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October 09, 2006

Tom Lehrer and Political Satire

As part of a chemistry "assignment", one of the teachers for our homeschooling "co-op" gave her kids the URL to an old Tom Lehrer song where he sings many of the elements to the tune of "Modern Major General". In doing that, we looked up some information on Lehrer, who's songs I'd heard here and there as a kid. Funny stuff.

Lehrer was quite the Harvard liberal. On Wikipedia, it says he quipped that political satire became obsolete when Henry Kissinger won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1973. I just wonder if good ol' Tom had anything to say when Yassar Arafat won it. Just wondering.

Posted by Doug at October 9, 2006 04:36 PM

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Most progressives I know were dismayed with both the selection of Yasser and of Kissinger. Would you expect anything else?

Remember, just because we want to hold our own accountable when they make mistakes doesn't mean that we support the "other's" misdeeds.

Posted by: Dan Trabue at October 10, 2006 05:19 PM

I was just wondering if Lehrer himself, moved to comment on Kissinger, was so moved for Arafat. Best I can tell, he wasn't.

Posted by: Doug Payton at October 10, 2006 06:04 PM

For many of us, it is more kosher and beneficial to critique our own rather than others. When we critique our own, we show impartiality, sobriety, humility and a willingness to be honest, not to mention indicate a desire for change that we might actually affect.

When we critique others - especially when we don't criticize ourselves - we are criticizing that over which we have little control. We have little control over what Arafat may or may not do - he's part of another sovereign nation. But we DO have some control over and responsibility for war criminals of our own like Kissinger.

In other words, we believe in removing the plank from our own eyes before talking about the planks in others' eyes.

Posted by: Dan Trabue at October 11, 2006 03:48 PM