m not heartened by the changes in this country,” Sheehan told the Gazette-Times on Wednesday. “For one thing, I don’t see any change.”
Sheehan marched onto the national stage in 2004, after her son Casey was killed in action in Iraq. The following year she co-founded Gold Star Families for Peace with other bereaved parents and staged a four-week vigil outside President George Bush’s Texas ranch, demanding a meeting to discuss her son’s death. The resulting publicity made her an icon of the peace movement — and a lightning rod for the movement’s conservative critics.
Since then Sheehan has launched a weekly radio show, staged an unsuccessful congressional campaign against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and published several books.
On Wednesday morning she was in Salem, lending her support to the anti-war “Guard Home” bill now bottled up in the Legislature, which seeks to prevent deployment of National Guard units to foreign wars on the contention that such deployments are illegal.
Wednesday night she was scheduled to speak in Corvallis to promote her latest book, an online volume titled “Myth America: The 10 Greatest Myths of the Robber Class and the Case for Revolution.”
In between, the “peace mom” stopped by the offices of the Gazette-Times for an interview that ranged over several subjects, from her ongoing opposition to America’s war effort and her disappointment with the Democratic Party to her critique of the U.S. economic system.
Some antiwar activists, Sheehan said, have called her a hypocrite for not supporting Obama, who has pledged to begin drawing down troops in Iraq next month. But with Obama sending more troops into Afghanistan, Sheehan counters that she’s not the one being hypocritical.
“I listened to Obama during the campaign, and his policies were almost the same as the Bush-Cheney policies. I didn’t support Obama, and I don’t support his wars,” she said.
“I think the peace movement needs to be more aggressive and more outspoken,” she added. “We have to protest the policies no matter who is president.”
Sheehan said she and other antiwar advocates were courted during the Bush years by the Democratic leadership, who said if they only had a majority in Washington they could end the wars. But now that the balance of power has shifted, she said, the party seems to have lost interest in peace as a political issue.
“The House, the Senate and the White House are all under the control of the Democrats, yet we haven’t seen one positive step” toward ending the wars, Sheehan argued. “To me, (politics) is just a game that they play. Unfortunately, they play it with our children’s lives.”
Terrorism, she said, should be treated as a crime rather than an act of war. America’s “war on terror” has both failed to halt terrorism and created more enemies because of high numbers of civilian deaths.
“We were attacked on 9/11 ostensibly by Osama bin Laden,” she said. “Has Islamic jihadism decreased because of our actions? No, it’s increased because of our actions.”
In her latest book, “Myth America,” the longtime antiwar activist tackles a broader range of social themes, taking aim at an economic system she sees as predatory.
“When I was running for Congress, I realized there was only one division in this country, and it’s the class division, not a political division,” she said. “There’s the robber class and the robbed class.”
In the book, she attacks Obama’s “bankster bailout” and argues that every American ought to have decent housing, affordable health care, clean water, healthy food and a living-wage job. To achieve those goals, she advocates a gradual revolution — nonviolent, of course — in which individuals remove themselves from the grid, grow their own food and pull their money out of the banking system.
“It’s a humanistic solution to out-of-control crony capitalism,” Sheehan said.
“I’m not telling everybody to move to a commune. I’m not a communist. I’m a socialist.”
Bennett Hall can be reached at 758-9529 or email@example.com.
Listen to Cindy Sheehan's weekly radio show Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox at