Thursday, April 16, 2015

Günter Grass barred from Israel over poem

Günter Grass barred from Israel over poem

Harriet Sherwood in Jerusalem
Sunday 8 April 2012 16.06 BST

Nobel laureate, who says he had not meant to criticise Israel but Netanyahu government, declared persona non grata

What Must Be Said by Günter Grass

The celebrated German author Günter Grass has been declared persona non grata in Israel following the publication of his poem warning that the Jewish state's nuclear programme was a threat to an "already fragile world peace".
The row over the literary work continued to reverberate over the weekend, with the 84-year-old Nobel laureate saying in a newspaper interview that he did not intend to criticise Israel but the policies of its present government, led by Binyamin Netanyahu.
With hindsight, he told Süddeutsche Zeitung, he would have rewritten his poem to "make it clearer that I am primarily talking about the [Netanyahu] government". He added: "I have often supported Israel, I have often been in the country and want the country to exist and at last find peace with its neighbours." Netanyahu, he said, was damaging Israel.
Israeli politicians and commentators said that Grass had disqualified himself from criticising Israeli policies by his service as a young man in the Nazi Waffen SS. Some said the poem was thinly disguised antisemitism, a response predicted by Grass in his poem. Netanyahu issued a statement denouncing the poem and its author.
On Sunday, Israel's interior minister Eli Yishai used a law permitting a bar on entry to former Nazis to declare Grass persona non grata for his "attempt to fan the flames of hatred against the state of Israel and its people, and thus to advance the idea to which he publicly affiliated in his past donning of the SS uniform".
Yishai's statement added: "If Gunter wants to continue to spread his twisted and lying works, I suggest he does this from Iran, where he can find a supportive audience."
Israel's foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, added his voice to the storm of criticism, saying Grass's poem was the expression of "egoism of so-called western intellectuals who are willing to sacrifice the Jewish people on the altar of crazy anti-Semites for a second time, just to sell a few more books or gain recognition".
Speaking during a meeting with the Italian prime minister, Mario Monti, Lieberman demanded condemnation from European leaders. "We have witnessed in the past how small seeds of antisemitic hate can turn into a large fire that harms all of humanity."
Germany's foreign minister, Guido Westerwelle, said comparing Israel to Iran was absurd. The state of Israel was based on democracy, rights for individuals, freedom, responsibility and the rule of law, he wrote in Bild am Sonntag. In contrast, Iran was in violation of international law and had for years avoided co-operation over its nuclear programme.
Amid the torrent of denunciation, some Israeli commentators said Grass had raised an important issue and that criticism of Israeli policies was routinely portrayed as antisemitism.
Writing on the +972 website, Larry Derfner said: "Günter Grass told the truth, he was brave in telling it, he was brave in admitting that he'd been drafted into the Waffen SS as a teenager, and by speaking out against an Israeli attack on Iran, he's doing this country a great service at some personal cost while most Israelis and American Jews are safely following the herd behind Bibi [Netanyahu] over the cliff."
Gideon Levy, the Haaretz columnist, wrote that Grass and other critics of Israeli policies were "not anti-Semites, they are expressing the opinions of many people".
"Instead of accusing them, we should consider what we did that led them to express it," he said.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Günter Grass's Israel poem provokes outrage

Günter Grass's Israel poem provokes outrage

Germany's most celebrated writer's lyrical warning of a looming Israeli aggression against Iran triggers international row

