Today’s music to keep me IiiiNnnnSSSAAaaNnnneEE – Paul Simon – A church is burning

Paul Simon – A Church is Burning – Lyrics about the Civil Rights movement and the Klu Klux Klan.


Paul Simon wrote this early on in his career when he was still a solo act. It is a brilliant song that captures the violence and ugliness of the terror tactics being used by the Klu Klux Klan to terrorise the black population in a vain attempt to stop the civil rights movement.

The civil rights movement came out of the Baptist Church and the white supremacists often targeted churches and the homes of activists for arson attacks. The stuck burning crosses in front of houses, rode through at night firing guns and actually lynched and shot people.

Fortunately a head of steam had been got up and people were not going to be intimidated. They wanted the vote and they wanted equality and freedom.

As Paul said – the idea of emancipation was not merely embellished in bricks and mortar; it was in the minds of the people and their bravery was indestructible.

There’s a way to go! We need more of that bravery now!

Help build a positive zeitgeist!

“A Church Is Burning”

A church is burning
The flames rise higher
Like hands that are praying
They grow in the sky
Like hands that are praying
The fire ascends
You can burn down my churches
But I shall be freeThree hooded men through the back roads did creep
Torches in their hands while the village lies asleep
Down to the church where, just hours before
Voices were singing, and
Hands were meeting, and
Saying, “I won’t be a slave anymore”A church is burning
The flames rise higher
Like hands that are praying
They glow in the sky
Like hands that are praying
The fire ascends
You can burn down my churches
But I shall be free

Three hooded men, their hands lit the spark
And they faded in the night, they vanished in the dark
And in the cold light of morning, there was nothing that remained
But the ashes of a Bible and a can of kerosene

A church is burning
The flames rise higher
Like hands that are praying
They glow in the sky
Like hands that are prayin’
The fire ascends
You can burn down my churches
But I shall be free

A church is more than just timber and stone
And freedom is a dark road when you’re walking it alone
But the future is now, and it’s time to take a stand
So the lost bells of freedom can ring out in my land

A church is burning
The flames rise higher
Like hands that are praying
They glow in the sky
Like hands that are praying
The fire ascends
You can burn down my churches
But I shall be free

Core Values – Freedom

Freedom is the basis for a lot of my life and thinking. I refuse to be a clone or slotted into a hole. I want to be free to think, feel, experience and express myself.

I resent any intrusion into what I regard as my freedom.

But I do recognise that freedom is a compromise and is limited. None of us are free.

The only way we can be completely free is to be living entirely on our own. Even then we are constrained by our abilities and nature.

I do not want extreme freedom.

I do not want to live in a society where people are allowed to be violent.

I do not want to live in a society where they are free to bully, express hatred, practice misogyny or racism, threaten, rape, steal or damage. I’m happy that there are laws to prevent this.

I do not want to live in a society where everyone has guns and armed police can shoot me.

I do not want to live in a society where those of a disposition can practice incest or paedophilia. I am happy there are laws on incest and an age of consent.

I feel that I am fairly able to live as I like. It is not a police state. I can vote for who I want, say what I like about the government and religion with impunity. I can believe in what I like or not, worship or not and blaspheme. I will not be tortured, imprisoned or burnt at the stake.

I might complain about the sham of our democracy and argue about certain laws – such as the drug laws – or complain about the exploitation and elitism – but I can go where I want, say what I want and do what I want.

If freedom was absolute we would have anarchy and a violent society in which nobody was safe. The violent bullies would rule. It would be grossly unfair and frightening.

So freedom for me is a compromise.

I’m OK with governments forcing short-term restrictions in an emergency – such as a pandemic – as long as those restrictions are limited, fair and removed ASAP.

I get aeriated about religions indoctrinating children or restricting women’s rights. I get aeriated about government censorship or political restrictions. I get vexed about media lies, government spin and fake news – it undermines truth and removes freedom.

I’m on the side of the people of Myanmar opposing their military government, those who fought apartheid, the Muslim women refusing the veil, the people standing up to juntas and oppression of any form. I’m for civil rights and for us all to be equal and free.

