He didn't have to do it. That's one
reason he's still admired
The FBI campaign against John Lennon shows how far the state can go to deal
with stars who refuse to toe the line
Tuesday December 19, 2006
Article from The Guardian
When the Dixie Chicks told an audience in London in 2003 that "We're ashamed
the president of the United States is from Texas", they set off a political
storm in the US that echoed the treatment meted out to John Lennon 30 years
earlier. They were talking about the Iraq war, while Lennon had been campaigning
against the Vietnam war.
The Dixie Chicks got in trouble with rightwing talk radio. Boycotts followed,
and lead singer Natalie Maines ended up publicly apologising to President Bush.
What happened to Lennon was of course worse. The turning point for the
Beatles came with their 1966 US tour, when they first publicly criticised the
war in Vietnam. As the decade wore on, Lennon was the target of increasingly
aggressive media ridicule, especially when he began experimenting with new forms
of political protest - such as declaring his honeymoon with Yoko Ono a "bed-in
In the next couple of years, establishment hostility turned nastier on both
sides of the Atlantic, as the former Beatle embraced more serious radicalism,
making common cause with Tariq Ali (then editor of the Marxist Red Mole). In
1971, Lennon joined a march in London against internment without trial in
Northern Ireland and helped fund the republican cause. By the time he left for
New York that autumn, the knives were out.
In the late 60s, Lennon had been busted for cannabis possession. He claimed
it had been planted by the police, but pleaded guilty to a misdemeanour charge.
Within months of his joining the US anti-war movement and publicly attacking
President Nixon, the US administration responded with deportation proceedings.
Nixon claimed that Lennon had been ineligible for admission to the US because of
the cannabis conviction in London, but everybody understood the deportation
order was an attempt to silence him as a critic of the Vietnam war and the
Lennon's case illuminates the price pop stars and other celebrities can pay
for taking controversial political stands - particularly when they oppose
American wars. Every pop star needs a cause, but it has to be one that doesn't
offend the powers-that-be - landmines, or hunger, or Aids in Africa. Lennon's
example is almost unique. Charlie Chaplin was driven out of the US after being
charged with communist sympathies at the height of the McCarthy era, but such
examples are rare.
What exactly had Lennon done? It wasn't just singing Give Peace a Chance - it
was when and where he sang it; 1972 was an election year, Nixon was running for
re-election and the Vietnam war was the key issue. Lennon was talking to
anti-war leaders about doing a tour that would combine rock music with anti-war
organising and voter registration. That was the key, because it was the first
year 18-year-olds had been given the right to vote. Young voters were assumed to
be anti-war, but also known to be the least likely of all age groups to vote.
Lennon and his friends hoped to do something about that. Nixon found out about
the former Beatle's plans, and the deportation order followed.
The threat was effective. Lennon's lawyers told him to cool it and the tour
never took place. Nixon won in a landslide, and the war in Vietnam went on for
three more blood-soaked years. Lennon spent the next couple of years facing a
60-day order to leave the country, which his lawyers kept getting postponed.
The striking fact is that Lennon could have avoided all of this. He didn't
have to campaign against Nixon. It didn't sell records or help his career. But
Lennon wanted to use his power as a superstar to do something worthwhile. And
the great issue of the day was the unjust and disastrous war in Vietnam.
In some ways Lennon was naive. When he moved to New York, he thought he was
coming to the land of the free. He had little idea of the power of the state to
come down on those it regarded as enemies. His claim that the FBI had him under
surveillance was rejected as the fantasy of an egomaniac, but 300 pages of FBI
files, released under freedom of information after his murder, show he was
right. The FBI is still withholding 10 documents - which we hope will finally be
released today - on the grounds that they contain "national security information
provided by a foreign government": almost certainly MI5 documents on Lennon's
radical days in London.
Lennon never apologised to the president. He fought back in court to overturn
the deportation order. But in the year after Nixon's re-election, Lennon's
personal life fell apart and his music deteriorated. In the end, Nixon resigned
in disgrace after Watergate, and Lennon stayed in the US.
