As the U.S. gets hit by another hurricane, the Cindy Sheehan media circus is blowing into Washington, D.C. On Saturday she’s a featured speaker at a communist-organized “anti-war” rally. On Sunday, she’s scheduled to speak at a national conference of the Progressive Democrats of America (PDA). Other speakers include Democratic Reps. Lynn Woolsey and Barbara Lee, co-chairs of the 61-member Congressional Progressive Caucus. One PDA slogan is “Get out of Iraq now.” Lee holds the distinction of being the only member of Congress to vote against the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan after terrorists based in that country hit America on 9/11.
Americans supporting our troops in Afghanistan, Iraq and around the world are holding their own rallies and events beginning Friday and continuing into the weekend. You can find out more about these activities at http://www.supportthetroopsweekend.org/.
If past coverage is any guide, the major media will deliberately ignore the involvement of communists in organizing the “anti-war” protest. They will focus instead on celebrity speakers such as actress Jessica Lange, the flamboyant George Galloway, Ralph Nader and, of course, Sheehan. But if we had anything approaching an investigative press, the communist role is something that would be exposed. It is a classic case of Marxists using front groups to manipulate innocent people.
The top leaders of International ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War & End Racism), the group organizing and paying the full costs of the stage, sound and setup at the rally, come out of the Workers World Party. This is a group so extreme in its adulation for anti-American dictators that honest liberals like David Corn of The Nation magazine have recoiled in dismay over how many people on the left associate with them.
The immediate aim is to defeat the U.S. in Iraq by creating the impression that the American people are tired of the war and want to withdraw U.S. troops. The long-term objective is to destroy the American way of life.
On the matter of Iraq, Accuracy in Media (AIM) analyst Roger Aronoff has produced a remarkable film, “Confronting Iraq,” which forcefully argues that the war is not only justified but necessary if we are to assure America’s survival. The film is important, now more than ever, because our media are extremely angry about the administration’s Iraq policy and want to do whatever they can to undermine it. The anti-administration bias aside, the media still have an obligation to tell the truth about the nature of this “anti-war” movement and whether ordinary people want to show up to a rally organized by people openly sympathetic to some of the lunatics and thugs that make up America’s avowed enemies.
Some would argue that it’s a sign of America’s strength that we permit communists to openly demonstrate on U.S. soil against American policies. But it’s a sign of the weakness and corruption of our media that the key role being played by the communists is being carefully concealed from the American people. I have covered several of these demonstrations and the major media typically ignore not only how communists organize the demonstrations but how their followers are openly visible, with banners, signs and books, on the grounds of the event. One would have to be deaf, dumb, and blind to ignore the communist role. Our media pretend to be deaf, dumb and blind.
I attended a news conference in Washington on September 1 that outlined the plans for the September 24 protest. What were described as “representatives of two major anti-war coalitions” took part. One was United for Peace and Justice and the other was ANSWER. Both groups have Marxist or communist connections. United for Peace and Justice is run by Leslie Cagan, a veteran far-left activist who serves in a leadership position with the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism. The group includes remnants of the old Communist Party and its front organizations. ANSWER is the front group of the Workers World Party (WWP), including Brian Becker and his associates.
As I sat in the audience of the press conference, I witnessed how the radical operatives carefully attended to the needs of the press, offering special access, interviews and information. Reporters for major media were singled out on a first-name basis. One target was Elizabeth White, a writer for Associated Press, a national news service. She produced exactly what the ANSWER crowd wanted. Her story, which circulated nationally and was so sympathetic to the protest that it was distributed by ANSWER to its own email list, did not contain any hint that there was anything controversial about the rally or its organizers. Becker, a veteran WWP operative, was identified as merely a coordinator for ANSWER.
For its part, ANSWER was ecstatic about the coverage of its news conference: “Local, national and international media packed the room.” In addition to AP, press in attendance was said to have included CNN, New York Times, Washington Post, ABC, NBC, Fox, Star Tribune (Minnesota), Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Kuwait News, TV-Asahi, Nishi-Nippon Shimbun, Nippon TV, Sirius Satellite Radio and others.
The stories about the rally will suggest these are spontaneous outpourings of concerned citizens with no other purpose than to seek peace in Iraq.
If the major media blow the whistle on the real agenda of those paying the bills and running the front organizations, that might raise questions about whether this is truly an “anti-war” event. And that, in turn, could suggest that a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq might not end the war but only intensify and expand it.