Civil Rights – The murder of Medgar Evers.

Civil Rights – The murder of Medgar Evers.

 

Medgar Evers was a Civil Rights leader in Mississippi. He campaigned for desegregation. He was involved with the desegregation of schools and colleges, desegregation of beaches, restrooms and organised boycotts. His high profile activities and leadership role made him a target for the white supremacists. They threatened to kill him if he did not stop.

 

Medgar, like so many of those Civil Rights Activists, was a brave man. He knew these were no idle threats and that if he continued to fight for freedom and justice he would most likely be murdered. It did not deter him.

 

He continued even after a car came close to running him down outside his house and a Molotov cocktail was thrown through the window of his house. He did not stop despite the risks to himself and his young family. Freedom was worth dying for.

 

Back in Mississippi the life of a black man was cheap. There was no protection from the law. People were beaten, shot and lynched with impunity. The Kl Klux Klan were rife and many of the police and judges were in the organisation. There was no protection. The black community was terrorised.

 

How many people would have the courage to continue in the face of such threats? Knowing that in the dead of night a callous murdered could set fire to your house or shoot you in your bed and there was no police to help you?

 

Medgar Evers did not flinch.

 

On June the 12th 1963, as he was getting out of his car in the drive of his house, Medgar Evers was shot in the back.

 

The coward white supremacist Byron Del La Beckwith, a member of the Klu Klux Klan, had hidden in the bushes and shot him in the back.

 

Many people wrote tributes and songs to Medgar Evers – the most important being Bob Dylan’s – ‘Only a Pawn in their Game’ – which suggested that Byron was a pawn being used by the senior faceless supremacists who were terrorising people for their own ends.

 

Freedom has been bought with blood! It is always hard to gain and easy to give away!

Rock tributes to genius – Leon Rosselson

Rock tributes to genius – Leon Rosselson

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Leon Rosselson

I have a penchant for an artist who has something to say and not many people have as much to say as Leon. He likes big topics that he can get his teeth into and has a strong sense of indignation when it comes to social justice, fairness and standing up for human rights. He also has a firm grasp of British history and marries the two expertly. If you appreciate themes of historical significance in the long fight for freedom and equality like the Levellers, William Morris or the Tolpuddle Martyrs then Leon is your man. He is not one to pull the punches and enjoys telling stories.

For someone who has such a large repertoire of self-penned gems Leon is relatively unknown. That is almost scandalous. It is probably due to the fact that he is not afraid to state his ideology and it does not seem to conform to most other people’s philosophy of life. The majority prefer bland and jolly to uncomfortable and true, though it is fair to say that Leon does have a lot of lighter, humorous songs. He should be ginormous. Fortunately musicians like Billy Bragg and Roy Bailey have championed him and covered his songs like ‘The World Turned Upside Down’.

I saw Leon in a tiny Folk Club in Beverley. He received warm applause. He should have been cheered to the rafters in huge halls.

Leon is a brilliant songwriter and one of those warm human beings.

If you are liking my tributes you might like my book. You will find numerous brilliant artists you may never have heard of plus all the familiar ones. Why not find out what I’ve got to say about them?

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Poetry – The Death of Democracy.

The Death of Democracy

 

So on this New Year’s Day

I’ll raise a cup to democracy

And drink to its death.

For the whole idea

Was strangled

Ere it could ever draw a breath.

 

Even as the midwives struggled

To get the babe to breathe

There were those who lurked,

In shadows, seeking to deceive.

 

For in the grubby grasp of fake news

Where the media holds sway.

Those who own that message

Control who has a say.

With cunning, guile and transparency

They throw lies into the fray

To ensure that in this day and age

It’s them that gets their way!

 

When money talks

It buys the truth

That everybody believes.

Those who own the media

Set out the case

For the robber thieves.

 

Democracy never stood a chance –

Fingers tightened round its throat.