For 30 years the idea of a tour combining rock music and voter registration
languished - until 2004, when a group of activist musicians organised an
election-year concert tour of battleground states with a strategy very much like
Lennon's. Headlining the Vote for Change tour were the Dixie Chicks.
For young people in 1972, it was thrilling to see Lennon's courage in
standing up to Nixon. That willingness to take risks with his career, and his
life, is one reason why people still admire him today.
Jon Wiener is author of Gimme Some
Truth: The John Lennon FBI Files, and served as historical consultant on the
film The US v John Lennon, released last week
To top of page
Henry Chappell, 1874-1937
Introduced by Susan Sawyer
My great grand-father, Henry Chappell, was born in
1874 and died in 1937 aged of 63.
He became famous over night with his poem 'The
Day' published in
the Daily Express on 22nd August 1914. It was translated into many
He also had poems published in the Daily Express
(I think) on a regular basis.
He became known as the 'Bath Railway Poet' as he was a porter on
Bath Station. As far as I know he was never in the forces, but he
turned down promotion to keep in contact with people as they were
He had a book published in 1918 entitled 'The Day and Other Poems'.
of which I have a copy. There are several copies for sale online at
He also wrote a book about the railway called
'Life on the Iron Road'. It seems
that after the First World War he became forgotten. The Daily
Express must have many of his other poems in their archives. Also
as there is a poem of my great grandfather's on that site called A
Unofficially it was suggested he should became the
new Poet Laureate. He was close friends with Rudyard Kipling and
knew other famous poets of the time.
I feel he should have more recognition than he
does at the moment,
recognition being practically nil. Here is the poem.
You boasted the Day, and you toasted the Day,
And now the Day has come.
Blasphemer, braggart and coward all,
Little you reck the numbing ball,
The blasting shell, or the "white arm's" fall,
As they speed poor humans home.
You spied for the Day, you lied the Day,
And woke the Day's red spleen.
Monster, who asked God's aid Divine,
Then strewed His seas with the ghastly mine;
Not all the waters of the Rhine
Can wash your foul hands clean.
You dreamed of the Day, you schemed for the Day;
Watch how the Day will go!
Slayer of age and youth and prime
(Defenceless slain for never a crime)
You are steeped on blood as a hog in slime,
False friend and cowardly foe.
You have sown for the Day, you have grown the Day;
Yours is the harvest red.
Can you hear the groans and the awful cries?
Can you see the heap of slain that lies,
And the sightless turned to the flame-split skies
The glassy eyes of the dead?
You have wronged for the Day, you have longed for the Day,
That lit the awful flame,
'Tis nothing to you that hill and plain
Yield sheaves of dead men amid the grain;
The widows mourn for loved ones slain,
And mothers curse your name.
But for the Day there's a price to pay,
For the sleepers under the sod,
And He and you have mocked for many a day-
Listen and hear what He has to say:
"Vengeance is mine, I will repay."
What can you say to God?
Henry Chappell, 1874-1937
To top of page
A blade of
Harassed greens across the land,
Trodden paths which played the band,
Shells of hell from air were manned.
A generation dwarfed, in body and mind,
to mother and child, the sound unkind,
roasted skin, a burnt night,
come ye' cannibals, have a bite.
Ego, suspicion, hatred and revenge,
fuel for manipulation and discontent,
show of strength, over the years,
tables now turned, face shamed with tears.
Low life expectancy, probability even still,
love extinguished, greens harassed,
trodden paths which played the band,
shells of hell from air was manned.
Charred face of Earth, no footsteps to hear,
a solitary blade of grass, in army gear,
ready to battle another shell,
before the day man unkind fell.
Flying bullets, deadly whispers,
wailing mothers, helpless lovers,
trampled and scorched, I have seen it all,
your only hope, now I stand tall.
Firm on my roots, a sense of duty,
get a sense of your roots, be firm on duty,
don't nip humanity of its bud,
water the seed, and revel in the blossom,
Just a blade of grass, I look up in the sky,
no sun, no water, why is mankind so dry?
wake up to the call, or burn below the lens,
pledge today to harvest human kindness.
