Home > Uncategorized > Men who’d rather fight than win

Men who’d rather fight than win

I grew up listening to the Clash, whose lyrics helped form my worldview and inform any number of my cultural choices, especially in music and literature. Thanks to Joe Strummer and his gang, there were a handful of Hertfordshire schoolboys in my circle who, aged 13, knew a lot more than they needed to about Nicaragua, Chile and the Spanish Civil War.

This week, as Bob Dylan received the Nobel Prize for Literature, the Drive-By Truckers’ song ‘Ramon Casiano’ has been on constant repeat on my headphones. ‘Protest songs’ get a bad press; unsurprisingly, as many of them are earnest, hectoring and ultimately a little embarrassing. I still squirm as I recall the deputy head at my senior school reading the lyrics to Dire Straits’ ‘Brothers In Arms’ (not strictly a protest song but definitely a song with a message) to an alternately bemused and amused audience, and storming off stage when 300 cynical schoolchildren laughed as he played the music.

But the best examples of the genre – and ‘Ramon Casiano’ is definitely one – manage to deliver an intensely personal, passionate message without leaving you feeling like you’ve just been handed a pamphlet.

By taking the story of two men – one of whom went on to lead and radicalize the NRA – Mike Cooley manages to skewer not only the gun crazies, the racists and the cowardly; he also nails every small-minded man, languishing in his bedroom and cowed by his own inadequacy, firing off abusive tweets or Facebook posts.

This week, I broke a few of my own rules and tweeted in support of The Sun’s favourite BBC presenter Gary Lineker, as he took a very public stance in support of admitting child refugees from Syria. The gist was that I’d happily swap a British-born racist for a Syrian refugee. As a result, I received a number of bemusing and hostile replies from, as far as I could make out, British paedophiles worried that Syrian paedophiles were going to come over here and steal their work. At least I think that’s what they were saying.

Nearly all of these keyboard-warriors use false names and cartoon avatars. Some of them sort of threatened me; one told me “he wants his children touched”; some tried to ridicule me, as if supporting someone for being a tolerant non-racist was embarrassing. I think I’ll survive.

Why did I break my own rules? After all, no one wants to be lectured, or patronised. As I wrote myself a couple of blog pieces ago, the best way to change people’s minds is to be creative, satirical or simply calm and rational. In other words, to write one of the good protest songs, not to shout the lyrics from one of the bad ones.

Part of me still believes that. That’s why I’m sharing ‘Ramon Casiano’, and these two stanzas:

He had the makings of a leader/ Of a certain kind of man/ Who needs to feel the world’s against him/ Out to get him if it can

Men whose triggers pull their fingers/ Men who’d rather fight than win/ United in a revolution/ Like in mind and like in skin

It’s a brilliant piece of writing. It’s a brilliant song. It’s angry, it’s articulate, and it sums up Donald Trump, police shootings, the NRA and the tyranny of small, inadequate men in a few short verses. I wish I could sum up the depressing state of our country with such economy. It inspires me to want to try the same. I’ll get round to it one day.

But part of me thinks that if you were born and raised in this country; had the benefit of an enlightened liberal education, had any number of opportunities to further educate yourself and find out the real reasons why some of your countrymen are earning less than someone who’s just arrived from Poland, Syria or wherever, and still can’t find it in your heart to provide sanctuary to someone fleeing from a warzone, whether they’re 17, 18 or 19, then, in all probability, you’re just a c**t.

Damn! Back to the drawing board…

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. October 21, 2016 at 4:15 pm

    If people try to put you down just walk on by don’t turn around. You only have to answer to yourself. Don’t you know it’s true what they say that life ain’t easy but your time is coming around.

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