Teacher’s Anti-War Playing Cards Flying Off Bookstore Shelves

A high school teacher, fed up with the Bush administration’s
popular playing cards featuring Saddam Hussein, ‘Chemical Ali,’ and
other most-wanted Iraqis, is now selling her own deck, ‘Operation
Hidden Agenda.’ Unable to find a publisher, she has published the cards herself.

2003.07.15

A high school teacher, fed up with the Bush administration’s popular playing cards featuring Saddam Hussein, ‘Chemical Ali,’ and other most-wanted Iraqis, is now selling her own deck, ‘Operation Hidden Agenda.’

Kathy Eder’s 55 playing cards show pictures of President Bush, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and others along with quotes, mostly from journalists, questioning the rationale for the U.S.-led war. The backs feature a 1983 photograph of Rumsfeld shaking Sadaam Hussein’s hand.


Eder said she first decided to create her own plastic-coated propaganda in March as a comeback to the “messages of hate” contained in the cards the Department of Defense issued to help U.S. troops identify suspected war criminals.

Her “Hidden Agenda” cards, are “not hateful. They’re factual,” she said.

In Eder’s version, Bush is the ace of spades with the title, “Dictator of the World,” and the ace of clubs depicts Rumsfeld above the caption, “Donald Goes to Bagdad” – with the Iraqi city misspelled. The jokers carry quotes from Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.

Eder used free, public domain DOD photographs (several of the same ones show up repeatedly) and collected the quotes from newspapers and magazines. She hired a designer willing to work for $15 an hour and 5 percent of the profits. But only one of the about 30 publishers she contacted responded at all, and it said it couldn’t get to the cards for at least a year.

“I knew this was something that had to happen immediately,” said Eder, 42, who teaches social justice and morality at Bellarmine College Preparatory School in San Jose.

She decided to self-publish, but then couldn’t find a printer willing to do the job.

Eventually, Texas-based Liberty Playing Cards, one of the companies that prints the government’s “Most Wanted” cards, agreed.

Once the product became available online and at a few bookstores, Eder said she sold 3,000 decks in three weeks. She’s already placed a second order for 5,000 decks.

At Bookshop Santa Cruz, people lined up outside the store the morning the cards went on sale, according to Don Gardner, who works at the store. With about half of the purchasers buying more than one deck, the store has sold about 1,100 copies of “Hidden Agenda,” which “may be running neck-and-neck” with the latest Harry Potter book, Gardner said.

“She imitated some of the best marketing minds in the country,” Gardner said, referring to the U.S. government. “I don’t think it’s her intention to make a million bucks. I don’t think it’s her intention to attack individuals, but to expose the record of American leadership.”

But many retailers have refused to sell the cards and Eder said she’s received angry e-mails and a death threat.

She’s not deterred.

“My taxes paid for this war,” she said. “I have an obligation to do something.”

Eder has pledged to donate half her profits to five nonprofit organizations that promote nonviolence and provide aide to Gulf War veterans and Iraqis.

Eder said her mission is peaceful, not unpatriotic. She said she visited the site of the World Trade Center in New York last year.

“I felt such a connection with the U.S.,” she said. “This year, when we chose to go to war and cut off our relations with other countries, it seemed like such a tragedy that we had broken that sense of unity we felt around the world. I hope we can reunite around peace.”

Buy here: http://www.operationhiddenagenda.com

Author: Kim Curtis

News Service: Associated Press

URL: http://www.commondreams.org/headlines03/0715-12.htm