Cindy Sheehan's March 23, 2006 Appearance at U.C. Berkeley's International House
On March 23, Cindy Sheehan spoke at an event sponsored by the World Can't Wait and the Bush Crimes Commission, held at the International House next to the U.C. Berkeley campus.
Here's a video with some snippets of her performance that evening. Below the video transcript are additional audio clips and photos.
Cindy Sheehan speaking at Berkeley's International House (QuickTime mpeg video, 4.3mb):
(Clicking on the link above -- and on the mp3 links below -- will open a QuickTime video [or mp3] file in a new window. Below each link is an exact transcription of the speaker's words. Words [in brackets] indicate actions. Words [in italicized brackets] indicate sounds or phrases made by the audience or other speakers. Ellipses [ ... ] indicate a pause or a jump to a different section of the speech. Passages of particular interest are highlighted in bold. Numbered footnotes after certain words are explained below the transcript.)
Cindy Sheehan: "I'm sure probably most of you have already seen me speak one or more times. It's nice being home, it's always nice to be home. It's nice to come to Smartland1. [Laughter.] I'm not saying other places I've been are dumb, but...I'll just let you guys extrapolate.
[Holding up magazine] ...and strongly let everybody know: that's not my ass. [Laughter.] OK? So even though it says, "Cindy Sheehan: It's Time for Civil Disobedience," you know, it's almost like they're, they're saying that that's my ass. And that's not my ass. [Turning around, showing rear end to audience.] That's my ass. [Applause.] So that really was the most important thing I wanted to -- [laughter] wanted to get across to you guys tonight.
I'd like to also thank Tyler and the World Can't Wait2, Drive Out the Bush Regime -- oh, here's my first donation. Thank you. Thank you so much. One time when I was in Venezuela, I announced that I would, I would run for Dianne Feinstein's seat if I got $20,000 before I walked out of the room. Heh! Somebody brought up 20,000 Bolivars, which is worth, like $4 [laughter] as a donation. So I didn't get my twenty grand so I didn't run against her.
I was on a TV show -- it was Fox3 [laughter] -- and, um, the lady was commending me for my work in the Gulf states, and even really for my linking of Katrina with the war in Iraq. And how, um, George Bush has made us less secure by his policies, not more secure. And she said, "Well your work in the Gulf states is commendable, but what about your work in Venezuela?" And I said, "What work in Venezuela? I went down there for a social forum." She goes, "Yes, but you met with Hugo Chavez. And human rights groups have said that, have said that he tortures people and commits crimes against humanity." And I said, "You have to be kidding me." I said, "Our government tortures people and commits crimes against humanity4."
[Reading question submitted by an audience member.] "Cindy Sheehan: The empire can recruit war criminals because there are parents like you. Your son was one of those war criminals5. And they-- And not a hero. Who tortures Iraqi prisoners, kill their women and children and blow up their houses. You can't have it both ways. The majority of the people on the planet think the world is a lot better with the war criminals dead."
[Cindy speaking for herself:] Well, you know, unfortunately, part of that's true6. I didn't realize this before Casey joined the Army. And you can bet your life, if I had known this before my son joined, he wouldn't have joined. And we tried to talk him out of it, and we tried to talk him out of going. And, I don't think we can blame our troops, though. I think we blame the people, the war criminals who put them in harm's way. Some of our troops are doing horrible things. And we can't say that they're all honorable and noble. But before Casey went to Iraq, he told everybody he couldn't kill innocent people. And in the first battle he was in he was killed five days after he got there. So, he didn't torture anybody. He didn't kill anybody. And you can't say that all of the soldiers are war criminals. But I can say that everybody in the Bush administration is a war criminal. [Applause.]
[Reading question submitted by an audience member.] "[Do you drive a] vehicle and if so what is its approximate gas mileage rating?"
[Cindy speaking for herself:] Well I drive a car about one day a month. And I get, I get about 30 to 35 miles per gallon. And I believe that we should only, as much as possible, buy Citgo7." [Applause.]
1: Implying that the residents of Berkeley are smarter than the residents of other cities.
2: World Can't Wait is a communist organization, put together and led by the Maoist group the Revolutionary Communist Party. Several essays have been published linking World Can't Wait to the Revolutionary Communist Party. The criticism has been especially vigorous from other leftist groups, which see the RCP and WCW as a dangerous Maoist cult that is detrimental to the anti-war cause. The RCP itself promotes WCW on its own Web site. Cindy Sheehan is an official World Can't Wait endorser, has spoken at other World Can't Wait events in the past, and appears to be growing more and more closely associated with the group.
3: The other speakers that evening insisted that the media consistently refuses to give them a platform, and that they never have a chance to get their message out to the public. Cindy was also overheard saying before her speech that she had given seven interviews that day already.
