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Jeremy Hogan

“You are a guest … Bush is our neighbor”

(Page 5)

Day 3

So I’m looking around and I see Alaska Gyrl. She’s upset. She’s been trying to get Cindy Sheehan to sign a tapestry some little girls in Alaska painted. But she can’t get any closer to Cindy than I can for an interview. Sheehan has a bodyguard.

Alaska is telling me about the man she met here ten day ago. He’s a Vietnam vet and she befriended him. It is he who has become Cindy Sheehan’s bodyguard. And now he won’t let her get a signature from Cindy Sheehan.

“How am I going to go home and tell those little girls I came all the way down here and Cindy wouldn’t sign the tapestry?”

The irony is making me sick.

“And he,Cindy’s new bodyguard, won’t even speak to me anymore.” She starts to cry. “I thought he was my friend.”

“Perhaps he’s a sycophant, “ I suggest. “I’ve seen them before, did you hear about Hunter S. Thompson’s funeral?”

“Yeah, I like that word. He IS a sycophant!” Now she’s laughing.

I can’t stand it. So I go over to the PR woman who has been denying me the one on one interview with Sheehan I need for the documentary film I am working on.

“Did you know this woman came all the way down here from Alaska? Some little girls created this tapestry and if she goes home with it unsigned that won’t be good.”

The woman looks surprised. "Well we can definitely get it signed," she said.

Alaska Gyrl is still crying.

The press handler makes an exception and gets it signed immediately. She even takes Alaska Girl backstage. I figure I can even get the interview too …but now I am having sound issues with my video camera. I guess I won’t be getting that interview.

But this artificial inaccessibility is the sort of thing that ruins people’s movements. What happens is that some people become more important than others? The next thing that happens is internal discord. Soon people are fighting amongst themselves and the unity that created the movement to begin with evaporates.

A friend of mine was part of the Berkeley Free Speech Movement during the 1960s and she said the women were always cleaning and cooking for the men. The women became tired of this. She still refuses to cook.

Photo from "Hate & Hope" A Photo Essay by Jeremy Hogan.

In the United Farm Worker movement the stories about people who volunteered and later felt unappreciated or even taken advantage of are an untold part of things. As a matter of fact, as an independent documentary photographer photographing the late period of the movement during the early 1990s I had some trouble with some people demanding I turn over my photos to the movement. They said if I didn’t they’d ban me from photographing the movement. What a bunch of shit. They said this to some other photographers too. One of them left and didn’t come back. I was able to cooperate because I was working on a class project (had I been working for a media outlet any cooperation would be highly unethical) … but it felt like blackmail. And I found, and still find, this troubling considering Unions are supposed to protect workers. Besides, it is not the journalist’s job to join forces with anyone. A journalist’s job is to tell the truth. And this also applies to the journalists who cover Bush and the war in Iraq.

I’ve got my issues with Unions anyway. My dad was a construction worker when I was growing up and for a while he was Union. One winter there was no work, our money was running out so he took a side job working on a house for an elderly couple. Somehow the union found out and fined him over 700 dollars. Waiting in line because he was lowest in seniority was not going to help us. We didn’t have money for food, there was a house payment to pay etc. So to those who don’t understand trailer park Republicans maybe this will help … many, but not all, Unions became so corrupt they eventually became an enemy of the people they were supposed to protect. The unions like to blame Reagan and I understand that but I think they’re their own worst enemy at times because they are often corrupt.

But then there was Jesus … let us not forget about him. It was one of his own disciples who double-crossed him. So maybe this is as good as things can go with this Sheehan vigil … anyway, she has been crucified for this cause. Her life will never be the same. She’s a martyr of sorts.

On the morning I am to leave, Dennis Banks shows up. He says the Berkeley Speech Movement was one of the catalysts in the formation of the American Indian Movement. He is one of the leaders of the AIM He was there at Wounded Knee. The government wanted to change the treaty with the Indians. When the government was finished the FBI and the Indians had a shootout. Leonard Peltier was put in prison. They said he killed the FBI agent.

And now we’re in Iraq, our good people are dying daily while some Iraqi bluebloods living in the Green Zone are writing a constitution for the people of Iraq. They probably don’t have a clue.

Allegedly the elections were free but we know part of the country couldn’t even vote. The place is in anarchy. Word is that a new port is being built for shipping into and out of the country. So what is the real plan for Iraq? But are we not occupiers? We’re bringing them freedom? so they say. Somebody wrote a letter to the editor in the town where I live … “the United States has a good constitution and we could give that to the Iraqis … after all were not using it anymore.” Perhaps there is some merit to that.

Anyway, it’s time to get the hell out of here and I am walking up the road to my rental car. I’ve got to catch a flight so I can go back to my day job … this kind of journalism doesn’t pay the bills. And I’ve got a job at a corporate newspaper. Soon, Bush will be making congratulatory statements while people die in New Orleans. I’ve got to get back to that hyper reality. It’s just right.

But I’d still like to get that five minutes with Cindy Sheehan … I’ve come down from Indiana to speak with her. I’d like to know her thoughts on free speech and how she feels about the way she’s been represented in the media as a crazy middle-aged woman. Some say she’s dishonoring her son.

Before leaving I meet a French journalist … she can’t get an interview either and we begin to speak about the media. She says a lot of journalists covering Bush are afraid if they write anything negative or that doesn’t match the White House agenda they may lose their jobs.

Well I’ve certainly seen how the media has come here and reported one thing but this is another. I mean, there is really no objectivity in journalism because I can stand next to another journalist and have an entirely different interpretation of an event. But in the American media’s defense the French journalist says … the media isn’t lying, the truth has been reported. But there is something wrong here in America … something is very wrong …and I love this country.

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