No, I can’t let this pass.
1. Has any song in recorded history made so many so stupid? On October 11, 1971, John Lennon’s “Imagine” was released. Many sources call the facile ode to Fantasyland “one of the most influential songs of the 20th century.” Sadly, that’s probably true. Lennon said the song’s lyrics were heavily influenced by Lennon’s wife, Yoko Ono. That figures. (Earlier this year, “Imagine” came under fire in this post.)
Lennon’s lyrics are like crack for the unformed, naïve or perpetually infantile mind, and have served as—what? Inspiration can’t be the right word—for dewy-eyed, smug, condescending and even violent progressives for decades. In a lazy 2019 article titled, “The Legacy of John Lennon’s Song “Imagine,” Laurie Ulster writes,
The impact of the song is unquestionable. But disguised within its message of peace and love and its flowing piano melody is a collection of edgy, “dangerous” ideas that challenge society as we know it. The song that has become an anthem all over the world is actually full of controversial lyrics and radical ideas. Lennon once called it “’Working Class Hero’ for conservatives,” and indeed, it challenges the status quo at its most fundamental.
No, the lyrics challenge common sense, reality and logic as we have always known it, and it doesn’t really challenge anything. Nations aren’t going anywhere; property isn’t going to disappear, humanity is not going to join hands and chant together in a “brotherhood/sisterhood” of man as the singer once pandered in a live performance, blowing the integrity of the song while forgetting that if he was going to do that, the line really had to be a “brotherhood/sisterhood of humankind” or something else that wouldn’t rhyme with the previous line, which ended in “can.”
Standards and systems that are pipe dreams aren’t ethical; they distract from ethics, which must be grounded in reality. Lennon, of course, was a cynic and a hypocrite, and he was also smarter than the lyrics of “Imagine” suggest. I assume he knew the song was crap, but profitable crap. Typically, Lennon, who was probably a sociopath, didn’t care if it rotted the brains of hopeful leftists and idealistic children and become an impediment to practical societal problem-solving indefinitely.
After all, John saw no reason to part with his custom-painted Rolls Royce that he never drove while telling his fans to “imagine no possessions.”
Okay, that’s two posts about this song in year. I hereby pledge never to speak of it again.
2. You keep using that word “rights”…I was going to write a post about how flippantly some announce new “rights” never envisioned in the creating of the United States. I recently read a book review here the eminent professor who authored the piece stated that there was a human right to have a safe, comfortable home. The idea of rights outlined by Thomas Jefferson, however, was that certain rights were established at birth, and governments must not interfere with them, indeed have an obligation to protect them by getting out of the way. The new definition of “rights” being advocated by progressives—not for the first time—are allged guaranteed benefits that require the government to provide by removing property and opportunity from others in order to provide them.
Conveniently, Harvard s School’s Carr Center for Human Rights offers 80 recommendations for “reimagining” Americans’ rights and responsibilities. It’s an Orwellian document, as it would greatly constrain the ability of individuals to engage in “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” but asserts the opposite: “A right of equal access to public goods and services is deeply rooted in the values of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” at the heart of the Declaration of Independence.” As a reading of the report quickly reveals, “equal access” means redistribution of wealth, forced equality of outcomes, and regulations and laws designed to advance one partisan agenda over another. The report advocates reparations, reduction of Second Amendment rights, and more. You would think any serious document on such a topic would take pains to appear objective and to avoid partisan talking points and narratives.
You would be wrong.