4: The name of this particular logical fallacy is the "two wrongs make a right" fallacy, or ad hominem tu quoque.
5: Only in Berkeley is Cindy Sheehan attacked by people to the left of her politically.
6: And only Cindy Sheehan would backpedal and agree with her critics.
7: Citgo is the Venezuelan national petroleum and gas company personally controlled by Sheehan's friend Hugo Chavez: "Citgo is a United States oil refiner and marketer of gasoline, lubricants, petrochemicals and other petroleum products controlled by a Venezuelan company controlled by Hugo Chavez." Sheehan became close with Chavez during her trip to Venezuela, so she is advertising his product.
Due to bandwidth limitations, here are some additional snippets of Cindy's performance as an mp3 audio file (500kb):
[Presenter: Next I'd like to introduce Cindy Sheehan. Um...] [Clapping, cheering.]
Cindy Sheehan: We don't have to have this inflated war machine. It's there so the war profiteers can make money. [Audience member: Right on!] General Smedley Butler wrote after World War I, a little booklet called War Is a Racket8. And in it he says it always has been and it always will be. And he was complaining about the saddles, and the buckboards, and the rubber companies making obscene profits. And he said that that's the reason for war. And that's the only reason for war.
Another funny thing happened to me when I was in Venezuela. I didn't know it 'til I had left Venezuela, but I was giving this speech in front of over a hundred thousand people. I couldn't even see the end of the people, and I was being translated into Spanish. So, at the end of, end of the speech I said, "We all have to join together and George Bush has to be impeached." A huge, huge cheer from the crowd. They really liked that idea. And I said that, "After he's impeached, he has to be removed from office." They loved that idea. They just went crazy for that idea. And then I said, "But we can't stop there. To be held accountable, he has to be tried for war crimes." And [clapping] they went nuts. They just went nuts about "tried for war crimes." And like, "Wow, they really want him to be tried for war crimes." But then when I was leaving, I was in the airport, someone ran up to me and she: "Cindy, Cindy, I have to tell you: I speak Spanish and English." And I'm like, "Oh, that's nice." And she said, she said, "When you were giving, giving your speech at the opening rally, when you said he had to be tried for war crimes, your translator said, 'He has to be executed!'" [Laughter and cheers.] And I wondered why they were so excited about that. [Laughter.] So whenever I go anywhere now that has to be translated I say right up front, "I'm a pacifist. I don't believe in the death penalty9, even for mass murderers." [Applause.]
8: Smedley Butler's War is a Racket, written in the aftermath of WWI when wars were seen as not having a moral component, has recently been revived as one of the gospels of the contemporary anti-war movement.
9: The audience at first gets the thrill of cheering for George Bush's execution, then moments later gets to feel morally superior for being against the death penalty.
There were other speakers earlier that evening as well. On the left is a World Can't Wait member who acted as the MC for the evening. Seated next to Cindy is Ray McGovern, former CIA analyst. And at the podium is author Larry Everest.
Here's an audio clip with a portion of what Larry Everest had to say (mp3 file, 380kb):
Larry Everest: The footage of, uh, that we showed at the commission of this gun camera footage from a helicopter, and you see the pilot asking for instructions, and people are in the street that are clearly civilian10 and, and he's instructed to kill them. To shoot them down. It's on, it's, it's, it's on the videotape. And Clark Kissinger, one of the, the convener of the commission, points out that this is similar to what the Nazis did11 in the town of Lidice in Poland, uh, during the Second World War, when a whole town was destroyed in retaliation for the killing of a German official. This is what George Bush did in retaliation for the killing of four contractors who may have been mercenaries.
I think it's not an exaggeration to say that the future of global humanity is held being hostage in many ways, in many different fronts...and then not an exaggeration, not a rhetorical turn of phrase. I, I think it's.... These people have nuclear weapons. They're tremendously impacting global climate. They're threatening unending wars. They're wreaking havoc on populations vulnerable to disease. It is not an exaggeration to say that the future of global humanity's being held hostage by this cabal in, in Washington. And they remain, as we've seen, hell-bent on pushing through their agenda, and continuing on this catastrophic and disastrous path. This places enormous responsibility on all of us to speak out against it. Questioning, distrust, anger at the Bush administration have certainly grown but the discussion still remains too muted, too muted, too conditional, too soft-spoken if you will. [Audience member: Whitewash!] Whitewash. That doesn't capture the real truth of the matter.
10: Everest is describing a scene from the battle for Fallujah, in which the forces fighting American troops wore civilian clothes and tried to blend in with the general population.
11: One of the many instances throughout the evening when the speakers drew a direct equivalence between the United States and Nazi Germany.
Cindy looked so exhausted during the first part of the evening that she actually appeared to fall asleep several times during the other presenters' speeches.
But she perked up later in the evening when it was her turn to entertain the crowd.
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