I’ve been noticing an interesting phenomenon. Despite the fact that the War in Iraq is wildly unpopular with Democrats and increasingly so with Republicans, there is little to no Anti-War music. Which seems odd to me because I’ve always felt that popular music reflected the climate of the nation. In fact, you could teach a US History course from 1965 to 1975 using, as your text book, popular music. The Vietnam war was a mess, the nation wasn’t happy and the musical soul of the nation pouring out over the airwaves reflected that attitude. Additionally, music helped to mobilize its primary listening audience to action.
Today, however, I find virtually no Anti-War music on my iPod or on any of my five kids’ iPods. I’m sure these songs are out there somewhere, but beyond the work of Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello’s political folk music with the Nightwatchman I’m hard pressed to find much.
This phenomenon got me wondering why this is so. We could postulate that musicians are actually FOR the war and that explains the dearth of Anti-War music. However, I think we’re safe in dismissing that without much investigation, particularly when Country singers like Toby Keith have discovered that there is GREAT DEAL of money to be made singing in support of our troops.
Maybe it was the incredible backlash against the Dixie Chicks who spoke out against President Bush. The number one band in country music, the Dixie Chicks have been pushed to the side, marginalized and virtually blackballed ever since. Have other artists taken note and simply decided that there is no future and no money in speaking their mind?
Or was my first paragraph correct in its assumption—that popular music does reflect the climate of the nation, and, that despite the slowly percolating anti-war tension in the country, the overriding attitude being reflected is one of indifference?
One doesn’t need to search too hard to find an expert who will tell you that the level of American citizen involvement in this war is lower than during any previous conflict. Americans have been asked for almost nothing in supporting the War in Iraq. If you aren’t related to or don’t know a soldier, you’ve been largely untouched by the War. This has been a frequent criticism of President Bush—that he did not and has not asked the American people to make sacrifices in support of the war effort. We’ve been able to watch the troops leave on the Nightly News and return on the local news and pretend nothing is going on in between.
Technology, by way of television and the internet, has made the War in Iraq the most covered war in history. We can be deluged with information and images from the Middle East and yet we continue to find ways to escape the reality of the events unfolding overseas. If we look to popular music as a mirror of our interests it would appear we’re more interested in “hooking-up,” booty, and the next par TAY than the fate of our troops abroad.
I served during Gulf War I in the early 90s and saw first hand how this nation decided up front that the conflict would not be another Vietnam. Coming out of the very patriotic 80s, defined by Ronald Reagan’s optimism, the American people were going to support the troops, no matter what: and that they did. And Americans also, largely, supported the war. However, there are always discussions about whether people can support the troops and not support the war. I’ve never had a problem with this, but this world is too black and white for that opinion to be universal. Or should I say “too red and blue” instead of black and white. In the world of Republican Talk Radio, there is only us and them. And “they” are against the military. This phenomenon represents a serious intellectual lie—that we American’s are not smart enough, compassionate enough and deep enough to understand the complexity of issues involved in sending our young men and women to war.
The Democrats in Washington, DC, complain about this war but beyond them, you’d be hard pressed to find that attitude publicly reflected throughout society. No wonder they can’t get the troops home by persuading Republicans to speak up, they can’t even find a way to get their support base to speak up.
It’s been said that hate is not the opposite of love, indifference is. Could it be that by being silent about the War in Iraq American’s are being even less supportive of the troops than our protesting brethren were 40 years ago?
So, Anti-War people, where are you? You’ve gone into hiding, cowardly taking the up an attitude of indifference about the very people you claim to want home so badly. Republican Talk Radio beat you. It silenced you.
But in closing let me share with you the best way to support our troops, regardless of your politics. In the last two months I’ve had the opportunity to interview two great Americans who have found unique and wonderful ways to support our troops. The first was Lizzie Palmer, the Ohio high school student who made the video entitled REMEMBER ME which can be found on YouTube (at REMEMBER ME:click here).
This young lady produced a five minute video montage of our troops—their lives, their deaths, their service—and posted it on YouTube. To date she has received over 10 million hits. She has done other videos as well, although this one is the best received. And all this from a young high school student.
This past weekend I had the honor of talking to Kaziah Hancock. Kaziah started Project Compassion. Quoting from her website, “Project Compassion is a way to say “Thank you” to those American servicemen and women who have given the ultimate sacrifice for America — and for the loved ones they have left behind. For no fee, Kaziah will paint an original oil on canvas portrait of your fallen loved one for the immediate family. In this small way, she thanks you for giving your all in the cause of freedom. We are the Americans among you who would like to tell all of the brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, husbands and wives in the service, and their families, that our love, our thoughts and our prayers go out to them. Your sacrifices for our country’s safety and freedom, we realize, can never be fully appreciated. Our portrait of your fallen hero will shine as an heirloom legacy of honor for generations.”
These are amazing stories of Americans who refuse to be indifferent and have chosen to support our troops and their families by using the gifts they have been given to serve others. God bless these wonderful ladies and everyone else who is finding a way to support the men and women in uniform who serve this great nation.