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Extremism In The Defense Of Liberty
Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, John Mellencamp, and a sizable roster of other major rock stars united for a series of concerts this fall in swing states to voice their collective dissatisfaction with the Bush administration and the war in Iraq. John Fogerty recently released a new album entitled Déjà Vu All Over Again. The title song is a throwback to Wholl Stop The Rain, a song of protest about another war nearly 40 years ago. Rock stars protesting an unpopular war and president is nothing new, nearly every major and minor band had something to say about Vietnam, from a B-band like Covens One Tin Soldier to Jefferson Airplanes Volunteers. The big difference was that those songs got steady airplay.
Clear Channel and Sinclair Communications, both big Republican contributors, are doing their best to make sure that artists like the Dixie Chicks, Steve Earle, and the aforementioned Fogerty wont be heard. While Country Joe and the Fish had a major hit with Feel Like Im Fixin To Die 36 years ago, Republicans can rest easy. It is highly unlikely that Tom Waits, R.E.M., Lenny Kravitz or a host of other artists and bands who have released material protesting the war in Iraq will ever enjoy the sales and popularity that Joe McDonald had with his comical ragtime number.
the September 11 attacks musical expressions of shock and anger
began to surface. Most of these were patriotic country songs, such
as Toby Keiths breast-beating xenophobic Courtesy of
the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American). Neil Young,
Bruce Spring- steen, and other rock stars offered other kinds of
material reflecting on the aftermath of September 11. Last March,
with the start of Bushs war on terrorism in Iraq,
REM, John Mellencamp, the Beastie Boys, and others produced outright
antiwar songs. Since then songs voicing dissent have been conspicuously
absent. One can understand an artists reticence following
the McCarthy-like tactics that came as a response to Natalie Mainess
(of the Dixie Chicks) comments about President Bush while the group
was on tour last year. Not since Lennons misquoted Were
more popular than Jesus Christ, remark did the public and
radio collude in such a vicious fashion, with coast to coast record
burning rallies and the like. Surprisingly, those methods backfired.
While Clear Channel and other radio stations banned the Chicks from
their play lists, the group held sold out concerts in Los Angeles
and many other cities. People in the U.S. may be complacent to a
degree when it comes to their entertainment, but as a rule they
dont take kindly to corporate Goliaths picking on the little
Some artists such as Keb Mo have taken a different path. Instead of protesting the war and the Iraqi reconstruction, courtesy of Halliburton, Keb Mos new album, Peace Back By Popular Demand, covers such songs as the Rascals People Gotta Be Free, Dylans Times They Are a Changing, as well as Lennons Imagine. Keb Mo sought to take a more positive approach. This is not the time to be angry, Keb Mo said. Some people are going to want blood for blood, but that is not the answer. Mo may have a point that being anti anything is not positive and that offering messages of peace, love, and understanding is. Unfortunately Clear Channel, Sinclair, and other media behemoths wont stop their censorship. Imagine, a song that asks the listener to do exactly that, still tops the list of do not play material at both networks.
How much influence Springsteen and others have in swaying the voters remains to be seen. While it is encouraging to see major artists such as Springsteen and Jackson Browne taking a stand against an unconscionable war, it is equally frightening to see how easily those voices are kept to a minimum. While some independent stations may buck the broadcast blackout on artists and songs protesting the war, one has only to look at the numbers of corporate owned stations in every major market to see that cities like Denver have no other media outlets than those owned by conservative conglom- erates that back the president.
The government through the Patriot Act and its ever expansion of powers is controlling what cant be controlled through ownership. Government censorship in the defense of democracy is nothing new to this country. Eighty-six years ago President Wilson signed the Espionage Act, which was readily passed by a cooperative Congress. The act gave sweeping powers to key federal figures, most of whom were presidential appointees. The legislature only balked at legalizing outright censorship of the press, even though Wilson deemed it an imperative necessity.
