Op-Ed - You Say You Want A Revolution?

Drew Goldberg's editorial last week has received quite a response from our users. We encourage everyone on the Tripwire to be involved with the site. Send us your thoughts, your praises, your criticisms and even your reviews of shows or inside information you have. This business of music is, after all, a community in itself and The Tripwire is a place to bring us all together (group hug).

Below is a look at a couple of the better responses to Drew's editorial. Thanks to David and Christina for taking the time to send us their thoughts.



This is a concept I've long struggled with. I walk around sometimes and wonder how with all the trouble in the world how it is that there are no loud voices - nobody speaking out in the way that an Abbey Hoffman or a John Lennon did in the generation prior to ours. Or when I see people rioting at the G8 meetings in Scottland last month - I think, "Nobody in America cares enough to make that sort of statement." It seems unlikely that anybody here is actually going to get people out to voice their displeasure with those making the important decisions. Part of me
thinks it's cos we're lazy here - but, I think there's something more sinister at play. I think the greatest victory of the right since the '60s has been their ability to convince the youth that there's no use in protesting. Nothing happens when you march on Washington beyond scuffing up your Converse. It's unfortunate. Two generations (ours, the next) of kids feeling powereless - feeling like they have to sit back and take it in the ass when the government acts in ways that seem counter to the desires of society. But - I also think there's some truth to it. Think of all the people you mentioned in your editorial - whatever came of Abbey Hoffman, of Huey Newton, of John Lennon (he's not the best example - because a lunatic shot him, but read "come together", it's a great book about the surveilence job the FBI and Nixon admin conducted on Lennon)? What happened to MLK Jr, or Malcom X? What happened to JFK & RFK? They were all either shot or humiliated publicly and discredited. Even L.B. Johnson was forced to retire into the sunset in the midst of the most important civil rights legislation ever passed in this country. And though their ideas live on - and are bigger than the individuals themselves - there's a definite sense among anybody born after 1968 that when you stick your neck out for what you believe in, you're gonna get shot or disgraced.

I think our government (regardless of which party is in office) is much larger and more powerful than we can ever imagine. Look at the current administration - it didn't matter that Bush didn't win the election in 2000. They fixed it. It didn't matter that all of the evidence pointed against Iraq having anything to do with 9/11 - they manipulated the intelligence to frame their case in a way that legitimized their agenda. Millions of people across the globe (myself included) came out and protested the war - it didn't change a thing. They even had the audacity to hold their convention in NYC - a decision that was hugely unpopular amongst leftist NYers still reeling from the pain of 9/11 - it meant nothing. Barely even showed up on the news.

How do you bring down a govenrment that acts so arrogantly? That doesn't serve the people in the manner in which it should. What form of protest is left? Who can lead the voice of dissent? The Dixie Chicks? Look what happened to them for merely mentioning they were embarrassed to be from the same state as Bush? I'm not suggesting we just sit back and watch - but I do think on some level, this administration and all those like them will see to it that they bring themselves down. Likely at the expense of millions of people world wide - and here at home.

This issue of terrorism is not going anywhere. George Bush is about the last man on earth who can put a stop to it. His actions have fanned the flames to such a degree that there's no turning back for him. Only the muslim world can solve that crisis - if anybody can. But, that's another conversation for another time.

I wish I had answers. I wish I had leaders with answers. I wish there was a voice as brash and powerful as John Lennon's. But, nobody has the ears of the world like that anymore. Media is such that it's too fragmented. There's two men and one woman in the world who can sell the sort of records and command the sort of attention that Lennon once did - Eminem, Fifty Cent and Norah Jones. I'm not going to be looking to any of them anytime soon to save the world.


David Wallace | The English Department


There are people out there who have been screaming their heads off all along; it's just that there’s not much to say that a thinking person doesn’t already know and recognize, and unfortunately, feel really helpless about. After all, one fixed election is depressing. Two lends itself to absurdity, with phrases like “police state” and “conspiracy theory” coming to mind. We all know it’s true, but to say such a thing out loud has, in the past, been ostracized in our society, and no one wants to seem like a wingnut or an extremist. Well, some people do, I guess.

