By now, Mike Farrell probably figures he’s got the nation fooled. For over 20 years, the Hollywood actor turned peace activist has flawlessly played the part of the pacifist patriot with America’s best interests at heart. Farrell is quite convincing when he’s in character, as he has been since he propelled himself to the forefront of the Iraq war protest movement. Without batting an eye, Farrell will tell you how much it would pain him to see Iraqi or American blood spilled in the unjust war on Iraq.
Farrell is counting on the fact that no one remembers another part he played one Friday night, 18 years ago in San Salvador. For 2 ½ hours, Farrell, who played a surgeon on M*A*S*H, assisted Dr. Alejandro Sanchez in a real-life operation to restore movement to the arm of Nidia Diaz, a guerilla leader of the Marxist Central American Worker’s Party. Just two months before, the group had claimed responsibility for the slaying of four U.S. Marines, two American businessmen and nine civilians. Diaz is still barred from entering the U.S. for her role in the murders.
"Apparently, it was the most important role in his life," Sandra "Sand" Brim of Medical Aid for El Salvador told the Associated Press at the time. The U.S.-based Medical Aid, which was founded by Farrell’s long-time friend and radical activist buddy, actor Ed Asner, flew in the Los Angeles doctor because there was no surgeon available with the skills to perform the delicate operation. Because he needed someone to assist him, Sanchez asked Farrell, who at the time was in Central America at the behest of Amnesty International, for help on the way to the hospital.
"I know this is going to look like a publicity stunt, but that’s too bad. It isn’t," Farrell told the Los Angeles Times after the operation.
If not a publicity stunt, than what was it? A good-hearted effort to put a Marxist terrorist with American blood on her hands back in the battlefield to prey upon the very civilians Farrell claimed to want to help?
By 1985, Farrell and a small handful of Hollywood actors had become a thorn in the side of the Reagan administration, which spent millions aiding the Nicaraguan Contras in their battle against the Cuban and Soviet-backed Marxist Sandinistas. Farrell and Asner’s group, Committee of Concern for Central America, even went so far as to invite Nicaragua’s Communist Sandinista leader, Daniel Ortega, for a nine-day publicity tour of American cities, the purpose of which, The Washington Post reported, was to counter the Reagan administration’s "disinformation" effort against Nicaragua’s communist government. At the final event, a fundraiser for the Committee of Concern, the Post reported that Ortega raised his fist in the air and shouted "If the United States commits the error of invading us, we know we will struggle with you at our side," which elicited cheers from the audience.
This is the real Mike Farrell – Marxist sympathizer, militant anti-American, selective pacifist with a disdain for the American blood that flows through his own veins.
Like the other Hollywood radicals who spent years "helping" in Nicaragua and El Salvador in direct opposition to U.S. efforts to combat communism at America’s doorstep, Farrell would probably insist that they were merely trying to help Nicaraguan civilians who were suffering at the hands of the Contras the U.S. supported.
But in the1990s, after the people of Nicaragua deep-sixed Ortega’s violent government and voted out the communist Sandinistas, the Hollywood crowd scattered like roaches from the light. When Hurricane Mitch killed 11,000 and devastated Central America in 1998 Farrell and his Committee of Concern were nowhere to be found.
So what exactly was Farrell up to while thousands of Nicaraguan children died of starvation? What could possibly have been more important to the man who once offered himself to the media as Central America’s anti-Contra protector and spokesman?
Apparently, sparing convicted cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal from the death penalty and setting him free took precedence. Farrell’s only public appearance of note in the months after the hurricane was a stint on 20/20 in which Farrell, who once co-chaired the New York-based Committee to Save Mumia Abu-Jamal, was summarily shellacked by ABC newsman Sam Donaldson.
Given his history, it would be easy to brush Farrell off if he weren’t so good at grabbing the limelight when he wants to make a point. Like lesser-known activists with Marxist credentials, Farrell seems to have the formula for using the media to reach the public down pat. He simply creates a protest group, signs up half of Hollywood, then uses their combined star power as leverage to weigh in on an issue. It’s what he did while stumping for the Sandinistas, and what he did again with the help of actor Martin Sheen when he launched Artists United to Win Without War in September.
With about $300,000, a couple of ads and a web site, Farrell and his friends set up a virtual march on Washington to protest the war that resulted in thousands of phone calls and faxes from 80,000 people who signed up online to harass Congress and the White House with anti-war messages.Once again, Farrell had gotten away if not with murder, then with aiding and abetting it .