Monday, January 22, 2007

Protest Songs

People wonder why, with an escalating war with no end, with as intelligent and committed a cohort of youth as our nation has ever had, the protest movement hasn't really taken to the streets.

If you aren't outraged, you aren't paying attention, goes the bumper sticker. Lot of truth in that. It's easy to ignore when people don't have a personal stake in what's going on. A recent Washington Post article about the lack of street protests pointed to the lack of a draft as the reason for the quietude. Without the draft it is too easy for people to sit on the sidelines. That's only one of the reasons why I support the draft. George Washington addressed the Continental Congress about another reason for the draft:

"We are now, as it were, upon the eve of another dissolution of our Army. The remembrance of the difficulties which happened upon that occasion last year, and the consequences which might have followed had advantages been taken by the Enemy, added to the present temper and situation of the troops, reflect but a very gloomy prospect upon the appearance of things now, and satisfy me, beyond the possibility of doubt, that unless some speedy and effectual measures are adopted by Congress, our cause will be lost.

"It is in vain to expect that any (or more than a trifling) part of this Army will again engage in the service on the encouragement offered by Congress ... When men are irritated and the passions inflamed, they fly hastily and cheerfully to arms. But after the first emotions are over, to expect among such people as compose the bulk of an army, that they are influenced by any other principles than those of self-interest, is to look for what never did, and I fear never will happen. The Congress will deceive themselves, therefore, if they expect it."

That's why we need to know our history, there is nothing new under the sun. History repeats first as tragedy, then as farce.

My favorite protest song of recent years is Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes fame with "When Presidents Talk to God." Here he is on Leno:

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