SINGING THE JOHN
BIRCH SOCIETY BLUES


 "O Freedom, O Freedom...

        After diligently studying and even on occasion attempting to create various and sundry poems and rumor of poems, it has become my perhaps minority opinion, that the greatest of all American literature was not encouraged in the ivory towers of our expensive universities, nor formulated by our most revered authors, nor was it scrawled down on napkins and on the backs of stained and torn menus in coffee houses of the late fifties and early sixties (as some would argue).  Rather it would seem, our finest poetic artistic achievements evolved among the sweat and toil of southern cotton and tobacco fields, no less from illiterate slaves living in unimaginably cruel and callous conditions, where death by hanging was punishment for attempting to impart on them the ability to read. It is not altogether quite clear what this insinuates about our modern theories of science and education, but nevertheless, I remain stubbornly entrenched in what must somehow be an erroneous conclusion of ill-informed and misguided prejudice.

        Although the descendants of some of these early American lyricists might take umbrage at one endeavoring to form a comparison between their enslaved and extremely ill-treated great-grandparents and certain, mostly light-skinned beat poets of the late fifties and early sixties, nevertheless these more modern and not particularly at all persecuted imitators, somehow came to understand and comprehend the supreme advantage of average people singing together in attempted harmony toward a common socio/political cause.  Consequently, in the early nineteen sixties there definitely appeared to be "somethin' happenin' here", ¹  but exactly what such common cause might be was not at the time, altogether particularly clear (and perhaps even to this day remains somewhat clouded).

        Thus the television show "Hootenanny" was born, much to the delight of many of our nation's youth and certain record company and television executives and likewise, to the utter dismay of most American parents; in particular those who believed in the vice president of Ike, attended the local fundamental church and who thought that the "Red scare" reprobate hearings of Senator Joe McCarthy were fundamentally, a good idea.  Looking back, it is perhaps difficult today to comprehend that such cutting edge 'radicals' as The Limeliters, The Kingston Trio and The Brothers Four would cause much of a stir.  But these were conservative times, when Alan Freed had only a short time ago coined a name for "that satanic music", Buddy Holly had worn thick, plastic-rimmed glasses and most record companies still insisted on a coat and tie, wholesome 'happy days' appearance (if not reality).

        As hard as it may be for some to imagine today, folk singer Pete Seeger was banned from Jack Linkletter's (son of Art Linkletter) "Hootenanny" as perhaps, a final nod by the television industry to the waning genocidal cancer of McCarthyism, ²  thus inaugurating a mass exodus from the show of the best talent available:  Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Peter, Paul & Mary and several other relatively unknown "folkies" decided to boycott in protest.  Not surprisingly, the fledging careers of many eventual folk and rock legends were given a solid boost in the right direction, roundly and soundly condemned by flag waving, Bible thumping, self-aggrandizing, self-righteous preachers of doom and, in the naturally resulting reciprocal, worshiped and revered and mostly made millionaires, by the fun loving, freedom seeking youth of the time.  Perhaps a soon-to-be-penned song of the evolving counter-culture could have contained the now obvious:  "So you want to be a rock-and-roll star, then enlist your parents in a self-righteous war. . ."

        It may be true that some form of very limited societal restraint is necessary to hold together the fragile ties that bind our modern civilization. ³  But censorship is always a very dangerous thing for many reasons, not the least of which is it turns brothers against sisters, fathers against their own sons and those of one hue in our Creator's rainbow of We The People Of Planet Earth against those of a slightly different variation of color and culture.  And as we move on into the present 3rd millennium after the birth of the founder of Human and Civil Rights, many conservative Americans tragically continue to equate this most liberal of all major historical personages with religion, valid protest with lack of patriotism, freedom with 'liberalism' *  and natural change with evil.