Luke Harding and Harriet Sherwood
Thursday 5 April 2012 23.16 BST

What Must Be Said by Günter Grass

During his long literary career, Günter Grass has been many things. Author, playwright, sculptor and, unquestionably, Germany's most famous living writer. There is the 1999 Nobel prize and Grass's broader postwar role as the country's moral conscience – albeit a claim badly undermined in 2006 when it emerged that the teenage Grass had served in the Waffen SS. But at the ripe old age of 84, Grass has triggered a furious row with a poem criticising Israel.
Entitled What Must Be Said and published on Wednesday in the Süddeutsche Zeitung, the lyric warns of a looming Israeli aggression against Iran. It argues that Germany should no longer deliver nuclear submarines to Israel that might carry "all-destroying warheads".
Grass also takes aim at Germany's reluctance to offend Israel – reproaching himself for "my silence" on the subject, and acknowledging that he will inevitably face accusations of antisemitism.
He muses: "Why do I only speak out now/Aged and with my last drop of ink:/Israel's nuclear power is endangering/Our already fragile world peace?" He supplies his own apocalyptic answer: it must be said because "tomorrow might be too late".
Grass also calls for "unhindered and permanent monitoring of Israel's nuclear facility and Iran's nuclear facility through an international entity". Ultimately, he suggests, this would help everybody in this "delusional" region, including the Germans – or "us", as he puts it.
Hardly surprising, then, that Grass's controversial late lyric has provoked indignation. The Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, led the attack on Thursday, asserting: "Günter Grass's shameful moral equivalence between Israel and Iran ... says little about Israel and much about Mr Grass." Netanyahu described Iran as "a regime that denied the Holocaust and threatens to annihilate Israel". He added: "It is Iran, not Israel, that is a threat to the peace and security of the world."
Netanyahu's attack then became more personal: "For six decades, Mr Grass hid the fact that he had been a member of the Waffen SS.
"So for him to cast the one and only Jewish state as the greatest threat to world peace and to oppose giving Israel the means to defend itself is perhaps not surprising."
The Israeli embassy in Berlin took the format of Grass's poem and flung it back at him: "What must be said is that it is a European tradition to accuse the Jews before the Passover festival of ritual murder." It concluded that Grass's ill-judged broadside sprung from Germany's own guilty conscience – "part of the German people's efforts to come to terms with the past".
German politicians from both left and right have traditionally been supportive of Israel, for obvious historical reasons. Several have criticised Grass, describing his work as "abominable", "irritating" and "over the top". The bestselling Bild, a paper better known for its topless models, complained of "confused poesie". And writing in Die Welt, the Jewish writer Henryk Border dubbed Grass "the prototype of the educated antisemite". He added, for good measure, that Grass was "completely nuts".
All this forced Grass to offer his own pained reply. In an interview with North German Radio, the author complained on Thursday that the tone of the criticism "didn't just concentrate on the contents of the poem" but amounted to a scurrilous campaign to say that his reputation "had been damaged for all time". He added: "The old cliches are used. And to a certain extent they are damaging."
Some commentators, however, offered a more convincing critique: that Grass wasn't antisemitic, but simply didn't know what he was talking about. True, the Nobel prizewinner describes Iran's leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as a "bigmouth", or "Maulheld". But otherwise, critics say, he offers a less than convincing analysis of the situation in the Middle East – failing to acknowledge, for example, Iran's regular threats to wipe Israel out. Instead Grass raises the unlikely spectre of Israel "annihilating" the Iranian people – using a German verb,auslöschen, which comes dangerously close to evoking the Holocaust.
"The poem is more interesting to Grassologists than to stragetic analysts," the Israeli historian Tom Segev, who has met and interviewed Grass, told the Guardian. Segev called the lyric "rather pathetic".
He said it was "idiotic" to describe the writer as an antisemite, but said Grass would be better served expending his last ink on a different creative project. "He's a great writer. He's 84. I hope he uses his last drops to write a good book." He added that the writer appeared to have "some inner psychological need to be accused wrongly", adding: "He's almost wishing people to say he's an antisemite."
