Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Silenced Again, this time in Richmond, Ca by Cindy Sheehan

Silenced Again
by Cindy Sheehan

You know what is sad? 

Since Obama was elected in 2008, I have been dis-invited from speaking in more than a few places; I have been rejected from speaking in more places; I am no longer asked to "sign onto" most "progressive" causes; and, of course, the "liberal press" has almost totally blacked out my message of peace, (no matter who's president) and justice out. What's really sad, is that's not the sad thing.

The sad thing is that I have gotten used to it and I am not even insulted or angry any longer when this happens. I get up and charge ahead with all steam possible despite all of the obstacles, and I really appreciate the people who are still with me in the principled struggle.

However, another "not interested" not-invite occurred this past weekend when (admittedly an Obama-loving organization) held a protest in Richmond, CA to oppose Chevron. My friend and campaign manager, Andy Conn, bugged the organizers for weeks to get me a few minutes on the speaker's platform. Denied--no reason, except for the questionable reason that there was "no room."

Excuse me, among other things, I spoke for worker control of energy on Labor Day last year in Richmond right after the last disastrous Chevron fire; my son was killed for big oil and its pursuit of complete ownership of ALL the world's fossil fuel supply; I just rode my bike 3500 miles to highlight this issue AND if I were still a Democrat, I am sure that I would have been welcomed with open arms.

Anyway, below is a video of what I said last year, and what I would have said this past weekend, if I were allowed to speak: 

UPDATE I: I would like to amend this article, to instead of accusing of being "Obama lovers," I would like to accuse it of being "Capitalism lovers," and I am an unapologetic Socialist. 

How Not to Stop a Pipeline by Ralph Nader 

Inconvenient Truths: gets funding from BIG OIL


  1. Cindy, this comes across as really arrogant and egotistical. Not every event is about you. This action prioritized the voices of the community of Richmond that have been affected DIRECTLY by the Chevron refinery, and I think the only non-local speaker was Bill McKibben, who's organization not only was very involved in the organizing of the event (though, did not "lead" the event at all), and who knowingly can bring a big crowd out.

    Just because someone doesn't give you a stage doesn't mean you are being silenced. You taking the stage might mean someone else doesn't get to be on that stage, and organizers of the event apparently felt that prioritizing the voices of community members was more relevant to the event than someone who hasn't been involved in the event organizing, or that isn't from the community. To try to make this about party-politics is just crazy - it's not about elections (Democrats or otherwise)

    And to call "Obama loving"? You must have missed the 1200+ people they organized to participate in civil disobedience at the White House in 2011, or the hounding they've been doing of Obama at every public event he's held over the past months calling on him to deny the Keystone pipeline permit. Or the statement they just signed on to criticizing Obama's stance on fracking and natural gas.

    1. would be cool if you could comment using your name...
      I never comment anonymously, agree, or disagree as you do, I always use my name.

      And of course and Bill McKibben love Obama--they get arrested with Obama buttons on their suits. Their signs have his logo for christ's sake.

    2. It has been demonstrated time and again that and Bill McKibben have origins from - and connections to - the Rockefeller Brothers Foundation, and it isn't much of a leap from there to connect the dots to oil companies, chambers of commerce, candidates, and elected politicians. has worked with some of the most powerful advertising and marketing companies in the world to create savvy messaging for their symbolic campaigns, and the svelt use of language does a fine job of reaching those of us that care but don't have the time to research, while never really upsetting the applecart/Dems/Obama. could have organized and used aggressive tactics on numerous occasions during the first term of the Obama Administration and actively chose not to do so.

      Not during the first 9 (most malleable) months of the Obama administration.

      Not during the height of the 2012 election cycle.

      Not when Obama approved a large section of the already completed portion of Keystone XL.

      Rather, what has done well (for industry) is focus activist energy on Keystone XL while more all-encompassing tactics that go beyond symbolism have been ignored. The great distraction has in no way slowed the exploitation of tar sands; the pipeline is already significantly complete; and emissions are at an all-time high.

      No matter how "successful" one believes the arrest of 1200 pacified and smiling individuals at the White House was, to believe that it in any way threatens this Administration is folly.

