The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #95050   Message #1849385
Posted By: Don Firth
03-Oct-06 - 01:37 PM
Thread Name: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
Granted, GregB. There was indeed a great deal of difference in the moral quality of the two wars. But there were Conscientious Objectors in World War II, and although there were those who considered them to be cowards, the military recognized them, and if they were drafted at all, accommodation was made for their convictions, like assigning them to non-combatant duties such as being clerks or medics. And there were a lot of men classified as 1-A (first on the list to be inducted) who were not drafted because they were in essential industries, the sole support of their families, or otherwise deemed needed elsewhere. These men often took a lot of uncalled-for flak ("You're young and fit! Why aren't you in the Army!?"). I knew a few C. O.s during the Vietnam era and, although there was a great deal more sympathy for a young man not wanting to be yanked out of school or his job and stuffed into a uniform than there was World War II, to the best of my knowledge, during the Vietnam war, no such accommodations were made.

If a person refuses to be put into a position in which they may have to kill other people, that does not mean that they are cowards. It often takes a lot of courage, especially during what practically everyone agrees is a "just war," to say, "No, I won't do this!" Automatically assuming that they are "cowards" or "traitors" is the knee-jerk reaction of a lot of folks who don't necessarily think very deeply.

I met Ewan MacColl at a folk festival back in 1960 and I admire him greatly as a singer and as the source of several fine, much requested songs that I sing. And a good friend of mine who was interested in folk music, but hadn't considered singing himself, changed his mind when he saw MacColl at the aforementioned festival and realized that even if he didn't play a guitar or banjo, he could go ahead and sing anyway. He quickly became one of the better folk singers in the Pacific Northwest, and eventually did take up the banjo. MacColl inspired a lot of people that way.

However, my admiration for someone as a singer does not blind me to that person's faults. I've learned a lot of songs from people whom I thought were real rotters, but the songs are good. But beyond MacColl's activities as a singer and a social activist (and I don't care if that isn't his real name; lots of performers use stage names), I don't know much about him or his background, other than that he accumulated a lot of great songs and made them available to anyone who wanted to sing them.

My main point is that the hyperacidity of some of the comments about MacColl in this thread indicates to me that the person who started this thread, and those who seem to be getting great joy out of piling on, have some gripe against MacColl beyond what he may or may not have done during World War II. Other than allegations and accusations, I haven't seen anything very definite.

And I repeat:   if what he is accused of is true, and without extenuating circumstances, then why was he not prosecuted?

Don Firth