( Inspired by "Baghdad ER")
Before the war there are the
vile taunts and howls of men
Who consider some of their
brethren less than human
And want them removed from
the face of the earth
They bay like wolves
searching for prey
Then there is the unending
threnody of death raining form the sky
Mortar Bombs, Artillery
Shells, Napalm Bombs and Missiles
And sometimes even an earth
shattering atom bomb
They screech and scream like
the warning sirens
Is there silence in war?
Yes at the end for those who
don’t survive cannot hear
And those who are alive are
deafened by the sounds of war
You can say there is dead
silence except for the ululation in the wake.
To top of page
I welcome you to this place,
this venue of Global Progress.
Here, shall the new be brought in and
the spent, old, discarded.
Welcome to this...civilisation.
You now standat the adit to a new generation:
a new breed of thought and deed.
More powerful than the ones before,
they do not follow the rules of 'logic'
Reason, instead, follows them and
is at their beck and call.
Very versatile, as can be seen:
One reason explains all!
You are welcome,to roam about and
explore all that we offer you.
Go on, go about,
play, jump, prance,
jump off that cliff;go on, take a chance.
Welcome, O' Mortals,to this
Brave New World.
It is now yours till,
of course,you maim, murder, kill;
Eventually destroy it.
Before this Brave New World,
we had a street on which we built our homes;
yes, homes, not houses.
So, we thought
one day, it all blew up and
as the fires died down,
as we went through the shattered remnants of
our past lives,we knew.
We knew that they were just...
From Mumbai, India. Age 17 (2006)
To top of page
A tribute to the airman of the Second World War
Broken down tower
Many have passed this way
And trodden down grass and flower
Many have left never to return
Some came back with injury unseen
Some came back with an ugly burn
Many came back with broken mind and body lean
Frightened minds in disarray
But still on they fought
Above the wild sea so grey
Under a heaven so fraught
Unknown foe in roaring machine
Must attack from overhead!
Out of the sun unseen
Fire! He’s hit! A fiery ball of red
Victory roll and casual wave
As over the field they roar
Engines growl and tyres scream
As into land they came
Hits reported, damage seen
"I saw him go down " Was the claim
Planes repaired, ready to go
To fight the Fight once again
This I feel and hear from my broken tower
As down I look at the runway overgrown with
To reality I am returned
By a voice with eyes too young to see
"Grandpa, can we go home for tea "?
Stephen Walshe 1997 ©
This poem was written early in 1997. My father
sadly died in September of that year and never got to hear or read
the thoughts that had been put to paper about his and all the other
young RAF men in WW11 who like my father are and were still proud of
the duty they performed for the future generations whether they are
grateful or not!!
To top of page
Six Poems by former
information about him please see the notes at the end
of the featured poem.
In centuries past,
They say they fought against them,
They killed their kind,
Difference their only reason.
Old men told tales, Chetnik, Ustase, Muslim,
Of the evil that they did,
And in their eyes, glory filled with pain.
Now it's their turn,
Their dreams are burned away.
The former victims rise all for revenge.
This is their turn to hate, ,
For the past crimes of those long dead
Re-enacted, decades on, reversed.
This time it is they who burn.
The spiral descends,
Death creates more death,
And evil walks the land once more.
The children watch, as those around them die,
They learn new tales,
To keep the cycle whole,
And in their eyes, their pain waits its turn.
There's no reason,
Just lies excusing inhuman lives,
As each night innocence dies again.
Madness becomes normality,
And distrust is common sense,
The next generation bides its time,
Till it too can act, and kill for revenge.
Operation Grapple 2
To top of page
As I sit here, in this torn country,
How can I write?
What can I say?
I can assure you, I can comfort,
Say I am fine, that all is well,
I can lie, to ease your fears.
The food's not too bad,
We're all getting a nice suntan,
Sunbathing's quite fun on the top of a Warrior.
The weather's been good,
People used to come here on holiday,
Used to come and have fun,
And you can understand why,
Well, at least so long as the wind doesn't change.
The air up here is so pure, so clean,
Such a beautiful country,
You'd love to come here for a walk in the woods,
And the mountains are just stunning!
All these picturesque villages,
Up here in the Balkans, they all look so serene,
Well, at least so long as the wind doesn't change.
