Woody Guthrie said that from California to New York, from the Redwood Forests to the Gulf Stream waters, it all belongs to us. Not us as any particular national origin, color, creed or gender. He just said that, in general, it belongs to us.
He also claimed to kill fascists. He said he was a machine, fired and oiled to grind fascism into oblivion. He wasn't a mercenary, a vigilante or a rogue soldier. He was, of course, speaking in purely abstract terms. He believed his music could be responsible for the destruction of fascism, if only the world would listen to it.
But what was he saying, about this land? It sounds so sweet, hopeful and brotherly when he sings "This land was made for you and me." Why, then, would he limit himself to the borders of a nation? Why not speak as a citizen of the world?
The borders we put around ourselves come from the same nationalistically separatist principals that fascism, itself is based on. The idea of a border; the idea of cloistering one's self off from the others, because the others are different is a fascist idea. Citizenship, furthermore, is a fascist idea. I didn't ask to be born an American. It wasn't my choice. It's just as unfair to ask me to leave, however, as it is to expect me to embrace the citizenship I was merely born into. This isn't a family and, as far as I'm concerned, the land that was "made for you and me" stretches away from you in every direction so far that it comes right back to the spot you stand.
I know I'm not saying anything new, but you can't really say that the idea of keeping those born on the outside of a certain place in a different class than those born within the borders of that place isn't fascist. It's the purest fascism.
I really like the music of Woody Guthrie. I even like the story between the songs; the man . . . but I'm not so sure he knew what he was talking about, when he'd start talking about fascism.
During this election year, it's this issue that makes me laugh. The issues of which concepts we simply accept are never challenged. The politicians simply wait for us to complain and, when the suggestion box is full, they read off their little cards and grope for answers or some sort of middle ground. We talk about immigration reform, but we don't talk about rethinking what it means to be a nation. We talk about protecting peoples' rights, but we don't talk about the Military Commissions Act. We talk about health care, but we don't talk about health. We talk about education, but we don't talk about actually learning.
We talk about the bad guys and not the good guys.
Because the good guys are impossible to identify, even when faced with a pane of reflective glass and a blinking, neon arrow behind their own head.
I don't know about you, but I think it's a damn funny coincidence that the only thing separating this coming election day from this coming Guy Fawkes Day is a single midnight.