Pete Seeger, as almost every reader of these pages will know, passed away at the age of 94 on Jan. 27, 2014. Pete was a great folksinger, explorer of US music, and song writer. In his younger days he was also a great banjo picker, and learned how to play the 12-string guitar (a difficult instrument in its own right) from the legendary Afro-American blues singer Huddie Ledbetter, better known as Leadbelly. He worked with one of the founding US folklorists, Alan Lomax, as well as his with his father, Charles Seeger and his step-mother, Ruth Crawford Seeger (mother of Pete’s step-sister, the folk singer Peggy Seeger). And of course he was a close colleague of the iconic Woody Guthrie.
As some of my readers know, I am a public health physician. I recently had the opportunity to offer some remarks at a conference at the Yale School of Public Health on gun violence and public health. This Commentary is drawn from those remarks. I began by noting that when talking about this subject, the National Rifle Association is the 800 lb. gorilla in the room. I noted at that conference that none of the other speakers, all of whom had government grant-funded research and intervention programs underway, mentioned the words “National Rifle Association.” All publicly funded, how could they? If one whiff, not of the gunshots that are so frequent in our society, but of criticism of the NRA coming from a publicly funded program got back to the NRA, giving its totally corrupting influence on the political process in our country, there goes that funding.
As I noted in my last BuzzFlash Commentary published a couple of weeks ago, the previous Sunday I had been walking on a street in New York City when two stickers on the back of an old SUV caught my eye. One said “McCain 2008.” The other showed the Obama “sunrise” logo with the old Soviet hammer and sickle symbol imposed upon it. That’s a clear message, no? Obama is a communist, no, rather a commie, and likely a Kenyan Muslim one to boot. Of course when folks of this car-owner’s ilk, the “teabaggers” and such, aren’t calling Obama a communist, they are calling him a “Nazi.”