Over 500 protesters “welcomed” Rudy Giuliani, former New York City mayor and stalwart Bushite, and Bill O’Reilly, the notoriously offensive right wing host of FOX TV’s O’Reilly Factor, to the Sacramento Convention Center on the morning of Friday, September 24.
The event, sponsored by the Sacramento Metro Chamber of Commerce, featured one token liberal, Molly Ivins. Over its 10 years, Perspectives has featured some of the most vile representatives of the corporate and political power elite in the country, including Henry Kissinger, the world’s number one living war criminal.
Christine Craft, host of the “Power Hour” on 1240 AM, the local Air America Affiliate, organized the demonstration. “It was the first demonstration I’ve participated in since college,” said Craft. “I decided to organize it after Rudy Giuliani compared George W. Bush to Winston Churchill and Abraham Lincoln. I felt the message that Giuliani was putting out needed to be countered.”
Craft was even more outraged when a reporter uncovered how Giuliani, in a corrupt deal that he profited from, forced the New York Fire Department to buy defective Motorola radios. The deal ultimately resulted in the needless deaths of 125 firemen in the Twin Towers on 9-11 because they were unable to communicate with headquarters and one another.
“And of course, O’Reilly is an easy target,” Craft added. “I really thought Perspectives provided us with an opportunity to counter the message of O’Reilly and Giuliani.”
The event featured many veteran local activists, including Jeanie Keltner of Sacramento Soapbox, JoAnn Fuller of Common Cause, local peace activist Phyllis Campanello, and Bill Camp, executive secretary of the Central Labor Council of Sacramento County. However, a large percentage of the demonstrators had never or only rarely protested before.
“This a huge outpouring of people,” said Camp, who encouraged many union members to come. “Many of these folks have never carried signs. What we have done here is engage people in the process of taking back their government from George W. Bush. Christine has demonstrated real leadership by inspiring people here to come and challenge the institutional structure.”
Although Christine had some signs made up for the event, most participants brought their own signs and T-Shirts. The T-shirt that I liked best was “3 Reasons for Abortion, George W. Bush, Rudy Giuliani, Bill O’Reilly,” held by Joe Manzella of Fair Oaks.
“That shirt is in-your-face and tasteless like something I would do,” I told him. “Do you have any more?”
“No,” he told me, since he had just designed the two shirts for himself, and his son, Joey, who protested right beside him. His young daughter, Novalee, attended the demo also.
Joe and his son, loyal listeners of Christine Craft’s show, came up with the idea for the shirts when they were in a sports bar watching Monday night football. “Friends told me that it was a terrible idea for a t-shirt, so that convinced me right away to get the shirts made,” he quipped.
Irene Smith, a volunteer for Common Cause from Loomis, said she was there to protest how the media is manipulated by a very few corporations who greatly influence who and what Americans vote for. “I want to make people aware of the bias and imbalance in the corporate media,” she stated.
Irene held a great sign that summed up her message, “ A True Democracy Requires Media Balance Not Bias.”
While the city’s business elite entered the convention center, Phyllis Campanello and me sang them an impromptu song, based on a tune we have sung many times during anti-war protests against the Bush regime. Phyllis came up with the great idea of washing a U.S. flag with a washboard in a tub to get the blood and oil out of it as we sang a “touching” ditty. Here are the verses we sang on Friday, to the tune of “Row Your Boat”
Wash, wash O’Reilly’s lies
out of the U.S. flag
Most of the demonstrators left around noon after Bill Camp gathered people together and said, “You can leave now if you wish. You succeeded in getting your message to the Metro Chamber and the media.”
Perspectives, according to the Chamber, “is a trademark event of the Sacramento Metro Chamber and annually draws a sell-out crowd of more than 3,000.” Besides Giuliani, O’Reilly and Ivins, J.C. Watts, former Oklahoma football hero and Republican member of Congress, Jehan Sadat, widow of the late Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, and John Powers, best-selling novelist and inspirational speaker, also spoke.
The crowd was definitely the corporate elite of the Sacramento region, since they were the only ones that could pay the steep ticket price. Tickets were $195 for chamber members and $245 for nonmembers.
I applaud Christine Craft and the hundreds of folks who showed up on the morning of a workday to protest the Perspectives farce that the Metro Chamber sponsors. I’d like to see this protest become an annual event as long as the Metro Chamber continues to invite war criminals, right wing disinformation specialists and corrupt corporate leaders to Perspectives!
Daniel Bacher is an outdoor writer/alternative journalist/satirical songwriter from Sacramento California. He is also a long-time peace, social justice and environmental activist. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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