FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Dave Brubeck on the Hypocrisy War in the Name of Freedom

by LEE BALLINGER And DAVE MARSH

Where does Memorial Day come from? Why do we celebrate it?

Memorial Day began as a holiday called Decoration Day. It was established on May 5, 1868 by an organization of Union veterans: the Grand Army of the Republic. Although almost certainly a coincidence, it’s interesting to note that Decoration Day was announced on May 5. That day is now celebrated as Cinco de Mayo, the date when Mexican forces defeated the French at Puebla in 1862 and shortened the Civil War, meaning that thousands fewer soldiers lay in cemeteries to be memorialized.

In any event, Maj. Gen. John A. Logan set the actual celebration of Decoration Day for May 30 because flowers would be in bloom all over the country. Local springtime tributes to the Civil War dead had already been held in some cities. One of the first–on April 25, 1866–was held in Columbus, Mississippi. A group of women visited a cemetery to decorate the graves of Confederate soldiers who had fallen in battle at Shiloh. Nearby were the graves of Union soldiers, neglected because they were the enemy. Disturbed at the sight of bare graves, the women placed some of their flowers on those graves as well.

Eventually, Decoration Day became Memorial Day and was set for the last Monday in May. This year, Memorial Day weekend was chosen to unveil the new World War II memorial in Washington D.C. That occasion led to some public discussion of the importance of defeating the Nazis. That is all to the good. But World War II, as the following article illustrates, was about much more. Thus, by extension, Memorial Day is about more than its traditions of placing flowers on the graves of our loved ones, having picnics, or watching the Indianapolis 500.

On this Memorial Day, we should pause to reflect on the fact that while Memorial Day arose from the struggle to end slavery, in 2004 slavery is again rampant throughout the world and growing very rapidly. We should pause to ask ourselves how we can build upon the embryonic unity between North and South expressed by those women in Columbus, Mississippi in the spring of 1866. We should also frankly acknowledge that Memorial Day tends to reinforce the traditional American assumption that we can have both guns and butter, even though that is no longer true (yesterday’s LA Times highlighted the fact that 25% of the homeless in the U.S. are veterans).

Finally, on this Memorial Day we should ask ourselves: What was there in the carnage of World War II, a war that filled so many of the cemeteries we will visit today, that points us toward the lasting peace we all want so much? The following article from the May issue of Rock & Rap Confidential attempts to answer that question.

PASS THE BUTTER, PLEASE

On the eve of the 60th anniversary of D-Day, Dave Brubeck has released the solo piano exploration Private Brubeck Remembers (Telarc). Brubeck served in Europe during World War II as an infantryman, although he was usually playing for the troops, music such as the songs heard here: “You’d Be So Nice to Come Home To,” “Where or When,” “Something to Remember You By.” Placed in a wartime context, these tunes transcend nostalgia and become often-intense expressions of yearning, loneliness, and fear.

In his liner notes, Brubeck places the war in a context of both hypocrisy and heroism. He notes how his Japanese-American friends were placed in Stateside detention camps while also describing the liberation of slaves who worked in Nazi factories.

As Brubeck indicates, World War II did indeed have an agenda, one that FDR summarized as the Four Freedoms: freedom of conscience, freedom of expression, freedom from want, freedom from fear.

Discussion of the need for those four freedoms was driven underground by McCarthyism in the early 1950s, only to be resurrected by rock and soul music. The civil rights movement–greatly accelerated by the return of black World War II veterans–spurred a nearly two-decade explosion of socially-conscious music that remains the moral axis of our popular culture.

That music also sprang from the fact that America was almost continuously at war–Korea, Lebanon, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Vietnam. Yet even though music inspired and infused anti-war protest, it couldn’t change the reality that the economy was booming and could provide both guns and butter.

Today, the boom in the economy is the sound of its implosion and Dave Brubeck must be experiencing déja vu. Once again, American soldiers in foreign countries are turning to music to combat fear and loneliness. Once again the U.S. has internment camps (for suspected “terrorists” or people who are illegal only because they’re immigrants). Slave labor has returned to factories around the world, which are often used to produce music-related gear.