The people are quite friendly,
They're always pleased to see us,
Well, most of them are anyway.
Then the wind changes.
The clear pure air is replaced in an instant,
By the smell of the rotting corpses in the minefield down the hill,
No one dares to bury them, for the snipers are out,
And they'll shoot those who bury their dead.
The people are friendly, well, the ones without guns,
For they know that if we're outside,
The bastard militia won't burn them to death
While their family is sleeping at night.
So what do I tell you?
That all is ok? I'll have to, the truth is too much.
So I'll write of the weather, the smiling children,
And hope that the wind doesn't change,
At least until I've finished my bluey.
To top of page
(Based on experiences of the Gulf War 1990-91)
The sun is failing, failing to light the way.
The whole world looks to burn,
As the earth spits fire into the sky.
The invaders took what they could,
But as defeat loomed closer they acted,
Like common criminals they stole,
Then burned when they could take no more.
The oil wells burn on, through the days,
The sky sheds black tears and dust,
Through the darkness the fires rage,
As the earth bleeds flames and smoke.
Flames light our way now, the sun cannot get through,
As the fires burn on without respite.
Turning everything to black.
My skin is coated, an oily blackness,
My food and water taste of oil,
Desert sand turns black under the remorseless blaze,
As the oil continues to rain down.
This is war against the earth,
They poison the sky,
To the East, the sea is black.
They have stolen, robbed, and now burned,
At midday it's night-time, and the world is corrupted,
With oil, soot and flame.
We continue to push on,
Driving through the image of Mordor,
Of hell made real by man.
For information about
DL please see the notes at the end of the featured
To top of page
Desert Skies under Blackout
We squat here in the dark,
A menace to life, to all that we oppose.
A mighty force of destruction,
We wait in silence for the time to fight,
Confident in our strength, in our power to un-create,
We wait, hiding our lights,
Better that the enemy can see nothing,
Better, to ease his impending destruction.
We wait, and night falls.
Then, we look up.
Our mighty army is rendered nothing,
Insignificant beneath the sky.
The desert sky, under blackout,
It is a pure glory, an infinite universe of stars,
Forced down onto our eyes,
We look into the beautiful endless expanse,
Stretching on into time before us,
Light older than humanity falls upon us,
And the pathetic force that we can offer.
All that we are is nothing before this,
The mighty army of our country,
Defeated by the sky.
We gaze, off into infinity,
Unblinking into the night's beauty,
Billions of stars, galaxies, planets, life immortal,
We are waiting to unleash horror,
In a place where all faith was born.
Beneath this sky, all faith is conceived,
Developed and dies, beneath the crushing splendour,
The impossible beauty,
The desert sky, under blackout.
To top of page
Beauty in Fire
Through the clear sky it is coming,
High above the earth, it begins to fall,
Glowing light trails towards them,
They cannot run now, they can only hope,
As the lights fade out towards them.
Light, blinding light,
Pure and incandescent, white, orange, yellow, red,
Flowers of lethal beauty that bloom,
Bloom in violent glory, scattering over the ground,
High explosive falling as cherry blossom.
The earth shaking like the rage of an angry God,
The world transformed into power and light,
I watch awe-struck as the show continues,
Fire rising high into the night,
Blast-waves shaking the very air,
Man’s ability to create such beautiful toys,
Man’s ingenuity liberated from restraint,
To create such beauty, such violent glory,
An MLRS bombardment.
Then I remember.
That beauty is lethal, and men have just died.
To top of page
(Written after the Anti-War demonstration
against Iraq, 2003.)
When you wave your banners,
You protest and rant,
Your indignation worn like a medal,
Remember those who you condemn.
We are not mere automata,
We are not blind to injustice,
We made a decision, to try to serve,
Through whatever our reasons.
We did not ask for this.
We joined through pride, through loyalty,
Or boredom, and need for adventure,
But whatever our reasons, we all joined to do some good.
We don't blindly obey, and act without thought.
But neither are we perfect.
When you wave your banner screaming "Not in My Name",
Try to remember this.
We willingly offer to lay down our lives,
So you can keep the right to condemn us,
We offer to die so you are free to condemn us,
And we do so in your name.