I’ve recently subscribed to Tripwire, and suddenly I'm reading all this about government accountability (e.g., the editorial earlier this week dedicated to Spitzer's campaign being a waste of government funds because there are homeless people. A red herring, and a shoddy one at best. The only reasoning given in the piece for why Spitzer shouldn't take down payola was that commercial radio would suck anyway. That's not a valid argument. I'm not saying that the final conclusion is flawed, but present me with some valid reasoning behind the position).

And in response to the current editorial, first I have to ask, what about Elvis Costello and Emmylou Harris on Good Morning America the other day, starting out the set with "What's So Funny 'Bout Peace, Love, and Understanding," and then ending with a chorus about bringing the boys back home? What about Bruce Springsteen's entire tour dedicated to ousting Bush? And yeah, you can see what company I work for, and really, I suppose that I should probably keep my mouth shut and maintain some reserve when this particular topic comes up, but whatever. My opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the company for which I work or those of their affiliates. But I do have to say that whether or not I always agree with the way he sometimes expresses himself, what about the Bright Eyes Leno appearance where he performed "When the President Talks to God?" I know. No one saw that because no one watches Leno. But what I’m getting at is that there are quite a lot of people out there saying what needs to be said, whether they’re holding a guitar or sitting behind a talk show desk or hell, at this point, behind the steering wheel of a tractor.

Plenty of people, Dixie Chicks included, have been spouting off about what's wrong and even trying to put their actions where their mouths are. It's just that when it’s time to write the reviews, The Go! Team is a hell of a lot more fun to shake one’s ass to. And there’s not necessarily anything wrong with that. But if the author of the editorial thinks the problem is that there isn’t one Dylan or Lennon or Guthrie or Seeger out there to lead the troops, maybe he should take a couple of steps back and see that it might be for the best. Maybe rallying up a whole bunch of individuals behind one imperfect person who is, in actuality, no bigger, no more omniscient than any of the rest of us is not the best approach. After all, it’s pretty easy to write that one per
son off if you’re not in his or her camp already.

Take a look at the protests in Austria a few years ago, pitted against the rising popularity of Haider and the far-right Freedom Party. Why were those protests so effective in generating attention to that country’s political turbulence? Because the people protesting were of all shapes, sizes, ages, and socioeconomic backgrounds. A young family with a stroller standing alongside an 18 year-old with an acoustic guitar is a lot harder to write off than 150 hippies singing, “give peace a chance.”

Music, while often giving us the goosebumps of revolution, also creates divisions according to aesthetic preference and lifestyle, and we are living in a time during which division between the sane likeminded is not a luxury we can afford. My grandmother may believe in the same ideals touted by Public Enemy or Bruce Springsteen, but she’s not going to a “protest” they’re headlining anytime soon. And her voice matters in this, as well.

In response to this statement in the editorial: “There is no person or voice out there that can help lead the people or at least encourage and remind the people that they have the power. This is, after all, a democracy.”

No, actually, it isn’t. We don’t live in one, and having one guy with a guitar leading the troops and making the grand statements isn’t the demonstration of one, either. It’s the very nature of a republic; the nature of the system we currently have in place, and an illustration of what needs to change about it (without dissecting and rebuilding the entire construct, which would probably be the most ideal option). The people we have elected need to see and recognize that they are not doing their job (i.e., representing us as a people). Why would you think one guy with a guitar would do any better of a job than our more conventionally elected officials would?

In an attempt at tying up what I’m trying to say, I walked into work the day we heard the news that Bright Eyes had #1 and #2 on the singles chart. There were no parties, no smiles, no “whoo-hoo, thank God for that fluke’s.” Not a one of us gave a rat’s ass, because it was November 3rd, 2004, Bush had been re-elected, and all we as individuals could think was of ways to move to Belize or Scotland or Italy or Canada. There are times when music, despite what it’s saying, doesn't matter.

When all was said and done, none of us moved because of that tiny, nagging hope that if people like us stayed, maybe things could still be changed for the better. And the way to making that change would seem to be, instead of having those darn young people these days trade their chat rooms and video games for guitars and protest songs, why not tell them to pay attention to what’s going on in their government. Write their representatives. Call them. Vote, even if that vote doesn’t seem to matter. And don’t let other people do your screaming for you.

Christina Harding | Saddle Creek

Source: The Tripwire

Op-Ed - You Say You Want A Revolution?