Monday, July 03, 2006

God Bless America is Just Some Song Written by an Immigrant

(Continuing on with reposts for the holiday weekend, I thought I'd repost this little gem. The town I grew up in is home to the World's Largest Musical Fountain, colored lights and splashing fountains synchronized to music. Sometimes it's pop music standards from the 30's 40's and 50's, other times it's vintage rock from the late sxities, like Cream and Hendrix. You haven't lived until you've heard Purple Haze played through a sound system so loud it reverberates through the whole town. They even have a special presentation where most of the music from Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is set to lights and water. But every July Fourth, they pull out all the stops with a show of nothing but patriotic music, capped off with Kate Smith's stirring rendition of God Bless America, followed by a fireworks display that ineveitably sets the hill behind it on fire. My home town is a very conservative town, they ran Peanuts on the editorial page until the middle of the seventies as it was deemed too controversial. And there is an implicit mistrust of the migrant workers who drive up from Texas every year to harvest the area blueberry crop. So it is in that spirit that I repost this one, which was from last summer, before the Bush ADD-ministration began it's amnesty for illegal immigrants program.)

You see it all over, magnetic ribbons, bumper stickers, church signs, business signs, every where you go. People say "God Bless America" as if it is from the scripture or the Constitution. Ironically, most of these people are anti-immigrant, which if you were native American, would make sense, but if you're not, somewhere down the line someone in your bloodline emigrated to the US. But the song's author, Irving Berlin, was himself a Russian immigrant who moved to the US with his family when he seven years old, to avoid religious persecution. When he wrote the song he was not saying that God prefers America (the United States), he wrote it as a request to God to bless this country, because in1938 when he wrote it, it was a country worthy of blessing from a supreme being.
Now the song has become the mantra for the brainwashed, those people too ignorant of history to understand what had made America so great in the past and how far we have strayed from it today. In 1938, as war was imminent throughout Europe, America was still an isolationist country, leaving Europe's problems to Europe. There were some here that felt we should stem the tide of Fascism that was rising in Germany, there were others here in America supporting the Nazis, well past our entrance into WWII, among others, notably were Herbert Walker and Prescott Bush (Our current President's grandfather and great-grandfather), who were convicted under the trading with the enemies act.
As is typical, most people couldn't sing more than two or three lines of the song, or understand what they mean. Such is the same with George W. Bush, who claims his favorite song is "Fortunate Son", written by John Fogerty and originally recorded by Creedence Clearwater Revival. And I'm sure that Bush has no capacity to understand what that song says, either.

Some folks are born, made to wave the flag
Ooh that red, white and blue
But when the band plays "Hail To The Chief"
They point their cannon at you

What Mr. Fogerty is saying in this verse that those patriots who supported the US's illegal involvement in Viet Nam (Dick Cheney? Donald Rumsfeld?) were people who found ways to avoid serving their country overseas, leaving draftees to fight for them. This is a true sign of cowardice. If one is not willing to fight for wht they believe, but rather send someone else who maybe doesn't want to fight in their stead, they are cowards. Such is the same with the current war. The brainwashed who support it the most are the ones less likely to actually have to go fight in it. So they cower in front of their television sets, waving their flags as the corporate media (or the Bush regime) feeds them lie after lie to keep them so afraid of the "terrorists" that they are willing to not only give up their rights, but to viciously attack any one who doesn't want to lose their rights or feel we need to continue on in one illegal war after another.
The second verse of the song deals with the priviliged, who weren't sending their kids to the war they supported and were profitting from it, and who felt that they shouldn't be required to pay for it. When Mr. Fogerty sang on the chorus, "It ain't me, it ain't me, I ain't no senators/millionaires son," he understood just who was fighting the war and who wasn't. In the final verse, Mr. Fogerty takes a swipe at those who feel a military solution is the only viable answer to our problems.

Some folks inherit star spangled eyes
Ooh they'll send down to war
And when you ask them "How much should we give?"
The only answer's more, more, more

Because as in the sixties, the people who support the war and are profitting from it no that they'll never lose a family member in it. Neither of the Bush twins are fighting in Iraq or Afghanistan, neither is Chelsea Clinton for that matter. As a matter of fact, recruitment levels keep falling as no one wants to get greased in Iraq, die on the way to a military hospital in Germany, not be included in the official war dead, effectively dying for no reason.
I'm holding out for a magnetic ribbon that says "Fight For Your Right To Party". At least that something I believe in.


Michelle said...

Hmm...really thoughtful post, though while god is dead for some, and patriotism is a ghost long buried, I think that some going over to Iraq willingly. A few really are commited to the cause of 'winning the war' and are even willing to lose their lives to do it.(most however, are lied to recruitment agents and think that they're getting a good deal for college) You may be interested in my other blog:

I'll try to post something on the Iraq situation within two weeks or so.(big presentation coming up and a philosophy paper to finish)

Otto Man said...

Great post. The irony of Bush loving a song denouncing him has always been a favorite of mine.

Anonymous said...

And everytime the song "God Bless America" get used, the Boy Scouts of American collect royalties. Irving Berlin donated the rights to the song to them so they could use the money to discriminate against atheists and homosexuals. Lately, however, it seems as though God is knocking the Boy Scouts dead on a mass scale and regular basis.

Lew Scannon said...

If God knocked out those who discrimnate against Atheists and gays, there'd be no Republican party!

Elizabeth Branford said...

Well I have one thing to pick at: the Amnesty issue. how come we say
-mass deportation of the 20m here is impossible and expesnive and inhumane

-that anything else no amtter what it looks like or sounds amnesty and "bad"

This has been a prevailing theme. Anything short of that has been called amnesty. I wish somebody would describe whay will not be called "amnesty" that still avoids mass deportation...

Anonymous said...

I actually find just the phrase "God Bless America" to be somewhat offensive. Used as you suggest, to indicate that this country is favorved, or worse preferable, to all other countries is more hubris than I can usually stomach.