my friend at laughingmeme.org writes that he is coming to see my band play at Folklife (in Seattle) tomorrow). interestingly he writes “Rumor has it this might be their last visit to Evil Empire for a while” which i don’t recall saying – but he likely picked that up from the tenor of the discussion we had about it overall.
you see, i play radical folk music with decent lefty folks who have decent lefty politics and thus, when we talk about the band plans, politics are never far out of the discussion. last year and this, our annual trip to seattle has been the subject of some debate as the bodies continue to pile up in the middle east and the US agressively pusues its own agenda at the expense of every other region of the world. in a 13-year period, the US has killed 5-6% of the Iraqi population, and left their soil permanently contaminated with depleted uranium ensuring that their capacity to reproduce is forever stunted. the photographs and video flooding out of the POW prisons over the past month put even more striking images to the brutality of the invasion.
so the question this year, as it was last – is – do we want to spend time in a place such as this? just how complicit are a people in what its government does? how complicit are we as Canadians in this whole mess (Afghanistan and the war on terror involvement)? how do we fight back?
because it’s not just that american soldiers are torturing people in other countries – this is something we have known for a long time either explicitly or implicitly over the decades – but the reaction of the people at home that is so frightening. for the past month, we have had to bear witness to mainstream commentators asking the questions of children such as – “why are we spending so much time on this torture-stuff, and not as much on the Nick Berg beheading?”, or “why are we focused so much on the bad things our soldiers are doing and not the good?”
first of all these commentators know better than anyone that corporate media leads with what bleeds and if that is extreme torture video then CNN wants to be the first to make a buck off it. secondly, “good works” being done by soldiers are questionable since the good work they point to seems to be things like restoring the water supplies they destroyed in the first place – so the good works are only in the context of the nasty pummeling they have already given. if i break your arm and then set it in a cast – is that a good work all around? does my setting the arm in the cast mitigate the fact i intentionally broke it in the first place?
and to the Nick Berg comments – the difference between the beheading and and what’s happened at Abu Grahib is quite clearly the difference between a force that is part of systemic law and order and is supposed to be accountable, and one that is not and has no pretentions of being. besides which, the it is unlikely Nick Berg was killed by Al Queda, or beheaded live on videotape and one beheading just does not compare to the murder of hundreds of thousands of children through sanctions and warfare. no, it’s not the same and no, it should not be given the same attention as Abu Grahib.
to top all of this off is the ongoing self-obsession with everything internal that citizens of the US don’t seem to shake – it just strikes me as somewhat absurd that in the middle of out and out war atrocities people are finding time to write letters to sex-columnnists attacking them for saying that obesity is unhealthy (this apparently is oppressive), and “launching the child-sized hummer to promote oil-consumption to the under-5 set.
so – yeah – this was the tenor of our discussion. of course we are playing tomorrow at folklife (broad street lawn stage 8:00), and it might be our last trip to the US for awhile especially if they start fingerprinting all visitors
to the country. last year, as this we decided the best thing for us to do is come to the show, say what we think, and encourage people dance to tunes that oppose the war and other global abuses. three of my band-mates are leaving as soon as the show is over and heading straight back for the border. some of us will stay a little longer with my excellent friends at the emma goldman finishing school – glad to know that not everyone in babylon is recklessly building the tower, and that some of them are actively trying to tear it down.