Thursday, December 17, 2015

2015 in 10 songs

The year's not quite over yet, but I think we all get the idea.  Here is my musical review of 2015.  My occupation is a bardic one -- reporting the news in song.  So what follows are my own songs, as it were -- political commentary that rhymes.

1.  Islamic terrorism dominated the headlines around the world only seven days into 2015 with the Charlie Hebdo massacre.  Followed later in the year by a much bigger evening of terrorist attacks in Paris, as well as large-scale mass killings of a similar nature in Turkey, California and a hell of a lot of other places.



2.  Police violence against lots of people, especially young black men and boys, continued around the US unabated.  As well as in some more surprising locations, like Rotterdam.  The movement against the violent institutional racism of police departments and many governmental structures in general also continued.



3.  Islamaphobic violence is a fact of life for Muslims living in often hostile environments in Europe, North America and elsewhere in the world.  A terrible chapter in this ugly story was written early in the year, when three Muslim students were killed by an angry, bigoted man in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.



4.  The Confederate flag was widely debated among the pundits and on the streets in 2015 following the massacre of nine African-American men and women during a church service in Charleston, South Carolina.  Many flags were taken down, and many more black churches have been burned.  There was also more debate on the subject of gun control, with no changes for the better made til now.



5.  The presidential race that dominates the US media literally half of the time, continues to dominate the media.  For those of you who aren't from the belly of the beast, we here in the United States who dare to pay attention to the corporate and "public" media only get a break from this circus for two years following each presidential election, and they happen every four years.  You can do the math.  This year, Donald Trump is the chief pot-stirrer.



6.  Millions of refugees have been streaming across borders in 2015, more than ever before altogether.  Around a million of them are thought to have made it to Europe.  Many, many thousands have died trying to cross borders, who now lie on the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea or in some mass grave in Mexico.  It's a good time to recall moments in history when things were different.  In 1492, when the king of Spain gave the Jews three months to leave or be killed, the Ottoman Sultan not only offered asylum to Spain's 800,000 Jews -- he sent the Ottoman fleet to Spain to rescue them.



7.  Xenophobic politicians around the world have responded to the refugee crisis by being xenophobic politicians (see #5).  One of the popular forms of this xenophobia has been to accidentally keep quoting Adolf Hitler and his supporters in the British and American media, among others, circa 1939.  Just change words like "Jew" and "communist" to "Muslim" and "terrorist."  Try it.  It's very chilling.



8.  Marijuana was legalized in my home state of Oregon, and continues to be legal in Washington, the state just to the north, and Colorado and elsewhere.  It's good news for referendums, which are occasionally able to circumnavigate the other, less democratic structures of democracy, such as the mainly corporate-sponsored and corporate-controlled phenomena that are the state and federal electoral processes.  And municipal most of the time, for that matter.



9.  Joe Hill was in the news more often than in a long time, with 2015 being the 100th anniversary year of his execution by firing squad.  In random bits of North America, Europe and elsewhere, Joe Hill was remembered by many, often in musical forms.  (Singing with Joan Baez and Tom Morello was a highlight for me.)



10.  2015 was the hottest year ever, and given the utter, dismal failure of the world's "leaders" to solve the problem of climate change, with one farcical conference after another, most recently in Paris, we can be sure there will be many, hotter years ahead.