        Although I myself now earn a comfortable living from internet commerce, I continue to have reservations regarding certain technological changes that have happened in my own lifetime.  In addition to the obvious foolhardiness of developing ever more destructive weaponry leading toward possible (some might insist probable) global annihilation of all species including our own, the recent ability to tie everyone on our planet together economically and 'socially' by electronic means without the necessity of personal confrontation and interaction poses most definite long-term negative probabilities.  Our children have most certainly lost a considerable amount of innocence in recent years and it is undoubtedly a psychological and resulting, ongoing societal negative, that our nation's youth are spending more and more time in front of computer, television and motion picture screens and less and less time interacting in what for centuries, has been considered the normal rough-and-tumble play of peer-pressure adolescence.

        We must be careful in restricting and in guiding our children through the modern maze of political, social and technological complexity, remembering that we ourselves not long ago, refused to trust anyone over thirty and that some of us also, got into a great deal of trouble accordingly.  Parents tend to quickly forget what they themselves embraced and rebelled against in their youth and many, in their often well-meaning desire to protect their sons and daughters from duplicating their own mistakes, unwisely squelch and scorn the youthful ambitions of their offspring, not allowing the natural creative process of growth through experience to freely flow and forgetting or never perceiving, that allowing our children to learn from mistakes is part of the necessary formative process toward becoming conscientious and well-rounded citizens.  Criticizing and condemning children, rather than patiently applying kind and proper direction from afar, is perhaps the very worst form of unpatriotic behavior, as it leads to the creation of future destructive social maladies and the resulting, gradual (and sometimes violent revolutionary) unweaving of the positive fabric of our ever-fragile culture and civilization.

        If there is a positive lesson to be learned from our volatile political and social upheaval of the sixties, it is perhaps most pronounced in the evolution of the Rosa Parks/Martin Luther King, Jr. experience, where a few mainly unknown people of apparent upright heart and sound intention, ultimately conspired together in peaceful coalition with many thousands of like-minded individuals, to gradually change a no longer deniable (due to stark televised images) overt racist reality of American society.  In studying the life of King and perhaps more importantly, evaluating the mature content and effective symbolism of his unequaled modern oratory, we can see the gradual realization of a very brilliant and perceptive individual moving away from dogmatic traditions of both conservative and liberal persuasion toward a calibrated search for the truth centered on Human Rights and social justice, underscored with hands-on, practical help for the oppressed, sick and poor.
4

        In a proper search for what is true and correct and perhaps more importantly, what actually works toward the collective good of our fragile planet and its war-weary inhabitants, one must be willing to disregard both conservative, liberal and other bias.  Individuals who insist on habitually defending conservative or liberal positions brand themselves into a black hole of conceited, self-serving and worthless drivel.  A better idea, it would seem, is to attempt to pierce the generational darkness and twisted deceit of whatever culture of lies we are born into, letting conservative, moderate and liberal chips of fallacy fall where they may along the wayside.  And in doing so, allowing a solid political and social platform of all-partisan perspective to develop into a rational, cohesive and workable whole.  To defend a religious, traditional, modern or scientific perspective rather than to search for what is actually true is to become, what the founder of Human and Civil Rights may have referred to, as immature "children, sitting in the marketplaces", 5
 who did not perceive the darkness of their superstition and vain traditions until the flood of Armageddon's 'starwars' nightmare reality came and turned their New World Order of lassie-faire unbridled capitalistic crapulence into a Babylon of profuse burning rubble.

 ...And before I'll be your slave,
    I'll be buried in my grave..."


Paul Robeson on the Web

M.K. Gandhi Institute
"We must be the change we wish to see" -- Mohandas K. Gandhi


DEDICATED TO:  Paul Robeson; actor and All-American athlete, political activist, vigorous opponent of racism and champion of Human and Civil Rights, who stood up against the nauseating and insipid cancer of McCarthyism and to Arun and Sunanda Gandhi, founders of the M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence.


Credits:

1. "For What It's Worth" by Stephen Stills; from The Buffalo Springfield (1967).

