Bombing Syria and Killing Innocence – Now is the Time to Stand Up and Be Counted

Blog pic War

AS Parliament prepares to debate air strikes in Syria, Prime Minister David Cameron will assure the Commons that such bombings are unlikely to lead to civilian casualties while he makes the case for immediate military intervention.

Who is he trying to kid?

Over the past few days Tory defence spokesmen have argued that British missiles are now so sophisticated that they don’t cause many civilian casualties as “collateral damage”.

What a sinister phrase that is – it is lawyer’s language for saying where hundreds of innocents would have been killed previously, now it is merely a few dozen.

But we already know the US led air campaign against ISIS in Iraq and Syria has killed more than 3,000 innocent civilians up to August this year. An estimated 460 further deaths have occurred since then.

So as a socialist and card carrying member of the Labour Party I ask why our official parliamentary opposition is suddenly not on the side of innocent people and humanity?

Twelve years ago, many Labour MPs disgracefully marched into the lobbies side by side with Iain Duncan Smith’s Tories to vote for an illegal war in Iraq.

Jeremy Corbyn and 138 other Labour MPs stood up for the membership of the Party and voted against them.

The war proved to be an absolute disaster for Iraq, for Britain and for The Labour Party and has forever tainted Tony Blair as a war criminal.

But now it seems some Labour MPs – including many in the Shadow Cabinet – are going to repeat their mistakes and vote with David Cameron to bomb Syria?

Do they have such scant regard for peoples’ lives.

As George Galloway wrote this morning: “The price will now be paid in Syrian blood, and not only their blood.”

And turning on the pro war members of the Labour Shadow Cabinet, he added: “No shadow cabinet members position is worth the bones of a single Syrian civilian or the blood of a single British serviceman or woman, or the lives of a single member of the public here in Britain.”

There appears to be something about launching bombs or missiles from afar onto cities and people that appeals to our military and political leaders.

Our leaders are careful to distinguish between the explosives we drop from the sky and “weapons of mass destruction” (WMD), which only the officially-designated enemies are depraved enough to use.

Our government speaks alarmingly of WMD, defining them as nuclear, chemical and biological in nature, and “indiscriminate” (meaning their use can’t be limited to military objectives) which they now spuriously claim ISIS is seeking, as opposed to the likes of US and British “precision” cruise missiles.

This is alarming, given the well-known extensive damage to non-military targets, including numerous residences, schools and hospitals, even from “smart” bombs, in every conflict from Afghanistan to Iraq and Libya over the past 12 years.

Moreover, our own warmongers do not apply the term “weapons of mass destruction” to other weapons we have regularly used, such as depleted uranium and cluster bombs, which can be, and often are, highly indiscriminate.

Advocacy groups have now highlighted the thousands of civilian casualties likely to result from airstrikes this year alone as Mr Cameron, prepares to make his case for attacking ISIS in Syria.

Airstrikes in populated areas of Syria and Iraq caused 3,165 civilian deaths and injuries in the year up to August, according to Action on Armed Violence (AOAV).

One of the attacks investigated was on Fadhiliya, Iraq, on 4 April where witnesses and local politicians said a family of five had died, including a pregnant woman and an eight-year-old girl.

It follows the widely reported US bombing of a hospital run by NGO Doctors Without Borders, killing 22 people and injuring dozens more.

Increasing scrutiny on civilian casualties may now hopefully impact the debate over whether Britain extends its bombing mission against ISIS from Iraq into Syria.

In 2013, David Cameron was humiliated when 30 Tory rebels joined with Labour and other parties to oppose bombing forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Yesterday Jeremy Corbyn, suffered a backlash after urging Labour activists to pressure MPs (including Shadow Cabinet members) against supporting airstrikes.

Despite this, Mr Corbyn continues to enjoy strong support among Labour’s grassroots membership with 75% of party members calling for the MPs not to vote for airstrikes in Syria.

This means those who have expressed support for bombings may find themselves at odds with their own constituency membership.

Labour MPs who still plan to support the Tories are courting deselection before the next election, to be replaced by candidates who more accurately reflect party policy (which is to block air strikes, let’s not forget).

But more to the point, our intervention and bombing in Syria is not aimed at alleviating the suffering of Syrians or addressing the root causes of the conflict, and it’s not even about ISIS.

