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Music And Society

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The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines music as "the science or art of ordering tones or sounds in succession, in combination, and in temporal relationships to produce a composition having unity and continuity" (A 1). While this may suitably cover the technically aspect of music, anyone who has ever listened to music knows that it is so much more, that music is an aural representation of a person's soul. It encompasses elements of that person such as convictions, observations, and beliefs. These artistic interpretations represent a group of socially conscious creative types scattered among various types of people who use music as a means by which to express themselves. Thus, music is an imprint of society's response to current events as shown through hate music, music centered around American president George W. Bush, and the protest music of Zimbabwe.

Hate music is one of the most controversial forms of music. It is music that boldly expresses feelings of hatred and anger at specific groups of people. Common targets for hate music include followers of the Jewish faith and people of African descent. Hate music is widespread throughout America, however it is also thriving in Europe and Australia. Says the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), "Today, hate music plays a central role in the white supremacist movement in the U.S., Europe, and elsewhere" (B 1). This underground subculture of people operates very efficiently and is alarmingly organized in their ways. They admire leaders such as Adolf Hitler, a figurehead for targeted hatred, leader of the Nazi German movement of the 1930's and 40's which claimed millions of innocent lives. Neo-Nazism has brought its own new breed of auditory propaganda; music is one of the strongest recruiting tools for Neo-Nazis. The ADL website states, "It is one of the most significant ways neo-Nazis attempt to attract young people into their movement; this source of recruitment is possibly the most important factor in the ability of neo-Nazi groups to expand or even maintain their membership" (B 1). Leaders of hate organizations prey on children ages 13-19 specifically because they have a tendency to be more unsure of themselves as people and possess a certain naivety which is ideal for the kind of reconstructive molding that many hate groups intend to perform. One record company responsible for producing hate music, named "Panzerfaust Records" after German tanks used in World War II, proudly boasts the slogan, "We don't just entertain racist kids, we create them" (E 1). Though there are several methods by which children can be reached, hate organizations are attempting to utilize them all. In early 2004, white supremacists in Germany launched a plan that would make some cringe. The idea was dubbed "Project Schoolyard" and it attacked in a place where children are left without the protective eye of their parents: school. The ADL reports:

"Recent FBI statistics underline the susceptibility of youth to hate: 33% of all known hate crime offenders are under 18; 29% of all hate crime offenders are 18-24; and more than 10% of hate crime incidents reported occurred at schools and colleges" (B 1).

White supremacist volunteers made plans to distribute thousands of demo CDs to children in the target demographic in schools throughout Germany. German laws, however, are very stringent about freedom of speech. The plan was crushed in its beginning stages, before the demo CDs were even created. However, the activists were determined to be heard. They launched a new plan, a very intelligent plan that took advantage of a certain aspect of German government; the legislators don't convene on weekends. The CDs were made in an underground label on a Friday evening and handed out to youths over the weekend. By the time Monday morning had dawned and the government met to outlaw the operation, the plan had already been completed and all the CDs were gone, spinning in the CD players of impressionable children all across the country. Though some may think that this music would not have an effect on German youth, it's enormous impact is profoundly misunderstood. Says Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center, "I've heard testimonial after testimonial from people who have been in the white supremacist movementÐ'..... who have said, "believe it or not, the music was the single most important thing to me" (C 1). Many people who support hate music, especially American hate music, state that laws protect their freedom of speech. Those rising to defend American artists often resort to stating that they are protected under the First Amendment, which grants freedom of speech, among other things. European bands who write music with prejudiced lyrics often have no legal defense; this type of music has been outlawed in most of Europe. Such bands will often use more vague lyrics so as not to implicate themselves in any sort of hatred because such lyrics are open to interpretation. Nationalist Folk Music, a subgenre of hate music, is very common in Europe because of such esoteric lyrics that enable the artist to communicate their true meaning while seemingly adhering to the law. One of the founders of modern hate music is the late Ian Stuart Donaldson, a British rocker who, along with his bandmates in Skrewdriver, became one of the most influential figures in white power music. After his death, he was put on a pedestal and practically worshipped by white supremacists everywhere. To this day, Skrewdriver is considered one of, if not the most influential band ever involved in hate music. Examples of their music can be found on tracks 1-8 on the accompanying CD. One of the most controversial issues that is often associated with hate music is the issue of hate crimes. Hate crimes are crimes committed out of hatred for a target group and are caused by prejudice. Common targets of hate crimes include people of different races, religions, and sexual orientations. Of all the hate crimes committed in 2003, 52.5% were based on racial prejudice. (D 1) The question that doesn't seem to be getting a straight answer, though, is how is the music affecting hate crime statistics? An FBI report states that in 2003 there were 9,100 hate crime victims in the United States alone. With the popularity of Neo-Nazi hate music on the rise, only time can tell if there is some sort of correlation between what some see as harmless self-expression and illicit activities fueled by a hatred that few are even aware still exists.

For some Americans, George W. Bush is one of the finest leaders our country has seen, a real American man who tends to the needs of the country. For others, George W. Bush is seen as a buffoon, an idiotic smudge on America's political record. Regardless of what your personal perspective is, one thing cannot



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