Culture,  Politics

Shut up and Sing . . . On Second Thought, don’t sing either.

bornintheusa.jpgNewsweek magazine reports that pop artists are jumping on the Bush-bashing bandwagon (click here for the story). From Pink, to Paul Simon, Neil Young, Bruce Springstein, and even to Merle Haggard, they’re all coming out to beat up on Bush.As Newsweek points out, the interesting thing about this latest round of protests is that unlike Vietnam era protests which were aimed at “the establishment” and “the man” in general, these protests are focused rather narrowly on President Bush. For these entertainers, Bush is the personification of political and imperial evil.

Just consider some of what they are saying. On his new album, Neil Young gets right down to business saying, “Let’s impeach the president, for hijacking our religion and using it to get elected/Dividing our country into colors, and still leaving black people neglected.” In her new song “I’m Not Dead,” Pink addresses the President directly: “Mr. President, how do you sleep at night while the rest of us cry?” In the song “Worldwide Suicide,” Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder says, “Medals on a wooden mantel, next to a handsome face/That the president took for granted, writing checks that others pay.”

There are a lot of things that frustrate me about the complaints expressed in these songs. For one thing, none of them show any sensitivity to real life geopolitical drama that has been unfolding in the middle east over the last thirty years and how the war in Iraq relates to the larger struggle against Islamo-facism. These entertainers don’t entertain those issues, and until they do it will be very difficult to take them seriously.

Moreover, it’s also hard to listen to them when they have only become so bold after having stuck their fingers in the air to see which way the wind is blowing. Newsweek reports:

When the Dixie Chicks spoke out against Bush onstage three years ago, they were all but dropped from country-music radio. But with the president’s approval ratings at a record low, criticizing Bush or op-posing the war in song isn’t quite as risky.

Some of these artists I’m sure have always been vocal in their opposition to the war. But I have a hard time respecting the views of uninformed entertainers whose “courageous and principled activism” only becomes active when it’s popular to do so. Any nincompoop can kick a man while he’s down. To have the courage of your convictions means that you stand on principle even when it’s unpopular and costly to do so.

Needless to say, I’m not impressed with these crooning crackpots. I would say that they should just shut up and sing, but I’m pretty sure they don’t need to be singing either. :(

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