The most interesting commentary, arguably, came from the Süddeutsche Zeiting, which published the poem – German title Was gesagt werden muss – in a supplement. Grass had been writing poems since 1955 but his late ones weren't really poems at all, Thomas Steinfeld observed, and instead resembled pleas, complaints, or angry letters to the editor. Of one lugubrious chunk he writes witheringly: "The only lyrical things here are the arbitary line breaks." Undoubtedly, the poem's portentous tone doesn't help the reader; an opinion page piece might have served Grass better.
Interestingly, Steinfeld suggests that the award of the Nobel prize for literature in 1999 may have contributed to Grass's latest political intervention. The prize transformed Grass from a national figure – "Germany's preceptor" – to an unashamedly global one – "a custodian of world politics". He argues that Grass is the only winner who feels the urge to comment on global affairs. Gabriel García Márquez has not become a literary-political representative of South America, he notes, nor has JM Coetzee become the voice of South Africa, or Derek Walcott that of the Caribbean. Nor has Grass, it might be added, written a poem on Greece, a crisis nearer to Germany's doorstep and wallet.
Grass last attracted this much attention back in 2006, when he revealed in his autobiography, Peeling the Onion, that he had briefly served as a 17-year-old in the Waffen SS at the end of the second world war. The admission in itself wasn't remarkable: many other teenagers of his generation were forced to join the SS as the war entered its chaotic final phase. What irritated was the fact that Grass had taken so long to admit this – an inexplicable delay for someone who blamed others for their Nazi pasts and was seen to personify national atonement and self-criticism.
For some, this detail means that Grass forfeited the right to comment on the Jewish state. Ephraim Zuroff, director of the Nazi-hunting Simon Wisenthal Centre, described him as "totally compromised" and added: "The tin drum he is banging is not the one of moral conscience but of deep-seated prejudice against the Jewish people." This is one view.
In fact Grass's critical opinions on Israel have surfaced before. In an interview with Spiegel Online in 2001, he described the "appropriation" of Palestinian territory by Israeli settlers as a "criminal activity", adding: "That not only needs to be stopped – it also needs to be reversed."
It is certainly true that Germany's relationship with Israel is a problematic one, with the Holocaust taught in schools and the issue of historical guilt never far beneath the surface.
According to Constanze Stelzenmuller, senior transatlantic fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, it is hardly surprising that Germany has a moral obligation to the state of Israel, given the country's past. "The German government has been very clear about this," she said. Berlin has already supplied it with three Dolphin submarines, with two more being built, and a sixth in the pipeline.
But, Stelzenmuller says, Berlin has not been inhibited from criticising Israel, especially on the issue of Israeli settlements, last mentioned by Germany's defence minister two weeks ago. Of Grass, she said: "There's always been an anti-Zionist tendency in the European left, including in the German left. It isn't pretty. Many modern thinkers on the centre-left deplore this."
Amid the criticism, a few voices came forward to defend Grass – the author, after all, of The Tin Drum, the great German novel of the second world war and the rise of Nazism. "It's got to be possible to speak openly without being denounced as an enemy of Israel," said Klaus Staeck, the president of the Berlin academy of art. He called the "reflexive condemnation" of Grass as an antisemite inappropriate, and insisted that Grass was merely expressing his concern about developments in the Middle East. "A lot of people share this worry," Staeck added.
Predictably, Iran warmly welcomed Grass's poem. Press TV, Iran's state-owned English-language satellite channel, hailed it as a literary sensation. "Never before in Germany's postwar history has a prominent intellectual attacked Israel in such a courageous way," it said. "Metaphorically speaking, the poet has launched a deadly lyrical strike against Israel."
The Press TV report also observed: "Israel is the only possessor of nuclear weapons in the Middle East and it has never allowed inspections of its nuclear facilities nor has it joined the Non-Proliferation Treaty based on its policy of nuclear ambiguity."

