Goodbye, Van Morrison

(RNS) — For more than a half-century, I have been a fan of the Northern Irish singer-songwriter, Van Morrison. His voice, his phrasing, his instrumentation and production — loved them all. My iPhone is home to any number of his songs: “Wild Honey,” “Tupelo Honey,” “Jackie Wilson Said,” “Moon Dance,” “Days Like This,” “Across the Bridge Where the Angels Dwell.”

You will notice I have not posted links to these songs.

There is a reason.

I no longer want to support Van Morrison’s work.

Why?

Because of the song “They Own the Media” on his new album, “Latest Record Project, Vol. 1.”

They tell us that ignorance is bliss
I guess by those that control the media, it is
They own the media, they control the stories we are told
If you ever try to go against them, you will be ignored.

‘Cause they control
They control
They control

They control the narrative, they perpetuate the myth
Keep on telling you lies, tell you ignorance is bliss
Believe it all and you’ll never get, nеver get wise
To thе truth, cause they control everything you do

Everything you do
Everything you do
Everything you do

They control the narrative, they perpetuate the myth
Keep on telling you lies, tell you ignorance is bliss
Believe it all and you’ll never get the truth
Never get wise, wise through their lies

Through their lies
Through their lies
They control the media
They control the media
They control the media

You’ve heard of dog whistles?

This song is not a dog whistle.

It is a saxophone solo — a not-so-subtle work of antisemitism coming from the pen and soul of the 75-year-old Belfast Cowboy.

This song is about the Jews.

The myth that the Jews control the media is one of the most popular, and ugliest, antisemitic canards in history. It first appeared in the infamous antisemitic forgery, “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.” Henry Ford repeated it in the Dearborn Independent. The Czech politician Tomas Masaryk believed the Jews controlled the press.

White supremacist leader and former KKK grand wizard David Duke has said Jews control the media and has referred to “CNN Jews.”

So, let us be clear. Van Morrison is not in good company. When you find yourself agreeing with David Duke, and vice versa …

Not that Morrison needed David Duke to teach him this. He might have simply opened the window of his home in Northern Ireland to hear about it. The “Jews control the media” myth has been alive and well in the U.K. As early as 1893, a weekly newspaper would say, “We have no feeling against Jews as Jews, but as nefarious capitalists and poisoners of the well of public information, we denounce them.” Decades later, British right-wingers would say the Jews “controlled the press of half the world.”

I have an idea for a concert tour.

“Aging Rockers Who Have a Thing About the Jews.”

That would be Van Morrison and Roger Waters.

After all, Roger has been a vociferous supporter of the BDS (Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions) movement. In at least one concert, he has featured an inflatable pig with a Star of David.

This is not Van’s first time jamming with divergent political and social ideas. In his song “Born To Be Free,” he criticizes the COVID lockdown: “Don’t need the government cramping my style, Give them an inch — they take a mile.” Is he philosophically opposed to social distancing? Or is he just angry and frustrated such distancing is preventing him from doing the large-scale concerts he (and any other performer) would prefer — thus cramping his style?

And so it is that my Van Morrison MP3s now go “into the mystic.”

Some of you will shrug this off. You will mutter something about Van being 75 and maybe he’s tired and cynical, and “after all, it’s not that he said the word ‘Jews.’ Why are you being so sensitive?”

I just have one thing to ask.

If Van had used other stereotypes, even unnamed, with that word “they” (remembering, of course, his first band was named Them) …

Wouldn’t you be talking boycott?

Wouldn’t you be demanding an apology?

So, please tell me: what is different here?

And, even more than that: Why?

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