Friday, November 17, 2006

The Band
You're In
Starts Playing
Different Tunes

Pink Floyd's famous lyric from the song Us And Them,

When the band you're in starts playing different tunes
I'll see you on the dark side of the moon

was directed at Pink Floyd's founding member Syd Barrett. Barrett, whose mental problems, exacerbated by drug use, caused him to lose the thread of a song midway through, and actually begin to play a different song from the rest of the band. Barrett had to be dismissed from Pink Floyd in 1967 because he left the land of reality and went to live, ostensibly, on the dark side of Earth's primary orbiting satellite.

Well, fellow Pink Floyd founder, Roger Waters, also left the land of reality many years ago. Clinically speaking, Waters is not insane, but he does not live in the same world of cause and effect that the rest of us do. In Waters world, Democracy, apparently, floated down with the gentle dew of the morning, born pristine and perfect. Certainly, it was not born of war between America and England - no - because nothing good can come of war. (Oh yes, and also, remember, the rich rock star is a socialist):

Recently, I attended the Roger Waters concert at Madison Square Garden in New York City. In 1965, Waters co-founded the great British rock band Pink Floyd, which produced several unforgettable concept albums. It was a joy seeing Waters, who is still in top form at age 63, masterfully perform many classic Pink Floyd tracks, including the album “Dark Side of the Moon” (1973) in its entirety. Unfortunately, the concert’s politics failed to match the excellent quality of the music.

When Waters performed “The Fletcher Memorial Home” from Pink Floyd’s album, “The Final Cut” (1983), the large screen behind him broadcast a video that compared Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, Joseph Stalin, and Kim Jong-Il to President Ronald Reagan and President George W. Bush.

A self-described socialist and militant pacifist, Waters has always taken an interest in politics. One track, “Get Your Filthy Hands Off My Desert,” from “The Final Cut,” equates British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher with General Leopoldo Galtieri, Argentina’s military dictator who seized power in 1981 and invaded the Falkland Islands in 1982.

In recent years, Waters has bitterly attacked Prime Minister Tony Blair for participating in the U.S.-led invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.

As a private citizen, Waters has the right to speak out on any issue. Disagreeing with him or any celebrity, left or right, is not censorship. I believe that the comparisons Waters is making during his current tour are not only offensive, but reveal substantial ignorance on his part.

Reagan, Thatcher, Bush, and Blair all came to power by winning elections. Those who opposed their views had the opportunity to vote against them. By contrast, Stalin, Hussein, Kim Jong-Il, and Galtieri never allowed free elections in their countries or any opposition to their rule.

Reagan and Thatcher gave up power voluntarily. Blair is expected to step down next year. Bush will leave office on January 20, 2008. How often do dictators give up power voluntarily and peacefully? Despite his advancing age and serious illness, Fidel Castro refuses to relax his grip on the Cuban people 47 years after seizing power.

In Great Britain, the United States, and in any democratic country, Waters enjoys the freedom to criticize the government, including its leaders and policies. Additionally, Reagan, Thatcher, Bush, and Blair never made any effort to silence Waters. People who live in dictatorships don’t have that freedom.
If Waters were Cuban, Castro would have thrown him into prison, where thousands of political dissidents presently suffer. Both Saddam Hussein and Kim Jong-Il probably would have had Waters tortured and then executed for opposing their dictatorial rule.

In 1990, Waters organized a concert in Berlin to celebrate the downfall of communism in Eastern Europe. Did it ever occur to Waters why the Berlin Wall finally fell? The combined leadership of Reagan, Thatcher, and Pope John Paul II made it happen. They helped extend freedom to hundreds of millions of people who were being repressed by communist dictatorships. Today, people in Eastern Europe and the old Soviet Union can choose their leaders, have a say in their governments’ policies, and even enjoy Pink Floyd without being harassed by the secret police.
Apparently, Roger Waters is like many ideologues on the right and left. They think democracy works only when people who agree with them win elections.

I myself voted against President Bill Clinton twice. Although I was disappointed that he won, I never thought there was something evil afoot in the republic. I often rolled my eyes when I heard conservative extremists accuse him of orchestrating several murders and peddle other conspiracy theories about him.

Would it have been appropriate for the right to equate Clinton to Slobodan Milosevic, the late dictator of Yugoslavia and “The Butcher of the Balkans”? Was President Jimmy Carter no different than Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini? Where does it end?

It ends on the dark side of the moon, my friend. It ends in the eclipse of reason. And, that's not all. The moon gets sucked into a black hole, and when it crosses the event horizon, it is the conflation of everything, everything good is evil, and everything evil is good, and we are all together.

Reason is being able to make distinctions. And, one of the most reasonable of distinctions to make is to understand that oftimes those who do enormous good in the world, also have their dark sides. Yes, both George Bush and America are guilty of doing bad things at time, but that does not make either one "evil". Nor does the fact that Hitler loved animals make him a good person. Roger Waters, himself, is not a bad man. That he is a confused fool only causes trouble because of the fact that millions listen to him. But, you know what, I will still go on listening to his music anyway ... once in awhile.

Sadly, though, his music really isn't any good anymore. I really only like the old stuff. The world has moved on and is playing different tunes now. Too bad Roger Waters hasn't noticed.