We are all someone's son, someone's daughter,
Lover, Husband, Wife, Father, Mother,
We are all human beings too.
When you condemn the events that our country creates,
Remember that we didn't choose them.
We willingly give our lives to our country,
And we give them to defend it all,
The good, the bad, the immoral or righteous,
We cannot be selective in where we act.
So when you march and you chant,
In anger and frustration,
Remember those who are doing what you hate so much.
Remember that they decided to do something right,
But protest against those who used this for wrong.
Our soldiers are ordinary men and women,
Who all have lives, love and dreams,
They stand for the freedom you use to attack them,
So please try not to condemn,
We soldiers are human too.
The rats dined well at Passchendaele,
meat on the menu every day,
a limb, a torso, a tasty entrail,
served fresh in the Trench Café.
For wine they had a vintage red
with a bouquet of acrid water,
lifeblood of the newly dead,
in this consummate place of slaughter.
The brass-hats dined well at Command HQ
in a fine house well back from the front,
men of breeding accepting their due,
recalling good times with the hunt.
Cigars in hand, they passed the port,
raised their glasses for the toasts
to battles they had boldly fought
from secure headquarters posts.
The politicians dined well back in Blighty,
talked of a war to end all wars,
never doubting that God Almighty
was committed to the allied cause.
A minister, fortified with scotch,
at a recruitment rally in Poole,
insisted that Haig was top notch,
not, as some thought, a stubborn fool.
The troops did not dine well at Passchendaele
from a menu written in blood.
Each day they were served the same cocktail
of bullets, privation and mud.
But no complaints from the Trench Café
as the diners gathered en masse
to savour once more the human entrée,
seasoned with cordite and gas.
John C Bird
The Dancing Deer
Climbing up the forest road
I was suddenly plunged into utter darkness,
Dark shadows of the trees
Intersected by diagonal shafts
Of late afternoon sunlight,
One minute golden,
Rosy hued the next,
Dancing, flickering down …..
Upon a sudden leap
Before my disbelieving eyes,
A reckless bound
Into the humming trackway
That would have taken ancient travellers
Upon their country journey,
But now filled with creatures of the space age.
Into the darkness of the highway
Came a sentient creature
Carelessly cutting across the flow
Of mad machines invading his silent home.
There, but for the grace of God,
He leaped ~ high, majestic,
Right in front of me.
For a moment
His rotund fearful eye
Met mine, hearts both pounding,
Exchanging eons of thoughts,
A string of whys and hows.
And then he was gone,
Bounding to safety again in the woods,
Having said all, and I little,
But knowing Man had invaded
His home, and even dared
To kill his kind for food.
And I was so sorry.
My sorrow was for humanity
Sliding down a slippery
Path to destruction;
For life upon this beautiful planet
Which we need to
Be at peace with and respect,
And all her creatures
Like the dancing deer.
12 November 2006
" I attach a poem I wrote a couple of weeks ago after a chance
encounter with a deer in the Ashdown Forest *~ fortunately he/she danced
away to safety.
My sister had a similar experience, she tells
me, up in Rushmoor Woods near Farnborough, but the next time she
went down that road she found a similar deer who had not survived
her dance through the forest.
I shall be going to the civic Remembrance Day service today
. . .
Maybe we ought to read the words of Chief Seattle on Remembrance
Day too, and remember that the living planet itself is under attack,
every living thing being linked to each other ..... the water, the
trees, the plants , whole ecosystems, habitats, animals ... and us
humans who are trying to dominate Nature. All nations' God is the
same except by name and we all live on the same planet. We are all
brothers and sisters, but we do not understand each other's ways,
and this is the problem."
* A small forest in Sussex, southern England.
When will man ever
What wisdom needed to discern?
No killing is above the law,
No winners in any war.
'We won't put up with their threats,
We'll kill the enemy with our jets,
Top brass to control the press,
Tell the truth more or less.'
'Collateral Damage' is what they call it;
Don't like to say what caused it.
Innocent people blown to pieces,
Don't mention this in press releases.
It seems we never learn from history,
Finding a peaceful solution still a mystery.
