Here is surely the Second Worst use of Woody Guthrie. An NYU professor worries greatly about boarding a plane with a laptop that has a sticker with "This machine kills fascists" written on it.
"If I were pulled aside, would the security staff see me as a genial professor and frequent flyer?"
"Or would the staff see me as a man with a long, foreign name, olive skin, a goatee and an attitude?"
So, he takes the sticker off the computer and boards the plane. His concern is certainly understandable; after all, most security personnel are unlikely to appreciate a reference to the words that Woody Guthrie wrote on his guitar.
"After I got through security, pangs of guilt hit me. I don't really want to live this way. I don't want to censor myself from making harmless statements during sensitive times. What will I do when I have to make serious statements during difficult times?"
Excuse me? Does he really think that Guthrie's statement was intended to be harmless? It wasn't for the singer. He really did mean to kill fascists. Which was why he signed up to fight in World War II. He was a part of the anti-fascist left. Remember them?
The author then decries the increased security and paranoia in contemporary America, which Guthrie would certainly have decried as well. But, he really lost me with this line:
"The state of mind in the United States for the past two years is a strange mix of arrogance and paranoia. We are confident that we can defeat something as nebulous as 'terrorism', yet we panic over the smallest hint of risk."
This is where Woody Guthrie would have rolled over in his grave. The whole point of his line about killing fascists was that he would in fact kill fascists. There wasn't a question about it for him. "Terrorism" isn't in fact "nebulous"; it's quite easy to define. And the use of terrorism to force others to conform to your political beliefs is fascism. This isn't a question. It's bold-faced fascism, and even worse, it's theocratic fascism. Is there any question that Woody Guthrie was talking about fascists like the ones who blow up subway stations? The ones whose politics seemingly boil down to a revoltingly mysogynist, fundamentalist, anti-gay, psychopathic view of the universe? The left has a tradition of fighting, and even killing, these sorts of fascists. Or, at least, we did until the New Left decided that fascism doesn't count unless it's American fascism.
But, this too is fascism. And even if it isn't speaking to us in a southern American accent, we should still be able to recognize it as such. Sorry, to have to phrase it this way, but I joined the left because I felt that the only good fascist is a very dead one. This doesn't mean that I support the arrogant drunken stupidity of the current administration, but it does mean that I see "terrorism" as the language of fascism.
Now, back to the vacation.