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Scarecrow. John Mellencamp, Timothy McVeigh and The American Song.

It would seem generally, that while plenty of people listen, no one hears a damn thing. And even if they heard what was being said they would ignore it because it spoke to the truth and consequences of the evil they had wrought or the evil they intended.

We are speaking here of the reactionary corporatists neo-fascist assault against the middle class – an assault led previously by the Reaganites and then ironically by liberals.

Temporarily defeated in the popular culture in the period from roughly ’68 until 1980 (see Hunter S. Thompson: they stepped out of power only briefly during the empty vessel of the Carter administration. That brief moment, when the president spoke openly about the emotional cost of America, the price paid and the devastation inherent in the ruthless pursuit of money and the corollary of status, the right waited for its time and, waiting to be reborn, slouched back to the edge of power, then let loose a blitzkrieg.

As noted elsewhere Scarecrow marked Mellencamp’s arrival as a mature and serious artist approaching Springsteen in depth if not in a sustained body of work. Jack and Diane gave the hint but Scarecrow delivered the promise.

Unremarked though, so far as The Ink is aware, are discussions linking Scarecrow to Timothy McVeigh and the catastrophe of Oklahoma City and the mass murder at the Murrah Building.

We of course do not mean cause an effect. The causes are various but Scarecrow, both the album as a whole, and the song itself, are, as we see it, an indictment of the people who ultimately bare enough blame for McVeigh that in a just society, one with a legitimate legal system not ruled by justice being based on how much money you have but rather being based on the equal application of the law, Ronald Reagan and the corporate junta that installed and maintained him – the Wall Street terrorists, the corrupt whores of the collaborationist media, and the ginned up jingoistic knuckle-dragging, mouth breathing, unthinking throngs of goons and the terrified who blindly chanted USA! USA! in place of torch-lit ceremonies – would all have been served with the penalties, punishments and retribution they deserve.

But, this is America…or, “aint that America…little pink houses for you and me…”

We arrive at Trump after a long circuitous route that includes stops in the psych ward of The Cold War and Dr.Strangelove paranoia, we arrive at Trump because the paranoid style came over on the Mayflower, and spoke to god and heard god’s answer in the woods and across the prairie, and we arrive at Trump because the urge to surrender freedom runs deep in the atavistic veins of the tribe and we arrive at Trump because the corporatist fascists who put Reagan into power as a figurehead (a job for which he had been auditioning his entire life going back to his days as a radio announcer and as an informant for the F.B.I. – were committed to the destruction of the industrial base of the country. Like decadent Bourbon monarchs, they had learned nothing and forgotten nothing and had been waiting since The New Deal for their moment. They were committed to the destruction of the middle class and the unions. They had help (Billy Joel, Allentown – “…and the union people crawled away…” Springsteen, My Hometown: “…these jobs are going boys, and they a’int coming back…”) but more than that, while the fragmented, pseudo-left had the universities, they had the money, and the levers of power and the spineless liberals who were as committed to avarice as their ideological opposites were not going to stop them.

And they succeeded. They destroyed the country. They gutted it, raped it, and then, when it complained they punched it in the mouth, knocked its teeth down its throat and then…kicked it in the gut for mumbling…

As John Angelos put it during the siege of Baltimore in the aftermath of the execution of Freddie Gray:

“…my greater source of personal concern, outrage and sympathy beyond this particular case is focused neither upon one night’s property damage nor upon the acts, but is focused rather upon the past four-decade period during which an American political elite have shipped middle class and working class jobs away from Baltimore and cities and towns around the U.S. to third-world dictatorships like China and others, plunged tens of millions of good, hard-working Americans into economic devastation, and then followed that action around the nation by diminishing every American’s civil rights protections in order to control an unfairly impoverished population living under an ever-declining standard of living and suffering at the butt end of an ever-more militarized and aggressive surveillance state.”

But before Trump, and in anticipation of his racist, misogynistic, demagogic neo-fascist, half-wit, paranoid, violent, campaign of state sponsored terrorism, his cult of the great redeemer and the great leader who can do no wrong, his cult of the supremacy of the (White) male and his postmodern imitation of Caligula, there was McVeigh…and before McVeigh, amid the burned out husk of the nation’s breadbasket, amid the burned out husks of families that worked the land, and the violent corruption of agri-empires and predatory banks, amid the toxic vapor trail of the Orwellian It’s Morning in America propaganda, the piratical campaign of the Reaganaughts had produced what became the witches brew that made Scarecrow inevitable.




One comment on “Scarecrow. John Mellencamp, Timothy McVeigh and The American Song.

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