Matt Towery

We've already heard or read nearly everything that can be said or written about the shooting tragedy in Tucson, Ariz. this past week -- and about the left-of-center's effort to politicize it.

Let's turn history around on the more liberal side of the media and government. Let's cite another example of a well-known "liberal" -- as self-defined by his song lyrics, among other things -- who himself might have heightened political or social tensions in his day by means of his "rhetoric." I'm talking about the late rock star, the Beatles' John Lennon.

Growing up in the '60s and '70s, I was a huge Beatles and Lennon fan, as were most kids. As the Vietnam War seemed to drag on endlessly, teens my age couldn't understand its purpose. It became "cool" to oppose the war.

And then there was John Lennon. My Beatles hero was still one, despite the fact that even at such a young age I could not understand what he saw in Yoko Ono, particularly when she painfully yelped and screeched on some of his later albums. But admittedly, even as I grew older, I was confused about the rhetoric coming from his songs and interviews with the press when it came to our government and the war.

Before some left-of-center "intellectual" jumps in and says "he was advocating peace, so how could even an adolescent not have understood that," they should take careful time to review some of Lennon's statements and comments in the late '60s and early '70s as they related to the war in Vietnam.

Lennon was enjoying, as a nonresident visiting on a visa, the same freedom of speech guaranteed to citizens of the United States. In the late '60s, mostly college students were staging public protests -- some peaceful and some not so much. In the spring of 1970, some students protesting at Kent State University in Ohio became aggressive, as passionate young people are susceptible of doing sometimes. That's when some National Guardsmen -- also young, but armed, too -- confronted the most threatening of the Kent students. Soon, four students lay dead.

During the same era, Lennon and Ono released a record album that included a song, "Give Peace a Chance." It became the unofficial anthem for antiwar protesters around the world. And why not? The song expressed nothing but peaceful intentions, right?

But not all Lennon's songs did. Many people during those years also heard him seem to urge unrest in a song called "Revolution."

A paranoid Richard Nixon presidential administration certainly viewed the various comments made by Lennon during those volatile years as potentially threatening to the public, the peace and -- most importantly, at least to them -- Nixon's re-election.


Matt Towery

Matt Towery is a former National Republican legislator of the year and author of Powerchicks: How Women Will Dominate America.
 
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