Mickey Z.: Recently, Cindy Sheehan and I appeared on each other’s podcasts (Cindy Sheehan’s Soapbox Newsletter and Post-Woke). While talking off-air, Cindy suggested we collaborate on an article related to our experiences with the Left — particularly since March 2020. To follow is the first part of that conversation.
MZ: About a month or two ago, a subscriber to my Substack described it as a “conservative blog.” She did so while pointing out how “unexpected” it is that someone running a conservative blog also runs a one-man program to help homeless women. Strangely, I didn’t flinch or feel any need to defend or explain myself. Welcome to 2022.
For the record, I am not a conservative. I’m also not a liberal. These days, I doubt I qualify as anything traditionally “left” or “right” and I’m not sure it matters in any ideological sense. But it certainly matters in an interpersonal sense. For the crime of pointing out the lies and contradictions in the Covid narrative, I’ve lost friends and family members. And that sucks. Again, welcome to 2022.
Cindy Sheehan: I have had similar experiences with people for the past two years, as my comrade, Mickey. If I had a nickel for every time someone called me a “Trumper,” or “Proud boy,” or even the ultimate 2020’s slur: Anti-vaxxer, I’d have hundreds of nickels!
As someone who has stood fast on her principles of peace, economic equality, and working-class solidarity, for almost two decades in the public eye, I thought I had earned some caché, or that I had piled up some credits in the Cindy Sheehan Bank of Trust. But as soon as a ¡VIRUS! hit our shores with a bigger P.R. push than George W. Bush’s rush to war in Iraq, my star faded in the eyes of former friends, colleagues, and comrades, while the stars of such criminal exploiters like Trump, Biden, Fauci, and Gates (not an inclusive list) went SUPER-NOVA in their galaxy.
MZ: I hear you, Cindy, and I’ve certainly always seen you that way. Whether or not I agree with you (and I most often do!), I know where you’re coming from and I recognize the hard work you do before reaching conclusions. It’s heartbreaking to witness the divisive power of fear in action. We got more than a little taste of it after 9/11 — when I also lost friends, comrades, and family members. Since March 2020, however, the programming went nuclear and has (so far) proven more potent than decades of reputation-building, friendship, and community.
In the meantime, as you and I have mentioned on our respective podcasts, we’ve made some new allies. So, how do you see yourself building on these new connections and addressing the very urgent issues of the moment (censorship, the Great Reset, etc.) — all while sustaining your commitment to principles of peace, economic equality, and working-class solidarity?
CS: As an illustrative example, Mickey and I had a falling-out in 2016 over the presidential elections. It took Mickey reaching out this year for us to re-establish a connection. When we both realized we had the same ideas about the current situation, I know I was elated to be back in touch, but dismayed at the lost opportunity we had to work together to oppose the neo-fascism we were all experiencing. I tell this story because before the ¡VIRUS! I was very guilty of applying the “purity test” to my activist relationships.
I mean, there are times when there are chasms that cannot be crossed, but when it comes to revolutionary victory over the global ruling class, we all need to grasp the fact that no matter how loony your neighbor may appear to you — right, left, or center — we have more in common with any of them than we do with the ilk of Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos. If we continue obsessing on how anyone voted in 2016, or 2020, and making the profoundly corrupt electoral process our litmus test, we cannot even begin to address anything that is not a wedge issue (guns/abortion) like imperialism and diseased capitalism.
Where do you see we can build a movement across political divides without compromising our values?
MZ: I very much hope I finally and fully learned the purity test lesson, too! But I agree that some chasms are best left alone. Better to use that time and energy to connect with someone with whom there’s some kind of starting point. As for your question, here’s my long attempt at answering it:
Ten years ago, I was still heavily involved with Occupy Wall Street. I was at several protests, events, and demos each week — often, I was the one speaking. I gave talks on a regular basis and even led teach-ins in NYC parks. My old Facebook page was a frenzy of radical activity.
That said, I have no interest in participating in the same old virtue signaling, exhibitionist, futile “activism” now. Even if I was, the vast majority of the people I worked with back then have since rejected me. First, it was my examination of “activist” tactics. Then I dared to question the trans agenda. Finally, pandemic politics became the proverbial last straw.
So, I had to go back 20 years for inspiration. I had a huge global audience thanks to the books I was writing and my non-stop articles on sites like Z Net and Counterpunch. I even jumped on the blog bandwagon to further solidify my standing in that pre-social media world.