Now we watch the bloated bankers

Sit around and gloat.

Without the truth there is no chance

For wise choices to be made.

The wealthy used their gold

And the assassins were all paid.

 

Opher – 1.1.2020

Well my first poem of a new decade proved to be a bit dark.

I cannot help thinking that we are all being manipulated and lied to by the media. The wealthy own the papers and control TV and radio too. They run the world for profit. Their motives are transparent.

If you are not given the facts you cannot make an informed decision.

If you are consistently lied to you may start to believe what you are told.

Fake news is undermining the entire fabric of our society.

Real news is called fake by populist leaders.

Experts are side-lined and conveniently ignored.

Profit is the key word.

How can you have a free election when people are being blatantly lied to and manipulated?

How can any democracy work when the elite control the media?

Democracy does not stand a chance until we have unbiased news!!

So what has the EU ever done for us?

So what has the EU ever done for us?

So what has the EU ever done from us – apart from a bureaucratic system, mass immigration and costing us money?

Well –

  • It has brought peace for the longest period of time in European history – that was why it was set up in the first place
  • It has created a forum for dialogue between European countries that cannot be underestimated
  • It has provided international legislation and enforcement of environmental issues that has stopped pollution and produced countless conservation schemes
  • It has created a multinational Human Rights that protects the rights of all people living in the EU and sets an example to the rest of the world
  • It has brought in legislation to protect the rights of workers and their health and safety
  • It has enabled free trade that has improved the British economy. It enables trade without restraint, tariffs or visas.
  • It has brought in regeneration programmes that have transformed inner city areas such as Liverpool, Newcastle and countless others
  • It subsidises areas with great poverty or who are in need – Scotland receives a lot of money as does Wales, Ireland and parts of England
  • It has financed scientific research and enabled projects (such as CERN) that no one nation could have managed – space projects, University research, international cooperation
  • It has instituted conservation projects and protected nature in large projects throughout Europe
  • It subsidises agriculture and practices that protect nature
  • It has enabled Britain to operate as a gateway into Europe. Many firms, such as the car industry, Siemens alternative energy, Banking and Finance and many manufacturing companies set up production and headquarters in London and Britain to service the continent. This has greatly contributed to our wealth.
  • It has provided a source of labour and brains that has kept our science at the top, brought in consultants and specialists, doctors, nurses, teachers, skilled individuals, builders, field workers, care home workers etc. who have provided services and kept our economy going.
  • It has financed joint ventures that would be too risky or expensive for any one nation to attempt (eg. aviation)
  • It has enabled our students to go to any EU country to study and broaden their horizons and students to study here and set up crucial links. We are attracting brains.
  • It enables me to travel to Europe with needing visas or passport control.
  • It enables cooperation between EU countries to coordinate intelligence, operations against terrorism and crime.
  • It provides a powerful bloc for negotiating deals with the resat of the world.
  • It provides a stronger, unified voice in the world that carries the weight of the combined population and economies.

I would not underestimate the huge contribution the EU has made. Of course, you can believe all the lies, exaggerations and fabricated stories put out in our incredibly biased media. The picture they paint is simply not true.

Do we get value for money? I think so. I reckon the benefit to the economy far outstrips what we put in.

Are there problems? Too true – the bureaucracy, costs and corruption, unelected bodies, negative effects of mass migration, freedom of movement of criminals and terrorists, and the difference between the members with weaker economies and those with stronger are all problems.

Could they have been addressed without Brexit? A resounding yes.

It is not beyond wit to modify the system to deal with corruption, bureaucracy and unelected people. (Not that our politics doesn’t suffer from all of these problems).

There needs to be checks put on migration.

In time the weaker countries will come up to the level of the stronger.

Imagine the United States with borders between States, visas, tariffs, and restrictions. What a nightmare. That is what we will be doing.

But we are out. That is it.

