I wonder if this is a gross misuse of music and an instance of the exploitation of our youth in the United States, for the purposes of advancing narrow political interests and a policy of militarism.

 

I heard this story, and the accompanying music on NPR just yesterday.

 

The headline was:

 

GOP Presidential Hopeful Rand Paul Clashes With Media

 

The musicians who play in this clip belong to the:

 

West Ashley High School Band.

 

http://www.npr.org/2015/04/10/398704494/gop-presidential-candidate-rand-paul-clashes-with-media

 

In short, I wonder why a public high school band is playing at a function for a political candidate, why this is being done "in front of air craft carrier," and why students at a public high school should be promoting militarism, imperialism, interventionism and warmongering in this way. 

 

Perhaps others can comment, and tell me whether this is another instance of the gross misuse of music and aspiring musicians for a narrow and misguided political agenda.

 

Parts the text of the radio story underlined below.

 

 

 

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

 

This week, we've also seen political confrontations caught on video. Republican Sen. Rand Paul clashed with TV reporters who asked about some of his shifting positions, including positions on national security. Some Republicans have criticized the presidential candidate as an isolationist. Yesterday, Sen. Paul made a speech in South Carolina in front of an aircraft carrier. NPR national political correspondent Don Gonyea was there.

 

 

DON GONYEA, BYLINE: The crowd of a few hundred arrived at Patriots Point near Charleston Harbor in shirt sleeves and summer dresses. In the noon-hour sunshine, there was even some seersucker. And there was pre-speech entertainment by the West Ashley High School marching band  …

 

(SOUNDBITE OF MARCHING BAND)

GONYEA: But the big set piece was the USS Yorktown, sitting off in the distance and now a museum and tourist attraction. Some in the audience wore ball caps noting past military service in Vietnam or Iraq. Sen. Paul said as commander in chief, his desire for peace would not be mistaken for passivity.

 

(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)

 

SENATOR RAND PAUL: The world should not mistake our reluctance for war for inaction. And if war should prove unavoidable, America will fight with overwhelming force, and we will not relent until victory is ours.

 

 

(APPLAUSE)

 

[My comment:  What "reluctance for war???!!!"  We are at war right now in Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan and quite a few more countries, with drone strikes, "covert ops," and an all time record high military involvement and increasing budgets, increasing the numbers of bases we have around the world! Most Republicans say we are not involved in ENOUGH WARS, and would like to go to war in Iran as well, and they would like to USE MUSIC TO PROMOTE WAR as much as possible, as is being done at this rally. ]

 

 

GONYEA: The aircraft carrier was there to symbolize Paul's commitment to a strong military, but foreign policy is a tricky issue for him. His father, Ron Paul, the former congressman and three-time presidential candidate, was a loud critic of what he saw as a U.S. too eager to deploy military force. Rand Paul campaigned for his father back then. But as a U.S. senator, he's distanced himself from some of his dad's views and from some of his own past statements.

 

 

 

 

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  •  

     

    I found one!

     

    From an article published in the Chicago Tribune.

     

    http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2003-02-14/news/0302140378_1_sch...

     

     

     

    February 14, 2003. Schaumburg High School will present "That '70s Concert" Wednesday, featuring Broadway musical numbers from "Grease" and "Pippen," as well as pop songs from the 1970s.

     

    The concert culminates a learning opportunity for many of the singers, who studied with composer Terry Kirkham for their performance of his "Requiem for the Masses," a song written during the Vietnam War.

     

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QXvYI-LPUvI

     

    (Good video accompaniment).

     

    He "showed us how to perform it and the history behind the anti-war song," said Schaumburg High School choir director Tim McGlynn.

     

    The high school students will be joined by the 7th- and 8th-grade chorus of Keller Junior High School.

    The concert will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the auditorium of the high school, 1100 W. Schaumburg Rd. Admission is $2.

    -----

    LYRICS:

    Requiem aeternam
    Requiem aeternam

    Mama, mama, forget your pies
    Have faith they won't get cold
    And turn your eyes to the bloodshot sky
    Your flag is flying full

    At half mast for the matadors
    Who turned their backs
    To please the crowd
    And all fell before the bull

    Red was the color of his blood flowing thin
    Pallid white was the color of his lifeless skin
    Blue was the color of the morning sky
    He saw looking up from the ground where he died
    It was the last thing ever seen by him

    Kyrie Eleison

    Mama, mama, forget your pies
    Have faith they won't get cold
    And turn your eyes to the bloodshot sky
    Your flag is flying full

    At half mast for the matadors
    Who turned their backs
    To please the crowd
    And all fell before the bull

    Black and white were the figures that recorded him
    Black and white was the newsprint he was mentioned in
    Black and white was the question that so bothered him
    He never asked, he was taught not to ask
    But was on his lips as they buried him

    Rex tremendae majestatis

    Requiem aeternam
    Requiem aeternam

  • In the discussion of how an event organiser (pro or anti war) does things, available resources should be considered.

