The Power of Protest Returns

I’m old.

I’m a grumpy old man. A Curmudgeon.

When I was young I believed all of us young people could change the world.

With the power of the poets and the lyricists.

We almost did.

But the old people prevailed.

Now I am old and grumpy because I failed.

What was worse than failing was that it seemed my children, and their whole generation, had turned their back on all that I had hoped for. That their job was more important than changing the world. My heroes, the protesting poets, faded into obscurity and they were not replaced.

Then, last night, at a small family gathering to celebrate the youngest tadpole’s birthday, the Bullfrog showed me a segment of a music video.

The world may yet be saved. The protest poets are not dead, just fewer and mostly silenced.

But this one slipped through the guard of the music publishing censors. And the young people are listening again.

At Wembley stadium – – -


My faith in the power of music and lyrics was restored when the all singing, all dancing P!nk sat down and almost recited the following;

Dear Mr. President,
Come take a walk with me.
Let’s pretend we’re just two people and
You’re not better than me.
I’d like to ask you some questions if we can speak honestly.

What do you feel when you see all the homeless on the street?
Who do you pray for at night before you go to sleep?
What do you feel when you look in the mirror?
Are you proud?

How do you sleep while the rest of us cry?
How do you dream when a mother has no chance to say goodbye?
How do you walk with your head held high?
Can you even look me in the eye
And tell me why?

Dear Mr. President,
Were you a lonely boy?
Are you a lonely boy?
Are you a lonely boy?
How can you say
No child is left behind?
We’re not dumb and we’re not blind.
They’re all sitting in your cells
While you pave the road to hell.

What kind of father would take his own daughter’s rights away?
And what kind of father might hate his own daughter if she were gay?
I can only imagine what the first lady has to say
You’ve come a long way from whiskey and cocaine.

How do you sleep while the rest of us cry?
How do you dream when a mother has no chance to say goodbye?
How do you walk with your head held high?
Can you even look me in the eye?

Let me tell you ’bout hard work
Minimum wage with a baby on the way
Let me tell you ’bout hard work
Rebuilding your house after the bombs took them away
Let me tell you ’bout hard work
Building a bed out of a cardboard box
Let me tell you ’bout hard work
Hard work
Hard work
You don’t know nothing ’bout hard work
Hard work
Hard work
Oh

How do you sleep at night?
How do you walk with your head held high?
Dear Mr. President,
You’d never take a walk with me.
Would you?

12 Responses

  1. Reading this is bringing a tear to an old bloke’s eye…

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  2. The song was a pretty big hit, actually. Pink may be personally obnoxious, but she sure can make a damn fine point when she wants to.

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  3. You know it’s songs like this that offset crap like “Waiting on the world to change” Honestly, there’s a lot of music like that seeping around the underground of American Pop music, usually confined to the Indie Rock stations and You Tube, even though it’s done by our pop elite.

    As for being old and failed: I wonder if our parents felt the same, and theirs and theirs and theirs. It seems whether the younger generation fights back or conforms, it never quite meets the expectation of the older.

    I want to see action… I want to see protest… I want to see voices raised… Yet this generation does seem to think (for the most part) that they can just wait out the world crisis, that when this generation of politicians die out, the next generation will be kinder, wiser, and more honest. I don’t dare to hope that.

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  4. Mike, yep – can I say “Me too”?

    Rain, I don’t know a lot about P!nk but this song alone would absolve a lot of sins.

    dorid, my theory is that there is still some protest out there but not in the mainstream. that the BIG record companies don’t want protest. This could be why the internet is suddenly under threat of control – because it has become the voice of dissident youth. As for waiting on the politicians dying out, they are almost irrelevant. It is the Bureaucrats in “Public Service” who make rules which last for generations. They are the true culprits. When Bush snr became President we had a bureaucrat in charge – the bureaucracy consolidated its power and continues to do so.

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  5. I take a slightly more pessemistic view. Between “I’m alright, Jack” and “What are ya gonna do? It’s politics,” I believe the college generation is better cocooned by their own attitudes than any previous.

    Unlike the 6 o’clock news from the sixties, which was unescapable, they can turn to a rerun of “friends”–assuming they’re watching a channel that ever shows real news and not, for e.g., FOX.

    They’re more disassociated than any generation alive–yet utterly interconnected. They could know stuff, but since no-one’s ever tried to offer them critical thinking skills (and in some countries people are actively undermining such skils as they DO possess–Yes, Mr. Bush, well done) they’re totally inundated with data, but can’t sort wheat from chaff. So they say “Screw it, it’s all politics and all politics is shite.”

    No-one has told them that politics is what we do rather than bashing each other over the head.

    They don’t vote because they see no percentage in it for themselves. Look how bad things had to get to get the bodies out in the last US election. Most western-style democracies get 46% participation if they’re lucky (and haven’t legislated the obligation to vote).

    Still, I believe they’re getting their heads out, if only because they’re realizing what’ll happen if they let the wonks, mandarins, and the frightened boomers tell them to support.

    This is an encouraging sign. I also reccomend Greenday. This is not your fathers’ protest song.

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  6. Bonjour Herr AerChie

    This is all very moving and emotive

    but what is its rational/logical content, or is emoting rage an acceptable alternative to hard thought ?

    Who or what is Pink ?

