In my younger days, I considered the Village Voice to be required reading. But — like The Nation, Mother Jones, The Progressive, and so many other once useful publications — I no longer find the Voice to be relevant or remotely radical. However, it’s free in NYC and I ride the subways. Thus, I’ll sometimes grab a copy to peruse as I navigate the subterranean tunnels of transportation.
I end up regretting this move…every single time.
As I thumbed through the Nov. 12-18 issue, I came across a loathsome illustration of denial masquerading as a music article. “The Pleasant Dilemma of Hamell on Trial: A post-Obama protest singer deals with victory,” by Rob Harvilla was ostensibly about protest (sic) singer Ed Hamell (a.k.a. “Hamell on Trial”) and others of his liberal ilk but ended up as yet another paean to the beloved Pope of Hope.
Harvilla describes folk singers like Hamell as “seething, cynical, sarcastic, permanently embittered, militantly radicalized leftist.” (For the myopic Harvilla “militantly radical” simply means you hate Republicans and launch crude insults at people like Ann Coulter.)
Such performers, Harvilla declares, have found the days following Obama’s election to be “jubilant but deeply confusing times, the exhilaration of We Did It now undercut by the bewilderment of What Do We Do Now?” He offers this option: “stop bitching” as he thanks god Hamell no longer has to waste his “vast” talent “just bitching about the Republicans.”
Ed Hamell, for his part, displays his staggeringly profound grasp on global politics by adding: "If he (Obama) turns all this around and I don't have to sing about it anymore, then good. I got plenty of other problems."
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Plenty of other problems indeed…but first: What is “all this” and how might the Chairman of Change turn it all around? If all this means the illegal war against Iraq that began on August 6, 1990 — when the murderous UN sanctions were first imposed — and continues to this day, Obama has articulated a vague plan to turn it around: shuffle off some “combat troops” to rain hell upon Afghanistan (and perhaps Pakistan and Iran) and leave behind tens of thousands of US soldiers, the largest embassy the world has ever seen, and legions of private mercenaries.
Yeah, I guess there’ll be absolutely no reason for Ed Hamell to write a new protest song when Lord Obama maintains the death penalty, the PATRIOT Act, the fence on the US-Mexican border, and the subsidizing of Israeli war crimes. Gays can’t marry, single-payer is doomed, and the third term of the Clinton administration looms…but Hamell and his militant ilk can “stop bitching” now. For posers like them, all this doesn’t seem to include the reality that blacks make up roughly 12% of the American population but constitute 40% of the death row population. It doesn’t include an obscene military budget, corporate personhood, structural adjustment programs, and NAFTA.
The Obamatrons are not pushing their hero to end any of the following either: the bogus war on a tactic, corporate welfare, homelessness, sweatshops, factory farming, strip mining, deforestation, or giving away control of public airwaves, public land, and public pensions. Ninety percent of the ocean’s large fish are gone but somehow these are “jubilant” times for those deluded denizens of the Left ready to “stop bitching.”
They’d rather bask in the toxic glow of fantasy — choosing to believe their work is done because a mainstream politician who raised $640 million is gonna turn “all this” around. These folks have tainted the very concept of radical activism and deserve nothing but our contempt.
With 200,000 acres of rainforest destroyed every 24 hours, our work cannot be viewed as anywhere close to done. Or, to borrow from Eugene V. Debs, “while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.”
Mickey Z. can be found on the Web at http://www.mickeyz.net.
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