You know for all of the articles championing freedom of speech, which have appeared of late in the Weekly Standard, I was taken aback by the recent article: ‘Anti-Military Anthem Played at ‘Concert for Valor’. This past year numerous pieces have appeared in the magazine bemoaning the supposed loss of free speech on college campuses, detailing how the Democrats are actively undermining our First Amendment rights, how the Berkeley Free Speech Movement contributed mightily to undermining those rights and lately how, thankfully, courts have here and there thwarted this assault.
However, when it comes to the Weekly Standard truly being a beacon of free speech, well as far that goes, it is more than a bit equivocal in what it chooses to print. The author of the abovementioned article, Ethan Epstein, took umbrage with the “tone deaf” Bruce Springsteen and company for having performed Creedence Clearwater’s “famously anti-war anthem Fortunate Son” at last month’s Concert for Valor held on Veteran’s Day on the National Mall. Quoting Mr. Epstein: “The song, not to put too fine a point on it, is an anti-war screed, taking shots at “the red white and blue.” It was a particularly terrible choice given that Fortunate Son is, moreover, an anti-draft song, and this concert was largely organized to honor those who volunteered to fight in Afghanistan and Iraq.”
Well for one thing, if anyone is tone deaf it is Ethan Epstein for not having listened closely enough to the song and its message. Nowhere in the song does it encourage anyone to resist the draft, desert the armed forces or head north over the border. Neither does the song denigrate the flag or cheer on the Vietnamese Communists. What the words of the song do mock and denigrate are the privileged sons of America’s elites and upper middle classes who managed to avoid serving in the Vietnam-era military, particularly in combat, while the less fortunate among us went off to fight and die in Southeast Asia. Moreover the song goes on to mock the fortunate for their ability to avoid paying their taxes fully while the country is at war. Sound familiar?
I for one am not in the least bit surprised that the Weekly Standard would publish such a piece. Why, because it is among the ranks of the NeoCons that we find some of America’s most prominent “fortunate sons” now widely known as “Chicken Hawks”. Seeing as the magazine is one of the most prominent, if not the most prominent periodical of the Neoconservative community how could it be otherwise. After all there are a large number of prominent Neoconservatives who when it was their turn to serve in Vietnam willingly choose to apply for multiple deferments so they could pursue “other priorities”. This list of luminaries includes Vice President Dick Cheney, John Ashcroft, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard N. Perle and Rush Limbaugh among others.
Ironically the performance of Creedence Clearwater’s “Fortunate Son” at last month’s Veteran’s Day musical venue should be seen as a triumph of the very free speech that our armed forces provide and rather than as a collective slap in the face of our men and women in uniform. Moreover the song could be seen as a tribute to those who actually fought, suffered and died in Southeast Asia. Contrast that sacrifice to those lacking in the moral courage, civic responsibility and patriotism to do so, who chose instead to escape serving their country so they could further their own economic well being at best or save their own ass in the very least.
Steven J. Gulitti
New York City
Anti-Military Anthem played at ‘Concert for Valor’; http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/anti-military-anthem-played-concert-valor_818921.html#!
Free Speech Is Dying on College Campuses; http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/free-speech-dying-college-campuses_808387.html#!
Democrats vs. Free Speech; http://www.weeklystandard.com/articles/democrats-vs-free-speech_793490.html?page=2#!
Berkeley and Free Speech; http://www.weeklystandard.com/articles/berkeley-and-free-speech_804835.html#!
A Victory for Free Speech; http://www.weeklystandard.com/articles/victory-free-speech_795391.html#!