a happy antifascist, communist hanukah to you! only in america could this story happen. i would like to thank mr. guthrie and his story as a vehicle for an important discussion with respect our present times.
the late great woody guthrie, who penned and sang the famous folk song “this land is my land, this land is your land” also wrote chanukah songs. who knew?
mr. guthrie an avowed communist antifacist had a jewish wife marjorie. his mother in law was liza greenblatt was a well known yiddish poet. she was an apparent muse and inspiration for mr. guthrie. they shared love of culture and social . . they lived in an era of anti-fascist, pro-labor, and classic socialist activism. he identified the problems of jews with those of his fellow okies and other oppressed peoples. wikipedia. mr. guthrie found time to pen song hanukah songs. click here to see two of his songs being performed.
for someone who was concerned about oppression, the holiday of hanukah is a natural. it represent a victory for the oppressed over their oppressors. writing songs about the holiday would seem to be a natural for mr. guthrie.
the ten commandments’ story has some similarities to hanukah. the oppressed were freed from bondage. the issue of import is “what happens when there is freedom?” in the ten commandments’ story a moral code of conduct was initiated for all of those to follow. with great freedom comes great responsibility. per the ten commandments and the torah, a free society must recognize all individuals. it must respect individuals rights to own property, have positive family relations, children and husband and wife, and be free of harm and theft. this accomplished by the fact that they recognize that their is a higher authority than themselves. further, a torah based society is committed to taking care of those “in need.”
as tom petty wrote “even the losers get lucky sometimes.” sometimes the oppressed become in charge. likewise, bob dylan wrote “for the loser now will be later to win
for the times they are a-changin’.”
my question i would present to mr. guthrie if he were alive is “what happens when the oppressed peoples win and take charge?” i came across roger waters who penned “woody guthrie would turn in his grave.” in a plea for neil young not to play a concert in israel. thus, we have an israel hating individual evoking mr. guthrie. my question would be how would mr. guthrie view israel. from the forties when mr. guthrie spent time with his mother-in-law, the jews were the oppressed people, but presently they are in charge of their own nation.
this leads to the issue of underdogism. in my mind, is a phrase that represents the viewpoint that there are people who only support the underdogs. this view point is that oppression is the only thing of import in taking sides. underdogism requires no further analysis. the fact that one person or group is on top necessarily means that they are wrong and that the person on the bottom is right. with respect to this approach, it is as random as the result from spinning a dreydel.
it is my contention that ten commandments society values does not accept this framework of demonizing those in charge. the cost of freedom from oppression is the imposition of the values system for fair treatment of all individuals. we are all children of god and the creator. with this respect we are all the same. further, one’s station in life does not strip ones of their right to justice. further, a ten commandments society imposed obligations to take care of those in need.
in sum, if you have read this blog to this point, i thank you for getting through it!
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