You sing a little Creedence, they point the cannon at you

It seems that yesterday’s Concert For Valor was not just a giant holiday rock concert but a call to arms for the 101st Chairborne as well. When bleedinghearts like Bruce Springsteen, Dave Grohl and, well, any rapper get somewhere near the Marines, it’s apparently time to fix bayonets and start charging:

Perhaps we should expect no less during the Obama administration, but a Veterans Day event on the National Mall was marred when artist Bruce Springsteen and other notable musicians decided to play an iconic anti-military song.

In The Navy? First guess.

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.

If you think CCR’s Fortunate Son bashes the military, or potshots “the red white and blue”, you might try listening to it. Hearing the song for the first time in the midst of a Hannity fugue-rage makes for poor comprehension.

Some folks are born made to wave the flag
Ooh, they’re red, white and blue
And when the band plays “Hail to the Chief”
Oh, they point the cannon at you, Lord

It ain’t me, it ain’t me
I ain’t no Senator’s son
It ain’t me, it ain’t me
I ain’t no fortunate one, no

The gist of this is clear enough. The politically powerful will start the war but you, poor schlub, will have to fight it. Let’s go to the source:

John Fogerty and Doug Clifford were both drafted in 1966 and discharged from the army in 1967. “The song speaks more to the unfairness of class than war itself,” Fogerty said. “It’s the old saying about rich men making war and poor men having to fight them.”

This is a timeless truth of modern America. Rich men start wars, poor men fight and die in them. In post-modern times, women get to die in them too.

When interviewed by Rolling Stone magazine, John Fogerty was once asked: “What inspired ‘Fortunate Son’?” His response: “Julie Nixon was hanging around with David Eisenhower, and you just had the feeling that none of these people were going to be involved with the war.”

John was exactly right. He’s still right today. Look at the list of people who refused to fight in Vietnam, whose children refuse to fight today. And as to the song being anti-draft, let’s remember that Dick Cheney was drafted five times but never ended up in Vietnam. It’s not about how the government operates per se, it’s about how class does.

And you know who knows this best? The people who ended up doing the armed bidding of the wealthy and cowardly. The Americans who volunteer to fight in our wars but are not powerful, not well-heeled nor well-connected. They’re not even middle class. They’re our working stiffs and our poor. The veterans know it so well that they don’t need a thesaurus and a lyrics sheet to get the point:

Some folks are born silver spoon in hand
Lord, don’t they help themselves, oh
But when the tax men come to the door
Lord, the house look a like a rummage sale, yes

The 24-karat graspers who cheat their taxes aren’t about to let one of their children join the Marines. Certainly not while there’s a war on. Mitt Romney, we’re looking at you.

Yeah, some folks inherit star spangled eyes
Ooh, they send you down to war, Lord
And when you ask them, “How much should we give?”
Oh, they only answer, more, more, more, oh

George W. Bush went AWOL on the Alabama National Guard during the Vietnam War. Thirty-something years later he deployed National Guardsmen under his command to the War in Iraq – then frequently rotated them back again for a second tour of duty. Or for a third. Many of them were killed. This is not lost on anybody who was there.

It would be one thing to complain about the concert performance if the holiday were ‘Federal Armed Services Day.’ Then we’d be talking about the government’s history as much as we were the soldiers and sailors. But it’s Veterans Day. It’s meant to celebrate people, not bureaucracies. It’s a day to take stock of what these citizens went through, and fathom the depths of their sacrifices. To ignore that a good many of those sacrifices were engineered by design, as a means to save the wealthy and well connected from the dangers of war, is to put the lie to what we know about military service in America.

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