Morrissey, the next terror threat?
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"I wear black on the outside, cos black is how I feel on the inside."
Remember, back in your formative prepubescent years, when you used to eat, sleep, breathe, and dream those lyrics? When you'd scrawl them in black Sharpie on your Converse sneakers and geeky Jansport backpack? Remember when you bought, like, every Smiths record, cd, 7-inch, single, and bootleg you could possibly get your hands on -- because the notion of Morrissey having sung just one note of one measly song you never heard made you feel like less of a fan?
Oh, I remember it well. Morrissey's music (especially his early work with Johnny Marr in legendary Manchester band the Smiths) was my personal soundtrack to high school, college and, yes, beyond. But when I was younger (18-ish) and constantly concocting glamorous fantasies of the Future Me, Morrissey always seemed like the smartest, wittiest, most alienated and simultaneously most adored version of what I imagined myself becoming as a boring ol' Adult: a sly, shy but big-mouthed misanthropic vegan charmer with progressive personal politics. Oh, Moz -- the me I'd (one day) be! (But not in male form. Or with a British accent and pompadour. Or the dramatic flair for wearing flowers in back pockets. And unfortunately lacking the cute famous exes, like Michael Stipe.)
â€¦ I digress. Morrissey is aging (quite gracefully, I'll add), but his aformentioned politics are still going strong. Which might be why he, of all people, was recently investigated by the FBI.
Huh? Moz, interrogated? In both Britain and America? Yep. It's ridiculous, but given our current regime, it makes a sad sort of sense.
See, Moz has been a long-time critic of both president Bush (whom he's called a "terrorist") and the war on Iraq. He endorsed John Kerry before the '04 election, and urged people to follow his lead in bashing Bush: "With all my heart I urge people to vote against George Bush. Jon Stewart would be ideal, but John Kerry is the logical and sane move." And on his last record, in a song called "America is Not the World," he sang, "America your head's too big, because America, your belly's too bigâ€¦/In America, the land of the free, they saidâ€¦But where the president is never black, female or gay, until that day you've got nothing to say to me, to help me believeâ€¦"
Yeah. So apparently he got hauled in, questioned and taped by both FBI and British intelligence because of his lack of patriotism. Ugh. Via Contact Music, Morrissey explains:
"The FBI and the Special Branch have investigated me and I've been interviewed and taped and so forth. They were trying to determine if I was a threat to the government, and similarly in England. But it didn't take them very long to realise that I'm notâ€¦
"I don't belong to any political groups, I don't really say anything unless I'm asked directly and I don't even demonstrate in public. I always assume that so-called authoritarian figures just assume that pop/rock music is slightly insane and an untouchable platform for the working classes to stand up and say something noticeable.
"My view is that neither England or America are democratic societies. You can't really speak your mind and if you do you're investigated."
Laura Barcella is AlterNet's front page editor.