A song that’s been played over speakers at hundreds of campaign rallies, vibrated in the space between drinks at everyone’s favorite bar and set millions of heads nodding from radio stations coast to coast — a piece of music that is literally stitched into the fabric of American blue-collar culture, Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA” — is, according to right-wing pundit Glenn Beck, “anti-American” and “propaganda” that people must “wake up” from.
If you’re unfamiliar, need a refresher or simply like good music, give it a listen:
The lyrics are available here.
“Born down in a dead man’s town,” the Fox News personality said during his Thursday radio broadcast, quoting Springsteen’s lyrics. “The first kick I took was when I hit the ground. You end up like a dog that’s been beat too much. ‘Til you spend half your life just covering up.
“Born, in the USA.”
Beck continued like that, dryly reading Springsteen’s words, almost as if he were imitating William Shatner.
“Born in the USA” is, of course, about a working class guy with a factory job who ends up in Vietnam, to “kill the yellow man.” One of his friends dies in the war, leaving behind a baby in Saigon. When he comes home he works hard for 10 years in the “shadow of the penitentiary,” but still has “nowhere to run.”
“I’m a cool rocking daddy in the USA,” Springsteen wails. “Born in the USA.”
Naturally, no summary could equate the emotion this tale conveys. It is the quintessential American script, an experience millions of poor and working-class people can relate to.
“That’s what it’s all about,” Beck said. “That’s what America’s all about, according to Springsteen. … It’s time for us to wake, wake up, out of our, um, dreamstate. Wake up out of the propaganda. The, you know, this is the thing that, people who come from the Soviet-bloc or Cuba, they’re all saying, ‘How do you guys not hear this? How do you not see this?’ Well, that’s ’cause we don’t ever expect it.”
The likely reason Beck is attacking someone far more talented than himself is because Springsteen has endorsed a number of Democrats, including President Obama. Springsteen even put on a show at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. He did the same for Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) near the end of the 2004 presidential campaign.
Springsteen explained to Rolling Stone publisher Jann S. Wenner in an exclusive interview that he kept out of partisan politics for a long time because he wanted to remain “credible” and “independent.” It was the Iraq war that brought Springsteen back into the political foray, as it did for many other Americans.
“I knew after we invaded Iraq that I was going to be involved in the election,” he said. “It made me angry. We started to talk about it onstage. I take my three minutes a night for what I call my public-service announcement. We talked about it almost every night on our summer tour.
“I felt we had been misled. I felt they had been fundamentally dishonest and had frightened and manipulated the American people into war. And as the saying goes, ‘The first casualty of war is truth.’ I felt that the Bush doctrine of pre-emption was dangerous foreign policy. I don’t think it has made America safer.” [...] “Sitting on the sidelines would be a betrayal of the ideas I’d written about for a long time.”
I didn’t grow up in a very political household. The only politics I heard was from my mother. I came home from grade school, where someone asked me if I was Republican or Democrat, and I asked my mom, “Well, what are we?” She said, “We’re Democrats, ’cause Democrats are for the working people.” I was politicized by the Sixties, like most of the other people of that generation at that time. I can remember doing a concert when I was probably in my very late teens, helping to bus people down to Washington for an anti-war demonstration.
But still, basically, I wanted to remain an independent voice for the audience that came to my shows. We’ve tried to build up a lot of credibility over the years, so that if we took a stand on something, people would receive it with an open mind. Part of not being particularly partisan was just an effort to remain a very thoughtful voice in my fans’ lives.
I always liked being involved actively more at a grass-roots level, to act as a partisan for a set of ideals: civil rights, economic justice, a sane foreign policy, democracy. That was the position I felt comfortable coming from.
For his song “Working On A Dream,” Springsteen won “Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance” at the 2010 Grammy Awards. He also recently appeared in The History Channel’s documentary “The People Speak“, which is based on the late author and historian Howard Zinn’s book, “A People’s History of the United States“.
This audio was snipped from The Glenn Beck Program on March 11, 2010, by watchdog group Media Matters.