Friday, 22 June 2018
Whither Goest Thou America?
I appreciate that here in the UK we don't have too much room to shout at the moment, being led as we are by the most incompetent government since the end of the Second World War who are attempting to put into law, by most reckonings, the most disastrous political decision any major western country has taken in the same period. But, as the question at the top of the post asks, 'whither goest thou, America?' When Jack Kerouac asked the question in On The Road it was in a different context but still, the question stands.
In the last two weeks alone Trump has-
* legitimised a brutal dictator who uses torture and murder against his own people, orders assassinations of those in his government who he falls out with and who has used forced starvation to bring the population to heel.
* professed admiration for this dictator, praising him as a a man whose people listen when he speaks and said he wants the same from the American people
* removed the USA from the United Nations Committee on Human Rights because it criticises Israeli policies against the Palestinian people
* continued to support a policy that has led to toddlers being imprisoned in cages on the USA's southern border
This is the normalisation of anti-democratic practices by the US government. We know from history where this leads. It's never too late to shout about it. One of the things David Byrne talked about between songs on Monday night was about how at his shows in the US they had a table in the foyer to register people to vote there and then, and about how important it is to get people to engage, to vote in local elections and national ones. It beats 'Hi, how are you?' (response usually a big cheer) and 'this is a new one' (response, a trip to the bar or the toilet). Unless Trump abolishes elections in the next 2 years (as his new friend in North Korea might advise), he is removable and defeatable. Same over here. We've got to rid of these people. The chorus of this 2006 Jarvis Cocker song is truer now than it was when he wrote it...
Running The World
' I mean, man, whither goest thou? Whither goest thou, America, in thy shiny car in the night?" "Whither goest thou?'
In 1997 an album called Joy Kicks Darkness was released, a spoken word tribute to Kerouac by artists including Michael Stipe, Lydia Lunch, Patti Smith, Thurston Moore, John Cale and Juliana Hatfield and also featuring surviving Beats like Allen Ginsberg and Lawrence Ferlinghetti. This track is Joe Strummer and Jack Kerouac together.
MacDougal Street Blues