File spoon-archives/bhaskar.archive/bhaskar_2001/bhaskar.0109, message 21


Date: Sun, 16 Sep 2001 14:48:39 -0500
Subject: Re: BHA: Stop the rush to war]



viren viven murthy wrote:
> 
>  We rarely hear much about the
> people who die in Iraq, but the people who died in the Twin Towers are
> given names, faces and a narrative.

This is what enraged Guthrie to his greatest work nearly 60 years ago,
the namelessness of the victims of capitalism:


				Deportee
            The crops are all in and the peaches are rotting,
            The oranges are piled in their creosote dumps.
            You are flying them back to the Mexican border
            To pay all their money to wade back again.

                Goodbye to my Juan, goodbye Rosalita,
                Adios mis amigos, Jesus y Maria.
                You won't have a name when you fly the big airplane
                And all they will call you will be deportee.

            My father's own father he waded that river,
            They stole all the money he made in his life.
            My sisters and brothers come working the fruit trees
            And rode the truck till they took down and died.

                Goodbye to my Juan, goodbye Rosalita,
                Adios mis amigos, Jesus y Maria.
                You won't have a name when you fly the big airplane
                And all they will call you will be deportee.

            Some of us are illegal and some are not wanted.
            Our work contract's out and we have to move on
            Six hundred miles to the Mexican border.
            They chase us like outlaws, like rustlers, like thieves.

                Goodbye to my Juan, goodbye Rosalita,
                Adios mis amigos, Jesus y Maria.
                You won't have a name when you fly the big airplane
                And all they will call you will be deportee.

            We died in your hills, we died in your deserts,
            We died in your valleys and died on your plains,
            We died 'neath your trees and we died in your bushes,
            Both sides of the river -- we died just the same.

                Goodbye to my Juan, goodbye Rosalita,
                Adios mis amigos, Jesus y Maria.
                You won't have a name when you fly the big airplane
                And all they will call you will be deportee.

            The sky plane caught fire over Los Gatos Canyon --
       `    A fireball of lightning which shook all our hills,
            Who are all these friends all scattered like dry leaves?
            The radio says they are just . . . deportees.

                Goodbye to my Juan, goodbye Rosalita,
                Adios mis amigos, Jesus y Maria.
                You won't have a name when you fly the big airplane
                And all they will call you will be deportee.

            Is this the best way we can grow our big orchards?
            Is this the best way we can grow our good fruit --
            To fall like dry leaves, to rot on my topsoil
            And be called by no name except deportees?

                Goodbye to my Juan, goodbye Rosalita,
                Adios mis amigos, Jesus y Maria.
                You won't have a name when you fly the big airplane
                And all they will call you will be deportee.


This is a truly great work. Before dismissing it as merely another
protest song, note carefully the incredibly sophisticated variations on
the personal pronouns and possessive adjectives. (E.g., who is the "my"
of "my topsoil"?) And it is worth spending a good deal of time
considering the difference between victims with names and nameless ones,
and whether that difference "should" count. And why it does count so
much. The polar opposite to Guthrie's perspective (and the rationale for
current treatment of Sept. 11 in the U.S., is Charles Dickens, _Bleak
House_, in which those who give consideration to strangers are viciously
burlesqued.

Carrol


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