The Espionage Act gave the Postmaster General the right to refuse to deliver any periodical he viewed as unpatriotic or critical of the Wilson administration. Thomas Gregory, Wilsons Attorney General, demanded that libraries report the names of patrons who requested books deemed questionable and unpatriotic. Following on the heels of the Espionage Act came the Sedition Act. This bold bit of legislation made it a crime punishable by 20 years in prison to utter, print, write or publish any disloyal profane, scurrilous or abusive language about the government. To make certain this law was enforced the FBI created a volunteer organization christened the American Protective League. In just a few short months this watchdog group had nearly 100,000 members. Even the progressive Walter Lippmann called society too big, too complex for the average person to comprehend, and urged that citi- zens subordinate self-rule to order.
Recently Cat Stevens was denied entry into the United States. The Homeland Security Forces diverted his London to Washington flight to Bangor, Maine so they could remove the former pop singer and send him packing back to England. Obviously, Tom Ridge must have felt that Cat Stevens was a security threat to the country or at the very least that a song like Peace Train carried some subversive message harmful to U.S. citizens.
Born Stephen Georgiou in the United States, he changed his name to Cat in the late 1960s. After a string of pop hits Cat abandoned his career and changed his name again, this time to Yusuf Islam. He also converted to Islam and changed his U.S. address to an English one. Cat has denounced the events of 9-11, the Spanish railway bombings, and the Chechnyan attack on the Russian grade school, all perpetrated by Muslim extremists. A visit to his website reveals all sorts of archaic 1960s peace/love messages. Obviously, the peace messages must be in code that Ridge and his cohorts were able to crack. The irony was that Stevens/Islam was en route to Washington to promote a CD that has half of its royalties going to the 9-11 Fund.
The reason Yusuf Islam aka Cat Stevens was deported was that his name is on the Homeland Securitys no-fly list. This is the same security system that also put Senator Ted Kennedy and Representative John Lewis on the no-fly list. Somehow a Cat Stevens CD doesnt seem to be part of Al Qaedas attack of terror on the United States. The real attack is far more insidious. It comes from a White House administration that sells fear like bottled water. Hopefully, Americans wont get fooled again, as Pete Townsend would say, and allow their civil rights and Constitutional freedoms to disappear. A democracy lacking basic civil rights sounds awfully close to a dictatorship at worst and a monarchy at best and we already told the British that homie dont play that back in 1776.
John Zavesky is a freelance writer based in California.
Z Magazine Archive
HUMAN RIGHTS - The U.S. Human Rights Network will celebrate its 10th anniversary with the Advancing Human Rights 2013 Conference, December 6-8, in Atlanta, GA.
Contact: 250 Georgia Avenue SE, Suite 330, Atlanta, GA 30312; email@example.com; http:// www.ushrnetwork.org/.
AFRICAN/SOCIALIST - The Sixth Congress of the African People’s Socialist Party USA will be held December 7-11, in St. Petersburg, FL.
Contact: 1245 18th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33705; 727- 821-6620; info@aps puhuru.org; http://asiuhuru.org/.
SCHOOLS - The Dignity in Schools Campaign (DSC) will host a workshop on the DSC “Model Code on Education and Dignity: Presenting A Human Rights Framework for Schools” at the Mid-Hudson Region NY State Leadership Summit on School Justice Partnerships, December 11 in White Plains, NY.
Contact: http://www.dignityin schools.org/.
ANARCHIST/BOOKFAIR - The Humboldt Anarchist Book Fair will be held December 14, in Eureka, CA.
Contact: humboldtgrassroots @riseup.net; http://humbold tanarchist bookfair.wordpress. com/.
CLIMATE - The World Symposium on Sustainable Development at Universities is hosting a follow-up event to the 2012 Rio de Janeiro symposium. The gathering will be held in Qatar on January 28-30, 2014.
Contact: http://environment.tufts. edu/.
LABOR - The United Association for Labor Education (UALE) will host Organizing for Power: A New Labor Movement for the New Working Class in Los Angeles, March 26-29. Proposals are due December 15.
