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franklin county times

Human shield comes home

By By Zeke Calhoun / guest columnist
May 18, 2003
Finally got home from human shielding, and boy am I mad. Susan, Alec, Martin, and Babs haven't returned any of my calls. It all started out so well, too.
Back in February, I attended a Hillary Clinton fund-raiser where I met a group of patriots who were flying to Baghdad to keep bloodthirsty Marines from blowing up schools and baby milk factories. Since my redneck Republican cousin was heading overseas with the Mississippi Air Guard (obviously a bunch of racist warmongers), I figured it was up to me to redeem our family's reputation by volunteering to go as a human shield.
The next week I boarded a first class charter from Boston to L.A. for a sendoff rally. When our jet landed, it was like the Beatles had returned. Cameras, reporters, celebrities, and well-wishers lined the tarmac. I spent the next few days giving speeches, interviews, and signing autographs. I'd never had so much fun.
Each night we had huge parties at different Hollywood mansions. I got to meet Susan Sarandon, Alec Baldwin, Martin Sheen and Barbara Streisand. They all really wanted to go as human shields themselves, but were too busy working for world peace in Los Angeles. They did, however, give me their cell phone numbers and told me to call anytime.
I could have stayed in Hollywood forever, but all to soon it was time to go. We stoically said our goodbyes and worked our way through throngs of reporters to board the jet for Baghdad. My first impression upon landing at Saddam Hussein Int'l Airport was that this country really loves their leader. Everywhere you look, patriotic Iraqis have posted huge portraits of Saddam.
Our initial reception was wonderful. Mohammed Al-Sahhaf, the Iraqi Minister of Information, met us at the airplane, hugged us and welcomed us as brothers in a noble cause. We were whisked away to one of Saddam's Presidential palaces where we were given flowers and peace signs written in English to hold while were had a group photo taken with Saddam and several of his top generals.
Mohammed was a wonderful host and made sure that we were photographed from every possible angle to maximize the effectiveness of our mission. We asked asked if we could stay in one of the extra palaces, but were told that we were needed right away to protect an orphanage that was being targeted by American warplanes.
Then, a couple of sergeants rudely crammed us into a bus without air conditioning and drove all night across some of the dustiest, bumpiest roads I've ever seen. We kept telling them we needed to stop at a hotel to freshen up, or at a Starbucks for a caf latte, but they kept on driving.
At daybreak, we arrived at the orphanage in the middle of the desert. The terrified children must have been hiding in bomb shelters, because not a one was in sight. The entire area was heavily protected, though, with missiles and tanks. Inside the compound were hundreds of barrels of what must have been baby formula.
Imagine our dismay when we got out of the bus, formed a picket-line, and there wasn't a single reporter in sight. Clearly, there was some mistake. The story of our bravery needed to be told. I called Babs. Got her voice mail. Ditto Susan's, Phil's, Martin's and Alec's. No luck reaching Saddam or Mohammed either.
Melvin, our group leader, (A Rhodes Scholar and vegetarian activist), tried to communicate with the Iraqi sergeants, but they just laughed and drove away. So we gathered together for a group hug, sang a chorus of "We Are the World" and began shielding. After an hour of chanting "No Blood For Oil", we were sunburned, hoarse, and ready for a shower.
We trudged into a nearby village for the night. At 2 a.m., we were rudely awakened at our dingy hotel by the sounds of American jets blowing up the orphanage and Abrams tanks rolling through the streets. By daybreak, thousands of Iraqis lined the streets cheering and waving at the Marine warmongers. Ingrates.
We decided to go home. Four weeks and several thousand dollars later (our charter flight never showed), I finally arrived at Boston airport. Had to call a cab. I'm sure this has all been a big mistake. I'll get Martin Sheen to straighten it out as soon just as I can get him to answer the phone.
Zeke Calhoun is Craig Ziemba's liberal cousin.