The immense humanitarian crisis wrought by the civil war in Syria, says Middle East expert Samer Abboud, is lost in the discussion around the Syrian conflict.

Humanitarian conditions are getting worse, not better, as the conflict persists.

“There is such an obsession with ISIS and an irrational fear of Syrian refugees in the West that encourages us to ignore the very real suffering of Syrians who have to live while spectacular and exceptional violence surrounds them,” he says.

“While there seems to be international consensus around confronting ISIS and in the utility of military force to do so, the growth of the coalition fighting ISIS to include Russia, France, and potentially Germany and the UK, is not a positive development in the Syrian conflict.

“The expansion in the number of countries bombing Syria further internationalises the conflict and creates more layers to this already complicated and multilayered conflict.

“When France began its bombing campaign against ISIS in retaliation for the Paris attacks, its targets included a medical clinic and an uninhabited forest.

“One wonders why these were chosen as targets.

“There is no institutional or economic heartland that a bombing campaign could destroy that would have an immediate impact on the group’s ability to capture and retain control of territory.

“The aerial campaigns also avoid the heart of the problem, which is the material and ideological structure that sustains ISIL.

“ISIS does not acquire its wealth through large-scale development projects, nor is there a robust productive capacity in ISIS-controlled areas that is connected to regional markets.

“Most of their material resources come from donations and support from regional actors as well as a sophisticated system of predatory economic activity that encourages the group’s fighters to loot and tax the Syrian population to acquire the resources to sustain their activities.

“How can a bombing campaign undermine the material basis of ISIS when so much of it is structured around predatory behaviour?

“Let us not also forget that, for the most part, ISIS’s military strength is based on small arms.

“The reliance on small arms means that ISIS has expanded in Syria with relatively limited resources. Moreover, as we have seen in the attacks of the past two months, including the use of an improvised pop can as a bomb placed on the Russian plane [which crashed] in Sinai, ISIS relies on limited resources that are not susceptible or vulnerable to aerial bombardment,” he adds.

So where to now then Mr Cameron?

Already the most powerful air forces in the world are bombing the Islamic State. Even were it the right thing to do, the RAF could add little to their so-far ineffective efforts.

Everybody agrees that ISIS can only be defeated by a ground army which can secure some support from the people of the region itself.

Not finding one, Mr Cameron has invented a mythical 70,000-strong opposition army – his own version of Tony Blair’s infamous “45 minute warning” over Iraq.

This has rightly drawn widespread disbelief – to the extent that this “army” exists at all, it is largely fighters aligned with either al-Qaeda or the Turkish neo-fascist “Grey Wolves”, who are hardly “moderate” and will never turn against ISIS.

The truth is that there needs to be a peace agreement between the Assad regime and its opponents leading to a transitional administration which could then take on ISIS.

But for years, David Cameron has worked against such an agreement.

Former Tory MP and respected journalist Matthew Parris agrees.

He wrote in The Times: “Jeremy Corbyn is right. Joining the bombing in Syria will do nobody any good. And the funny thing is, I think that in its heart Britain knows that.”

We do, and now is the time to stand up and be counted.

‘The Old Lie’ and Right Wing Propaganda

white poppy

OUR right-wing press have launched a scathing attack on Jeremy Corbyn, claiming a video from 2013 shows him calling World War 1 commemorations “pointless”.

But it doesn’t.

The papers (the usual suspects) the Daily Mail, Daily Express and The Telegraph – concentrate on one line from a speech in which the Labour Leader says: “I’m not sure what there is to commemorate about the First World War.”

They then go on to claim Mr Corbyn “denounced” the money that was to be spent on – amongst other things – the huge display of ceramic poppies that filled the moat around the Tower of London last year.

But what Mr Corbyn said in 2013 was actually spot on: “Keir Hardie was a great opponent of the First World War and apparently next year the government is proposing to spend shedloads of money commemorating the First World War. I’m not sure what there is to commemorate about the First World War other than the mass slaughter of millions of young men and women, mainly men, on the Western Front and all the other places.

“And it was a war of the declining empires and anyone who’s read or even dipped into Hobson’s great work of the early part of the 20th century, written post World War, presaged the whole First World War as a war between monopolies fighting between [inaudible] markets.

