This Thing Called Courage

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Don't Look If The Truth Bothers You


By now most people have heard about Neil Young's new cd Living With War. It's popping up in stores this week, and also you can stream the entire cd at many different sites, inlcuding here: Neil Young -- Living With War -- Listen --

The cd sounds like the old Neil, in his rockin' Crazy Horse days-- although he's also got a trumpeteer and a 100-member gospel choir backing him up on some tracks. The sounds is raw, garage-y, and angry-- just what one would expect-- but he could be playing the mouth harp and still I would salute him. For years I have been asking the musical question Where Have All the Protests Gone? I grew up with all that great socially aware, anti-war music in the late sixties and early seventies-- and have marvelled at its disappearence in these troubled, censorial times-- right off the top of my head, I'm thinking of:
John Lennon: Give Peace a Chance
Imagine
Give Ireland Back to the Irish
Marvin Gaye: Inner City Blues
What's Going On
Mercy Mercy Me
CSNY: Four Dead in Ohio
Country Joe and the Fish: One Two Three, What Are We Fighting For?
Credence Clearwater: It Ain't Me
Pete Seegar: Where Have All the Flowers Gone?
Bob Dylan: The Answer is Blowing in the Wind
etc etc-- now, these were all POP songs-- not obscure tunes by unknown artists played way down on the funky (left, of course) part of the dial-- one heard them in the barbershop; one heard them at the supermarket; one heard them on the major radio stations. This threw the topics of the day into the public plaza, and gave the average citizen the message (not that they need it in a democracy!) that it was okay to not only talk about these issues, but to disagree with our government. How ironic that we are fighting to 'spread democracy' (that's the latest reason given-- now that the first ten reasons have been proven to be lies) when our 'democracy' wages illegal war, spies on its citizens, ignores the Constitution, is awash in corruption, is totally unable/unwilling to respond to its neediest citizens in time of crisis (Katrina), is bankrupting us and the next several generations, is engaged in torture, is assaulting the environment, is poisoning the air we breathe and the water we drunk and the lands we live on-- and yet, more people in this country are more familiar with the cast of Survivor than they are with the lies surrounding the Iraq War.

In this 'Home of the Brave and the Land of the Free,' it is a pretty safe bet you won't be hearing Neil's angry, relevent music on any major radio stations-- all of whom hold licenses in the public's name, for the good of the public. (I would really love to be wrong on that score!) ClearChannel Communications, a far right corporation that owns close to 2500 radio stations, sent out a memo in the run-up to the Iraq war, telling its stations what it could and could not play to 'avoid controversy.' First on the list? John Lennon's Give Peace a Chance. Things long disued become atrophied, and so it is with open discourse apparently-- the lifeblood, incidentally, to democracy. So between television and radio, we are awash in a tsunami of useless, frequently vulgar, infotainment, where once we had public watchdogs , investigative journalists, and fearless crusaders.

I just can't understand why the fact that this administration lied about the war, and thus is responsible for thousands and thousands of deaths, is not blared across the front pages of every newspaper in the country, day after day. A new survey released just yesterday asserts that the Iraq War is less popular (or more unpopular) than the Vietnam War. You would never know it by looking/listening to the MSM (mainstream media.) What finally ended the Vietnam War was the fact that it spilled into the livingrooms of America every night, and the American people finally understood the useless carnage and waste of precious, precious life. But today, alkthough we are at war, we cannot see the coffins; we cannot see the wounded and maimed; and apparently the media has accepted that-- but since most newspapers and television/radio stations are more concerned now with the bottom line than seeking, digging, and reporting Truth-- it seems Bush's censoring the 'icky' parts of war is fine by them. Thus we get-- for example-- the front page of Boston.com this evening-- Houses of the Week (let's go real estate shopping!); how the Red Sox did; "relax in the Berkshires;" and a story on whether French designer Phillippe Starck is "too hip for Boston." In the meantime, 17 more died today in Iraq-- but you would never know it from perusing the Globe's site. It's so much more fun (and profitable) to think about the Berkshires, and pose those burning questions about Phillippe Starck.

The media has been woefully complicit in the degradation of our democracy. Thank God for the Internet. But just because we are not seeing the photos, it doesn't mean that the death of innocent men, women and children-- both American and Iraqi-- is any less tragic, any less horrific, or any less damning to all of us.

Thank you Neil for speaking Truth to Power, in an age when few others will. As Neil sings on Track Five, 'Let's Impeach the President for Lying.' Right on.

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