      Finally, two things here that are modus operandi for

      1. The silencing/rejecting of Ms. Sheehan is not unique. They have done this several times before, including an invite and dis-invite of one Mr. Ralph Nader to that "successful" spectacle in DC in 2011.

      2. staffers are known to scour the web in search of dissidents to quiet them. They often do this anonymously. I suspect that is what we see here, Ms. Sheehan.

    3. The fact of the matter is that the leadership of this action support reforming Chevron and not it's nationalization under worker and community control. They also refuse to call for the criminal prosecution and jailing of the managers and executives that continue to poison the workers and the community here and around the world.
      They want Chevron and the corporations to do the right thing. As everyone knows this will not happen and those who want to censor socialist and working class voices represent the interests of the liberal Democrats and capitalists. The idea that the US government is going to protect us from the oil companies is preposterous. Only working people and the masses of this country will be able to defend our health and safety.
      Also people should realize that this issue is not just about the United States but US imperialism and the support for a military budget with over 700 bases around the world. This empire will not be reformed and those who want to make Chevron better are really not telling the truth to people about the nature of these corporations. They control the politicians and that is why they are not accountable.
      One important point that was left off the platform was the complete failure of Ca-OSHA and the State government to keep the Chevron unit shutdown until it followed the law. Instead they gave them a license to re-open without even requiring that there be strict enforcement standards. There are only 162 OSHA inspectors in California for 18 million workers. Does anyone believe Chevron will regulate themselves.
      Again this points out that the futile plan of the RPA to sue Chevron is really a ruse. Chevron will spend hundreds of millions of dollars on lawyers and will write this off and keep doing business as usual.
      While people were chanting for the arrest the Chevron executives this had no real push from the organizers of the rally and that was another reason Cindy was not allowed to speak since she would have given a voice to these demands and that was something the organizers were not interested in.
      It is also not a surprise that the issue of public control of energy is not allowed to be raised from the platform. In Latin America and other countries around the world these private companies face demands for nationalization but here in the US the kept opposition refuses to whisper about the need to take the energy industry out of the hands of the corporate criminals. It was absolutely no accident that Cindy was prevented from speaking since she has publicly raised this issue.
      Also to those who say that there were more qualified speakers this is BS. Cindy's son was killed for these oil companies and her fight for justice is absolutely tied to the role of these destroyers of the environment.
      It is time that his censorship and blacklisting of socialist speakers end in the environmental movement and this was yet another example of the real political role of those who say they want to represent the community and the people of the US.
      Steve Zeltzer
      United Public Workers For Action

  2. Hi Cindy:
    I am Ann Marie Davis. Losing your son must have tested you in ways beyond what I can imagine.

    I an obscure poet of no rank and no publisher, and I spoke at the rally. I was the first to speak reading one of my poems. Do you know what? I’m very used to being ignored. Being ignored never feels good to me. I am a very good poet but I have learned that being a very good doesn’t entitle Dillard Davis’ daughter to speak anywhere. But this was a good day for me.

    I did go to some organizing meetings. I use public transportation because I don’t have a car. I didn’t go to a lot of meetings because I don’t always have money for the public transportation, and sometimes I don’t like riding my bicycle across a town or two.

    This may have contributed to why I was not part of the meeting where the decision was made on who would speak. I was one of the people who handed out flyers. I didn’t speak much, if at all, during meetings, I only listened. The meetings were open to anyone who wanted to join.

    So I wanted to speak. I sent them an email. They replied back. The planners told me that there was no room, that they were overbooked, as they told you. At that time, I didn’t consider myself silenced because of my political party. It has become part of my nature to use Occam’s Razor when trying to discern what is going on. As you may know, Occam’s Razor states that among competing hypotheses, the hypothesis with the fewest assumptions should be selected. In other words, the simplest explanation is usually the correct one. Occam’s Razor doesn’t always work for me, but on average, it does. So, I assumed they were indeed over booked. That in combination that I was not a crowd draw, like say, Alice Walker, made them say no, I concluded. I was disappointed, but I consoled myself by telling myself that the movement to control climate change is much more important than my feelings.