“The reason I say this is next year the government are planning this celebration and I think that’s an opportunity for us. It’s an opportunity to discuss war and discuss peace and to put up an alternative point of view.”

Despite this, even MPs were today quick to level accusations at the Labour Leader.

Tory MP, Tom Tugendhat, said: “”Commemoration of sacrifice is not glorification of war, as anyone who has fought knows only too well. Not to remember would be a betrayal of that courage.”

UKIP MEP, Mike Hookem, said: “He is lucky that he lives in a country where he can enjoy free speech but it’s thanks to those men who fought for our freedom in 1914-1918 that he can.

“Once again Jeremy Corbyn has shown how out of touch he is with the nation’s sentiments during the centenary of The Great War.”

But in my opinion, Mr Corbyn has hit a rusty nail bang on its head.

As a life-long pacifist I write each November about the farce and fallacy of the British establishment’s Poppy Day.

Last November I stumbled upon a marvelous piece written by Guardian journalist Jonathan Jones, which not only underscores what Mr Corbyn said, but also many of my own beliefs.

I won’t reboot all that he writes but his salient points are:

“Recording only the British dead of World War 1 confirms the illusion that we are an island of heroes with no debt to anyone else, no fraternity for anyone else.

In 1924, the German artist Otto Dix depicted a skull, lying on the ground, a home to worms. They crawl out of its eye sockets, nasal opening and mouth, and wriggle among patches of hair and a black moustache that still cling to the raw bone.

Dix recorded his memories of fighting in the First World War. He was a machine gunner at the Somme, among other battles, and won the Iron Cross, second class. But he remembered it all as pure horror, as did other participants who happened to be artists or writers such as George Grosz, Siegfried Sassoon, Ernst Jünger and Robert Graves.

Personally I would rather see the moat of the Tower of London filled with “barbed wire and bones” than the red ceramic poppies currently drawing huge crowds to see what has become the defining popular artwork in this centenary of the Great War’s outbreak. I called the sea of poppies now surrounding the Tower “toothless” as art and a “UKIP-style memorial”.

My criticism of this work of art was and is reasonable, honest and founded not in some kind of trendy cynicism but a belief that we need to look harder, and keep looking, at the terrible truths of the war that smashed the modern world off the rails and started a cycle of murderous extremism that ended only in 1945. If it did end.”

I agree with every word and every sentiment, but sadly the ‘murderous extremism’ has never ended, a glance in the direction of Israel and Palestine or Isis and Syria will confirm that.

But let’s go back to the root of this and the war that defined so called glory and greatness.

If we honour the fallen Allied soldiers of the 1914-18 conflict, why do we not do the same for the German soldiers or indeed the dead of the Crimean War, Waterloo, the Boer War, the battles of Bannockburn and Culloden or the dead from the English Civil War, Agincourt, Crecy or even the Battle of Hastings?

Where does logic and reality stop and politics and propaganda begin?

The reasons given for World War 1 commemoration that is we must remember our dead. “They died for us and our freedom. The cost of sacrifice. Remember Passchendaele. Never forget.”

Total balderdash!

As a child I remember sitting on my Great Uncle Jack’s knee as he told me tales of the Somme and the mud, horror and death. He showed me the 11 inch scar on his back where a German sniper had almost taken his life as he crawled back to his trench from no man’s land. And he also told me of his older brother Burnet who died from enteric fever in the trenches at the Somme, like many thousands of his compatriots.

I have my Uncle Jack’s pencil written letters from the front – and from hospital – at my side as I write this.

There was no glory, no heroism, just the mechanised slaughter of millions of young working class men.

As World War 1 poet Wilfred Owen wrote: ‘the poetry is in the pity’.

One example of the mindless killings occurred on the 24 and 25 September 1915 when the 4th Black Watch was decimated at Loos.

“Haig had ample warning that an unprepared attack by two untrained divisions was unlikely to succeed. And so the stage was set for a repetition of the charge at Balaclava. For the set-piece attack of the 11th Corps was as futile and foredoomed as that of the Light Brigade. There had been 12 battalions making the attack, a strength of just under ten thousand, and in the three and a half hours of the actual battle their casualties were 385 officers and 7,861 men. The Germans suffered no casualties at all.”

Little wonder the Germans called the battlefield “Leichenfeld (field of corpses) von Loos”.

