Finally, a protest singer emerges | VailDaily.com
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Finally, a protest singer emerges

Chris Pizzello/AP photoNeil Young's anti-war album has been giving right-wing talk show hosts fits.
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“Let’s Impeach the President” may not be as a catchy a song as the latest musical drivel spewed out by this week’s American Idol phenom, but it’s a more valuable contribution to our culture. Rock ‘n’ roll legend Neil Young, the ageless protester, is releasing “Living With War,” an album of anti-war and anti-Bush songs – with titles such as “Shock and Awe” and “Lookin’ for a Leader” – and he’s got the right-wing O’Reilly-ites frothing about the inappropriateness of criticizing the floundering commander in chief while he’s bungling a war. They’ve also lambasted Young for being insensitive to the feelings of grieving military families, for having used drugs, for being unoriginal and – silliest of all – for being an ungrateful Canadian.Aren’t the O’Reilly-ites experts at criticizing other nations – Canada, for instance – of which they aren’t citizens. They’re particularly vicious when a country – South Africa, for instance – proves to be more progressive than the U.S. in allowing homosexuals the right to marry. They just can’t admit that, God forbid, the people of a foreign country – Holland, for instance – may love freedom more than W. does. Protest singing wasn’t invented by the folkies of the 1960s, but singers like Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs, Joan Baez and Young brought protest singing out the labor movement and made it a part of mainstream American democratic tradition. Apparently, this protesting is another facet of American society – along with civil rights, women’s rights, creative freedom, scientific progress – on which the O’Reilly-ites are aching to turn back the clock. Oh for the quiet desperation of the 1950s, when singers were the cheerleaders of modern life and Joe McCarthy and J. Edgar Hoover were in their pugnacious prime and busting unpatriotic heads. Finally, after three years of pointless war and death, a protest singer has emerged, and the O-Reilly-ites have gone beyond simply calling Young a washed-up, hippie goofball who hasn’t had a hit album in centuries. They’ve been babbling righteously that Young has no business skewering W. when he’s getting so much attention for acting tough and playing Rambo. But isn’t a protest singer who wants to get the troops out of harm’s way supporting the troops in a more useful way than a TV ideologue who defends the president and military no matter what tragedies and atrocities occur?The truth is, the O’Reilly-ites furious that an outsider, someone who doesn’t speak their rhetorical nitwit language, is kicking W. when he’s on the way down. These yapping heads often disguise themselves as the fearless defenders of the 1st Amendment. Their coordinated attack on Young’s First Amendment rights doesn’t just prove how square they are – it shows they’re really scared by W.’s plunging approval ratings and mounting record of failure. They’re afraid, maybe even depressed – perhaps even feeling guilty! – that they’ve spent the past six years defending the worst president in American history. They’ve defended the degradation of civil liberties, the environment and American intellectual life. They’ve tried to stifle science. They’ve stood by while W. has bankrupted generations of unborn Americans – and they’re desperate because there’s no real bad guy around to hang in effigy: Saddam’s been reduced to a courtroom buffoon; the insurgents are too shadowy to effectively demonize; they realized Americans actually aren’t afraid of gay couples; and Osama … who’s Osama? The O’Reilly-ites are realizing they’re the bad guys who are ruining America – it’s not Tony Soprano or Eminem or Michael Moore – and they’re lashing out like rabid dogs at anybody who adds to their disgrace. You might think they’d be angry for being let down and lied to and spied on by W., but perhaps they deserve credit for being the kind of rats who stick with their sinking ship. Assistant Editor for Local News Matt Zalaznick can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14620, or mzalaznick@vaildaily.com. Check his blog at http://www.vaildaily.com/section/BLOGVail, Coloraod


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