But let anybody try to take away my free speech, right to travel, right to vote or right to not worship and I would be forced to fight them.

Freedom is a basic right as far as I’m concerned. But freedom is a slippery beast. It is a compromise at best. Freedom is an ever evolving battle.

Poetry – Equality


Something’s gotta change.

This racial divide is despicable.

This use of violence intolerable.

This inequality reprehensible.

This has gone on

For far too long.

People need to act.

That’s a fact!

The level of racism in the country is incredible.



Opher – 20.11.2020

The Black Lives Matter campaign should not be happening.

Not in 2020.

The fact that racism is still so prevalent is a sign of a sick society.

America is the richest country on the planet – and the most unequal!

Something has got to change.

It starts with education.

Poetry – Death to Tribalism

Death to Tribalism


I’m brown in the sun

And black at night,

But in the light,

I’m white.


I’m privileged

And immune,

Treated with respect,

Not subject to neglect,

As a member of the select.


But I’m not happy,

I crave for equality,

A better society,

A meritocracy,

Fairer, without inequality.


I don’t care about your pigment,

Or your race.

I want to see a smile

On your face.


It’s primitive tribalism

Holding us back.

Let’s stop thinking –

Brown, white and black.


Opher – 26.5.2020

Skin Colour

Skin Colour

skinr skin

We are all children of Africa. Our species evolved from the Rift Valley in Ethiopia. We have a common ancestor with the Chimpanzees and Gorillas with who we share 99% of our genes.

There used to be a number of different species of hominids but unfortunately only two survived to recent times and our close relatives, the Neanderthals, didn’t make it. We are alone.

We nearly didn’t either. At one point it appears that our numbers got so perilously low that extinction was the more likely option. We prevailed.

Now we are present in teeming numbers (7 billion and counting) and are changing the very eco-structure and climate of the planet.

We appear to be so different yet we are not. I look at Asian, African, Australian and European and I see differences. Under the skin, aside from the cosmetics of appearance, we are the same. Incredibly there is more genetic variation within groups than between groups. We can all be traced back to the same mother.

I wonder. I can imagine her sitting on her haunches in that African valley, cradling her first born, surveying the landscape, watching the rest of her troupe, and wondering. She could have had no idea.

At first our skin was black; full of the pigment melanin. That black pigment gave us protection against the strong UV light of the African sun. That sun gave us Vitamin D but it also gave us melanoma. With our hairless bodies we need protection.

When we migrated out of Africa to more temperate regions we underwent minor mutations. They gave us our body shapes, our facial characteristics and our skin colours. The different races of mankind were born.

We were all black once.

In terms of skin colour the reasons are simple. We need Vitamin D to keep us healthy and give us strong bones. We need protection against UV Light to prevent skin cancer. It is a balance. In the tropical sun the skin needs to be black. In the temperate regions white. And in the between regions shades of brown.

Our skin colour is the result of minor mutations to balance protection from the UV rays and the production of vitamins.

Now we settle in various parts of the world there are certain lessons we need to learn. If you are black and living in Norway then take some vitamin supplement and get out in the sun as much as possible. If you are white and living in Africa then cover up and use strong sun shield.

Incredible to think that such pragmatic evolution should have resulted in such prejudice, discrimination, racism and hatred.

Human beings are a recent evolutionary invention. We are not yet civilised. We have much to learn. We are still cruel, tribal and incredibly stupid.

It is our mother’s birthday! We should all celebrate.

Civil Rights – Schwerner, Chaney, and Goodman – Murders – Tom Paxton Lyrics.

Civil Rights – Schwerner, Chaney, and Goodman – Murders – Tom Paxton Lyrics.

Goodman Chaney Schwerner

Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman were two young white men who went down to Mississippi in 1964 to help the Civil Rights cause and help sign up black registration for voting.

They were joined by James Chaney who was a young black man. They were pulled over by the cops for supposedly speeding and taken back to the police station.

