The Corner

Your Land is My Land

Elsewhere on NRO this fine morning, Lee Habeeb has a terrific column on Woody Guthrie and “This Land Is Your Land,” a song I have always loathed, mostly on musical grounds — the consciously childlike melody, and the stiltedness of its central rhyme (“this land is my land . . . New York island”). I especially dislike it at my town’s Memorial Day ceremony when it intrudes on the Fifth Graders’ otherwise splendid repertoire of “God Bless America” and “You’re a Grand Old Flag.”

But Lee reminds us there are other reasons to loathe it. From Inauguration Day 2009:

Hope and change were in the air that cold winter day, and Seeger and Springsteen figured it was time for America to hear the rarely performed stanza.

There was a big high wall there that tried to stop me,

A great big sign there said, “private property”;

But on the back side, it didn’t say nothin’;

That side was made for you and me.

No wonder we’ve never heard that stanza. It changes Guthrie’s song from a celebration of America into a bitter indictment of a nation built on unjust private-property rights.

It’s not quite true that we’ve “never heard” that verse. I have a strong recollection from back in the mid-Nineties when the Kennedy Center Honors decided to honor that old Stalinist Pete Seeger. Woody Guthrie’s son Arlo concluded the night with “This Land” and sang the little-known verse, substituting “Proposition 187″ for the words “private property.” If memory serves, Mrs. Clinton clapped her hands with delight, and Seeger laughed — as well he might: He understood Arlo Guthrie was slyly using the specific topical reference as a cover for the more general point. Seeger, a man who colluded in the half-century-long theft of “Wimoweh” (“The Lion Sleeps Tonight”) from a penniless African musician called Solomon Linda, has a long history of indifference to property rights other than his own.

Mark Steyn is an international bestselling author, a Top 41 recording artist, and a leading Canadian human-rights activist.

Most Popular

Books

Jordan Peterson v. the Publishing Mob

Staff at Penguin Random House Canada have “confronted management” about the decision to publish Jordan Peterson’s book in an “emotional town hall,” Vice reports. Peterson’s Beyond Order: 12 More Rules for Life will be released in March 2021. Apparently, one “junior employee who is a member of the ... Read More
Books

Jordan Peterson v. the Publishing Mob

Staff at Penguin Random House Canada have “confronted management” about the decision to publish Jordan Peterson’s book in an “emotional town hall,” Vice reports. Peterson’s Beyond Order: 12 More Rules for Life will be released in March 2021. Apparently, one “junior employee who is a member of the ... Read More
Elections

About That ‘Broken Algorithm’

Of all the loopy assertions made at the press conference President Trump’s legal team conducted last Thursday, the one that has been most roundly derided is the since-ousted Sidney Powell’s claim that the national popular vote was such a landslide for President Trump “that it broke the algorithm that had ... Read More
Elections

About That ‘Broken Algorithm’

Of all the loopy assertions made at the press conference President Trump’s legal team conducted last Thursday, the one that has been most roundly derided is the since-ousted Sidney Powell’s claim that the national popular vote was such a landslide for President Trump “that it broke the algorithm that had ... Read More
U.S.

The Coming Anti-COVID Restriction Backlash

The backlash is coming. It already seems clear that the first major political and cultural eruption of the Biden years will be a roiling populist backlash against the next round of COVID restrictions. We saw this sentiment play out in sporadic anti-lockdown demonstrations last spring, and it has driven ... Read More
U.S.

The Coming Anti-COVID Restriction Backlash

The backlash is coming. It already seems clear that the first major political and cultural eruption of the Biden years will be a roiling populist backlash against the next round of COVID restrictions. We saw this sentiment play out in sporadic anti-lockdown demonstrations last spring, and it has driven ... Read More
Elections

To ‘Steal’ an Election

Dan has a good article on the homepage, the main point of which is that the system worked, since Trump’s efforts to reverse the election failed. Certainly I agree with him about that. But he also finds charges that Trump tried to “steal” the election “overheated.” Since I made such a claim myself, I ... Read More
Elections

To ‘Steal’ an Election

Dan has a good article on the homepage, the main point of which is that the system worked, since Trump’s efforts to reverse the election failed. Certainly I agree with him about that. But he also finds charges that Trump tried to “steal” the election “overheated.” Since I made such a claim myself, I ... Read More
World

‘Rebellious Scots’ Are Oddly Compliant

This summer, the Scottish Conservatives accused Scotland's first minister Nicola Sturgeon of misrepresenting data on multiple occasions in order to suggest that the prevalence of COVID-19 was five times higher in England than in Scotland. The Office for Statistics Regulation also rebuked the Scottish National ... Read More
World

‘Rebellious Scots’ Are Oddly Compliant

This summer, the Scottish Conservatives accused Scotland's first minister Nicola Sturgeon of misrepresenting data on multiple occasions in order to suggest that the prevalence of COVID-19 was five times higher in England than in Scotland. The Office for Statistics Regulation also rebuked the Scottish National ... Read More