Friday, February 25, 2011

The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies (Friday's Sunday's Poem/Hot Actress )

Let America Be America Again
by Langston Hughes

Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed--
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There's never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this "homeland of the free.")

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery's scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek--
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one's own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean--
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today--O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I'm the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That's made America the land it has become.
O, I'm the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home--
For I'm the one who left dark Ireland's shore,
And Poland's plain, and England's grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa's strand I came
To build a "homeland of the free."

The free?

Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we've dreamed
And all the songs we've sung
And all the hopes we've held
And all the flags we've hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay--
Except the dream that's almost dead today.

O, let America be America again--
The land that never has been yet--
And yet must be--the land where every man is free.
The land that's mine--the poor man's, Indian's, Negro's, ME--
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose--
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people's lives,
We must take back our land again,

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath--
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain--
All, all the stretch of these great green states--
And make America again!


About the poem: While Wisconsin's Governor Patsy continues to sell Wisconsin to the Koch Brothers and the other top bidders who won his soul in the last year's auction, I thought it appropriate to remind people that America isn't supposed to be about crushing people; it's supposed to be about helping people achieve dreams and equality and freedom. For over two hundred years, America has largely been about the struggle of the poor and up-and-coming to break free some rights from the upper classes. What's changed is that the poor and up-and-coming used to band together to fight for freedom, and the upper classes originally wanted them to have those things, too, so wealthy men like Washington would band with the poor to throw off royalty.

Eventually, the rich realized that they could divide and conquer, pitting middle class government workers against middle class private sector workers (among others) for their own benefit, which is why we're all watching unions protest at the Capitol while Governor Patsy takes calls from billionaires waiting to buy up power plants at low prices -- and Governor Patsy plans to cut school funding and Badgercare funding.

America's not going to be America until people stop turning against each other, and start realizing that we are the richest country in the world, and that if everyone paid a fair share of money in taxes -- which means the rich must pay higher percentages than the poor -- we'd have more than enough money to go around.

About the hot actress: Sweetie the other day watched an episode of Sex and the City three times -- making Mr Bunches watch it with her, in what can only be her effort to sink to my level of parenting.

That episode contains this scene, which Sweetie thinks is second only to Miss March as the funniest in history:

1 comment:

Rogue Mutt said...

Yeah we've really lost all that optimism and hope from after World War II. Ever since the 70s it's been about getting what you want and screw anyone who gets in the way. Sadly that's infected our politics as well.