I've just witnessed the perfect example of an organization completely and utterly misusing a classic verse for purely pro-war propaganda purposes.
To open the Los Angeles Lakers first regular season game and championship award ceremony, the audience was treated to a vocalist (I have no idea who the fellow was but his voice was amazing) singing the truly meaningful "Imagine" by the late John Lennon.
This song, an anthem of peace and brotherhood and a cry for the elimination of borders and religious fanaticism, has always touched me deeply. It is an invitation to cease the insanity of patriotism and nationalism and racism. It asks the question that has been central to my life; "Imagine there's no heaven". The wonder of the commonality of mankind is expressed, not as a way of life, but as life, itself.
The Staples Center went dark, three spotlights illuminating only the person down on the floor, microphone in hand. He raises the mike, takes a deep breath, and begins, "Imagine there's no heaven. It's easy if you try." On the video screens all around the arena, including the massive one over center court, the most tasteless images "imaginable" appeared. It was the American flag, which segued into the Statue of Liberty and other stupid and nationalistic nonsense. The entire point of the wondrous song was completely warped and ruined.
Just a few moments later appeared the face of the moron who first stole the office of the presidency and now has started a totally unwinnable war against what he terms "terrorism". My stomach honestly turned over and I felt physically ill. Isn't it bad enough that this dictator is using America's military to murder hundreds if not thousands of innocent Afghan civilians? Isn't the fact that he has so warped the nation that it has forgotten that we, who claim to stand for justice and freedoms, are in the process of destroying more and more of our Constitution to support his insane and thoughtless war on Americans, using the pretense of temporary protection?
I cannot believe that the world has sunk so deeply into the selfishness and stupidity that these few minutes exposed. I cannot believe that millions of Americans were not as disgusted with the entire episode as I. To so totally abuse such a meaningful anthem for those of us who refuse to blindly follow either man's silly religions or the ludicrous nationalism was the act of some truly sick minds. To then expose the nation to that deer in the headlights looking dictator was just unbelievably out of place and annoying.
There are two very important lessons to be learned from this, boys and girls.
First, propaganda techniques include the act of absorbing the icons and symbols of the opposing party and the warping their meaning to represent nothing of the original values and convictions. The process of abusing that which is good and has a positive and progressive intent is a trick as old as war and jealousy. By distorting the decency and passion of "Imagine", the vengeful and war loving Right believes that it can negate the power of the plea for a world without war and without national terror.
Then, allowing the moron to inflict himself into any public entertainment is a meager attempt by the conservative media and Corporate America to reinforce the fabrication that his occupation of the Oval Office is legal and his destruction of what little decency and kindness that was left in America is now inevitable. (Resistance is futile!?!)
It can only be hoped that this display of mindless nationalism did not fool the few thinking Americans who witnessed it. One can merely stand against the mindlessness that is "patriotism" and believe that, eventually, mankind will evolve beyond such foolishness and mindlessness. Even one as pessimistic as I can yearn for a future in which all people demand a unity of humanity, a singleness of purpose moving towards a world where incompetents like the moron and evil creatures like Osama bin Laden become both irrelevant and ultimately, extinct.
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