Their bodies were later discovered buried in a damn. They were murdered by the Ku Klux Klan for daring to fight for justice, freedom, equality and an end to racism.

It is great that we have people as brave as these three heroes who are prepared to put their lives on the line, non-violently, for freedom and equality, but it is sad that such actions were ever necessary. Social justice is always paid for in blood.

The 1960s was not that long ago. It is hard to believe how bad things were.

Things are much better now but there’s still a lot to do. People of all colours need to come together to demand social justice.

Goodman and Schwerner and Chaney

Words and Music by Tom Paxton

The night air is heavy, no cool breezes blow.
The sounds of the voices are worried and low.
Desperately wondering and desperate to know,
About Goodman, Schwerner and Chaney.

Calm desperation and flickering hope,
Reality grapples like a hand on the throat.
For you live in the shadow of ten feet of rope,
If you’re Goodman and Schwerner and Chaney.

The Pearl River was dragged and two bodies were found,
But it was a blind alley for both men were brown.
So they all shrugged their shoulders and the search it went on,
For Goodman and Schwerner and Chaney.

Pull out the dead bodies from the ooze of the dam.
Take the bodies to Jackson all accordin’ to plan.
With the one broken body do the best that you can,
It’s the body of young James Chaney.

The nation was outraged and shocked through and through.
Call J. Edgar Hoover. He’ll know what to do.
For they’ve murdered two white men, and a colored boy too
Goodman and Schwerner and Chaney.

James Chaney your body exploded in pain,
And the beating they gave you is pounding my brain.
And they murdered much more with their dark bloody chains
And the body of pity lies bleeding.

The pot-bellied copper shook hands all around,
And joked with the rednecks who came into town
And they swore that the murderer soon would be found
And they laughed as they spat their tobacco.

Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs, Joan Baez and the Civil Rights Movement of the 60s.

Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs, Joan Baez and the Civil Rights Movement of the 60s.


Back in the early 1960s the Civil Rights Movement was picking up momentum. Martin Luther King was organising marches, sit-ins, boycotts and protests. There was a move towards gaining equality for people regardless of creed, race or religion. Segregation was rife and needed to be utterly destroyed.

The Folk Movement had come out of the Left Wing protests of the 1950s with its social messages from the likes of Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger and the Weavers. It stood for freedom, equality and fairness. It supported the unions, fair pay and social justice.

The songs that came out of the early sixties were termed protest songs. They were songs for human rights and justice.

Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Phil Ochs and Tom Paxton were at the forefront singing songs that helped rouse the conscience of the world. The white liberals and radicals joined with the blacks to fight for equality.

With songs like ‘Blowing in the Wind’, ‘To Ramona’, ‘The Ballad of Hollis Brown’, ‘The Ballad of Medgar Evans’, ‘Links on the Chain’, Power and the Glory’, ‘Only a Pawn in their Game’, ‘Chimes of Freedom’, ‘We Shall Overcome’, ‘Here to the State of Mississippi’ and hundreds more, the singer/songwriters took a stance, sang their truth, and opposed the Jim Crow laws. They put their bodies on the line. They supported the freedom riders and went on the marches.

Bob Dylan and Joan Baez performed at the great march on Washington that drew a million people in to hear Martin Luther King speak.

Their voice told the black protestors that they were not alone. White supporters went down South to support the protests and were killed by the rabid racist Klu Klux Klan along with the blacks they were supporting.

Terrorism – Parallel to the Southern American terror of the Ku Klux Klan depowered by the Civil Rights Movement.

Terrorism – Parallel to the Southern American terror of the Ku Klux Klan depowered by the Civil Rights Movement.


The aim of the terrorists is to impose their narrow view on the population, create fear and vent their hatred.

Back in the 1960s the black population of the Southern parts of the United States were subjugated through terror. There were beatings, shootings and killing.

At night men in robes and hoods would ride through a community and place a burning cross in front of any house that had someone who was getting uppity. It was a chilling warning. If unheeded fire-bombing, shooting and murder would result.

The people were terrified.

But after a while brave members of the community began to raise their heads and demand justice. Many of these were shot or lynched. More came along to take up the cause until there were too many marching for the terror to work anymore.