We live the lie of "war and glory".
War has no winners, is the truthful story.
Homing pigeons have a long history of help in battle:
Ghengis Khan used them to keep Asia in order;
the Romans learnt of the conquest of Gaul
from a piece of parchment around a pigeon’s leg;
and a single bird brought to England
notice of Napoleon’s defeat.
still holding out…
Over 100,000 pigeons
were used in World War one
with ninety-five percent of birds reaching their destination.
Messages were placed in small containers
and clipped around the birds’ legs.
suffering gas attack
their very dangerous fumes.
A pigeon’s great strengths were its extraordinary
homing instincts and the speed at which it flew.
The only natural way to counter them was with birds of prey.
But birds were injured by artillery shells -
during the first World War;
one pigeon carried a message successfully
for twenty-four miles. It arrived with a leg shot off
and its breast shot through by a bullet –
imperative to break off.
urgent communication to Sauville
who’s not answering
and a number of course were killed in action.
This is my last pigeon.
This is the first time I have ever submitted a poem…if that is
what it is.
I'm 29 from SW London.
The poem is about Iraq and the US and I guess GB is mixed into
that…I was trying to play with the idea of the plumber pretending to
be a Dr to help Iraq, when actually he's butchering it, everyone is
so blinded by it that they miss that he is actually a plumber and
once his job is done off he goes…when I read that back it sounds to
simple and there is supposed to be more then that but to be honest
its hard for me to explain…
Here comes Dr Plumber
Quickly blindfolds and cuffs at the ready
we need hands that are steady
words and hands that are hygienically clean
he hasn’t scrubbed up yet
but he’s incredibly keen
he’s slick with a knife
and cuts with an art
first to the tongue
and then to the heart
dissects away, he’s gaining a taste
we could be related
with his familiar face
but that look in his eye
is dark and cold
wasn’t he here to save the patient?
At least that’s what I was told
but he’s cutting away, right down to the core
and nobody seems to notice, through the shock and the awe
the blood on the walls, the blood on his hands
the blood on the tube, the blood in the sands
the blood runs red, the blood runs black.
The pipes are finished, he’s turning back.
Lancaster bomber pilot interview on
world war bombers web site editor:
"I have just put up a website for Captain Donald Macintosh - Royal
Air Force bomber pilot of a Lancaster bomber in 1944.
I interviewed him for 36 minutes on his experiences. You can read or
/ and listen to what he went through. It's quite a unique interview
as you can imagine. (He was on the squadron that sank the Tirpitz.)
I think your readers will enjoy it.
This plea is addressed to members of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign but clearly non-members can help too.
A plea from the Palestine Solidarity Campaign:
the siege of Gaza – End Israeli
calls on its members and branches to take urgent steps to highlight the crisis
siege being imposed on Palestinians is making life a living hell in
Gaza. The World Food
Programme has said that food imports only cover 41 per cent of demand.
Palestinians are suffering from hunger and malnutrition, and those seriously ill
are being prevented from accessing essential medical treatment outside
Israel sealing the borders.
is cutting fuel and electricity supplies, and 210,000 people are able to access
drinking water for only 1-2 hours a day. Over 40 Gazans
have died as a direct result of being denied medical treatment by the Israeli
authorities. Twenty per cent of essential drugs and 31 per cent of essential
medical supplies are no longer available inside
US and British
governments are systematically attempting to overturn the results of the last
Palestinian parliamentary elections, declared free and fair by the international
community. This siege is punishing Palestinians for simply exercising their
right to choose their own representatives.
an even greater assault is on the horizon, with senior Israeli figures making
clear that if their policy of imposing a humanitarian catastrophe in
Gaza does not succeed in ensuring that Palestinians submit
to the will of the state of Israel , they are preparing for massive military
action inside Gaza .
therefore ask members to write to your MPs urging the British government to
the Israeli government lift the siege and ends all collective punishment imposed
on the civilian population of Gaza
the EU restores funding to Gaza
Palestinian democracy and engage with elected Palestinian representatives
Israel release the Palestinian
elected representatives it has abducted and imprisoned
the suspension of the EU/Israel trade agreement until