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Günter Grass / What Must Be Said

Günter Grass

What Must Be Said 

by Günter Grass

But why have I kept silent till now?
Because I thought my own origins,
Tarnished by a stain that can never be removed,
meant I could not expect Israel, a land
to which I am, and always will be, attached,
to accept this open declaration of the truth.
Why only now, grown old,
and with what ink remains, do I say:
Israel's atomic power endangers
an already fragile world peace?
Because what must be said
may be too late tomorrow;
and because – burdened enough as Germans –
we may be providing material for a crime
that is foreseeable, so that our complicity
wil not be expunged by any
of the usual excuses.
And granted: I've broken my silence
because I'm sick of the West's hypocrisy;
and I hope too that many may be freed
from their silence, may demand
that those responsible for the open danger we face renounce the use of force,
may insist that the governments of
both Iran and Israel allow an international authority
free and open inspection of
the nuclear potential and capability of both.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Roberts Bridges / London Snow

London Snow
By Roberts Bridges

When men were all asleep the snow came flying,
In large white flakes falling on the city brown,
Stealthily and perpetually settling and loosely lying,
      Hushing the latest traffic of the drowsy town;
Deadening, muffling, stifling its murmurs failing;
Lazily and incessantly floating down and down:
      Silently sifting and veiling road, roof and railing;
Hiding difference, making unevenness even,
Into angles and crevices softly drifting and sailing.
      All night it fell, and when full inches seven
It lay in the depth of its uncompacted lightness,
The clouds blew off from a high and frosty heaven;
      And all woke earlier for the unaccustomed brightness
Of the winter dawning, the strange unheavenly glare:
The eye marvelled—marvelled at the dazzling whiteness;
      The ear hearkened to the stillness of the solemn air;
No sound of wheel rumbling nor of foot falling,
And the busy morning cries came thin and spare.
      Then boys I heard, as they went to school, calling,
They gathered up the crystal manna to freeze
Their tongues with tasting, their hands with snowballing;
      Or rioted in a drift, plunging up to the knees;
Or peering up from under the white-mossed wonder,
‘O look at the trees!’ they cried, ‘O look at the trees!’
      With lessened load a few carts creak and blunder,
Following along the white deserted way,
A country company long dispersed asunder:
      When now already the sun, in pale display
Standing by Paul’s high dome, spread forth below
His sparkling beams, and awoke the stir of the day.
      For now doors open, and war is waged with the snow;
And trains of sombre men, past tale of number,
Tread long brown paths, as toward their toil they go:
      But even for them awhile no cares encumber
Their minds diverted; the daily word is unspoken,
The daily thoughts of labour and sorrow slumber
At the sight of the beauty that greets them, for the charm they have broken.

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Kit Harington / From Game of Thrones warrior to sensitive poet

Sunday, April 12, 2015

When Fleetwood Mac met Game of Thrones

When Fleetwood Mac met Game of Thrones

Stevie Nicks says she has written poems dedicated to characters from Game of Thrones. Here's what we think she might have come up with for Daenerys, Jon Snow and Cersei …

Stuart Jeffries
Friday 4 October 2013 15.39 BST

Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen

nd they say poetry is over. Adorably eccentric singer Stevie Nicks says she has written "a bunch of poetry about Game of Thrones – one for each of the characters". I know what you're thinking. Isn't it time Carol Ann Duffy jogged on and let the Fleetwood Mac siren become poet laureate? Nicks hasn't yet published her verses, but given the emotional angst, philosophical profundity and lunar weird she customarily packs into a couplet, how could Nicks's George RR Martin-inspired poems not be superb? Let's let's imagine what they'll be like ...


Rock on – Daenerys Targaryen
You've got baby dragons
On your shoulder
And a liberal stance on
Nude scenes
Should the script
Demand it. Whoo ... whoo... whoo ...
You're just like the white-winged dove
Flying to your nest-throne, love
Through fire, ice and, you know, dolour
Though I wonder if that's your natural hair colour
Rock on – Daenerys Targaryen
You've got baby dragons
On your shoulder
And, girl, you know you know how to work
That off-the-shoulder number
I actually pioneered, yeah?
Like 50 years ago or something? Whoo... whoo... whoo ...
Girl, you weren't born
To make things easy
Especially for Iain Glen
Who plays your bondsman
Ser Jorah Mormont.
What a jerk-off name
Men. Don't get me started
Have I ever told you about Lindsey Buckingham?
Don't even go there
Whoo... whoo... whoo ...

Jon Snow … so cold and yet so hot.
 Jon Snow … so cold and yet so hot. Photograph: Helensloan

Jon Snow

And the girl who stole my heart?I'm climbing the icy wall
Bound to fall
Especially coz that clown with the googly eyes from The Office
Yeah, that's him. Mackenzie Crook
Not what you'd call a look
Er. Is cutting my rope
The one with a sour face like
Mick Fleetwood and Sam Fox's love child?
You know who I'm talking about. She's not all that.
She's conflicted
Which isn't what you want to hear
When you're dangling from a sheer
Ice cliff
I need you to love me
I need you today
I don't want any more girl-on-boy fisticuffs
Because I'm sensitive and fey
It's easy to confuse
Me with news
Jon Snow. Some have made that mistake
But I'm, like, 700 years younger
And built. I'm just saying

Cersei … those are hair extensions, right?
 Cersei … those are hair extensions, right? Photograph: HBO


Cersei rings like a bell through the night
And wouldn't you love to love her?
Cersei rings like a bell through the night
Especially if you're her brother
All your life you've always had a
Non-judgmental approach to sibling rumpy
And a snooty eyebrow thing
That makes your dwarf brother jumpy
Plus more wicked witchery than Christine McVie
Which is saying something, whoah!
And an evil son who makes you fret over
Nature versus nurture
Was incest in the middle ages forbidden?
What do I look like, a historian?
All your life you've never seen
A boy pushed from a high window
By a bro and sis
Who didn't want the secret to get out
Well, not until recently
You've got hotsy totsy lips
Majestic froideur
A smile as big as, erm, Big Sur
But those have got to be hair extensions, right?
Taken by the wind
Taken by the wind
Hair extensions
In these
Troubled times

