“Theirs is a land with a wall around it” – Ta-Nehisi Coates and Fridays with Billy.

Even the most casual reader of this blog will know that I am a great admirer of Ta-Nehisi Coates’s work, and am very active in the community that has grown up among his readers — and though lately I don’t have as much time to hang out there as I have done in the past, I’m still taking it all in.

Yesterday, for instance, Ta-Nehisi wrote not once but twice about the essential cruelty of America’s right-wing. In the first post, he wrote:

[An] embrace of cruelty is arguably the dominant feature of the present conservative movement. It has been repeatedly expressed in alleged “humor.” The assertion of a right of judgement over the First Lady’s physical person, for instance. Or watermelon patches on the front lawn. Or Obama waffles.  There is little distance from that kind of cruelty to aspirin between one’s legs and from aspirin between one’s legs to transvaginal probes.

In the second, he discussed Rush Limbaugh’s execrable treatment of a law student who had wanted to testify before the House of Representatives on the issue of insurance coverage for birth control, writing:

[I]t is worth calling this what is is–the normalization of cruelty–and asserting, no matter how redundant, that is wrong and evidence of the lowest aspects of humanity.

It’s very hard to escape the same conclusion, in light of the racism, misogyny, homophobia, and anti-poor animus that the GOP and its hangers-on have been spewing with convincing vehemence ever since the 2008 elections, and I think that was part of what I was getting at (if in a round-about way) in this post: “Liberals, Conservatives, and human nature.

But of course, Billy Bragg has had a thing or two to say about these same notions. Because he gets it, Billy does. And so today I bring you “Between The Wars” — and as is so often true with Billy, this song is both very specific to time and place, and shockingly universal.

I kept the faith and I kept voting
Not for the iron fist but for the helping hand
For theirs is a land with a wall around it
And mine is a faith in my fellow man

Theirs is a land with a wall around it, and mine is a faith in my fellow man. Yep.

full lyricsWhat is Fridays with Billy?


  1. My reply at TNC’s place got eaten by the Victorian Censor. But it was along the lines of “while we can’t unionize only angels, the people in the movement – especially the leaders – need to speak out when their followers say or do things that are abhorrent or that are simply evil.”

    I am glad I no longer consider myself a conservative or a Republican (for my own reasons); I am still beyond sad that people I once respected and admired are so mealy mouthed now with this horrible ugliness.

    Don’t like Obama? Fine. You don’t have to like him.

    Don’t respect him? Also fine. You don’t have to respect him.

    But in your capacity as a leader in the U.S., whether political or social, you have a responsibility to the betterment of the union. What the judge said was sickeningly juvenile and hurtful. What Rush said was so unacceptable that he should be fired (even though he won’t be because he makes money saying these cruel things).

    I do see hope, though, because companies which sponsor his show are being pressured to drop their support. There is a line that can be drawn where even making money isn’t worth the damage to your brand; perhaps Rush has finally crossed that line.

    • And fwiw, this is just a bad week for me to hear all this. (All about me, I know.) Why people thing that adding to ugliness adds to the advancement of our world is beyond me.

      • Dex

         /  March 2, 2012

        Sorry to hear that you’re having a bad week. We can sit here together and harumph if you like. My happy hour starts at noon central.

        • Well, I laughed. My happy hour won’t start probably until Monday night.

          One of the benefits of a public space is the ability to connect to real people using one’s real name.

          One of the consequences is that there needs to be a distinct firewall between personal and private, if only for the privacy of others.

          • null

            (PS I looked for a gif or a video, so that it would be moving, but this is all I got. xoxo!)

            • I meant to reply earlier – I was away from a device that could post.

              All I can say is…

              Aw, thanks!

  2. A “Christian” nation would not accept such virulence and degradation of over half its citizens, ala Limbaugh. If you ever needed a better example of why this isn’t a Christian nation, I posit this as proof thereof.

    I was watching The American Experience last night, about the Amish, and it struck me that — despite what we consider their “backward” ways — their whole way-of-life is predicated around community. It was mentioned that they looked on phones in the home as destructive because, if you have a phone and can simply call people, you will not be impelled to visit them. Say what you will about their faith and their homogeneity, but their rejection of modern values of consumption and consumerism, and their solid faith in the individual and the individual’s place in the community, put them light-years ahead of the rest of us, especially those who spend most of their time sitting in hypocritical judgment of others, seeking to draw lines and build fences.

    E pluribus unum — from many, one. We need to learn to live those words, not just print them on our currency.

  3. caoil

     /  March 2, 2012

    I think that should be on a shirt “…theirs is a land…”. I would wear that everywhere.