Anti-Flag in the New York Times!
Anti-Flag is mentioned in an article that ran in The New York Times
November 26, 2001.
Article headline: “On College Campuses, Students See Military With
New Set of Eyes”.
Excerpt where Anti-Flag is noted: “Mr. Carpe said he used to worship
anti-establishment punk-rock groups like Anti-Flag, ‘but I feel totally
weird listening to that now.’ A fan of Neil Young, Bob Dylan and other
singer-song writer icons of the 60’s, he suddenly finds the lyrics
protest to be off-key.”
After seeing the article we wrote a response and sent it to the New
York Times Editorial Section. Here it is:
To the Editor:
Re: "On College Campuses, Students See Military With New Set of
(November 26, 2001)
We, the members of Anti-Flag, are very disturbed and concerned by
the suggestion that many young people have a new found interest in
the military and that some people such as Mr. Carpe, now find it difficult
to find relevance in the messages of artists such as Bob Dylan, Neil
Young, and Anti-Flag. In this time of great national crisis, the voices
of our culture's activist artists - specifically those who dare to
question the motives and actions of our country's public servants
- are more important than ever!
The events of 9/11 were horrific and deeply affected us, along with
the rest of America, and the world. However, those events do not automatically
erase past injustices or deem every current action taken by our elected
and military officials just. Free speech and dissent are the backbone
of democracy. In modern times, it has been the unofficial role of
the artist to encourage alternative discourse and ideas.
At this time, when the average person's mind is focused on anthrax
and the events of 9/11, activist artists are the voice reminding America
of important issues that existed before 9/11 and that have presented
themselves since. For many years we have been arguing that our government's
involvement and dealings with thugs, warlords, and dictators undermines
our moral responsibility as Leader of the Free World, and threatens
the future security of the United States. For example, the US government
provided Iraq with military components and infrastructure that Saddam
Hussein later used to invade Kuwait. Ronald Reagan once called Osama
Bin Laden a "freedom fighter." The Clinton Administration welcomed
the Taliban to the United States to negotiate the building of an oil
pipeline through Afghanistan. (At that time the U.S. government showed
no concern for human-rights abuses perpetrated against the Afghan
people by the Taliban. Only pressure by American feminists forced
the Clinton Administration to end the negotiations.) Messages from
activist artists that were ignored in the past now seem to tell a
chilling and eerie tale, but even more frightening is the fact that
our government has not learned its lesson. The United States now embraces
the likes of the Northern Alliance, a group of thugs that many human
rights advocates characterize as being no better than the Taliban,
whom George Bush refers to as, the "Evil Ones." These examples are
just a small taste of U.S. foreign policy that activist artists have
questioned in the past.
Current domestic policy issues that may have slipped from the public's
radar but not lawmakers' minds include;
1. Tax cuts and corporate bailouts disguised as economic stimulus
packages that benefit the largest corporations and the wealthiest
2. The Bush administration's energy policy that benefits corporate
interests to the detriment of the environment and consumers.
3. An election process that is disproportionately paid for and thus
influenced by corporate interests.
4. A presidential cabinet drawn from nearly every major industry it
is supposed to regulate.
5. The failure of the United States government to support human rights
above commercial, political, and military interests. These examples
illustrate why Americans need to tune into artists who question not
the quality of their country's character, but instead the policies
of their country's public servants. The suggestion that many young
people have a newfound interest in the military concerns us. We believe
that encouraging young people to see military action as a justified
means of problem solving is an out dated and shortsighted approach
to ending global conflicts. History has shown that military engagement
and build-up does not guarantee peace, nor does it keep us safe from
terrorism. (The US military budget before 9/11 was already more than
300 billion dollars!) The emergence of a "new war" against a "new
enemy" does not negate the lessons of the past, which illustrate that
violence does not end violence. In order to encourage dialogue our
music offers alternatives to militarization. New Ideas: De-militarizing
the world. The U.S. is the world's foremost weapons manufacturer and
exporter, however weapons manufacturing and exporting only serve the
interest of the corporate state, not the American people. Start by
banning U.S. weapons exports. After all, it is logical to assume that
the U.S. will be in less danger from military dictators, and "rogue
states," if we do not furnish them with the weaponry required to harm
us. (The U.S. is responsible for weapons sales to Iraq, Iran, and
Afghanistan, just to name a few.) Second, the United States government
must call for the United Nations to ban all international weapons
sales. This would be an important first step in reaching the ultimate
goal of one-day outlawing all countries from housing a standing army.
(It is reasonable to assume that some form of international humanitarian
and peace keeping force would have to be maintained.) To the less
imaginative this goal may sound preposterous. But we believe the United
States has the resources and the leadership necessary to make such
a dream a reality.
Other alternatives to militarization;
1. Ending foreign policy that props up oppressive anti-democratic
regimes simply because they pander to the interests of U.S. multinational
2. Ending our country's dependency on Middle Eastern oil by creating
policy that focuses on renewable forms of energy.
3. Spending some of the 300 billion plus military budget on humanitarian
aid to send over seas!
The alternatives are countless. The crucial point is that we must
creative and willing to think outside of the box that is traditional
U.S. policy and implementation. As a nation, we may find it helpful
look at the budgets of countries who do not spend hundreds of billions
of dollars annually on their military. What do they spend their tax
monies on? What effect has their national and foreign policy spending
had on their international standing? Are they hated around the world?
If not, there is a good chance we could learn something from them.
In short, we do not think the problem is the message of artists like
Anti-Flag (Bob Dylan and Neil Young); the problem is that not enough
people are listening to what we have to say! Instead, the masses buy
the status-quo line fed to them via "for-profit media" by corrupt
elected officials who wrap themselves in the flag and call us radicals
or traitors any time we question their policies. John Ashcroft remarked
that those who are crying for the protection of civil liberties are
aiding the terrorists. Benjamin Franklin said, "They that can give
essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither
liberty nor safety." Personally, we stand with Ben Franklin on this