Overcoming Justice

In college a friend I’ve lost track of (and I have, of most of them) turned me on to Irish protest music. I do have some fairly direct Irish heritage, although I didn’t know it at the time, still the righteous anger tied to memorable tunes made a strong impression. Music can move you in that way. In a recent New Jersey Star-Ledger article on protest songs, Lisa Leff raises the poignant question of where the protest songs have gone. In the aftermath of the travesty of justice in both the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases, we find ourselves musically mute. As I sat in the theater awaiting Exodus, the preview of Selma brought tears to my eyes. Martin Luther King Junior knew the power of peaceful protest. “We Shall Overcome” featured in the trailer. Would there be an exodus after all of this at all? We used to voice our discontent. Now we click on to the next page, oblivious.


Justice has become a myth for many. Please understand, I’m professionally bound not to use “myth” in a pejorative way. No, justice has become a myth. Fear is powerful, and power is fearful. Juries are supposed to be impartial. Who is really not afraid? Why don’t we sing in the dark instead of drawing our weapons and firing? Why don’t we believe “I can’t breathe” is a statement made in earnest? Why don’t we insist on the “for all” part of the pledge? After all, even some recent presidents not known for their sense of social justice have pointed out that these court decisions are puzzling. I wonder where I put those old Irish protest-song records?

Anything you say can and will be used against you. I don’t know what to say. We have lost the ability to experience justifiable outrage. We see powerful lobbies continue to arm the mentally unstable while one percent hordes the wealth that could be used to help fund the solutions. If you walk past Trump Tower you’ll see that visitors are not welcome in one of the highest buildings in the city. We have forgotten how to sing. These most recent cases of Brown and Garner are only the most recent cases. Violence in the name of law has gone on for too long. I’m afraid when I rush past the fatigues in the Port Authority on my way to work. But I am a white man. Do they know that I used to listen to Irish protest music? I wonder where I put those records. Wait a minute, there’s something new in the iTunes store.

4 thoughts on “Overcoming Justice

  1. Justice for all, today has become a myth at least when it comes to freedom of speech, particularly amongst many, if not most of the religious people in the West. While being sued over what many would agree to be over the issue of freedom of speech, I felt that when it would come to having people stand up and be heard, both financially to fight the wealthy and powerful powers to be, the more religious the person the greater the chance of having support. I couldn’t have been more incorrect, today, some three years later, virtually all the support, with the exception of one Evangelical, has come from Jews, secular humanists and one Buddhist. The Christian community, especially the fundamentalists, Xian Zionists and their supporters, those who in the past ‘loved biblical archaeology’ were nowhere to be found but were the ones easiest to be fleeced by the media. They suddenly became mute, not just in my case which we hoped would be a landmark case, but when I tried to get the biggest Xian Zionist org. here in Israel to donate money, any amount to a children’s hospital and home for the mentally ill in Bethlehem, they were mute, but they always seem to have funds for settler projects in the West Bank, esp. if they can get their name affixed to one. Seems those non-Protestant, blind, lame and the halt, children in Bethlehem are not god’s children, but those Jewish settlers children in the West Bank are. But in the end I shouldn’t complain as they told me ‘they be prayin’ fer me.


  2. Have you listened to D’Angelo’s Black Messiah? It was released early in the wake of current protests regarding the police killing unarmed Black people. Some would consider it a contemporary form of protest music.


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