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To Protest War Is “In Vogue”

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This morning, on the radio, I heard the blissful news: Lenny Kravitz is releasing a new song! And it protests the war in Iraq! EVERYONE is excited, and awaits its release with eagerness…everyone except for seventy percent of the American population.

Most of Hollywood and many in the popular musician/band crowd are protesting the recent war. (For those of you who didn’t know that a war is being waged, you’ve accidentally clicked on something called a “hyperlink.” Please restart your computer, and log back on to AOL to chat with complete strangers; MSN users may resolve their issues with the same antidote.) Among them are the following:

Lenny Kravitz: “We Want Peace”
Madonna: “American Life” (pending release)
John Mellencamp: “To Washington”
Beastie Boys: “In a World Gone Mad”
Jewel: “Institution” (reportedly, the album carries threads of protest of the war with Iraq)

When asked why he was protesting the war, Recording Label “DefJam” founder, Russell Simmons was quoted as having said: “We are threatened as Americans because of the way our president carries himself. He’s the biggest threat in the world.” He also said, “Don’t misunderstand me, but Saddam is the Iraqi’s problem. George Bush is our problem as Americans.”

Although Russell Simmons doesn’t speak for all musicians, he certainly does carry a certain air of self-righteousness that seems to prevail among them nowadays.

Protesting a war has become more than just a concern for those whose lives are at stake. Protesting is “in vogue.” It’s the Nike swoosh of the celebrity (and followers alike) fabric. Those who support George Bush’s decision to wage war on Saddam are branded as having been caught up in a patriotic moment, as war-waging, insensitive, oil-loving sheep, hanging on every word that falls from the president’s lips. To some degree, it’s probably true.

However, if this is true, then let’s consider the following: Those who oppose this war against Saddam (who, by the way, is more than just Iraq’s problem, as he has proved in the past) are acoustic guitar-slinging, street-blocking, protest-of-the-moment groupies, who also follow their beloved “American Idols”, like sheep.

Not too fair of a statement, is it?

All I am saying is (those of you who thought I was about to say “give peace a chance”, have demonstrated my entire argument) that facts are being ignored. While there may be a political agenda behind President Bush’s decision to go to war, there is merit to the notion that Saddam Hussein should not be allowed to kill his own people in order to demonstrate his leadership, at his own discretion.

So for those of you who would say “Iraq is not our problem,” ask yourselves this: At what point, or within what boundary does it become appropriate to step in and stop the “Hitlers” of the world from killing their own people, and at what point do we stop asking for “proof” that he will attack another country? Do we wait until it’s too late? The answer, of course, is an emphatic “yes”- if we’re stupid.

Comparisons keep getting drawn from George Bush to Saddam, but to do so is irresponsible. George Bush is sending soldiers into a war to fight. Saddam has been exterminating his own people methodically, and seems to harbor a will to continue to doing so, for as long as he can remain in power. While you and I are not afraid to vocally (or even electronically) oppose our leaders- they are. A sentence of death accompanies their choice (final choice, by the way) to protest.

There IS a major difference between the two national leaders, and personally, I think that everyone knows it (whether the president is perfect or not is another subject.) To accept rediculous comparisons, or to block a busy street and chant with warmed-over 60’s rhymes, is to don another article of protest clothing—with another trendy “swoosh.”

***for more articles by Nathan, go to www.nathannelson.com***

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About Nathan Nelson

  • Woland

    “In Vogue”? Hardly.

    Ever since the rise of the singer-songwriter movement, major American wars have resulted in some kickass songs.

    Bob Dylan wrote one or two. CCR got in on the action for ‘Nam! After the second World War, there have been songs protesting wars ranging from the obvious, like Vietnam, to more recent events such as Kosovo.

    Soooooo does a pattern that’s been around for over 50 years qualify as ‘vogue’? Or maybe people are genuinely concerned.

    I suspect modern advances, such as file-sharing on the internet, have created a more friendly environment for protest songs. They can be created and released almost immediately after particular events have taken place. It’s been, what, 8 days of war? And there’s been quite a few people releasing songs in response already.

    And yes, I am sure many of these songs will state opinions people will have a problem with. The whole “Bush+Saddam” thing, for example. But that’s a protest song for you, some artists just want to get people pissed off. They are as varied as those writing them.

    So I think it is wrong of you to attack this as a trend. It robs the songs of sentiment. Historically, protest songs have been kickin’ it for quite some time now, and I suspect they will increasingly do so. The idea that these songs are created for the attention or personal glorification is unsupported and over-generalized.

    And for someone stating that ‘the facts are being ignored’, and then questioning “at what point do we stop asking for “proof” that he will attack another country?”, you’ve raised as much confusing muck as these singers. (Nice one with the quotations around “proof”, by the way.)

    So let the music begin.

  • guero

    I agree with you Nathan, people that protest against the war because it’s just a trend I think it’s a waist of everyone’s time. But those that have a legit reason to protest and believe in what they are protesting, I have no problem with that. Good article.