The challenge now is to ensure the government keeps the cooperation, the outward looking stance, the environmental, science and conservation work, the human and workers rights, the free trade without tariffs and the skilled workers we so desperately need – to maintain public services with a poorer economy.

If we are not a gateway to Europe and all those firms and headquarters creep away to Berlin, Paris and the rest, we will be screwed. We have to keep them here. That means a free trade agreement and that means free movement. If we close our borders our economy will dive.

That is the battle.

Do we want a soft or hard Brexit? Who is making the decision?  – An unelected right-wing government.

The pressure from Big Business is to exploit people for more profits. The pressure from little Englanders is to go all patriotic and nationalistic.

The people who will inevitably suffer will be the poor, the disabled, elderly and public servants. I guarantee that the ones at the top will still get their bonuses!

Billy Bragg/Woody Guthrie – Way over Yonder in the Minor Key – lyrics about individuality and self-belief.

Billy Bragg/Woody Guthrie – Way over Yonder in the Minor Key – lyrics about individuality and self-belief.

Woody Guthrie
I’m an individual. There ain’t nobody who can write like me.
When I was a kid my favourite track was the Kinks – ‘I’m Not Like Everybody Else’. I still love it.
My blog is full of whatever takes my mind. If it’s in there it will come spilling out. I live to write.
My books are full of my knowledge and imagination. I give it full vent.
Woody Guthrie is one of my heroes. Not just because of the brilliant legacy of songs that he left us – which are devastatingly brilliant and unique. He invented the topical song story – protest song and social commentary. I love him for it. But I admire him as much for his stance.
Woody stood for something and never held back. He said what he believed. He lived the way he spoke.
Woody believed in equality. He lived with the poor and blacks and fought for justice, civil rights and equal pay. He stood on the picket lines and was defiant in the face of threat and violence. He took the blows.
He was a communist who believed that trade unions were the means for working people to gain a fair wage from selfish, exploitative bosses.
He painted ‘This Machine Kills Fascists’ on his guitar. He believed education and reason would win over fascist views. He thought that violence creates more violence. You oppose fundamentalist ideology with reason and intelligence.
Fascism and fundamentalism by the likes of ISIS and creationists was bound to thaw in the heat of intellectual examination.
He was a great man
Billy Bragg was asked by the Guthrie Estate to take some of Woody’s lyrics and put them to music. The result was brilliance.
Billy is another of my heroes. He is ideologically sound, a brilliant songwriter, performer and warm individual. He cares.
I chose ‘Way over Yonder in the Minor Key’ because I liked the story and the picture it creates. Being an ugly kid yet full of gusto I could relate to the lyric. I had my tanglewood days too.
This song resounds with me.
Thanks Woody and Billy. Genius!

Billy Bragg/Woody Guthrie – Way Over Yonder In The Minor Key

I lived in a place called Okfuskee
And I had a little girl in a holler tree
I said, little girl, it’s plain to see
Ain’t nobody that can sing like me
Ain’t nobody that can sing like me

She said it’s hard for me to see
How one little boy got so ugly
Yes my little girly that might be
But there ain’t nobody that can sing like me
Ain’t nobody that can sing like me

[Chorus]
Way over yonder in the minor key
Way over yonder in the minor key
There ain’t nobody that can sing like me

We walked down by the Buckeye Creek
To see the frog eat the goggle-eye bee
To hear the west wind whistle to the east
There ain’t nobody that can sing like me
Ain’t nobody that can sing like me

Oh my little girly will you let me see
Way over yonder where the wind blows free
Nobody can see in our holler tree

And there ain’t nobody that can sing like me
Ain’t nobody that can sing like me

[Chorus]

Her mama cut a switch from a cherry tree
And laid it on the she and me,
It stung lots worse than a hive of bees
But there ain’t nobody that can sing like me
Ain’t nobody that can sing like me

Now I have walked a long long ways
And I still look back to my Tanglewood days
I’ve led lots of girls since then to stray
Saying ain’t nobody that can sing like me
Ain’t nobody that can sing like me

[Chorus]

Ain’t nobody that can sing like me

Democracy – The long and often bloody fight for freedom – The Abolition of Slavery in the United States of America.