Contact: LAWCHA, 226 Carr Building (East Campus), Box 90719, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708-0719;lawcha @duke. edu; http://lawcha.org/.
MEDIA FELLOWSHIP - The Media Mobilizing Project is seeking applicants for the first annual Movement Media Fellowship Program. The Fellow will work with MMP to produce the spring season of Media Mobilizing Project TV. MMPTV is a news and talk show that tells the stories of local communities organizing to win human rights and build a movement to end poverty.
Contact: 4233 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19104; 215-821- 9632; milena@media mobilizing.org; http://www.media mobilizing.org/.
RACE - The 7th Facing Race: A National Conference will be held in Dallas, TX November 13-15, 2014. Organizers, educators, artists, funders and everyone interested in racial equity is invited to exchange best practices and learn about innovative models and successful organizing initiatives. Proposals must be submitted by January 24, 2014.
Contact: Race Forward, 32 Broadway, Suite 1801, New York, NY 10004; 212-513-7925; media @raceforward.org; http://race forward.org/.
VETERANS - They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return from America’s Wars - The Untold Story, by Ann Jones, is about the journey of veterans from the moment of being wounded in rural Afghanistan to their return home.
Contact: Haymarket Books, PO Box 180165, Chicago, IL 60618; 773-583-7884; http://www.haymarketbooks.org/.
LIBYA - Destroying Libya and World Order: The Three-Decade U.S. Campaign to Terminate the Qaddafi Revolution, by Francis A. Boyle, is a history and critique of American foreign policy from Reagan to Obama.
Contact: Clarity Press, Inc., Ste. 469, 3277 Roswell Rd. NE, Atlanta, GE 30305; 404-647-6501; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www. claritypress.com/.
CHILDREN - Fannie and Freddie by Becky Z. Dernbach is about two bumbling villains who gamble away the savings of the people of Homeville.
Contact: fannieandfreddiebook @gmail.com; http://fannieand freddie.org/.
PROTEST/COMIC - Fight the Power!: A Visual History of Protest Among English Speaking Peoples, by Sean Michael Wilson and Benjamin Dickson is a graphic narrative that explains how people have fought against oppression.
Contact: Seven Stories Press, 140 Watts Street, New York, NY 10013; 212-226-8760; info@ sevenstories.com; http://www. sevenstories.com.
CHILDREN - Brave Girl by Michelle Markel and illustrated by Melissa Sweet is the true story of Clara Lemlich, a young Ukrainian immigrant who led the largest strike of women workers in U.S. history.
Contact: http://www.harpercollins childrens.com/Kids/.
FESTIVAL - The 2014 Queer Women of Color Film Festival will be held June 13-15 in San Francisco. The festival is currently accepting submissions until December 31.
Contact: QWOCMAP, 59 Cook Street, San Francisco, CA 94118-3310; 415-752-0868; email@example.com; http://www.qwocmap.org/.
IRAQ/REFUGEES - Ten years after the U.S.-led war in Iraq, thousands of displaced Iraqi refugees are still facing a crisis in the United States. The Lost Dream follows Nazar and Salam who had to flee Iraq in order to avoid threats by Al- Qaeda-affiliated groups and Iraqi insurgents that consider them “traitors” for supporting U.S. forces in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Contact: Typecast Films, 888- 591-3456; info@type castfilms. com; http://type castfilms.com/.
HUMAN RIGHTS - Lyrical Revolt! III will be held December 4 in Syracuse, NY. The event will feature hip-hop musician Anhel whose album Young, Gifted, and Brown was just released. The event is sponsored by ANSWER Syracuse, Liberation News, and SyracuseHip Hop.com. Performers and artists are encouraged to send submissions.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.answercoalition.org/syracuse/.
FOLK - Musician Painless Parker has released his album Music for miscreants, malcontents and misanthropes featuring “Fuck Yeah, the Working Class.”
Contact: email@example.com; http://painlessparkermusic.com/.
COMEDY - Political comedian Lee Camp’s new album Pepper Spray the Tears Away has been released.