    I then replied with another email with my poem attached. I said that should someone drop out, I would love to read. Someone dropped out. The committee had connected with my poem. I read. Maybe there was a conspiracy to silence you, and maybe the planners are part of the liberal left who are trying to silence you because you are not a Democrat. Then again, maybe they were overbooked. I am not a fan of Obama any longer. I voted for him. Now, my view is that he must have lost his damn mind to consider approving the pipeline. I can only speak for myself. I feel like shit for thinking that he would be the change we were looking for.

    I don’t have a video of me speaking. I do have a copy of the poem below. It went over well, if I may say so.

  3. We Digress
    by Ann Marie Davis

    We went
    to dinners
    with our lovers
    and we talked
    on our cell phones
    to our colleagues
    even though
    we did not like them
    but we talked
    to make our money
    to buy gadgets
    that we needed
    but did not need
    but that drove
    our economy
    that kept us
    in our jobs
    we came to hate
    but that paid
    our health insurance
    that paid
    for our cures
    for our ailments
    that we got
    from our going
    to our jobs
    that wore us out
    that paid us
    to pay our mortgages
    for our houses
    just for us
    to come home to
    and then leave from
    and then go back to
    from our jobs
    that we kept
    to buy our cars
    we loved to drive
    and sit in traffic
    that we hated
    but we drove
    to the jobs
    we tried to leave
    but which paid
    for the tab
    for our dinners
    we did not finish
    with our lovers
    we did not talk to
    on vacations
    that we went to
    to unwind
    from the jobs
    we longed to leave
    to sit in houses
    we longed to leave
    for vacation homes
    that we left
    for outings
    that we left
    for phone calls
    that we ended
    to attend
    charity dinners
    to save our ozone
    and the children
    in the wars zones
    we destroyed
    with our battles
    for our gas
    for our cars
    that we drove
    because we loved them
    that we bought
    because we loved them
    and stayed inside them
    when we were frightened
    of the people
    who were out there
    who were homeless
    when it was clear
    we did not want them
    as our neighbors
    when it was clear
    that they were
    the kind of people
    we did not want
    to brush up against
    to stand next to
    in our lives
    when it was clear
    they were the ones
    we ran away from
    to the suburbs
    that we drove from
    to the cities
    that we went to
    for the jobs
    that we left
    when we went
    to vacations
    to the places
    where the people
    did not like us
    because we were
    so U.S. A.
    and so we cried
    like little children
    when our soldiers
    were returned
    back to our arms
    or to their graves
    in little pieces
    after fighting
    for our oil
    for our gas
    for our cars
    so we could drive
    in our cars
    to our bars
    and movie theaters
    in our malls
    with air conditioning
    to escape
    from the heat
    to escape
    from our lives
    to escape
    from ourselves
    to escape
    the hot summers
    that we got
    from our driving
    in our cars
    from our suburbs
    to our jobs.

    1. Really, Ralph Nader was also silenced by Hmmm...Bill McKibben wore an Obama button on stage? No criticism of Obama allowed?

      By the way, thanks for reading my blog and participating in the discussion!


    2. Ann Marie,

      This is a fabulous poem. Thanks so much for sharing it.

      Nancy Jones

  4. Your response indicates that you have not read my post. If you did read my post and if you did respond to anything I have said, you would be responding to a grass roots organizer, an actual person.

    You would be communicating with me directly. You would not be citing an article. Instead, you would be speaking and responding to a human being in an organization that you are attempting to negatively portray with innuendos.

    That is what I would consider participating in a discussion. I invite you to do that.

  5. Decisions of who will speak are always political, just like the decision of which voices to include in a newspaper or magazine.
    Cindy Sheehan represents a certain political perspective. Not including her voice, when it was available, means that this perspective was purposefully excluded. Thank you Cindy for explaining what happened. Several times in the past I have wondered where you were with respect to a particular issue or action. Now, at least in this instance, I know where you were. Now I can see that sometimes when you appear to be going off on your own, you really aren't.

  6. Obviously, this post has struck a nerve with nervous Democrats.
    As far as me not being at any of the planning meetings, that's true, but A) I was riding my bike across the country for peace and environmental sustainability for 3 MONTHS and B) When Bush was in office, that didn't matter, I would have been invited anyway. gets funding from the ROCKEFELLER FOUNDATION which equals Standard Oil WHICH EQUALS CHEVRON. Obviously, it's okay to rock the boat a little, but the BIG OIL FUNDERS won't allow any serious waves to be made.


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