This is a column I didn`t want to write.
So it is, with disappointment, that I expose
Bruce Springsteen as a blatant open borders and illegal
What makes my depiction tough is that, through his
music and high-energy concerts, Springsteen has provided
millions like me with great pleasure.
The irony is that the "Boss" is an artist who, since
rock and roll beginnings thirty years ago in Asbury Park,
New Jersey, has represented himself as an advocate for the
Adding to the irony is that Springsteen is, I believe,
sincere in his concern about the little guy and deeply
disdainful of the
federal government bureaucrats who serve themselves
without regard for its citizens. Bruce never fails to plug
food banks that have tables set up inside the arena where he
Let me back up to 1984 in Tacoma, Washington when I saw my
first Bruce concert.
On the scheduled day of the show, Springsteen came up ill.
And about 5:00 p.m., only hours before the starting time, radio
stations throughout Seattle, announced: "No Bruce Springsteen
tonight! The show has been postponed until tomorrow."
Everyone`s plans were fouled up. Many who could make it on
the original day, couldn`t make it the next.
following night when Bruce walked onto the stage, aware of
the inconvenience he had inadvertently caused, he said: "I`ll
make it up to you. We`ll be rocking all night long."
For the next four hours, to his
fans` delight, Bruce played non-stop. The Tacoma Dome
As everyone learned, when you go to a Springsteen concert,
you get your money`s worth.
Since Tacoma, where Springsteen sang songs from his Born in the U.S.A.
album (I had
no idea at the time how much that phrase would eventually mean
to me), I`ve seen Springsteen several times including his recent
stop in Oakland (read the review
here) where he promoted his new album, Magic.
Springsteen is the same old Bruce—no opening act, no
best music from 15 studio albums.
A Springsteen concert is—or should be—a welcome relief from
National Question`s overwhelming weight.
And everything was fine until the finale,
American Land, a
original based on a
Pete Seeger song and added as a bonus track to the special
edition release of his 2006 album, We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions.
The American Land lyrics were displayed on large
overhead projectors. So there was no possible misunderstanding.
The romanticized, upbeat tune about why people journey to
America started innocently enough:
"I docked at
Ellis Island in a city of light and spire
I wandered to the valley of red-hot steel and fire
We made the steel that built the cities with the sweat of our
And I made my home in the American land
There`s diamonds in the sidewalk, there`s gutters lined in song
Dear, I hear that
beer flows through the faucets all night long
treasure for the taking, for any hard-working man
Who will make his home in the American land
The McNichols, the Posalskis, the Smiths, Zerillis too
The Blacks, the Irish, the Italians, the Germans and the Jews.”
Italian grandparents and Springsteen`s grandmother ("Zerilli")
"docked at Ellis Island,"
made their "home in the American land"—so
far, so good.
But then came the crusher:
“They died building the railroads, worked to bones and skin
They died in the fields and factories, names scattered in the
died to get here a hundred years ago,
they`re dyin` now
The hands that built the country we`re all trying to keep down."
In the blink of an eye, my night off from immigration came to an abrupt
end. I was suddenly "on-duty".
Except for the chorus, those words that misrepresented what immigration
reform is about—"The hands that built the country we`re
all trying to keep down"—were
the last Bruce sang that night.
I left the obnoxiously named
Oracle Arena angry—furious at Bruce for his song, and mad at
myself for being angry, if you can follow that.
After all, I had anted up big money for the tickets, fought the traffic
for two hours, paid the equivalent of a week`s worth of
groceries to park only to end up listening to Springsteen`s
ode to illegal immigration.
And I was irked at myself because, in reality, I may have been the only
person who picked up on Springsteen`s message. As I exited the
venue, I didn`t hear anyone say: "Wow, Bruce wants
more illegal immigration and lots
more immigrants from
Arab countries! Let`s do all we can to help further his
For all I know, Springsteen`s lyric may just have been words that worked
in his song. But for a talent like Bruce, I can`t imagine that
it would have taken much effort to write something else.
When I returned home, my curiosity piqued, I discovered that American
Land is not Bruce`s only foray into immigration advocacy.
Like American Land, it offers an insightful beginning:
"In town I passed Sal`s grocery
The barbershop on South Street
I looked in their faces
They were all rank strangers to me
“My father said Son, we`re lucky in this town,
It`s a beautiful place to be born.
It just wraps its arms around you,
Nobody crowds you and nobody goes it alone".
Then Springsteen`s tone shifted:
"You know that
flag flying over the courthouse
Means certain things are set in stone
Who we are, what we`ll do and what we won`t."
In case you miss Bruce`s meaning, see his YouTube.com video (watch it
here) where, when those words are sung at about the three
minute mark, (3:12) the camera flashes to a young Hispanic man
staring through a
chain link fence.
Here`s what Springsteen told New York Times critic, A. O. Scott
about "Long Walk Home":
"In that particular song a guy comes back to his town and
recognizes nothing and is recognized by nothing. The singer in
Long Walk Home, that`s his experience. His world has
changed. The things that he thought he knew, the people who he
thought he knew, whose ideals he had something in common with,
are like strangers. The world that he knew feels totally alien.
I think that`s what`s happened in this country in the past six
Love With Pop, Uneasy With the World, By A. O. Scott, New York Times, September 21, 2007]
Springsteen`s analysis describes exactly my feelings when I return to
What Springsteen failed to acknowledge is the
"people he thought
he knew" have most likely left
his hometown of Long Branch (now
20 percent Hispanic) pushed out by immigration.
And his old neighbors whose
"ideals he thought he had something
in common with" are probably
vehemently opposed to mass, particularly immigration.
Springsteen is so close to getting it! But his liberal leanings (he
lived in Beverly Hills) just don`t allow him to follow his
instincts to their logical conclusion—legal and illegal
immigration plays a major role in changing the world he grew up
in and loved.
That`s a pity. Although I don`t believe that
Springsteen`s advocacy matters—American sentiment has
shifted against him dramatically—if he were to speak out on
immigration`s obvious impact, Bruce could help us take another
big step forward.
W.C Edgar did—you
can hear him sing "Red, White and Black"
at this link—his
Who knows? Perhaps other
elites would follow.
And then maybe I could finally get a night off.
Joe Guzzardi [e-mail
him] is the Editor of VDARE.COM Letters to the Editor.
In addition, he is an English teacher at the Lodi Adult School and has
a weekly newspaper column since 1988. This column is exclusive