Bruce Springsteen, Ted Nugent Weigh in on Immigration Debate
"For 146 shows, I have played pretty much the same set every night," Bruce Springsteen said last night from the stage of his Springsteen on Broadway show. "Tonight demands something different."
He had just spoken about the “inhumane” treatment of immigrants under the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy, which has included separating children from their parents on the U.S./Mexico border and placing those children in detention facilities.
The next song Springsteen performed was his ballad “The Ghost of Tom Joad,” whose lyrics decry inequality of all stripes: “Wherever somebody’s fighting for a place to stand / Or a decent job or a helping hand / Wherever somebody’s struggling to be free / Look in their eyes, Ma, and you’ll see me.”
The administration’s policies and tactics have touched off debate and inflamed passions on both sides of the issue, and artists of all stripes and strata are using their amplified platforms to respond.
Take noted conservative activist Ted Nugent. He posted a meme on Facebook about the legal foundations of the administration’s policy and the Obama administration’s prior complicity in mass deportations (a favorite conservative retort on the issue) with a typically direct commentary.
Now, statistically, the Chris Farley character’s statement is true — more people were indeed deported from the U.S. during the Obama administration than at any other point in American history. It should be noted, though, that the definition of deportations has changed, reflecting something different under President Trump than it did under President Obama. It’s a long story, and we invite you to read up on it; the folks at Snopes provide a fine explanation.
And the administration does itself no favors by sending someone like former campaign adviser Corey Lewandowski onto television shows to defend its position, only to wind up requiring additional defense when he responded to the story of an immigrant child with Down syndrome separated from her parents, with a callous “womp, womp.”
That brought out a particularly vitriolic response from Living Colour guitarist Vernon Reid, who swung at Lewandowski with a tweet.
Reid has provided a running commentary on the immigration debate and the tactic of separating children from their parents. R.E.M.’s Mike Mills has similarly taken on conservative pundits who support the tactic.
David Crosby has been content to retweet the comments of others on the issue, but when asked by a fan for his take, he spoke up, however briefly.
Other artists have been equally forthright. Prophets of Rage, the rap-rock amalgam of Rage Against the Machine’s instrumental nexus and rappers Chuck D and B-Real, tweeted out a call to action.
Like Crosby, Prophets of Rage’s guitarist Tom Morello has chosen mostly to re-tweet commentary on the issue, like this one from activist Jordan Uhl.
Guns N’ Roses bassist Duff McKagan, while acknowledging in a later tweet that he is “loathe [sic] to get political on social media,” makes a similar point to Uhl's, over the U.S.’ historical relationship with immigrants.
U2's Bono, likewise, applied the topic of our ancestry when discussing the detention of children in an interview with the Associated Press. "I cannot think of a more un-American thing than warehousing children," he noted. “For anybody, but for Irish people, who were essentially economic refugees to this country, it's very, very upsetting.”
Other artists decry President Trump’s unwillingness to use his power to stop the practice of separation immigrant children from their parents, as well as his continued false assertions that Democrats are responsible for it. MC5 guitarist Wayne Kramer re-tweeted a comment from veteran and activist Jason Kander:
Benmont Tench, keyboardist and former Heartbreaker, also pondered the President’s motives and long-term goals with this and other policies, and what they mean for the United States.