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General News    H3'ed 8/14/09

Where's the music?

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It suddenly struck me. I realized why the anti-war movement, the justice & accountability movement, and the health care reform movement have been struggling these last few years -- with so little to show for their efforts.

There's no good music to inspire us.

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Or maybe there are good songs, but they haven't become as popular as protest songs did in the 1960s.

Back in the good ol' days of the 60s, millions of people were moved by heartfelt, sincere songs such as:

We Shall Overcome

Blowin' in the Wind

Where have all the flowers gone?

Give Peace a Chance

Turn, Turn, Turn

Many of the protest songs were sung by superstars and became great hits.

The Wikipedia article on anti-war songs lists a couple dozen songs written since 9/11, but none of their tunes stick in my head. The current batch of songs never entered mass conscioussness the way protest songs of the 60s did.

Why's this? Are we more cynical now? Less easily swayed by emotion (which, after all, can be easily manipulated)? Are the songwriters or musicians less skilled?

A further possibility is that the baby boomers, now reaching retirement age, are nostalgic for their lost youth. They have unreasonable pride for the music of the 1960s. They also have money and power. Perhaps they unconsciously suppress the new generation's music. They may just refuse to listen to it.

Another, perhaps related, reason why the current anti-war movement has failed is that the news media and Congress went along with Bush Administration efforts to hide the effects of the war. TV cameras weren't allowed to record images of coffins returning from Iraq. (They said it would "dishonor" the troops and their families.) Much of the war was fought from aircraft and involved fewer combat troops in battle. There was no draft; children of poorer, less educated families enlisted. Many of the casualties were from roadside bombs. During the first months of the war -- when most of the country believed Bush Administration lies about Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction and supposed connections to Al Qaeda -- the news media was supportive of the war.

Furthermore, our leaders shifted the economic effects of the war onto later generations: government borrowed money and even cut taxes (especially for the rich) during time of war. Even now, it's not clear to people how the costs of the war are affecting them.

People tired of hearing about the war. People are distracted by economic troubles and by the health care debate. There's little interest in the war in Afghanistan now.

The situation with health care reform is similar. The issues are complex, it's easy to mislead people, and many people don't realize how unfair, corrupt, and inefficient the current system is. They don't realize the advantages of single-payer. Conservatives repeat lies such as "America has the best health care system in the world" and "liberals want to let government come between you and your doctor" and "overseas, there are long waits and hospitals are filthy."

As for accountability, who knows why Bush Administration officials have been allowed to get off scot-free despite their many crimes and deceptions!

Perhaps Congress is just more corrupt now.

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DFA organizer, Democratic Precinct Committee Officer, writer, and programmer. My op-ed pieces have appeared in the Seattle Times, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, and elsewhere. See and for my writing, my (more...)
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