Perhaps in war, it’s the names that count. Dead soldiers had no gravestones before the Great War, unless they were generals, admirals or emperors worthy of entombment in Saint Paul’s Cathedral or Les Invalides. The soldiers were simply dumped into mass graves.

At Waterloo, the remains of the dead were shipped back to England to be used as manure on the fields of Lincolnshire – sometimes tilled by their unsuspecting farmer sons. No posthumous glory for them.

It is perhaps easier to believe that the names will “live for evermore” even though hundreds of thousands of World War 1 British and French and Germans and Austrians and Irishmen in British uniform and Hungarians and Indians and Russians and Americans and Turks and even Portuguese have no graves at all.

The last words of Nurse Edith Cavell, shot in Brussels by the Germans for rescuing Allied soldiers behind enemy lines, are inscribed on her monument beside the National Gallery: “Patriotism is not enough.”

In the four years of World War 1, Britain endured 658,700 fatalities, 2,032,150 wounded and 359,150 men missing in action. This adds up to total of over three million casualties from one side alone.

Add to this the four million fatalities from the German side and other civilian deaths, the total death toll was in excess of 16 million.

No glory, just death and suffering.

Historian Phillip Knightley wrote that during the war: “More deliberate lies were told than in any other period of history, and the whole apparatus of the state went into action to suppress the truth”.

When war broke out in 1914, it did so to flag waving and patriotism. Men were promised honour, glory and a conflict over by Christmas.

This was the Great War, to end all wars!

These were times of great social inequality and disenfranchised boys from the poorest communities could, for the first time, be useful. The army offered food, clothing, camaraderie and the respect of the nation.

Enlistment was a collective endeavour – many battalions were made up of men from the same villages. They joined together and died together.

There was no way out. Not to join was cowardice – a treacherous act which would bring shame upon their family and nation.

And they would be fighting against an identifiable evil.

The British propaganda painted German Kaiser Wilhelm as the devil incarnate. The Daily Mail of 22 September 1914 portrayed him in separate reports as a “lunatic”, “madman”, “barbarian”, “monster”, and “modern Judas”.

The German soldier raped, mutilated and tortured. Stories of Hun atrocities in Belgium were front page news despite there being little proof of their occurrence.

The Times of January 8, 1915, stated: “The stories of rape are so horrible in detail that their publication would seem almost impossible were it not for the necessity of showing to the fullest extent the nature of the wild beasts fighting under the German Flag.”

This was the absolute necessity of conflict; ironically the same necessity that Michael Gove now points to as he rewrites the history of the war and instills his own propaganda.

Cambridge history Professor Richard Evans accuses the right wing led commemoration of gross oversimplification: “How can you possibly claim that Britain was fighting for democracy and liberal values when the main ally was Tsarist Russia? That was a despotism that put Germany in the shade and sponsored pogroms in 1903-1906.”

Unlike Germany – where male suffrage was universal – 40 per cent of those British troops fighting in the war did not have the vote until 1918.

“The Kaiser was not like Hitler, he was not a dictator… this was not Nazi Germany,” he added.

So when we read about the heroism of all those dead men, when we pause to consider their sacrifice we should remember also a propaganda system which romanticised and demonised, misled and obfuscated.

As Lloyd George, Prime Minister in 1916, said: “If the people really knew the truth the war would be stopped tomorrow. But of course they don’t know and can’t know.”

And what they don’t know, can’t hurt, can it?

 

Dulce et Decorum Est

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,

Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,

Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs

And towards our distant rest began to trudge.

Men marched asleep.

Many had lost their boots But limped on, blood-shod.

All went lame; all blind;

Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots

Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.

Gas! Gas! Quick, boys!

An ecstasy of fumbling,

Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;

But someone still was yelling out and stumbling,

And floundering like a man in fire or lime…

Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,

As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,

He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace

Behind the wagon that we flung him in,

And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,

His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;

If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood

Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,

Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud

Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,

My friend, you would not tell with such high zest

To children ardent for some desperate glory,

The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est Pro patria mori.

Wilfred Owen

October 1917 – March 1918

 

We gaze upon the chimes of freedom flashing

YESTERDAY’S landslide election of Jeremy Corbyn as the first truly socialist leader of the Labour Party since Clement Atlee is a profound moment in British politics.