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Saturday, April 11, 2015

Strange Fruit / Anniversary of a Lynching

Eighty years ago, on Aug. 7, 1930, Lawrence Beitler took what would become the most iconic photograph of lynching in America. Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith were lynched in the town center of Marion, Ind., for allegedly murdering a white factory worker, Claude Deeter, and raping his companion, Mary Ball. But the case was never solved.
Lawrence Beitler/Bettmann/Corbis

Strange Fruit: Anniversary Of A Lynching

AUGUST 06, 2010 4:30 PM ET

Eighty years ago, two young African-American men, Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith, were lynched in the town center of Marion, Ind. The night before, on Aug. 6, 1930, they had been arrested and charged with the armed robbery and murder of a white factory worker, Claude Deeter, and the rape of his companion, Mary Ball.
That evening, local police were unable to stop a mob of thousands from breaking into the jail with sledgehammers and crowbars to pull the young men out of their cells and lynch them.
News of the lynching spread across the world. Local photographer Lawrence Beitler took what would become the most iconic photograph of lynching in America. The photograph shows two bodies hanging from a tree surrounded by a crowd of ordinary citizens, including women and children. Thousands of copies were made and sold. The photograph helped inspire the poem and song "Strange Fruit" written by Abel Meeropol — and performed around the world by Billie Holiday.
But there was a third person, 16-year-old James Cameron, who narrowly survived the lynching.

The mob grabbed Shipp and Smith first — and then came back for Cameron. He had a noose around his neck when he made an improbable escape.
"After 15 or 20 minutes of having their pictures taken and everything, they came back to get me," Cameron told NPR in 1994. "Just then the sheriff, and he was sweating like somebody had throwed a bucket of water in his face. He told the mob leader: 'Get the hell out of here, you already hung two of 'em so that ought to satisfy ya.' Then they began to yell for me like a favorite basketball or football player. They said: 'We want Cameron, we want Cameron, we want Cameron.'
"And I looked over to the faces of the people as they were beating me along the way to the tree. I was pleading for some kind of mercy, looking for a kind face. But I could find none. They got me up to the tree and they got a rope and they put it around my neck. And they began to push me under the tree. And that's when I prayed to God. I said, 'Lord have mercy, forgive me my sins.' I was ready to die."
That's when some people say a local Marion citizen stood on the hood of his car and shouted, "He's innocent, he didn't do it."
Whatever the cause, the mob decided not to lynch Cameron and he was taken back to the jail.
Cameron was moved out of town, convicted as an accessory to the murder and served four years in jail.
But the case was never solved.
"We know that three young black men were at the scene of the crime. We know there was also a young white woman at the scene of the crime. Who pulled the trigger, who shot Claude Deeter is not known. And I don't think really can be known," says historian Jim Madison at Indiana University.
James Cameroni
In 2005, James Cameron spoke at a press conference held by Senate members who passed a historic resolution apologizing for the body's failure to enact federal anti-lynching legislation during the first half of the 20th century.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images
After the lynching, Cameron became a very devout man and vividly describes this day in his autobiographical account, A Time of Terror.
He believed that the voice that came from the crowd to save him was the voice of an angel.
He also went on to found three chapters of the NAACP, served as Indiana's State Director of the Office of Civil Liberties and founded America's Black Holocaust Museum.
In 1993, the governor of Indiana, Evan Bayh, formally pardoned Cameron.
"When a traumatic event happens like that, it makes an indelible imprint on the mind," Cameron said. "But I told him, since Indiana had forgiven me, I, in turn, forgive Indiana."
Cameron died on June 11, 2006, at the age of 92. He is survived by his wife Virginia; three children, Virgil, Walter and Dolores Cameron; and numerous grandchildren.
Produced by Joe Richman and Anayansi Diaz-Cortes of Radio Diaries with help from Deborah George, Ben Shapiro, Samara Freemark and Annie Baer. Special thanks to James Madison, author of A Lynching in the Heartland; Virgil Cameron, son of the late James Cameron; the Indiana University-Purdue University archive; Wisconsin Public Television; and WHYY's Fresh Air for use of their 1994 interview with James Cameron.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Strange Fruit is still a song for today