2. Pete Seeger, subpoenaed by the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1955, was one of the few called to face this lunatic tribunal who declined to invoke Fifth Amendment privilege. In 1961 he was sentenced to ten years in prison, though fortunately, this conviction was subsequently overturned.  Among many other significant contributions, including the now famous social anthem "Turn, Turn, Turn" (see Season for more details), Seeger is perhaps more responsible than anyone else for promoting the tradition of the so-called "spirituals" into the mainstream of America's consciousness; he introduced the now famous song "We Shall Overcome" to the American Civil Rights Movement, based on the original slave anthem "I Will Overcome".  In the latter part of his career, Mr. Seeger has become a strong environmentalist, perhaps concluding that it will do little good to achieve a semblance of Human Rights and social justice if our planet is no longer inhabitable, which seems to make a whole lot of common horse sense to practically everyone except the current Bush Junior Administration and the 108th Congress of "Gilded Age" corporation-greased malfeasant miscreants.

3. Those who pretend to believe in total non-censorship are generally those who have not thought such a conclusion through very carefully.  'Adults' have been known to stretch limits way beyond what is decent to detail here, including graphic depiction of sexual acts between adults and small children and even animals with children, films of actual rape and murder and worse.  In addition to not allowing the cry of "fire" in a crowded theater, there are a few other restraints that are necessary if we are to achieve a reasonably livable, safe and sane civil environment.  Nevertheless, the practical and adverse implications of even very limited censorship should be weighed very carefully before any legal societal restrictions are applied.

4. All the more amazing, due to the fact that he was still a young man at the time of his death, Martin Luther King, Jr. was gradually changing from an important American champion of desegregation into an international champion for the larger picture of Human and Civil Rights, which incorporates many diverse issues such as help for the sick and poor, environmental awareness and preservation, peace and social justice, free public education, individual and collective freedom and several other important issues into a singular cohesive Just Cause.  As Pete Seeger and many other sixties activists have moved toward strong environmentally conscious positions, likewise historically environmentally aware individuals such as Jesus, Albert Schweitzer and Jacques Cousteau also display strong empathy for the sick and poor; King himself was planning a national "Poor People's March” even up to the night before his untimely death.  (For more information on this singular Just Cause rising from the ashes of history's ongoing war and rumor of war, see Key of History: Theory of Social Justice and Peace.)

5. Matthew 11:16.


*FootNote:  It has been the author's unfortunate experience to discover that most modern individuals who consider themselves liberals are in reality, quite conservative within their own mindset of conformity.  Many of those involved in so-called liberal causes, who would never dream of admitting that they are prejudiced or against freedom of speech and religion, often go to very great lengths to prevent people of conservative and often even moderate persuasion from having a voice at their organized "liberal" events.  Again, many 'liberals' the author has encountered at Unitarian and similar-type gatherings often become very upset when someone attempts to question some of their own pedantic sacred cows, such as the modern 'half-right-at-best' Synthetic Theory Of Evolution, the obvious and overwhelming evidence of the existence of evil as a separate reality from good within our modern species and the validity of education as somehow being, a 'one-trick-pony' panacea for the salvation of the masses.  It would appear from careful observation that modern people who insist on branding themselves as "conservative", "moderate" or "liberal" are in the reality of our often uncompromising day-to-day experience, very similar hypocritical and restrictive peas sprouting from a common prejudicial pod of superficial traditions, superstitions and often baseless assumption.  Many modern 'educated' individuals have adopted the insane notion that theories of God and science do not belong in the same discussion, whereas a 'science' that does not carefully weigh evidence for or against a Creator is no better than the fundamentalist pharisaic diatribe of the self-righteous purveyors of doom noted here within the main text above.  (See The Myth of Modern Science, The Tree of Knowledge, The Theory of Intelligence, Of God and Monkey Business and Adam and Eve's Apple for more information).

**FootNote II:  Title inspired by an early Bob Dylan song entitled “Talkin’ John Birch Paranoid Blues”; officially released on The Bootleg Series (1991), though it traces from very early in his career.


           


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Copyright © August 20th, 2003 by Richard Aberdeen.

       No part of this material may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including printing, photocopying, recording or by any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher and signed by the author. Inquiries: Freedom Tracks Records or requested via eMail.  Essays entitled Revolution and Revolution ~ Side B are open copyright and may be reproduced and distributed as desired.