Once again, discussion of the four freedoms has been driven underground, this time more by music industry cowardice and the likes of Clear Channel than by government edict. All we hear is the sound of guns when what we want is butter. We can no longer have both. If we allow another world war to take place, no one will be around to make an album to commemorate its 60th anniversary.

Lee Ballinger and Dave Marsh produce of one of CounterPunch’s favorite newsletters, Rock and Rap Confidential, where this article originally appeared. For a free copy of the issue, email your postal address to: RRC, Box 341305, LA CA 90034 or send an email to: Rockrap@aol.com

Weekend Edition
February 5-7, 2016
Jeffrey St. Clair
When Chivalry Fails: St. Bernard and the Machine
John Pilger
Freeing Julian Assange: the Final Chapter
Garry Leech
Terrifying Ted and His Ultra-Conservative Vision for America
Andrew Levine
Smash Clintonism: Why Democrats, Not Republicans, are the Problem
William Blum
Is Bernie Sanders a “Socialist”?
Daniel Raventós - Julie Wark
We Can’t Afford These Billionaires
Jonathan Cook
The Liberal Hounding of Julian Assange: From Alex Gibney to The Guardian
George Wuerthner
How the Bundy Gang Won
Mike Whitney
Peace Talks “Paused” After Putin’s Triumph in Aleppo 
Ted Rall
Hillary Clinton: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Gary Leupp
Is a “Socialist” Really Unelectable? The Potential Significance of the Sanders Campaign
Vijay Prashad
The Fault Line of Race in America
Eoin Higgins
Please Clap: the Jeb Bush Campaign Pre-Mortem
Joseph Mangano – Janette D. Sherman
The Invisible Epidemic: Radiation and Rising Rates of Thyroid Cancer
Andre Vltchek
Europe is Built on Corpses and Plunder
Jack Smith
Obama Readies to Fight in Libya, Again
Robert Fantina
As Goes Iowa, So Goes the Nation?
Dean Baker
Market Turmoil, the Fed and the Presidential Election
John Wight
Who Was Cecil Rhodes?
David Macaray
Will There Ever Be Anyone Better Than Bernie Sanders?
Christopher Brauchli
Suffer Little Children: From Brazil to Flint
JP Sottile
Did Fox News Help the GOP Establishment Get Its Groove Back?
Binoy Kampmark
Legalizing Cruelties: the Australian High Court and Indefinite Offshore Detention
John Feffer
Wrestling With Iran
Rob Prince – Ibrahim Kazerooni
Syria Again
Louisa Willcox
Park Service Finally Stands Up for Grizzlies and Us
Farzana Versey
Of Beyoncé, Trudeau and Culture Predators
Pete Dolack
Fanaticism and Fantasy Drive Purported TPP ‘Benefits’
Murray Dobbin
Canada and the TPP
Steve Horn
Army of Lobbyists Push LNG Exports, Methane Hydrates, Coal in Senate Energy Bill
Colin Todhunter
“Lies, Lies and More Lies” – GMOs, Poisoned Agriculture and Toxic Rants
Franklin Lamb
ISIS Erasing Our Cultural Heritage in Syria
David Mihalyfy
#realacademicbios Deserve Real Reform
Graham Peebles
Unjust and Dysfunctional: Asylum in the UK
John Grant
Israel Moves to Check Its Artists
Yves Engler
On Unions and Class Struggle
Alfredo Lopez
The ‘Bern’ and the Internet
Missy Comley Beattie
Super Propaganda
Ed Rampell
Great Caesar’s Ghost!: A Specter Haunts Hollywood in the Coen’s Anti-Anti-Commie Goofball Comedy
Cesar Chelala
The Public Health Impact of Domestic Violence
Ron Jacobs
Cold Weather Comforts of a Certain Sort
Charles Komanoff
On the Passing of the Jefferson Airplane
Charles R. Larson
Can One Survive the Holocaust?
David Yearsley
Reading Room Blues
February 04, 2016
Scott McLarty
Political Revolution and the Third-Party Imperative
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail