What would John Lennon say about the NSA?
As the whole NSA story continues to unfold, I think we can all be sure of one thing: nothing, at least with regard to what the government is saying and what the companies affected by the NSA’s actions are saying. But we can also be sure that what the NSA is doing is un-American, a mushy concept, I confess, but, you know, certain things just feel unlike what the country proclaims to stand for, and the NSA’s changing role is one of them. And of all the questions I have about the NSA, the biggest is what would John Lennon say.
In fact, let’s not stop there. We know he would be speaking out, goading the government to shut him up, taking a personal risk for what he believes is right. Is anyone in music doing this? I get the impression that the answer is NO but I truly do not have any idea. I’m too out of touch with pop culture. But I’m not totally out of touch and I think if someone in music were taking on the NSA in the way John Lennon took on Uncle Sam during Viet Nam I’d have heard about it so I’m going to assume that whatever protests are being held are small.
But here’s what I think John Lennon would be saying and what I wish someone were saying now. (Wait, I know, I bet The Daily Show is all over this but I don’t care. Stewart is smart, I agree with him a lot, but this NSA crap demands more than his smug, funnier-than-thou delivery. This demands a bit of anger. So here’s what I think Lennon would say.)
“It’s Tricky Dick all over again, can’t you see that? You’re being lied to, your Constitution is being dragged through sewage, your freedoms are being taken away. You think this is all being done in the name of national security? Well, ask yourself if you think becoming like the very countries you hate is right for the country you love. I mean, it’s that simple. It’s like fighting for peace. We’re all for the thing we say we’re against to protect the thing we say we’re for. Obama, how do you sleep at night knowing that this is the exact behavior you claim to revile?”
Obviously, Lennon would do a better job than I just did. And he’d be heard by more people. So my simple request is that at least a few of today’s biggest musicians go after Uncle Sam. Let’s not let rock stars sell out anymore than they already have (another post).
PS - Here’s a tune I wrote about this topic. It’s about Joe Strummer who was a lot like Lennon. I miss these kinds of people