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Anti-Flag in the New York Times!

Anti-Flag is mentioned in an article that ran in The New York Times on
November 26, 2001.
Article headline: “On College Campuses, Students See Military With New Set of Eyes”.
Excerpt where Anti-Flag is noted: “Mr. Carpe said he used to worship
anti-establishment punk-rock groups like Anti-Flag, ‘but I feel totally
weird listening to that now.’ A fan of Neil Young, Bob Dylan and other
singer-song writer icons of the 60’s, he suddenly finds the lyrics of
protest to be off-key.”

After seeing the article we wrote a response and sent it to the New
York Times Editorial Section. Here it is:

To the Editor:
Re: "On College Campuses, Students See Military With New Set of Eyes"
(November 26, 2001)
We, the members of Anti-Flag, are very disturbed and concerned by the suggestion that many young people have a new found interest in the military and that some people such as Mr. Carpe, now find it difficult to find relevance in the messages of artists such as Bob Dylan, Neil Young, and Anti-Flag. In this time of great national crisis, the voices of our culture's activist artists - specifically those who dare to question the motives and actions of our country's public servants - are more important than ever!

The events of 9/11 were horrific and deeply affected us, along with the rest of America, and the world. However, those events do not automatically erase past injustices or deem every current action taken by our elected and military officials just. Free speech and dissent are the backbone of democracy. In modern times, it has been the unofficial role of the artist to encourage alternative discourse and ideas.

At this time, when the average person's mind is focused on anthrax and the events of 9/11, activist artists are the voice reminding America of important issues that existed before 9/11 and that have presented themselves since. For many years we have been arguing that our government's involvement and dealings with thugs, warlords, and dictators undermines our moral responsibility as Leader of the Free World, and threatens the future security of the United States. For example, the US government provided Iraq with military components and infrastructure that Saddam Hussein later used to invade Kuwait. Ronald Reagan once called Osama Bin Laden a "freedom fighter." The Clinton Administration welcomed the Taliban to the United States to negotiate the building of an oil pipeline through Afghanistan. (At that time the U.S. government showed no concern for human-rights abuses perpetrated against the Afghan people by the Taliban. Only pressure by American feminists forced the Clinton Administration to end the negotiations.) Messages from activist artists that were ignored in the past now seem to tell a chilling and eerie tale, but even more frightening is the fact that our government has not learned its lesson. The United States now embraces the likes of the Northern Alliance, a group of thugs that many human rights advocates characterize as being no better than the Taliban, whom George Bush refers to as, the "Evil Ones." These examples are just a small taste of U.S. foreign policy that activist artists have questioned in the past.

Current domestic policy issues that may have slipped from the public's radar but not lawmakers' minds include;

1. Tax cuts and corporate bailouts disguised as economic stimulus packages that benefit the largest corporations and the wealthiest Americans disproportionately.

2. The Bush administration's energy policy that benefits corporate interests to the detriment of the environment and consumers.

3. An election process that is disproportionately paid for and thus influenced by corporate interests.

4. A presidential cabinet drawn from nearly every major industry it is supposed to regulate.

5. The failure of the United States government to support human rights above commercial, political, and military interests. These examples illustrate why Americans need to tune into artists who question not the quality of their country's character, but instead the policies of their country's public servants. The suggestion that many young people have a newfound interest in the military concerns us. We believe that encouraging young people to see military action as a justified means of problem solving is an out dated and shortsighted approach to ending global conflicts. History has shown that military engagement and build-up does not guarantee peace, nor does it keep us safe from terrorism. (The US military budget before 9/11 was already more than 300 billion dollars!) The emergence of a "new war" against a "new enemy" does not negate the lessons of the past, which illustrate that violence does not end violence. In order to encourage dialogue our music offers alternatives to militarization. New Ideas: De-militarizing the world. The U.S. is the world's foremost weapons manufacturer and exporter, however weapons manufacturing and exporting only serve the interest of the corporate state, not the American people. Start by banning U.S. weapons exports. After all, it is logical to assume that the U.S. will be in less danger from military dictators, and "rogue states," if we do not furnish them with the weaponry required to harm us. (The U.S. is responsible for weapons sales to Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan, just to name a few.) Second, the United States government must call for the United Nations to ban all international weapons sales. This would be an important first step in reaching the ultimate goal of one-day outlawing all countries from housing a standing army. (It is reasonable to assume that some form of international humanitarian and peace keeping force would have to be maintained.) To the less imaginative this goal may sound preposterous. But we believe the United States has the resources and the leadership necessary to make such a dream a reality.

Other alternatives to militarization;

1. Ending foreign policy that props up oppressive anti-democratic
regimes simply because they pander to the interests of U.S. multinational corporations.

2. Ending our country's dependency on Middle Eastern oil by creating policy that focuses on renewable forms of energy.

3. Spending some of the 300 billion plus military budget on humanitarian aid to send over seas!

The alternatives are countless. The crucial point is that we must be
creative and willing to think outside of the box that is traditional
U.S. policy and implementation. As a nation, we may find it helpful to
look at the budgets of countries who do not spend hundreds of billions
of dollars annually on their military. What do they spend their tax
monies on? What effect has their national and foreign policy spending
had on their international standing? Are they hated around the world?
If not, there is a good chance we could learn something from them.

In short, we do not think the problem is the message of artists like
Anti-Flag (Bob Dylan and Neil Young); the problem is that not enough
people are listening to what we have to say! Instead, the masses buy
the status-quo line fed to them via "for-profit media" by corrupt
elected officials who wrap themselves in the flag and call us radicals
or traitors any time we question their policies. John Ashcroft remarked
that those who are crying for the protection of civil liberties are
aiding the terrorists. Benjamin Franklin said, "They that can give up
essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither
liberty nor safety." Personally, we stand with Ben Franklin on this one.