If Reason and Compromise Don’t Work, How about Music? Civil War Could Be a Bad Alternative

November 25th, 2012

By Dan Miller

Music and verse have long encouraged churches, nations and others. Perhaps it’s time to try that again.

Yesterday, I posted this piece because it provided a brief respite from the horrors of what now passes for civilization. It includes two YouTube videos of “flash mobs” doing their bit for good and a rendition of “The Impossible Dream.” Descending from my cloud of euphoria, I began to wonder whether music and verse might inspire us to understand what we need to do before it becomes too late.

During the years of Irish Rebellion, songs of revolution inspired many. During the War between the States, songs on both sides did the same. Neither side might have fought as well as they did without them. When I was in college, a history teacher commented that the horse cavalry had provided an element of class to what would otherwise have been dreary battles. Was he right? I think he was, but the horse cavalry has been relegated to purely ceremonial functions, generally involving funerals.  

How about some new songs of rebellion, this time against the ever increasing national debt and distribution of pork and other free stuff, ObamaCare, vote fraud, political correctness and coverups? How about some urging the importance of the rights of States and of their citizens to release themselves from the tyranny of excessive Federal meddling? How about some urging the critical importance of freedom of speech?

tsa_4th amendment

I am not a poet and were I to try to sing anyone foolish enough even to begin to listen would run away, hands over ears.  So, the best I can do is try to provide a few suggestions. Maybe, should there be a demand, poets and musicians will come up with the necessary songs of inspiration.

Music of the Church

The Christian Church has long used music to inspire. Many composers and musicians were long employed for that purpose and some still are.  Would Bach, Beethoven, Brahms and others have produced the beautiful music they did without such support? Remember Handel’s “Messiah?” Beautiful music, and when the “Hallelujah Chorus” is played believers and non-believers alike are inspired to stand.  Few can resist the inspiration of such music.

War would be dreadful and should be avoided at any almost any cost except when that leads ultimately to even more bloody wars or worse. That happened in Europe in the 1930s; World War II, which could with relative ease have been avoided, resulted — against far more powerful enemies than in the mid 1030s.

We have become accustomed to referring to many actions so different from war in the traditional sense that they are nonsensical; we have wars on drugs, wars on AIDS, wars on poverty, wars on obesity and now a (Republican) war on women (according to Democrats). No musical symbolism of actual war accompanies those spurious wars. Perhaps, however, if we are to engage successfully in a “war” on governmental tyranny some of the symbolism of actual war is appropriate.

Music from the War of Northern Aggression War Between the States.

I wrote in The U.S. Constitution and Civil War that the war was fought by the South to preserve the rights of the States and by the North to reunify the nation by force.

According to the National Endowment for the Humanities,

While the Civil War began as a war to restore the Union, not to end slavery, by 1862 President Abraham Lincoln came to believe that he could save the Union only by broadening the goals of the war. The Emancipation Proclamation [of 1863] is generally regarded as marking this sharp change in the goals of Lincoln’s war policy. (Insert added)

I understand that as the history of the war is now generally taught, States’ Rights had nothing to do with it and the elimination of slavery was the sole issue. That was not the case. Did the Union begin to sense only in 1862 that the idea of rooting out slavery in the South had to be claimed as the cause because of the inspiration it could provide? I don’t know. Be that as it may, many in the United States view the war “to preserve slavery” as a horrid disgrace to the South. It was not and was far from that.

That is also coming to be case with the origins of the nation as a whole.

[A]cademia’s systemic hatred for America’s cultural traditions and her Judeo-Christian heritage is reaching a fevered pitch. The volume in the echo chamber created by academia, big government, and the mainstream media grows with each election cycle and each major holiday. As many Americans tend to view these opinions as alien caricatures of values which they hold dear, the kooks on the left become more and more frenzied in their effort to “fundamentally transform” America. Case in point: A recent link on the Drudge Report led to a link about an article by a professor at the University of Texas.

In this piece, the author states:

Thanksgiving is the day when the dominant white culture (and, sadly, most of the rest of the non-white but non-indigenous population) celebrates the beginning of a genocide that was, in fact, blessed by the men we hold up as our heroic founding fathers.

And further writes:

How does a country deal with the fact that some of its most revered historical figures had certain moral values and political views virtually identical to Nazis?

Of course, such shallow analysis and views aren’t all that new. Most of us realize that such views are the offspring of 1960′s radicalism. Many of those radicals now hold positions of power in academia, government and the media and their worldview is dominant – at least within those institutions. But what’s troubling is that this mindset is being foisted upon the minds of America’s youth – at all levels of our educational system and often without the knowledge of parents. For example, it was recently reported that some Texas schools are teaching students that the Boston Tea Party was an “act of terrorism.” (Emphasis in original.)

If the very origins of the United States are increasingly seen as pernicious, perhaps songs of the South might help to put other matters in better perspective as well. The Civil War is an important part of our history and we neither can nor should forget it. Since I view the Civil War as having been fought principally to restore the rights of the States under the Constitution, and consider the rights of the States to be even more insidiously endangered today than even in the 1860s, I have selected only songs of the Confederacy. Some of their symbolism could be useful.