Billie Holiday

Strange Fruit is still a song for today

by Edwin Moore
Saturday 18 September 2010 10.00 BST

Made famous by Billie Holiday, Abel Meeropol's lyrics offer a powerful plea for racial tolerance that is no less relevant today
On the last day of 1999, Time magazine selected Strange Fruit as its choice for the best song of the passing century. The lyric is not as well as known as it should be, but it carries a passionate message for all time with its vibrant opposition to those who preach racial or religious hatred and intolerance in the US.
It is still a common assumption that Billie Holiday wrote the song; indeed her authorship was asserted in her 1956 ghostwritten autobiography Lady Sings the Blues, but the work was ghostwritten to an extent she would later acknowledge in fine laconic manner: "I ain't never read that book." The original source of the song is a poem called Strange Fruit, written in the 30s by the young Jewish poet and communist Abel Meeropol (who also wrote under the name of Lewis Allan, the first names given to his stillborn children).
The poem was inspired by a photograph of the lynching of two young black men in Indiana. Copies of such photographs were very popular in the American south, and the images can be easily found on the web. One particularly disturbing example shows a mother and her child hanging from a bridge. In many cases, the hanged victims are surrounded by smiling white people waving at the camera. They sometimes have their children with them. The horrible truth is that in parts of the south in the early 20th century, the hanging of black people in public was a family occasion; lynching was part of the social fabric. "I wrote Strange Fruit," said Meeropol, "because I hate lynching, and I hate injustice, and I hate the people who perpetuate it."
Meeropol recognised that he had written something out of the ordinary and turned the poem into a song, which quickly became popular in New York and was sung at Madison Square Gardens by the black singer Laura Duncan. In April 1939, Meeropol visited a New York club frequented by Holiday called Cafe Society. This club, founded by another Jewish socialist, Barney Josephson, has been described as bringing about a "milestone" in American integration between black and white in its brave efforts to create an environment in which white and black could mix socially.
Josephson introduced the two and Meeropol sang the song for Holiday. A few days later, Meeropol returned to the club to hear Holiday sing his masterwork: "She gave a startling, most dramatic and effective interpretation of the song which could jolt the audience out of its complacency anywhere. This was exactly what I wanted the song to do and why I wrote it. Billie Holiday's styling fulfilled the bitterness and the shocking quality I had hoped the song would have. The audience gave a tremendous ovation."
Released in 1939, the record eventually sold over a million copies and became one of the most influential songs of all time, thanks to its rare combination of potent lyrics, a decent melodic line and a beautiful voice. Protest song became commercial, as well as being an expression of idealism: the song became a standard theme for the burgeoning civil rights movement, a song that previously non-political citizens could find themselves humming: just what Meeropol hoped would happen.
Meeropol also wrote (with Earl Robinson) the civil rights anthem The House I Live In, which was used for a 1945 11-minute movie of the same name, in which Frank Sinatra sings about religious tolerance to white children. The effect of Meeropol's song in this brief movie – the song enjoyed a brief resurgence in the US after 9/11 – was somewhat lessened by the removal of a stanza celebrating racial harmony (the reference to white and black living side by side was also cut from Sinatra's first recording of the song). The movie's distributor felt America was not yet ready for an explicit message on racial harmony. A furious Meeropol had to be escorted from the cinema when he saw what been done to his song.
In 1953, Meeropol and his wife Anne adopted Ethel and Julius Rosenberg's two children after their parents' execution for treason. Meeropol's significance to the American civil rights movement has been underplayed; it remains too controversial to give due credit to a communist.
Jazz writer Leonard Feather called Strange Fruit "the first significant protest in words and music, the first unmuted cry against racism". In these troubled times for America, when the hate merchants are selling their malignant wares throughout the media, the country needs to remember its true music, the songs (from Irving Berlin to Bob Dylan) that have endeared America to the world with their defiant and joyous response to injustice. New York in particular should remember that inspired Bronx teacher, and listen again to Holiday sing his great song:
Southern trees bear strange fruit
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root
Black body swinging in the southern breeze
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.

Pastoral scene of the gallant south
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth
Scent of magnolia sweet and fresh
Then the sudden smell of burning flesh!

Here is fruit for the crows to pluck
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck
For the sun to rot, for the trees to drop
Here is a strange and bitter crop.