Thinking as a Hobby

Get Email Updates
Email Me

Admin Password

Remember Me

3477711 Curiosities served
Share on Facebook

Tone Deaf to Irony
Previous Entry :: Next Entry

Read/Post Comments (12)

From John Kerry's speech, a reminder of his campaign slogan:

Langston Hughes was a poet, a black man, and a poor man. And he wrote in the 1930s powerful words that apply to all of us today. He said, Let America be America again; let it be the dream that it used to be for those whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain, for those whose hand at the foundry--something Pittsburgh knows about--for those whose plow in the rain must bring back our mighty dream again.

Um, no. That's not what Hughes was saying. He was, as Timothy Noah points out, being ironic. Here's the original poem in its entirety:

Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed--
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There's never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this "homeland of the free.")

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery's scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek--
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

As Noah points out, those asides are the most important part of the poem. The italicized portions are the voice of the marginalized, enslaved, and oppressed, mocking the earnestness of the preceding sections.

Hughes was pointing out, not that America was once great and that we should return to those times...but that the America in the past had never really lived up to its promise of equality and human rights.

It's obvious that either Kerry and his campaign managers haven't read the entire poem, or have and are too dense to get it.

Either way it's a stupid slogan. It's inherently appealing to the "good old days", trying to convince people that Kerry will be another Clinton. Instead, how about a little forward-thinking? How about looking to the future, instead of trying to ride the coattails of the President from the previous decade?

Read/Post Comments (12)

Previous Entry :: Next Entry

Back to Top

Powered by JournalScape © 2001-2010 All rights reserved.
All content rights reserved by the author.