“To Arms in Dixie”

“The Irish Brigade”

“The Battle Cry of Freedom”

“To Arms in Dixie” (another version)

Here are some from the Irish rebellion.

The Irish rebellion was in some ways similar to the American War Between the States. The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem achieved popularity, as did their Irish songs, in the 1960s. The group split up but in 1984 got back together and sang for a few years. Liam Clancy, the last of the Clancy Brothers, died in 2009  and Tommy Makem died in 2007. Their songs have survived and many of their most popular songs relate to the Irish rebellions. Here are a few of my favorites:

“God Bless England”

In some ways, England’s “love” for the ignorant Irish reminds me of the “love” the Federal Government professes for “its people,” for whom it claims to seek only the best in keeping them on the Federal plantation.

“Rising of the Moon”

“Dr. Johnson’s Motor Car”

Here’s one from World War I.

That was a bloody war, with many needless deaths.

“Over There”

Here’s one from World War II.

“Bless Them All”

That was also a needless war that should have been prevented in proactive fashion during the 1930s. It wasn’t, because a “peace at any price” notion commonly prevailed. We now see much the same, not only in the United States but throughout the non-Islamist, “civilized” world. The Middle East today provides striking examples and Israel likely faces a far bloodier and otherwise worse war to come than would have resulted from her continued efforts to root out the aggressive evils of Hamas and its Islamist allies.

We do not desire a bloody war, but neither did most of the people of England in the 1930s. Some of the best and brightest of the young agreed with the now infamous Oxford Resolution of 1933, “That this House will in no circumstances fight for its King and Country.”  In The Gathering Storm, Winston Churchill wrote,

In this dark time the basest sentiments received acceptance or passed unchallenged by the responsible leaders of the political parties. In 1933, the students of the Oxford Union, under the inspiration of a Mr. Joad, passed their ever-shameful resolution, “That this House will in no circumstances fight for its King and Country.” It was easy to laugh off such an episode in England, but in Germany, in Russia, in Italy, in Japan, the idea of a decadent, degenerate Britain took deep root and swayed many calculations. Little did the foolish boys who passed the resolution dream that they were destined quite soon to conquer or fall gloriously in the ensuing war, and prove themselves the finest generation ever bred in Britain. Less excuse can be found for their elders, who had no chance of self-redemption in action.

sowell_greedSome of that rings true today. As freedom wanes, we have become increasingly decadent and far too many have become willingly dependent upon — and beholden to — governments for the necessities and non-necessities they provide. As the “free stuff” continues to flow unabated, many recipients (along with those who enable them) evidently see less need for the freedoms which permit the exercise of personal responsibility and even a modicum of self reliance. Since they don’t value those freedoms why should anyone else — taxed to provide them the “free stuff” they crave — cherish those freedoms? Obviously they must just be selfish jerks who hate the less fortunate who had nothing to do with causing their own misfortunes because “somebody else” did that.

Governmental ability to continue to maintain them in the style to which they have become accustomed is finite and a time will eventually come when it is no longer possible unless they are weaned off the governmental teat. What will happen when the ObamaPhones break and are not replaced, when patients who would otherwise have been treated do not receive the benefits they were promised under ObamaCare and when Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards and food stamps are drastically curtailed because there is no more ObamaMoney to provide them? Will the previously content recipients riot or worse? Can we avoid becoming another Greece? The old Grecian Formula Sixteen slogan, “a little dab will do ya,” hasn’t applied thus far and instead of a “little dab” it has been seen as shovel ready to be heaped on with abandon.

We should use the means necessary to restore and preserve freedom and also the spirit of freedom in the United States; without that spirit, freedom will die. Music lifts and enables our spirits and can also help to “make the medicine go down in a most delightful way.” We should at least try. It should be fun and might even do some good.

(This article was also posted at Dan Miller’s Blog.)


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6 Responses to “If Reason and Compromise Don’t Work, How about Music? Civil War Could Be a Bad Alternative”



  1. Tom Carter |

    There’s a fact of human nature regarding winners and losers — winners are heroes, and losers are goats. It doesn’t matter how successful a loser had to be to get into the contest. Romney prevailed in a long, bruising primary in order to run against Obama, and in the popular vote he came within a few percentage points of winning. If Romney had won, Republicans and most conservatives would have been exultant. Instead, they’re throwing around recriminations and mulling extreme changes in their party.

    There’s even talk of secession and civil war, a horror we went through once before at the cost of about 750,000 soldiers on both sides — about 10 percent of Northern males and about 30 percent of Southern white males. That toll doesn’t include the wounded, civilian deaths and suffering, and huge damage to the national economy. Put another way, we lost more Americans fighting each other than were lost in total in all other wars we have fought.

    There won’t be another civil war. There may be little bunches of wild-eyed right-wing extremists holed up in their compounds here and there advocating that kind of nonsense, but any overt action they take will be swatted away by law enforcement, as it should be.

