John Mellencamp Attacks President Bush In Open Letter

By | October 22, 2003 at 12:00 AM

John Mellencamp has lashed out at PresidentGeorge W. Bush and America’s foreign policy. In an open letter he co-wrote with his wife Elaine, Mellencamp blasts the powers that be for demonizing as “anti-American and unpatriotic” anyone who questions the policies of the U.S. government and the war in Iraq. Mellencamp uses words and phrases like “systematically lied to,” “the political ‘hijacking’ of Iraq,” “this misadventure,” and “the globe’s leading bully. Arrogant and thoughtless” to describe the current situation, before writing, “Now, each day, as the dust settles and the truth slowly surfaces, more and more people come to the inevitable conclusion of what a debacle this whole war was.”

Mellencamp adds, “The word ‘Democracy’ means literally ‘by the people.’ This is the basis of our government and society. It is what this country was founded upon and what makes us American. It is not just our ‘right’ but also our duty to speak out and voice our thoughts and opinions. How, then, was it possible that, in the land of freedom, those who opposed the common opinion were called…’un-American?’ Resentfully, we wonder…This nation was founded to enable freedom and diversity of opinion, and many lives have been lost to secure that liberty. Paradoxically, some still resist the open mindedness that is the very foundation of this country.”

Mellencamp also questions the negative reception of “To Washington,” which is on his latest album, Trouble No More. He writes, “The song ‘To Washington’ was met with criticism and was labeled an anti-war song. That was not at all the case or intention-it was merely a report of the political climate.” He adds that as his family travels the country, they speak with people everywhere to find out how they’re feeling, which greatly influenced the song: “The lyrics of ‘To Washington’ are not just a personal opinion, but also the view from a very wide horizon.”

Mellencamp revealed that “To Washington” wasn’t a direct indictment, just a reflection of what he saw going on in America. “This song was written long before we went to war, and everything in that song you could probably have read in any newspaper or magazine, like Newsweek or Time, at the particular time that I was writing that song,” Mellencamp said. “I didn’t make any of that stuff up-it was all in the newspapers, which is the tradition of a lot of folk songs.”

Mellencamp ends the letter by suggesting that people should learn a lesson from the recent election in California: “The Governor of California was removed from office based on finance troubles. And yet George W. Bush has lied to us, failed to keep our own borders secure, entered a war under false pretense, endangered lives, and created financial chaos. How is it that he hasn’t been recalled?…The fight for freedom in this country has been long, painful, and ongoing. It is time to take back our country. Take it back from political agendas, corporate greed, and overall manipulation. It is time to take action here in our land, in our own schools, neighborhoods, farms, and businesses. We have been lied to and terrorized by our own government, and it is time to take action. Now is the time to come together.”

Here is the full text of “An Open Letter From John & Elaine Mellencamp”:

“As the echo of the war drums fades away and the angry masses calling for blood slowly disperse, we as a nation must now confront the truth. We face the unpleasant reality of an uncertain future, compromised safety, a failing economy, and the question of how a society of otherwise reasonable citizens was systematically lied to and manipulated into backing the political ‘hijacking’ of Iraq.

“Before a single bomb was ever dropped, some of us, formerly called the ‘anti-American and unpatriotic,’ have questioned or opposed this war. Now, each day, as the dust settles and the truth slowly surfaces, more and more people come to the inevitable conclusion of what a debacle this whole war was.

“Thirty-nine-thousand bombs later, no weapons of mass destruction uncovered, no dangerous dictators captured, no connection to September 11th. What have we gained but relentless media coverage of a fallen statue and some stolen oil fields-the spoils of this misadventure. Not to mention lucrative corporate payoffs and an enormous price tag of over $80 Billion…some tax cut.

“But what have we lost? We have lost the lives of over 300 Americans. Approximately two U.S. troop deaths each day, 193 deaths since the war was declared over. In total, an estimated 20,000 people have died, thus far, in this conflict.

“In addition to the lives given for this effort, our nation has suffered the loss of respect within the world community, particularly the United Nations. We have managed to squander any goodwill we once had to now succeed in solidifying our image as the globe’s leading bully. Arrogant and thoughtless.

“The word Democracy means literally ‘by the people.’ This is the basis of our government and society. It is what this country was founded upon and what makes us American. It is not just our ‘right’ but also our duty to speak out and voice our thoughts and opinions. How, then, was it possible that, in the land of freedom, those who opposed the common opinion were called…’un-American?’ Resentfully, we wonder.

The song ‘To Washington’ was met with criticism and was labeled an anti-war song. That was not at all the case or intention-it was merely a report of the political climate, in the age-old tradition of the troubadour spreading the news through song and story. Professionally, we, the Mellencamps, have the opportunity to travel extensively, and we take full advantage of that by talking to, listening to, and experiencing the diversity our vast country has to offer. The lyrics of ‘To Washington’ are not just a personal opinion, but also the view from a very wide horizon.

Who is to say what is or isn’t ‘patriotic?’ Do the flags that wave from every minivan really offer any support? Where is the support for the thousands of servicemen and women who return to the states to see their benefits cut, their health problems ignored, their jobs gone, and their families living in poverty? How are they repaid for their efforts, for risking or losing their lives? So far, dismally.

“This nation was founded to enable freedom and diversity of opinion, and many lives have been lost to secure that liberty. Paradoxically, some still resist the open mindedness that is the very foundation of this country.

“The Governor of California was removed from office based on finance troubles. And yet George W. Bush has lied to us, failed to keep our own borders secure, entered a war under false pretense, endangered lives, and created financial chaos. How is it that he hasn’t been recalled? Perhaps this time we could even have a real election…but that wouldn’t fit the Bush administration’s ‘take what you want and fire people later’ policy. Take an election; take an oil field; take advantage of your own people-a game of political Three-Card Monte.

“The fight for freedom in this country has been long, painful, and ongoing. It is time to take back our country. Take it back from political agendas, corporate greed, and overall manipulation. It is time to take action here in our land, in our own schools, neighborhoods, farms, and businesses. We have been lied to and terrorized by our own government, and it is time to take action. Now is the time to come together.”

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