I salute the bravery of those early black activists and the white activists who came down from the North to support them.

Here’s to Martin Luther King, Medgar Evans, Michael Schwerner, James Earl Chaney and Andrew Goodman and all the hundreds of others who died in that struggle.

The virulent racists of the South were defeated just as the hate-filled Islamic jihadists will be.

Civil Rights Quotes – Equality, Freedom and Justice!! Something worth fighting for!

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All people are not equal and never will be. That is obvious. Some are much better at some things than others. Some are stronger, some are cleverer, some are faster, some are nicer. We can never all be the same.

But what is important is that, regardless of abilities, all people are of equal worth.

To place a value on a human being that relates to their race, gender, age, ability, disability, religion, political persuasion, creed, personality, culture, education, class, or preferences is simply wrong.

All people deserve equal opportunities. A system that penalises some requires opposing.

The greatest evil in our country today is…ignorance…We need to be taught to study rather than to believe.”
Septima Poinsette Clark

Education is the only way we are going to build better societies and ultimately a better world. We need to dispel the tribal myths that create division. We need to devise systems that enable all people to reach their potential, that do not discriminate unfairly against certain groups and which value all people. We need to dispense with prejudice and intolerance.

People always say that I didn’t give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn’t true. No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in”
Rosa Parks

Rosa was the spark that lit the tinder. It is hard to believe that such a short time ago, in the 1960s, the United States stringently practiced apartheid. The Southern States regarded negroes as of less worth than whites and created a policy of segregation where they were treated as second-class citizens. Blacks had separate facilities that were inferior to white – bus seats, drinking fountains, restaurants, schools …………  It was despicable. Rosa refused to move to the back of the bus and give up her seat. It started things.

As a white boy in England it was Bob Dylan who raised my awareness and sensibilities. I was passionate about equality, fairness and justice and I still am. The worth of a human being is the worth of their personality not their colour.

The Klan had used fear, intimidation and murder to brutally oppress over African-Americans who sought justice and equality and it sought to respond to the young workers of the civil rights movement in Mississippi in the same way. Charles B. Rangel

They used lynchings, threats and violence to intimidate. They burnt down homes and churches, beat and shot activists and young kids. I well remember Emit Till, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Medgar Evers ……… It is a legacy of shame.

Young college students went down from the North to assist black people in registering to vote. I well remember the murders of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner. They were callously killed and thrown in a swamp. The Ku Klux Klan and the other white supremacist groups need outlawing and prosecuting or their continuing hate crime.

By the 1960s, many of us believed that the Civil Rights Movement could eliminate racism in America during our lifetime. But despite significant progress, racism remains. Bill Cosby

Yes – unfortunately racism still remains with us. Things have improved but, as can be seen with the ‘Black Lives Matter’ campaign, there is still a way to go. Black, white, yellow, brown and red need to work together to create a better, fairer, world.

In the ’60s, when I was growing up, one of the great elements of American culture was the protest song. There were songs about the civil rights movement, the women’s rights movement, the antiwar movement. It wasn’t just Bob Dylan, it was everybody at the time. George Clooney

I remember those sixties days of idealism well. We thought we were going to change the world. I was only discussing on the blog recently how that has failed. Progress has been made regarding race and gender and there were the great environmental groups, but so many of those young idealists not only gave up on their ideals but jumped straight back in and became as bad, or even worse, that their predecessors. The problems of environment, gender and race are still there. We desperately need a new Bob Dylan and a new generation of idealists.

The really important victory of the civil rights movement was that it made racism unpopular, whereas a generation ago at the turn of the last century, you had to embrace racism to get elected to anything. Carol Moseley Braun

I think that is true. There is hope.

That’s what he was saying, the civil rights movement – judge me for my character, not how black my skin is, not how yellow my skin is, how short I am, how tall or fat or thin; It’s by my character. Pam Grier

Martin Luther King was right! Let’s hope we can move to that! Much progress has been made. The road is long. It requires more effort.

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