    In Texas, there’s talk of both secession and division into five states, but nothing can come of either idea. The secession concept, which may have been envisioned (but not explicitly stated) when the Constitution was created, was definitively dealt with by the Civil War. Divisionism, which some yahoos in Texas think is a prerogative of the state, also can’t happen without the consent of Congress under Article IV Section 3 of the Constitution, which was made clear in the congressional statehood resolution. In other words, ain’t gonna happen.

    I have the greatest respect for the soldiers who fought on both sides in the Civil War. Their heroism, devotion to duty, and perseverance under horrible conditions went far beyond reasonable expectations. They didn’t cause the war, of course; as usual, old men made the decisions and then sent out their young to suffer and die.

    It would have been nice to see “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” among the songs in this post.


  2. Dan Miller |

    Tom,

    I agree that another Civil War would be a very bad idea, particularly if it can be avoided, and offered a few suggestions to that end.

    As to the songs of the Civil War, I stated why I had included only those from the South:

    Since I view the Civil War as having been fought principally to restore the rights of the States under the Constitution, and consider the rights of the States to be even more insidiously endangered today than even in the 1860s, I have selected only songs of the Confederacy. Some of their symbolism could be useful.

    If you go to the link, you should see what I mean by “insidiously endangered” — even by legislation of which Colonel West had spoken favorably.


  3. Tom Carter |

    Dan, you say “if it can be avoided.” That implies a presumption that something so bizarre is even possible and is being considered as an option by serious people. I don’t buy that even for a moment.

    I don’t agree that the Civil War was fought “principally to restore the rights of the States under the Constitution.” The states in rebellion may have believed that, although it’s hard to find a basis for it in the Constitution. The Civil War was fought because President Lincoln was determined to save the Union, and, to a lesser and later degree, to abolish slavery. Had the federal government declined to oppose the states in rebellion, there would have been no war.

    I don’t understand the doom and gloom that has descended upon some Republicans and conservatives. So they lost an election — they should pull up their jock straps, get their stuff in order, and try harder to win in the future.

    Barack Obama and the Democrats aren’t trying to destroy the country, and they couldn’t even if they wanted to. The country is bigger and stronger than one bunch of politicians, and it will survive this particular bunch.


  4. Dan Miller |

    Tom,

    Dan, you say “if it can be avoided.” That implies a presumption that something so bizarre is even possible and is being considered as an option by serious people. I don’t buy that even for a moment.

    Please read the last three paragraphs in the article again. I do not think that the “givers” will begin a war, but am concerned that, when it becomes impossible to continue to provide the free stuff they crave, the “takers” may well engage in violent, well orchestrated and widespread “protests” of long duration. How about stores being robbed by large “flash mobs” deprived of the free stuff to which they have become accustomed? Will the “givers” respond as their interests dictate? I don’t know and hope not to find out. Perhaps of tangential relevance at most, Time Magazine has nominated Sandra Fluke as its person of the year.

    As to why the Civil War was fought, we will not agree and there is no reason for me to argue the point here. I tried to make the case here. For such interest as it may hold, that article is by far the most viewed on my website, with 10,840 views this year and with 3,771 so far this month. That suggests a bit of interest in the subject. The lead sentence in the article is, “Emasculating the Constitution is [a] bad way to preserve the nation.”

    You say,

    I don’t understand the doom and gloom that has descended upon some Republicans and conservatives. So they lost an election — they should pull up their jock straps, get their stuff in order, and try harder to win in the future.

    Elections are won and lost and the Earth continues to spin about its axis. However, my concern is that with the “greater flexibility” President Obama stated (apparently thinking that microphone had been turned off) he would have after winning the election, he is not just any election “winner.” Supported by what I consider the far left, he can be dangerous. Unless (and perhaps even if) all legal means are used to curtail his “greater flexibility,” we will have more executive orders of at best dubious constitutionality, support for our foreign enemies (e.g., Islamists rather than our friends), and as much “free stuff” as he can arrange, lawfully or unlawfully, with which to buy more supporters. Do you think that will work out well — for the United States as a free and democratic nation? Or as a democratic nation with free stuff for all willing to give their votes in exchange?

    You also say,

    Barack Obama and the Democrats aren’t trying to destroy the country, and they couldn’t even if they wanted to. The country is bigger and stronger than one bunch of politicians, and it will survive this particular bunch.

    I hope you are right. Still, it is necessary to be increasingly alert. You of course remember, and know far more than I do about, Fulda Gap. Perhaps had we not been vigilant and had simply hoped that the people controlling the other side were good, peace loving people just like us, East German and Soviet troops would not have gone through. We will never know because we did not trust them, were watchful, were prepared and they did not.


  5. Dan Miller |

    Here’s a bit more about Sandra Fluke, mentioned in my earlier comment and perhaps to become the face of the Democrat Party.


  6. Dan Miller |

    Here’s an interesting article on group think.


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