Friday, October 10, 2008

Fite Dem Back

I've been listening to a lot of Linton Kwesi Johnson lately. For those of you who don't know him, LKJ was a British dub poet of West Indian origin, who recorded several amazing and incendiary reggae albums in the late 70s and early 80s. LKJ is, sadly, the perfect soundtrack to the current political and economic circumstances.

LKJ was at the height of his powers as a poet during a time of tremendous racial strife in England, with the anti-immigrant National Front on the rise, and frequent acts of violence perpetrated against blacks and Pakistanis by dead-enders and skinheads, and more subtle institutional racism perpetrated by the police, through the infamous "sus" laws. LKJ took on the racism of British culture with calm fury that still resonates as clear as a bell today.

Earlier this year, with the war still raging and the Democratic primaries in full swing, I was attracted to the dark, apocalyptic tones of "Time Come," with its rock-steady beats and lyrics of dire warning. Later, over the summer, I spent more time listening to his incredible "Independant Intavenshan" with its passionate call for personal political action, against a backdrop of jaunty horns.

But in the last couple of weeks, as the Republican demagogues have unleashed the race-baiting, xenophobic anger of the extreme right (and particularly the "Christian" conservative base), the song I keep gravitating to is LKJ's "Fite Dem Back." To wit:
Fascists on the attack!
No botha worry 'bout dat
Fascists on the attack!
We will fite dem back
Fascists on the attack!
We will countah-attack
Fascists on the attack!
When we drive dem back
We gonna smash they brains in
'Cause they ain't got nothin in 'em
This election gives us a clear chance to repudiate the toxic brew of hate and ignorance that passes for populism on the extreme right, and perhaps to end the unholy influence of evangelical christianity over the Republican party.

In times like these, when fascist cops can get on stage and spew thinly-veiled race hatred with impunity, we have a moral duty as Americans to fite dem back. To smash them. To demoralize them and end their power as a movement.

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