Democracy – The long and often bloody fight for freedom – The Abolition of Slavery in the United States of America.

The use of slaves was widespread in America though there were some opposition from certain groups. They were used as domestics, artisans or field workers. These Africans were imported via the Arab slave traders in what had become a lucrative trade.

With the American War of Independence slavery was maintained. The Southern States had the greatest numbers as their agricultural practices of growing tobacco, cotton and rice was very labour intensive.

In 1808 an act came in prohibiting the importation of slaves. The Northern States began abolishing slavery. In 1830 abolitionists such as John Brown favoured armed force to forment riots among black slaves. Baptists and Methodists preached for the abolition of slavery.

It all came to a head in 1860 with the civil war. The Northern States renounced slavery and the Southern States supported it. In 1863 Lincoln’s proclamation of Emancipation promised freedom for slaves. At the end of the war in 1865 the proclamation was enforced throughout America and slaves were freed.

Unfortunately that was not the end of the matter. The aftermath of slavery is still felt today with a legacy of racism that pervades many parts of the States. Up until the civil rights movements of the 1960s blacks in the South were not permitted to vote, were forced to use second rate facilities and institutions and treated as second-class citizens. The White Supremacists of the Klu Klux Klan maintained an apartheid system through force and terror.

In the modern age this racism, which still persists, is intolerable.

The hope that the election of a black president signalled the dawn of a new age is still perhaps premature. There is a way to go.

Freedom is won through the bravery of men like Medgar Evans and Martin Luther King and the determined struggle of those white and black activists and people who stood up to be counted, protested and marched despite the intimidation and threats. Many were killed in that struggle. It still is not complete.

The Establishment

The Establishment

 

The UK is the sixth largest economy in the world. It has a gross income of $3 trillion. Yet millions live in poverty – two million British children live in poverty.

One has to question why.

The reason is quite obvious. This country is run by the wealthy for the wealthy. The Eton and Harrow boys are creaming off the bulk in huge salaries and massive multimillion bonuses. This is exacerbated by their tax avoidance schemes. The capital of the country is being siphoned off-shore.

What is left over is not sufficient to adequately run our public services or give fair pay to millions of families.

The reason for this poverty is massive inequality. We are becoming a country of billionaires and paupers.

The ones guiding this society put profit in front of people and the environment. They are supporting practices that exploit people, use child labour, decimate forests, pollute oceans, cause global warming and keep wages low. They also promote wars. There is money to be made.

The Tory Party was founded in 1834 by businessmen to look after the interests of businessmen. It supports this system of unrestricted capitalism.

Successive governments have not blocked these tax avoidance schemes.

One has to ask why?

There is no need for poverty. Every family in Britain could enjoy a very high standard of life. What prevents this is the unfair system based on greed and selfishness.

Time it changed!!!

The Dilemma for the Labour Party

The Dilemma for the Labour Party

 

The wealthy run the country for the benefit of themselves. They have set up a system whereby they have privilege and their rewards are exorbitant. They enjoy huge salaries and massive bonuses and avoid paying taxes on much of their income.

If the Labour Party produce policies that would begin to address the inequality and upset the establishment applecart, the establishment pulls out all the stops to prevent them.

This is precisely what we have seen with Corbyn. There was a campaign run for years by the media. Constant headlines in the Sun, Daily Mail, Daily Express, Telegraph, Times and others vilifying Corbyn, painting him as a Marxist extremist, an anti-Semitic, a supporter of the IRA, a supporter of Hamas, incompetent and incapable – a man who would bring the country to ruin. He was similarly reported by the TV companies – the BBC showing great bias.

These campaigns are so effective they poison minds and make Labour unelectable.

