I never thought I’d live in a world where legendary left-wing musicians like Neil Young and Joni Mitchell are happily carrying water for “the man” on an important public policy issue. But that’s the crazy situation we find ourselves in as our country navigates through the coronavirus pandemic that’s cost nearly 900,000 Americans their lives.
The debate over COVID-19, its origins, lockdowns, masks, school closings and the effectiveness of vaccines has been raging for nearly two years and podcast sensation Joe Rogan has garnered a lot of attention for his outspoken anti-establishment views on the matter.
Rogan’s decision to present both sides of the issue by questioning vaccines, vaccine protocols, and what age groups ought to get vaccinated has drawn the ire of powerful interests who seek to divide America into a segregated society of those who are vaccinated and those who are not.
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To these folks bowing at the altar of “the jab,” anyone or anything seen as giving Rogan and those like him a platform to exercise their First Amendment right to free speech should get ready to feel some pain from the cancel culture. And that’s exactly what’s unfolding with Young, Mitchell and Spotify right now.
The two iconic artists pulled their music off Spotify recently to protest the anti-vaccine content on “The Joe Rogan Experience” podcast. And since then, Young’s former bandmate Graham Nash, Bruce Springsteen guitarist Nils Lofgren and recording artist India Arie have followed suit in defense of the powerful entrenched establishment’s stated position on COVID-19: get vaccinated or be prepared to forfeit your God-given liberty.
It seems that Young and Mitchell – who became famous in part by writing anti-government protest songs about the Vietnam War and other controversial issues in the 1960s and 1970s – couldn’t handle someone like Rogan questioning government edicts and the state media echo chamber.
Take all this in and consider how upside down things are at the moment.
Young’s tune “Ohio” is a perfect example of a rebellious artist’s mindset a half-century ago when America was divided over the war in Vietnam and how “the man” was dealing with campus protests. The song starts with a direct verbal assault on the then-sitting president of the United States: “Tin soldiers and Nixon coming, we’re finally on our own, this summer I hear the drumming, four dead in Ohio.” Or who can forget Mitchell’s anti-industrialization screed “Big Yellow Taxi” that begins “they paved paradise and put up a parking lot.”
These songs epitomized the freedom Americans have to question the state. Oh, how things have changed for these rebels.
Over the past 50 years something amazing has happened in America. The anti-establishment has become the establishment. The outsiders have become the insiders. The radicals have become the entrenched. Joe Rogan has become Neil Young and Neil Young has become Richard Nixon. What’s next, Bruce Springsteen criticizing Donald Trump for having the audacity to fight for manufacturing jobs and the working man? You bet.
What if Neil Young and Joni Mitchell had been canceled or outcast from society for expressing their views about America’s Cold War era policy in Vietnam through their music? After all, a great many people in 1970 thought those lyrics were misinformation at the time.
Now, 50 years later, a lot of people think the Vietnam War was wrong, and 50 years from now you can bet that a lot of people will be giving the Joe Rogans of the world credit for questioning the COVID-19 vaccines in 2022. I find it astonishing that Young, Mitchell, Nash, Lofgren and Arie can’t grasp this notion.
Today, powerful pro-government propagandists like Young and Mitchell and their allies in the mainstream media label the questioning of vaccines as “misinformation,” even though more people have died of COVID in post-vaccine America. They freely make these blanket statements about misinformation from anti-establishment sources like Rogan, but pay no mind to the lies perpetrated about Christopher Steele’s phony dossier, Russian collusion, or that President Trump was a Russian asset. The double standard is appalling and the American people are tired of it.
The act of questioning authority and the free flow of different points of view are American ideals and part of what makes America an exceptional nation. From Thomas Paine to Martin Luther King Jr. to Neil Young to Joe Rogan, everyone has a right to speak out here.
When Neil Young recently said that Spotify “can have Rogan or Young. Not both,” he forgot what made him famous. The Young of old would have respected and even supported Rogan’s right to protest against the government, even in disagreement.
David N. Bossie is president of Citizens United, a Fox News contributor, the 2016 deputy campaign manager for Donald Trump for President, and the former chief investigator for the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Government Reform and Oversight during the Clinton administration. He is the co-author with Corey Lewandowski of “Trump: America First: The President Succeeds Against All Odds,” along with “Let Trump Be Trump” and “Trump’s Enemies.”