What I’m doing today is both similar to this and new. I’m still engaged in 24/7 self-education and relentlessly sharing what I discover. But I’ve lost most of my comrades and now, social media censors me. This led me to create a Substack and jump on the podcast bandwagon. My approach is to talk with a wide spectrum of guests on the podcast while posting about just as wide a spectrum of topics in my written posts. All of this is in the name of exposing my readers and listeners to viewpoints that would be erased on any site governed by an algorithm.
CS: It’s interesting to me, Mickey, that our experiences are essentially the same, moving through separate spaces. Is it because of who we are as humans, or how the “movements” are?
I never imagined before my son Casey was killed in Iraq in April of 2004, that I would become an activist, never mind all of the attention my activism got (Camp Casey in Crawford pre-dated the OWS movement by six years?).
I was such a noob when I decided that I would, with my sister-comrade Dede Miller (RIP), go to Crawford, Texas in August of 2005 to ask George W, Bush “What Noble Cause?” To say I was stunned at the response is an understatement. People poured into poor Crawford by the thousands, and we had many thousands of people around the world in solidarity with us. It was obnoxious how much media scrutiny I came under.
My first mistake in my “career” was thinking that everyone who came to Crawford that summer wanted the post-9/11 wars to end: Afghanistan and Iraq. I had so much support that summer that I felt blessed by the universe and I felt that we were really going to end the wars. All of my energy and positivity would come to a crashing halt though when the Democrats regained a majority in Congress and they did nothing to end the wars. So, I left the party, and more than half of my support left me. Fake-lefty online spaces like The Daily Kos, Huffington Post, Democracy Now, Democrats.com, TruthOut, and CommonDreams left me and dropped me like the proverbial hot potato.
By the time the ¡VIRUS! struck in 2020, I was down to a handful of really strong anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist comrades. I thought if they were still with me after I left the War Party; opposed Obama’s wars, and still held Democrats to the same standard I held the Republicans, then they would be my comrades FOR LIFE — no matter what. However, I think I lost more than half of those people to the shining examples of sacrifice and morality: the previously mentioned criminals. All of a sudden, instead of being a person of integrity and courage, I became a pariah in my own community. Ironically, the same people who castigated me for not hating Trump enough were now castigating me because I was hesitant to inject his Operation Warp Speed juice into my body. In 2020, then candidates Sloppy Joe Biden and Kopmala Harris are on the record as saying that they would NEVER inject something in their bodies that was propagated by Trump — until they became the neo-fascists in charge of it, then even the most ardent Trump haters lined up for their jabs. In my humble opinion, no matter how we personally feel about the Covax, it should be no one’s business what medical procedure we decide to take, or not — from vaccines to abortions.
How can we triumph over the paradigm of war and profiteering over people that we have in this country when we always have to play the “Blue No Matter Who” Game? Look where that has led us: to the brink of nuclear annihilation.
MZ: Wow, Cindy, it appears you and I have accumulated a lot of weird “activist” karma. What shadow work do we need to do? Why do we seem to be condemned to so much acceptance-then-rejection? (Personally, I’ve always related to the Cassandra myth.)
I’ve also always flinched at decades of claims that I “never offer a solution.” I even have a stock answer to this charge. Here goes: Way too many people imply that unless a critic expounds a specific strategy for change, their opinion is worthless. This reaction misses the essential role critical analysis plays in a society where problems — and their causes — are so cleverly disguised.
Perhaps it’s time for me to toss that answer into the dustbin of history and try a new approach. Perhaps it’s also time for us to make this a two-part article? Part 2 could be a discussion of possible steps to, as you say above, “build a movement across political divides without compromising our values”? Or do you wanna keep going here?
CS: Mickey and I are hoping that this contribution to the current state of activism, or lack thereof, will begin a conversation about how we can “build a movement across political divides without compromising our values.” We need everybody to stop the world’s rapid slide into all-out war and environmental devastation. We are asking for your comments, thoughts, experiences, and solutions to incorporate into Part 2 of this conversation and to begin to build the movement we need to undermine the capitalists, profiteers, and imperialists.
The post Cindy Sheehan, Mickey Z. and Weird “Activist” Karma (part 1)
first appeared on Dissident Voice