by Monica Showalter
What to make of Facebook shutting down a mere song protesting the Afghanistan war?
Facebook has shut down advertising for a new song by John Ondrasik, called "Got Blood on My Hands," about Joe Biden's disastrous pullout from Afghanistan. They did it on the typical spurious grounds of "violation of terms of service." The song denounces Biden's abandonment of thousands of Americans and allies behind enemy lines, the needless deaths of thirteen service members, all the best of the best, and names names of the culprits in the fiasco.
Boy, is this a cold, angry song. And a very good one. Listen:
According to the Washington Free Beacon:
Facebook blocked an ad that promoted a song critical of President Joe Biden's botched Afghanistan withdrawal, raising questions about how it applies its advertising rules.
The social media giant twice prohibited Five For Fighting's John Ondrasik from purchasing an ad to promote his new single "Blood On My Hands." Facebook claimed the song, which slams the Biden administration for abandoning hundreds of Americans and thousands of Afghan allies, "violated their policy on either politics or social issues." The song singles out Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley.
Facebook's advertising policies state that "Ads must not contain content that exploits crises or controversial political or social issues for commercial purposes." But the company frequently allows political ads on its platform. A cursory review shows Facebook hosted multiple ads from Black Lives Matter and leftist organization Demand Justice promoting abortion and calling for checks on police. A Wall Street Journal report found that Facebook maintains a list of almost six million public figures who are exempted from content moderation regulations.
Facebook just being Facebook, right? Social media, after all, have banned the president of the United States. We know they've done far worse.
But the banning of a mere song they don't like is pretty creepy stuff. After all, it's a mere song. Flip the channel if you don't like it, right? Not these guys. For many reasons, it's more significant than it looks.
The compressed, understated emotion, combined with bitter, acid words and minor profanity, packs a punch, for starters. It's a good song, and that seems to be important. Ondrasik's song, bitterly protesting Joe Biden's dishonorable, disastrous Afghanistan pullout and the needless deaths of thirteen service members, is one in a classic genre of protest songs, comparable to those that marked the Vietnam War era and the dawn of the Civil Rights era. Rolling Stone has a good list of such protest songs, with listenable videos, as does the Discogs blog.
"Ohio," by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, about the killing of Kent
State student protesters by National Guardsmen. Think "Blowin' in the
Wind," by Bob Dylan, coolly denouncing the Vietnam War. Think "For What
It's Worth," by Buffalo Springfield, originally an anti-curfew song,
which also became an anti–Vietnam War anthem. Think "Eve of Destruction,"
by Barry McGuire, about the Cuban Missile Crisis, which also became an
anti–Vietnam War song. Think "Fortunate Son," by Creedence Clearwater
Revival, on the elites' draft deferments and the working class sent to
On the Civil Rights front, which is also important (more about this later), think "Strange Fruit," by Billie Holiday, a coolly bitter song about lynching that was actually censored by corporate interests in 1939, but also was viewed as the launching song of the Civil Rights era of the 1950s and 1960s.
All good songs, and memorable. You remember good songs in a way you cannot always remember masses of crowds protesting with signs.
It's also impossible to listen to protest songs or feel them resonate without feeling the cultural context of everything else going on:
In each case, a corrupt, rotten establishment, set in its ways, comfortable in its power, was protested by angry youths and many beyond youth, in such songs, triggering a broader countercultural movement.
"Don't trust anyone over thirty." "Reject the propaganda you learn in school." "Don't trust the government." "Never talk to the FBI." Add to this the "Free Speech Movement" of U.C. Berkeley protesters such as Bettina Aptheker and Mario Savio in the early 1960s, which rapidly became the "Filthy Speech Movement," and the panorama comes back.
Those people at the time were largely leftists, of course, protesting Democrat policies and practices that got us mired into the Vietnam War and the Jim Crow regimen. (The Civil Rights era was actually led by Republicans.) The filthy-speechers were largely Marxists, and some were literally communists, such as Aptheker, daugher of Communist Party USA éminence grise Herbert Aptheker. But as Eric Hoffer has noted, in the matter of mass movements (see The True Believer, published in 1951) it doesn't matter — deadly nightshades and tomatoes are in the same plant family, but one is poisonous, and one is not, he explained. It's the same with mass and cultural movements. And every last one of them has memorable songs.
Now there's a hell of a counterculture building in the era of doddering Joe Biden, a senile fool whose ideas are all old and failed and driving the U.S. to ruin, propelling a reaction from the young, often led by the right, but not exclusively so.
Think "F--- Joe Biden!" being chanted by college kids at stadium games. Think vaxx and lockdown skepticism, with Democrats' worst nightmare now forming — Black Lives Matter protesters uniting with MAGA-supporters to protest vaccine mandates. It's happening. Afghanistan is the crowning glory of this rotted, lifeless but mailed-fist establishment, which listens to no one. The result is a protest song, along with an amazingly crazed reaction to ban it from the corrupt and powerful establishment.
There are startling parallels to this leftist urge to ban, of all things, songs, and we have seen it in other parts of the world — recall that Putin banned "Pussy Riot," whose "music" was execrable and who specialized in interrupting worshipers at mass in Russia, a sure-to-be loathed practice anywhere it's tried. Bad music and disgusting tactics ensured that their movement never took off and now they remain a distant memory.
cultural movement led by a song, though, does have legs and is
comparable — in Cuba. Ondrasik's song runs roughly parallel to this contemporary song,
"Patria y Vida," released in Cuba by Cuban and Miami Cuban musicians,
which unleashed Cuba's ongoing popular revolt in the streets:
The ruling Castroite oligarchy shut that song down, beat and jailed anyone listening to it, and it only got more popular. You can go on Amazon.com or Etsy or other places and buy t-shirts and stickers with that song's name. The song itself, with its reggaeton rhythms, is beautiful, a great song to listen to, yet, fascinatingly, it uses gangsta rap–like appropriations by the black singers in the video, underlining to the Castroites that they are challenging them as a lily-white Castroite elite, and not surprisingly, the elites are reacting badly. Unlike Pussy Riot's screechings, this song is clearly viewed as threat to the far-left Castroite establishment just as Ondrasik's "Got Blood On My Hands" is viewed as a threat by the lords of Facebook, who have close ties to the ruling Democrats and have been known to take orders from them.
They've gotten away with it, and the Ondrasik song, like the Cuban one, is going to get more popular. Look to songs like this to proliferate in the soggy, stagnant, long, long Biden three years to come ahead of us, led by a senile dotard with no hopes for improvement.
Ondrasik's song is a classic countercultural protest song against that, kicking off a broader movement, punctuated by leftist censorship (unlike in the 1960s, when there was remarkably little), which can only mean that the establishment is threatened. Look for more songs, videos, movies, guerrilla art, and graffiti to accompany them, plus new kinds of protest not seen in the past. It's coming.
Image: Screen shot from John Ondrasik video via shareable YouTube.