    Pink seems to object to Homelessness …. well, don’t we all – presumably Mr Bush also does not like Homelessness either – is it fair or appropriate to blame the President of the United States for Homelssness … of for the levels of the Minimum Wage … or unEmployment …. or premature death … or all the other ills of Humanity

    If Pink seems to suggest that the Praesident is wrong to sleep while there are Homeless Folk, are you able to tell us what Pink is doing about Homelessness

    Pink seems to rage about …. eg bombs destroying homes – well, at 9/11, America was attacked without warning, with the resultant slaughter of thousands of unarmed civilians (many of them Muslims) – what would Pink have done to deal with the terrorist bases being harboured in Afghanistan

    and Pink asks the Praesident how he sleeps, while the rest of us cry — well, perhaps we might trouble to ask Pink how Pink sleeps while “the rest of us cry” ?

    Is there a whiff of hypocrisy here ?

    Hurrumphorum Hurrumpharum Hurrumphorum

    Yr obedt servt etc

    G Eagle

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  7. Metro, I am encouraged that there are some flashes of revulsion at the corporate greed which is shown by the rightwingnut/farrightchristiannut clique. I have even seen some young people mocking the corporate media. It may only be a small group at the moment , but while it is there, there is hope. During the 80’s and 90’s there did not seem to be even a whisper.

    Herr g eaGle, when you get over your hurrmphorii, may I enquire as to whether you believe we should simply accept the encroaching fiefdoms of corporate overlordship and the serfdom of the ordinary person or if it may be permissible for some of us to hope for something better? Some fair share of the wealth we create for our greedy masters. Some security in the midst of the plenty we produce yet so many cannot afford to consume. As for dealing with the terrorist bases in Afghanistan, I certainly would not have attacked Iraq! Even should the Praesident win his Iraqi venture, it will be but a victory more suited to Phyrrus than to a true leader. Messages should be the target, not the messenger.

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  8. Greenday rocks!!!

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  9. Dear AerChie

    Vous avez un point … or rather manifold good points and (as usual,dammit, like La Marchionesse, M Metro et FFE) the better run of the argument

    I am of course en effet accusing you & your sagacious Kommentators of Harrumphing – but who said “Physician, heal thyself”

    It is interesting how :

    * puir Afghanistan has an opium poppy problem

    * puir Columbia has a major drug production problem

    In both poor Countries, this is financing crime, terrorism and general misery

    AND all this is driven by the financially mega-lucrative Lust for Selfish Intoxication of Selfish Western Countries led by the United States, but with Britain in the same high deplorable league

    If we could sort ourselves out in the over-rich West, we might not have to seek solutions to OUR problems in porer Countries

    I have the honour to remain you obedient servant etc

    G Eagle

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  10. buff, I think John Howard is planning to arrest them as subversive terrorists.

    Herr Furher Eagle, G! Seig Heil! One should rather ask why these substances command such prices and attraction. I would suggest that the crime syndicates world wide would lose interest very quickly if heroin, cocaine and even the humble marry you ann were to be made available at a cheap price at the corner store. I would further suggest that the harm done to society by illegal drugs is mostly done by their illegality, not by the drugs themselves. However changing the laws would cost a very small but powerful segment of the community huge fortunes. And so they make sure the laws are not changed.

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  11. G Eagle:

    What Pink has done, and this is all I know of her, is make a statement. A statement that puts her firmly on one side of a line drawn between those who believe that justice and fairness are not some sort of market quality that will find themselves once everyone has equal opportunity access to (Wal-Mart) a free economic market.

    She will have to live up to that statement now, else be harrumph-harrummphed at by the people who hear her make it. Mr. Bush is famous for statements too.

    And when he’s wrong, or caught on the wrong side of whatever pronouncement has dropped from between his lips (“culture of life” said Mr. 500,000 dead Iraqis), he returns to “I was right when I said that, even if I was wrong then I’m still right now.”

    As to Mr. Bush’s responsibility for homelessness: He inherited the mantle of Reagan, who said homelessness in America didn’t exist, or was “anecdotal”. That in itself would be troubling. But Mr. Bush has managed to spend his way through the biggest financial surplus in US history, and to then take it into $11 Trillion dollars ($11,000,000,000,000 greenbacks) of debt.

    He has presided over the total refinancing of the US economy by a rising tide of personal and government debt, debt he has actively encouraged-as a war effort!.

    Much of this is cheap mortgage debt extended to people who by rights should have kept renting until they had credit worthy of the name. Last week the cheap-mortgage game collapsed on itself. Why? Bad debt. Who? The unfortunates who were so eager to wager their homes against interest rates offered by banks desperate to squeeze profit out of people with no money. How? With the willing connivance and kind permission of the neo-con US government.

    All those poor banks, tottering on their debt mountains, got favours from the central banks of the world, for the “good of the economy”. How many of those cheap mortgage holders do you think got a free bailout?

    But homelessness isn’t the real story. The real story is the working poor. People who live in their cars, because their jobs don’t pay a living wage. People who eat twice a day, because skipping a meal means the kids get new shoes this year. These people are real, and evidence suggests there are more of them. Not all of this could be laid directly at Bush’s doorstep … but a fair load of it can.

    Bush’s reaction–418 vacation days and counting.

    Because “A rising tide (of debt) floats all boats” apparently.

    I wouldn’t know. I’ve never been able to afford a boat, myself.

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  12. And yet the neo-cons still complain about the terrible state of the economy after the Clinton years. Hey, I have a canoe you can borrow next time you are down under :)

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