Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Joan Baez Banned from Performing at Walter Reed Medicatl Center

I was troubled (but not surprised) to read today in the Yahoo News that Walter Reed Medical Center (and the army, in general) has banned Joan Baez from performing for veterans. She has long been one of my heroes because of her passion- and peace-filled music along with her activism.

It reminds me of an anecdote in Jane Fonda's wonderful memoir, which I read last year (My Life So Far), when she wrote about her regrets about being photographed on an anti-aircraft gun in Hanoi...but also her hurt at being shunned by veterans. She was never against the veterans, but against the war. She also wrote about her efforts to reconcile with some veterans' groups and the hope and resolution that both she and they felt after their discussions.

I find it truly sad to see the polarization on this topic, especially in light of the revelations about the poor medical care and benefits soldiers are receiving. In so many cases, our soldiers come from disadvantaged communities. They are not part of the problem. The hawks who unthinkingly send them off to war without regard for their lives, or the lives of the Afghani and Iraqi citizens, are the problem.

I'm hoping that the banning of Joan Baez calls media attention to the hypocrisy inherent in this action. John Mellencamp has also spoken against the war, although he is more of a recent opponent and is viewed as an American icon. Go, Joan!!

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