In 1972, anti-war activists like Jane Fonda and Ramsey Clark traveled to North Vietnam and in the process, helped shine a light on the American tactic of bombing Vietnamese dikes. In 2006, rocker-rapper Kid Rock traveled to Iraq because, he says, he wanted "to see exactly what the soldiers are going through ... and let them know they're in our hearts." The times, they have a-changed.
In the latest issue of Blender Magazine, Kid Rock talks about spending Christmas in Baghdad. He tells his readers about "human feces literally spilling into the streets" and how "our troops deal with it every day." There was no indication of how the actual citizens of Iraq felt about sewers that surely functioned better before the U.S. invasion. This isn't radical chic; it's G.I. Joe for the rich and famous.
This was Kid Rock's second trip to the occupied nation. In 2003, he took part in a show at Saddam International Airport. "Back then," he explains, "it was like 'Hurray, we won! We f*cking tore this country up, and rightfully so'."
The second time around, the American Bad Ass ended up hanging with the troops thanks to Senator Bill Frist ("he seemed like a cool enough guy" Kid declares). His military tour guides made certain the Detroit rocker saw all the important sites, for example, soldiers that "hooked up" a school so Iraqi kids would "have fresh water" and, of course, GIs just itching to re-up for another tour in Iraq to help "these people."
Did the Motor City millionaire have any conflicted feelings while jamming in the Middle East? Well, the sight of soldiers' coffins gave him pause (no word on how the many more dead Iraqis impacted him) but he did learn you need a firm hand in the war business. "We know Saddam had to go," a soldier told Kid, "but you gotta hand it to him: He knew how to keep this country in line." The Kid's reaction? "Our guys are trying to do it with democracy, but you could hear their frustration." As a "higher ranking guy" explained to the affluent artiste, "We don't create policy, we execute it." Therein lies Kid Rock's take-home message: "Whether it's a right war or a wrong war, they've got their papers and they've got to fight."
Sounds like the establishment won't be losing any sleep about a return to Vietnam-era dissent. This ain't your father's activism.
Mickey Z. can be found on the Web at http://www.mickey.net.