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S e c t i o n T h r e e
Protest music, musician activism, and censorship during the war on terror
Public shock and discussion concerning the carnage of September 11
segued into discussion about America's response the "war on terror." In the
media echo chamber , these were not times for political dissension, but for unity,
restraint, and sensitivity similar to that demonstrated immediately after the
attacks. The jingoism permeating American media was so acidic that any person
even assumed to be making a statement against the President, war on terror, or in
support of any opposing world view was treated harshly.
In July, 200
2, Steve Earle 's song "John Walker Blues " ignited calls for its censor-
that began with critical articles in the Wall Street Journal
and The New York Post
two months before its release.
The song looks at events through Walker's eyes
, yet does not endorse Walker's
actions or fate, nor does it take any ideological stance on Walker's beliefs. According
to Nashville talk radio host Steve Gill, "Earle runs the risk of becoming the Jane
Fonda of the war on terrorism by embracing John Walker and his Tali-buddies."
Several radio stations pulled music by the group Jethro Tull after its singer, Ian
Anderson , was quoted in an interview with the Asbury Park Press. "I hate to see
the American flag hanging out of every bloody station wagon, out of every SUV,
every little Midwestern house in some residential area," Anderson said. "It is easy
to confuse patriotism with nationalism. Flag waving ain't gonna do it." The next
morning, several talk radio programs called for bans of Jethro Tull's music from
their stations. According to Phil LoCascio, program director of New Jersey classic
rock station WCHR, "The reaction of our audience has been 99 percent in favor of
the ban and 99 percent incredulous that he would say such stupid things. As far
as we are concerned, this ban is forever."
This type of condemnation seems to apply to all alternatively mainstream
political sentiments, not simply those associated with the war on terror. New
Jersey rocker Bruce Springsteen was refused police escorts and security after per-
forming his song "American Skin " at several Shea Stadium concerts. The song