    I don't have first hand experience from the states, but reason dictates that the dominant ideology (pro-war) is far more powerful in terms of exposure, media influence, money, networking. If that wasn't the case, you'd see both sides of the matter clash more often-instead the pro-war attitude is evident in american culture, especially what is exported for the whole world to see.

  • If there is one thing I thank the US for, is that they are there to bomb us when we get out of the democratic line. Really, it has been so helpful for so many people around the world.

    Sometimes I wonder, why people cannot appreciate what this great country is doing for them with it's resources. 

  • Love the sarcasm ^

  • Hello Bob Porter.

     

    Thanks for your contribution.

     

    A few points:

     

    (1)  I had said,

     

    "I am looking forward to the day when high school bands are prohibited from participating in any kind of march, performance or ceremony that smacks of war and militarism. "

     

    You responded,

     

    "This, my friend, is a society I would not be interested in living in. If schools are limited in freedoms now, how is this suggestion any different."

     

    Right now, schools are not free to promote rape, child pornography, property destruction, or any activities that violate the local legislative codes.  I think you support limitations on these sorts of activities.  (I support such limitations).  A public high school system which prohibits the promotion of war and militarism, in addition to prohibiting the promotion of rape, child pornography and other pernicious activities is doing something positive.  Why do you see the constant promotion of militarism and perpetual war in our high schools as a kind of "exercise of freedom?"  Doesn't it seem more like brainwashing?

     

    (2)  "And to my mind, 38% to 56% is hardly a "vast" majority."

     

     

     

    That's a 16 point difference, which is significant.  We can call it significant rather than "vast" if you prefer.   

     

    (3)  "…  how well informed are participants on either side?"

     

    Not as well informed as they could be.  If US citizens were better informed, they would undoubtedly be even more certain that the wars in Afghanistan, in Iraq were wrong-headed.   European journalists observe that US media very rarely show photos of children killed by the American military.  Photos of the dead bodies of Americans or of dead Iraqis shown on mainstream media are virtually taboo.  People don't fully know what is going on.  People like Manning, Snowden and Assange are jailed, threatened with jail or punished when they reveal the extent of military and government wrong doing which results in the deaths of large numbers of innocents.  Still, a majority  know the wars were wrong.  If more high school band directors and choral directors could see photos of the dead family members of Iraqi and Afghan musicians, that might make less of them prone to support militaristic events such as that staged by Rand Paul supporters.

     

     

     

     

     

    (4)  "If you search hard enough, you can find public opinion polls that support any position."

     

    Here is a large database of opinion polls.

     

    www.pollingreport.com

     

    Can you find a single public opinion poll that shows a majority of Americans want to drop an atomic bomb on Tehran?   Can you find one that shows a majority of Americans want to drop a hydrogen bomb on Cairo? (Radio Talk Show Host Michael Savage stated his support for that idea, but I believe he is in the minority). You said, "any position."  There are many "positions" that majorities do not support in the United States.  I don't think you will find any polls that support a US ground invasion of Ukraine and Russia, or a drive towards a US military occupation of Syria, Lebanon and Yemen.  If you find one, let me know.

     

    (5)  "Please provide statistics about the percentages of Iraqis killed by Iraqis."

     

    Why?  If large numbers of Iraqis are killing Iraqis, does that mean the US should kill even more than the hundreds of thousands that have been killed already? 

     

    "Please provide numbers of Iraqis killed by Saddam  Hussein."

     

    Why?  Are we in a contest to see who can kill more?  The US military or any given Arab dictator?  No doubt the US military has killed more people in the Middle East, and in the world, than Saddam Hussein ever dreamed of killing, and the US is well positioned and well armed enough to kill millions more. 

     

    "Please provide numbers of civilians killed when one sect goes into a town and kills members of an opposing sect."

     

    Which sect are you talking about?  The sect of the worshippers of American militarism, or some other sect?  Those who worship the bald eagle, or other symbols of "American might" will often find any excuse to justify the killing of hundreds of thousands or millions of people, far in excess of what other sects are even capable of doing.  You can do the calculation, and tell me, who has actually killed more?