If elected the establishment use their financial power to undermine and cripple the economy.

This creates a dilemma.

In order to become elected the Labour Party took on Tory policies, a Thatcherite economy that did not threaten the rich establishment, and became New Labour – a watered down Tory party. When in power they did not tax the rich, close the tax loopholes or adequately solve the inequality. The establishment found them tolerable and they did not suffer the media crescendo that afflicted Corbyn.

So – does the Labour Party become watered down Tories in order to get elected?

Or do they stay true to their principles of fairness and counter the media tirade?

Poetry – How can we agree? Democrat/Republican- Tory/Socialist

Poetry – How can we agree? Democrat/Republican- Tory/Socialist

How can we agree?

There are a multitude of things that create divisions, and divisions create distrust and hatred. People become entrenched in the views they adhere to. Yet people are people. On their own they are mainly caring and compassionate, friendly and helpful. It is only when they collect into groups that reinforce those differences that the feelings become magnified, the crowd become rabid and we find we have made enemies out of different perspectives.

Emotions are the fuel that generates the heat. Talk is the only way to cool the flames. Talk is good. Exchange of ideas is good. Listening and understanding is good.

We may not agree but we are human, family, we can understand a different point of view, share our fears and dreams and tolerate the views that are different.

We do not need painful divisions. We need understanding. We need love and dialogue.

We need more poems!

 

How can we agree?

 

How can we possibly agree?

Me with you and you with me?

We live in universes far apart

That shapes our minds

Our thoughts and heart.

Yet reach and talk

Is the only way

To bring universes closer

Every day.

 

We will never agree

You and me

But we can still laugh

And set our minds free.

 

Opher 1.5.2016

Everybody Knows – Leonard Cohen – I wish they did!

Following the election, where the majority voted to keep the poor poor and the rich rich, I was playing this Leonard Cohen song. It seemed to resonate with the stupidity and greed of the times.

The poor stay poor, the rich get rich

Everybody knows that the dice are loaded
Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed
Everybody knows the war is over
Everybody knows the good guys lost

Everybody knows the captain lied.

Everybody talked to their pockets.

“Everybody Knows”
(originally by Leonard Cohen)
(from “Justice League” soundtrack)

Everybody knows that the dice are loaded
Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed
Everybody knows the war is over
Everybody knows the good guys lost
Everybody knows the fight was fixed
The poor stay poor, the rich get rich
That’s how it goes
Everybody knowsEverybody knows that the boat is leaking
Everybody knows that the captain lied
Everybody got this broken feeling
Like their father or their dog just died
Everybody talking to their pockets
Everybody wants a box of chocolates
And a long-stem rose
Everybody knows

Everybody knows that you love me baby
Everybody knows that you really do
Everybody knows that you’ve been faithful
Oh, give or take a night or two
Everybody knows you’ve been discreet
But there were so many people you just had to meet
Without your clothes
Everybody knows

Everybody knows, everybody knows
That’s how it goes
Everybody knows
Everybody knows, everybody knows
That’s how it goes
Everybody knows

And everybody knows that it’s now or never
Everybody knows that it’s me or you
And everybody knows that you live forever
When you’ve done a line or two
Everybody knows the deal is rotten
Old Black Joe’s still picking cotton
For your ribbons and bows
And everybody knows

And everybody knows that the plague is coming
Everybody knows that it’s moving fast
Everybody knows that the naked man and woman
Are just a shining artifact of the past
Everybody knows the scene is dead
But there’s gonna be a meter on your bed
That will disclose
What everybody knows

And everybody knows that you’re in trouble
Everybody knows what you’ve been through
From the bloody cross on top of Calvary
To the beach of Malibu
Everybody knows it’s coming apart
Take one last look at this sacred heart
Before it blows
Everybody knows

The main trouble is that not everybody knows. The ones being shafted still vote for the ones doing the shafting.