That's the thing; it was technically a conflict and not a war. The Constitution has a strict procedure for declaring war, which involves an act of Congress. But in the twentieth century we found a loophole to this by not declaring wars and not officially calling them wars, although everyone knows that's what they are and they are called wars unofficially. Is it just me, or does that sound like the presidents have been exercising a right they don't technically have? Can someone explain to me the point of having that procedure in the Constitution if everyone just ignores it?
I'm about done talking about the war. In fact, I'm about ready to just let history be the judge. Although I do indeed wonder where the weapons of mass destruction are. But I'm sure they'll turn up...them or some just like them.
As for the country music thing...it relates to the war, but now I'm basically just venting because otherwise I will go completely insane and stab myself in the head with a railroad spike.
I just got a new job, and the place where I work plays a radio tuned to a country music station all day long. I don't particularly like country music to begin with, but there is one song that I truly detest, and unfortunately for me it's still really popular. It's by some punk named Darryl Worley and the song is called "Have You Forgotten." It's PAINFULLY obvious that Mr. Worley belongs to the school of thought that says that the fact that America was attacked by terrorists on 9-11-01 gives us the right to attack any and all who oppose us or have ever opposed us or will ever oppose us or may ever oppose us in any way, shape, or form. Or, if that be disingenuous of me to say, it is obvious that Mr. Worley believes that the terrorist attacks of 9-11-01 justify or justified military action against Iraq. I'm not sure that this is the case, but I believe that he would agree with the statement "We gave peace a chance and we got 9/11." As I have said before, this point of view makes absolutely no sense to me whatsoever, and Mr. Worley's song doesn't make it any clearer. I can conjecture from the copyright date that the song is referring to military action in Iraq and not Afghanistan (which I felt was justified, seeing as it followed an unprovoked attack on our territory), but in the song he never says anything about Iraq or Saddam Hussein. In fact, the chorus contains the incessantly repeated motif: "And they tell me not to worry 'bout bin Laden...have you forgotten?" This confuses me, because no one ever said anything about not having to worry about Osama bin Laden. The only person who ever came close was George W. Bush, and he never said it; he just stopped talking about the threat posed by Osama bin Laden and started talking--out of the blue as I see it--about the horrible, menacing threat of Saddam Hussein. In fact, the next time anyone connected to the president ever mentioned bin Laden was when the war in Iraq didn't get the near unanimous support they must have expected and then all of a sudden we turned up videotapes of Osama bin Laden allegedly encouraging Iraq to attack the US. And even if that tape was genuine--which I SEVERELY doubt--that doesn't mean that Hussein and bin Laden were allies. To me, the tape sounds like junk mail, and to see that as a connection or a sign of an alliance between Hussein and bin Laden is like presuming that I do business with the hundreds of credit card companies that are always sending me stuff.
Mr. Worley apparently believes--again, for some reason that is incomprehensible to me--that fighting a war in Iraq is somehow defending American freedom. Again, I don't see how our freedom was ever in jeopardy. But there's one line that just absolutely irks me every time I hear it: "What about our freedom and this piece of ground? We didn't get to keep them by backing down." Okay, it is true that we didn't gain this land by backing down. We, and by "we" I mean the US government, gained it by lying to, cheating, and stealing from the original inhabitants of this continent. That's right, Darryl, read your history...it's all in there. Now, is that a legacy to be proud of? Because if some group today was trying to take over our land using the same means the US government used to gain it in the first place...well, we'd feel just the way that Darryl does now, and except for all the references to 9/11 and bin Laden the song would make some sense and have some resonance for me. I think that most of us would agree, in retrospect, that means used to acquire our territory from the American Indians was reprehensible and inexcusable, but secretly I think many of us are glad it happened, and few of us can see any parallels between that and the current or recent conflict.