Like thousands of other like-minded people, I am still shaking with emotion and trying to get my head round what has really happened.

For decades our country – and most of Europe – has been sleep walking into a world of personal greed, arrogance and self-importance with totems such as The X Factor, tanning studios, Top Gear, designer clothes labels and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?

Human kindness, gentleness, peace, society and social justice were jettisoned for a winner takes all mentality and a scapegoating of the homeless, those claiming benefits, Muslims, asylum seekers and the poor in general.

All of this was underpinned by our malicious gutter press who daily smeared and pilloried anyone who dare question the status quo or suggest alternatives.

When Cameron’s far right Conservative Party was elected in May this year I genuinely feared for our collective futures.

Here we had the election of a UK government compiled of self-seeking rich Tory elitists who care more about their mansions and banking friends than about people.

And their shopping list for change was truly terrifying as this is unshackled Conservative government promised to:

  • Rip up the Human Rights Act, which underpins our legal system and protects all our basic freedoms and those of persecuted minorities.
  • Spend £100 billion on replacing Trident with new nuclear weapons, which at the push of a button could wipe out millions of lives and pollute our planet for tens of thousands of years.
  • Make £12.8 billion of cuts to welfare, leaving the poorest, the oldest and the weakest in our society facing the bleakest of futures. In turn this will ensure the need for a food bank in every town and extend child poverty ensuring suffering and a loss of opportunity for millions.
  • Begin a phased end to council housing, thus pushing up rents in the private sector and making families homeless. Once again – as under Thatcher – we will see a surge in rough sleeping and begging.
  • Will enact tougher sanctions on migrants, involve the UK in further illegal wars in the Middle East and trigger an increase in racism and Islamophobia.
  • Extend zero hours contracts, thus massaging the unemployment figures and leaving thousands of the poorest people without any job security.
  • Legislate for more private schools which will imbed the class system even deeper in our society, rather focus on improving our state schooling system.
  • Escalate and accelerate the privatisation of the NHS, so medical care will depend on wealth and power rather than need.
  • Then redraw constituency boundaries so these same corrupt capitalist elitists stay in power for another 20 more years.

And the Labour Party, which should have been standing and campaigning against all this, crumpled into a Tory Lite modelled in the image of war monger and former leader Tony Blair.

Just over 18 months ago I had turned my back on Labour as a real alternative and joined Left Unity in a vain attempt to change things.

But outside the Labour Party the Left is too splintered and divided to succeed electorally, rather than uniting to defeat the greed and corruption of capitalism.

Following Cameron’s election victory I said the Left “must begin now to unify around a leader or leadership we can all trust, organise and start the fightback, or we wave farewell to hope for a fairer and better future.”

Well the fightback has now really begun.

And I must admit I never thought it possible.

But we had a hint that it may be possible by the political events in Scotland. There the electorate woke up to years of Tammany Hall politics and Establishment lies and en-mass elected 56 SNP MPs dedicated to social justice, welfare, investment and non-nuclear proliferation.

But other than the SNP standing candidates in English and Welsh constituencies, how could a similar popular uprising spread south?

Well along came Labour back bencher and peace campaigner Jeremy Corbyn – the rank outsider, who only just managed to get the 36 nominations from MPs needed to stand in the leadership election.

Then over the summer this gentle political firebrand, who appears more like a superannuated university lecturer than a Prime Minister in waiting, packed out meetings and hustings the length and breadth of this country with his simple messages of an end to austerity, an end to nuclear weapons and an end to needless wars over oil in the middle east and beyond.

His messages caught the hearts and minds of millions.

These are some of his primary beliefs:

  1. The UK’s financial deficit should be paid off – but not through spending cuts and not to an arbitrary deadline. Instead, a Corbyn government would fund its reduction via higher taxes for the rich and a crackdown on tax avoidance and evasion. “Quantitative easing for people” could be used to invest in housing, energy, transport and digital projects.
  2. Britain’s railways should be renationalised. Energy companies should also be under public ownership. He is “totally opposed” to fracking. However, he says deep-mine coal pits in the north of England could be reopened.
  3. Far more allotments would be good for the UK and councils and builders “should be doing their best to ensure that every new development includes some allotment space”.
  4. Talking to militant groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah is necessary to win peace in the Middle East. And arms embargo should be imposed on Israel. Mr Corbyn, who is a patron of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, said that Palestinian refugees should be given a “right of return”.
  5. Replacing Trident would be a costly mistake. Jeremy Corbyn says plans to replace the nuclear missile system should be ditched. He believes the project’s £100 billion price tag could be better spent “on our national well-being“.
  6. A National Education Service modelled on the NHS should be established. Under Mr Corbyn, state-funded academies and free schools would be forced to return to local authority control while university tuition fees would be scrapped and replaced with grants. He would look at ending the charitable status of public schools, although he accepts this would be complicated and might not happen immediately.
  7. Labour should not support air strikes against ISIS in Syria. Mr Corbyn, who is national chairman of the Stop the War Coalition, believes innocent Syrians would suffer and the supply of UK and US arms and funds to ISIS should be cut off instead. He wants to see “illegal wars” replaced with a “foreign policy that prioritises justice and assistance”. This would ameliorate refugee crises. In turn, the arms trade should be restricted. Mr Corbyn would like to see the “brilliance and skill of those in the arms industry be converted for peaceful purposes
  8. Rent controls should be re-introduced, linking private rents to local earnings, and more council houses should be built. Mr Corbyn also believes that council tenants’ right to buy their homes should be extended to private sector renters.
  9. Remaining in the European Union but with changes. Mr Corbyn says he is not content with the EU as it stands, but wants to stay to fight for a “better Europe”. He also opposes the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) deal.
  10. Ireland should be united and returned to Irish rule. Mr Corbyn has long supported British withdrawal from Northern Ireland.
  11. Protect trade unions in the face of Conservative plans to overturn almost 100 years of workers’ rights with new legislation.
  12. A national maximum wage should be introduced to cap the salaries of high earners. He would also introduce a windfall tax on former state assets such as the Royal Bank of Scotland.
  13. Every child should have the chance to learn a musical instrument or act on stage. Mr Corbyn’s arts policy also includes directing a greater proportion of funding to local projects, widening access and protecting the BBC.
  14. Private Finance Initiative deals with the NHS should be ended by using government funds to buy them out.
  15. A “serious debate about the powers of NATO” is needed, but Mr Corbyn says there is not “an appetite as a whole for people to leave”. He also says open eastward expansion of NATO would lead the Russian military to conclude that it had “to expand to counteract NATO”.

All in all, a brave new world indeed.

In his victory speech, Mr Corbyn said: “We go forward now as a movement and a party bigger than we have ever been in a very, very long time, stronger than we have been for a very long time, more determined than we have been for a very long time, to show to everyone that the objectives of our party are intact, our passion is intact, our demand for humanity is intact.”

So at last we have our charismatic leader who with friends in the Green Party, the SNP and Plaid Cymru can offer a true progressive alliance and a way forward for us all.

Hope is renewed.

Far between sundown’s finish an’ midnight’s broken toll We ducked inside the doorway, thunder crashing As majestic bells of bolts struck shadows in the sounds Seeming to be the chimes of freedom flashing Flashing for the warriors whose strength is not to fight Flashing for the refugees on the unarmed road of flight An’ for each an’ ev’ry underdog soldier in the night An’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing

Through the mad mystic hammering of the wild ripping hail The sky cracked its poems in naked wonder That the clinging of the church bells blew far into the breeze Leaving only bells of lightning and its thunder Striking for the gentle, striking for the kind Striking for the guardians and protectors of the mind An’ the unpawned painter behind beyond his rightful time An’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing

Through the wild cathedral evening the rain unraveled tales For the disrobed faceless forms of no position Tolling for the tongues with no place to bring their thoughts All down in taken-for-granted situations Tolling for the deaf an’ blind, tolling for the mute Tolling for the mistreated, mateless mother, the mistitled prostitute For the misdemeanor outlaw, chased an’ cheated by pursuit An’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing

Even though a cloud’s white curtain in a far-off corner flashed An’ the hypnotic splattered mist was slowly lifting Electric light still struck like arrows, fired but for the ones Condemned to drift or else be kept from drifting Tolling for the searching ones, on their speechless, seeking trail For the lonesome-hearted lovers with too personal a tale An’ for each unharmful, gentle soul misplaced inside a jail An’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing

(Bob Dylan, 1964)