     

    "Seems to me that while there are those that hate America, they also hate each other."

     

    I am afraid it happens to be the case that the US policy (following that of previous colonialists in the region, especially the French and the British) has been to divide and conquer. The method has been to arm, train and fund various factions in order to encourage more dissension and make it easier to control or disrupt any given region.  So the US along with Saudi Arabia and Qatar have supported extremist sects in Afghanistan, Syria and in Iraq and Libya, and opposed extremist sects in other situations.  Saudi Arabia itself is ruled by a fundamentalist sect, called the Wahabbi (one of the most extreme in the world), and we have been arming, training and supporting them for decades, and we do so now, even as they cause mayhem in Yemen by their bombing campaign.

     

    "And please stop linking band with militarism. That is just tilting at windmills."

     

    I did not make this link.  Rand Paul campaign organizers did, when they called in a high school band to play and support him, while he delivered his speech dedicated to an expansion of US militarism around the world.    Perhaps you would join me in writing a letter to the Rand Paul campaign, and ask them to "stop linking bands with militarism." I have a feeling they might do it again.

  • Reading all of the above comments makes me so grateful I was not born in the US.

    Its people seem hopelessly misinformed about the its own military empire and see no problem with youngsters promoting it through the medium of music. 

    It is worth noting that marching bands have their history rooted in America's military. That association, with all its attendant flag waving and flag allegiance (what a strange ritual that is!) seem to remain right to this day. 

  • Not all marching bands in the US march military or have military backgrounds. Circus marching bands, boy scout marching bands and public school marching bands have their own histories and styles that have evolved way beyond what many people oversee see as just military bands. 


    Adrian Allan said:

    Reading all of the above comments makes me so grateful I was not born in the US.

    Its people seem hopelessly misinformed about the its own military empire and see no problem with youngsters promoting it through the medium of music. 

    It is worth noting that marching bands have their history rooted in America's military. That association, with all its attendant flag waving and flag allegiance (what a strange ritual that is!) seem to remain right to this day. 

    YouTube
  • Ondib Olmnilnlolm said:

    I did not make this link.  Rand Paul campaign organizers did, when they called in a high school band to play and support him, while he delivered his speech dedicated to an expansion of US militarism around the world.    Perhaps you would join me in writing a letter to the Rand Paul campaign, and ask them to "stop linking bands with militarism." I have a feeling they might do it again.

    Exactly how does playing Katy perry at a campaign rally automatically make them militarized? That seems like a stretch even for you. For someone who studies philosophy you of all people should Know that issues like this are not so black and white. It's easy to make people villains and thus making anyone associated with them villains as well. This dichotomy is easy for us to latch on too but it is not the world we live in. Being present at a political rally does not make you militarized. Being present at a political rally does not make you militarized or even a supporter. You are forcing your world view on to these kids and trying to form a conclusion from that Without knowing the facts. You were pulling out all the statistics without pulling anything about the band the program how they got there etc. we all know what's going on in the world with the war all the innocent people were killed. What we don't know the how and why that high school was there. What we don't know the how and why that high school was there. For all you know that high school band left before they even began speaking. For all you know that high school band left before the even began speaking, which is not uncommon. The article did say that they were pre speech entertainment. You have only come to the conclusion does for military propaganda. The conclusion is based purely on speculation and opinions, opinions not grounded and I will first knowledge of high school band programs.

  • I'm pretty sure the point isn't the students being present at a speech (although that would also be a problem), but them ,their skills and their passion for music being used to support pro-war campaigns. You cannot just take everything out of context and conclude it's all well, that's ridiculous.

  • "Issues like this are not so black and white."

     

    That is true.  However, consider the current situation.  —where the leaders of the US have embraced a doctrine of perpetual war, while actually being able to say, as Rand Paul did, "The world should not mistake our reluctance for war for inaction…"  I think it is reasonable to say we have gone far beyond even what Orwell imagined.  The slogan for Orwell's Oceania was "War is Peace."  The  present US slogan  seems to be "War is not War."  American doublethink seems now to include the idea that even as we bomb and encourage our surrogates to bomb, we are not at war.  To think that our media, our educational establishments, and our bands and sports teams do not reflect this war madness, is simply to internalize the doublethink further.

     

    Those who are looking at this from outside the US:  be assured it's far worse than you can imagine. 

     

     

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