I will say one good thing about Darryl's song, though. I have been to the site of the World Trade Center, and I was appalled by the way that people behaved there, whether it was the tourists laughing and posing for pictures or the street vendors selling stuff, some of it 9/11/01 related and some of it not. And I wanted to ask those people if they had forgotten. So I think it's a good thing to put people in mind of "how it felt that day" and maybe re-examine their actions and attitudes.
So, on this radio station that I am forced to listen to all day they talked about the recent Academy of Country Music awards, and so I was vaguely interested in how they turned out. I knew that Darryl Worley was going to perform his hideous song, and I knew he was nominated for at least one award for that hideous song, so I checked on the results. I am pleased to report that he didn't win anything, which is fortunate for me because then they'd be playing that self-righteous piece of dreck even more than they already are. But I read something else that bothered me concerning the Dixie Chicks. Now, you should know that, as unenthusiastic as I am about country music in general, the Dixie Chicks are one of my all time least favorite singing groups, country or otherwise. I simply cannot stand the lead singer's voice. Ugh. But I heard that they were in kind of hot water in the country music world for speaking out against the war, and apparently they were booed at the ACM awards. That makes me so angry that I could spit. I wish I could have stood on that stage and said, "You self-righteous, hypocritical redneck scum." Another line in Darryl Worley's intolerable masterpiece says something about the soldiers and how you can be sure that they remember what they're fighting for. Well, one of the rights that we enjoy as Americans and that our armed forces are supposed to defend is our right to free speech, which means we should have the right to have our opinions respected even if we disagree with the president. I would have loved to be able to say to that audience at the ACMs, "As Darryl Worley's song says, 'have YOU forgotten?' It seems to me that you've missed the whole point. And because you have missed the whole point, every man and woman who has died for this country, including those who died on September 11, 2001, has died in vain. Shame on you all. You disgust me."
I don't hate ALL country music, though. There are some country songs that I actually like. One that came to mind one day as I was forced to listen to Darryl Worley's angry whining was a Garth Brooks song entitled "We Shall Be Free." It was a hit in the mid-90s, so they don't play it on the radio very much anymore, which is truly a pity because I think it sends a message that we need to hear, now more than ever. It's a very upbeat, Gospel-esque song that sends a message about hope for the future...that the future can be better and that we can MAKE it better. For example, here are some of my favorites stanzas:
"When the last child cries for a crust of bread,
When the last man dies for just words that he said,
When there's shelter over the poorest head,
Then we shall be free.
"When we're free to love anyone we choose,
When this world's big enough for all different views
When we all can worship from our own kind of pews,
Then we shall be free."
In other words, the best way to protect freedom and to work for freedom is not to lash out in anger and violence and righteous indignation, but to reach out in the spirit of peace and love and understanding. Anger begets anger, hatred begets hatred, and violence begets violence. The best way--the ONLY way--to break this cycle is by fighting anger with forgiveness and by fighting hatred with love. There are those who would say that that Brooks' lyrics (which were co-written with someone else whose name I can't remember, so sorry, whoever you are) are not as relevant to post-9/11 life than they were when they were written, but I say that the events of 9/11 make them more relevant than ever, because fighting wars is going to make matters worse instead of better. Worley's message is one of anger and fear, but Brooks' message is one of love and hope. Worley's song may reflect our current attitudes of post 9/11 life, but Brooks' song reflects what our attitude SHOULD be. And every time a radio station plays "Have You Forgotten" they should play "We Shall Be Free" right on its heels, and if I wasn't concerned about the reprecussions of using the phone too much at work I would call up and request it every single time. If there are any country music fans reading this, I challenge you to take up this charge, spread the message of love and hope, and request "We Shall Be Free" anytime you hear the abysmal "Have You Forgotten." Or even if you don't hear it. Or even if you like "Have You Forgotten." Request them both at the same time.
And to Garth Brooks, if you're reading this, (which I'm sure is a long shot), how about a remix of "We Shall Be Free"? How about a new video that includes more recent images? It's something the world needs to see and hear. Now more than ever.
There. HOPEFULLY I can start writing about something else now.