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Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Fuck Lee Greenwood; Listen to Born Against


On this day, July 4, Lee Greenwood’s wretched, political claptrap song, “God Bless the USA,” is vomiting from speakers in parks, where folks collect to watch masturbatory firework displays. This turd of a song, released in 1984, is rooted like a weed, which appears each summer at this time. In celebration of the war machine, it was a hit during the first Gulf War and then again in following September 11, 2001, in support of continuous war in Afghanistan. It was used throughout Donald Trump’s campaign, and Greenwood sang it at the inaugural celebration of this ass clown as the neofascist president. This shit is so fuckin’ hard to take.

Fuck Lee Greenwood; listen to Born Against. Put on either of their first two seven-inch records (Eulogy/Riding with Mary [1990] or Born Against [1990]) or their twelve-inch record Nine Patriotic Hymns for Children (1991). The thundering fury at the systemic racism and sexism that has destroyed so many lives is given voice. In many ways, Born Against is the interplay between Sam McPheeters’s vocals and Adam Nathanson’s guitar. Each song is propelled forward leveling an important critique of the hypocrisy of the United States. “Half Mast,” the first song on the self-titled seven inch, is perfect for this day, as it starts with John Wayne’s “Face the Flag,” contributing to the entrenched mythology of the nation.  

When freedom is in hiding from morality
when you’ve finally scrubbed this great land clean
of those values you hold in such high esteem
when you’ve finally divorced the numbers from the names
we can return to your good old days
bound and gagged by sex and race
chained by family
crazed by god
while we raise the flag
shout down the past
the stars and stripes stream by at half mast
your eyes well up with tears and yeah so do mine

I never knew the high price of hypocrisy
so pledge allegiance to the death penalty
believe in your drug war
bow down to the TV set
you need to cultivate that apathy
that swells inside your throat
raise the flag
shout down the past
your stars and stripes stream by at half mast
your eyes well up with tears and yeah so do mine
fuckin’ lies
half mast dehumanized
half mast divided
half mast overloaded
half mast
who the fuck cares
so long as you can sleep well
under the iron fist.

Born Against still serves as a wake-up call, directing anger at the forces of oppression, not letting us become complacent. Fuck Independence Day. Today shall mark Anti-Imperialist Day.


Oh, the wonders of Lee Greenwood. When I first heard this song, I had two immediate thoughts. 1. What fucking horrific, propagandizing, nationalistic bullshit, and 2. what fucking opportunistic profiteering at the expense of the working classes who have been thrown into the fray of unjustified, blatant, corporate money grabs. Every fucking time I hear this song, I want to wretch. Actually, I do wretch.

Lee Greenwood’s song is like the flag bikini, flag underwear, flag table covers, flag paper plates, etc. They are all superficially patriotic, but have no real respect for the ideals they purportedly exalt. Like the paper plates and table covers, Greenwood’s song ends up in the garbage bin in the end. Who the fuck is less patriotic: those who fly the flag upside down, or those who throw it in the trash after they are done with it or, god forbid, shit their fucking flag underwear?

I am appalled by those who try to stand high on their moral ground in their exaggerated stories of flag burning, while they disrespect the flag by throwing away their flag covered disposable dinnerware. Those who like the Greenwood song are the same stupid fucks who are very willing to disrespect the flag with their clothing, disposable bullshit, and goddam automobile flags that I find littering the roads. The fucking flag is not supposed to touch the ground, you stupid, patriotic fuck!

If you are truly patriotic, you would despise the trivialization of the flag with these despicable, profiteering trinkets. People who are so perversely patriotic are not truly interested in the flag’s code of conduct, but are simpletons who are easily swayed by such gross sloganeering as Greenwood’s violation of our ear canals.

The flag has multiple meanings. A student came up to me after a class where I talked about Plan Colombia. She mentioned that she served at the military base that carried out Plan Columbia. She told me that the Ecuadorians in the area were hostile to the military personnel, especially in uniform. I agreed with her, but asked her if she had been to the capital city of Quito, Ecuador and how the people treated her. She was just as obviously a U.S. citizen there, but she said they were very friendly. The U.S. flag meant one thing to the families in northern Ecuador who suffered crop losses and disease at the hands of Plan Colombia, and it meant another to those whose livelihoods depend on tourism. I think both understandings of the U.S. flag are accurate, and I think it is a greater service to the flag to question it, as those living in northern Ecuador, than to worship it with paper plates, headscarves, trucker hats, and other goofy fucking trinkets.

I do not fucking care what your relationship to the flag is. Any way you approach it, Lee Greenwood’s song is a fucking insult and an abomination.

Class Warrior:

I got myself primed to write this by listening to Nine Patriotic Hymns for Children by Born Against. While music in that vein is no longer my cup of tea, the anger and the sentiment continue to flow through my arteries. I have somehow never heard this album until today, even though I was aware of it (and wanted it, and would have loved it) when it was released back in the early nineties. I did have their Eulogy 7” (which contains a blistering anti-Christianity song and a distorted cover of “Riding with Mary” by X) and used to read Sam McPheeters’s articles in Maximum Rock ‘n’ Roll. Very funny and sharp guy.

This essay is less about Born Against, though, and has more to do with the date, July 4. I always wish for it to rain, and rain hard, today. It never does. I don’t mind celebrating independence from British rule, but I will never celebrate what the day has become. Yet another day to embrace the existence and expansion of U.S. corporate empire. “Patriotism” is a term that makes no sense when it becomes a “love it or leave it” sentiment. If you don’t take the entire package—the wage slavery, the wars, the exploitation, the structural racism and sexism, on and on—you can’t possibly be a real American. There are parts of this country I love: the natural beauty of the West, the people who try their best every day, and more. But it’s never enough. Take it all, or take none.

I have not stood for the U.S. National Anthem since high school. I have a hard time going to sports events (in part because I don’t care much for sports these days) because they play that song before every game—I have to leave the stands and wander in the concession area because I’m afraid I’ll get my ass kicked if I remain seated while the song plays.

Support the troops? I do. I don’t want them to kill or be killed. The people who hate the troops are the ones who send them into Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere to be part of a machine that ruins lives. When twenty-year-old kids come back to the United States with multiple limbs missing, shrapnel in their bellies, and half their skull gone (but still alive), how can I support that? Especially when they are fighting for the profit interests of cowardly old men.

Celebrate freedom? You’ve never tasted a day of true freedom in your life, and neither have I. I don’t want to set off victory fireworks when there’s so much work to do to liberate ourselves.

When I go to Hell, “Proud to Be an American” will play every moment of every day. When the government sends people like me and you to concentration camps, they will blast this song from the loudspeakers every hour on the hour. If you do not sing along, you will suffer the consequences. Good thing I know the words from constant exposure.

Fuck Lee Greenwood. Listen to Born Against.

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