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Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee

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A MON LIKE THEE


Related thread:
Lyr Req: A Mon Like Thee - extra verses? (28)


Jack Blandiver 07 Aug 09 - 07:20 AM
Emma B 07 Aug 09 - 07:36 AM
Les in Chorlton 07 Aug 09 - 07:41 AM
Les in Chorlton 07 Aug 09 - 07:42 AM
GUEST,Russ 07 Aug 09 - 07:46 AM
John MacKenzie 07 Aug 09 - 07:47 AM
Simon G 07 Aug 09 - 07:53 AM
Will Fly 07 Aug 09 - 08:03 AM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 07 Aug 09 - 08:05 AM
Jack Blandiver 07 Aug 09 - 08:10 AM
Acorn4 07 Aug 09 - 08:15 AM
Will Fly 07 Aug 09 - 08:16 AM
Jack Blandiver 07 Aug 09 - 08:51 AM
Jack Blandiver 07 Aug 09 - 09:02 AM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 07 Aug 09 - 09:20 AM
Dave Hanson 07 Aug 09 - 09:28 AM
foggers 07 Aug 09 - 09:35 AM
Midchuck 07 Aug 09 - 09:58 AM
Jack Blandiver 07 Aug 09 - 10:03 AM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 07 Aug 09 - 10:19 AM
GUEST,Russ 07 Aug 09 - 10:26 AM
Jack Blandiver 07 Aug 09 - 11:16 AM
Dave the Gnome 07 Aug 09 - 02:47 PM
Barbara 07 Aug 09 - 04:15 PM
Joe Offer 07 Aug 09 - 04:19 PM
Barbara 07 Aug 09 - 04:35 PM
sid 07 Aug 09 - 04:55 PM
John P 07 Aug 09 - 05:50 PM
Joe Offer 07 Aug 09 - 06:34 PM
McGrath of Harlow 07 Aug 09 - 06:54 PM
Joe Offer 07 Aug 09 - 07:05 PM
Peace 07 Aug 09 - 07:17 PM
Jim Carroll 07 Aug 09 - 07:46 PM
GUEST,mg 07 Aug 09 - 07:47 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 07 Aug 09 - 08:10 PM
Peace 07 Aug 09 - 08:13 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 07 Aug 09 - 08:15 PM
Peace 07 Aug 09 - 08:17 PM
Jeri 07 Aug 09 - 08:19 PM
GUEST,MtheGM 07 Aug 09 - 10:17 PM
GUEST,MtheGM 07 Aug 09 - 10:27 PM
Peace 07 Aug 09 - 10:58 PM
GUEST,MtheGM 07 Aug 09 - 11:18 PM
Peace 07 Aug 09 - 11:29 PM
Peace 07 Aug 09 - 11:34 PM
Snuffy 08 Aug 09 - 04:39 PM
robomatic 08 Aug 09 - 04:51 PM
Joe Nicholson 08 Aug 09 - 06:38 PM
harpmolly 08 Aug 09 - 07:07 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 08 Aug 09 - 07:17 PM
robomatic 08 Aug 09 - 08:16 PM
Emma B 08 Aug 09 - 08:24 PM
Neil D 08 Aug 09 - 09:26 PM
Gurney 08 Aug 09 - 09:46 PM
GUEST,Mike B. 09 Aug 09 - 12:44 AM
Peace 09 Aug 09 - 12:47 AM
Barbara 09 Aug 09 - 01:29 AM
Jim Carroll 09 Aug 09 - 03:25 AM
Dave Hanson 09 Aug 09 - 03:50 AM
Acorn4 09 Aug 09 - 03:52 AM
GUEST,HelenJ 09 Aug 09 - 05:22 AM
GUEST 09 Aug 09 - 06:02 AM
Jack Blandiver 09 Aug 09 - 06:16 AM
Acorn4 09 Aug 09 - 07:28 AM
Leadfingers 09 Aug 09 - 07:32 AM
Jim Carroll 09 Aug 09 - 08:16 AM
Jim Carroll 09 Aug 09 - 08:18 AM
Azizi 09 Aug 09 - 08:29 AM
Jim Carroll 09 Aug 09 - 10:48 AM
Barbara 09 Aug 09 - 01:32 PM
Azizi 09 Aug 09 - 05:25 PM
McGrath of Harlow 09 Aug 09 - 06:07 PM
Peace 09 Aug 09 - 07:21 PM
The Vulgar Boatman 09 Aug 09 - 08:22 PM
Jim Carroll 10 Aug 09 - 08:32 AM
GUEST,MtheGM 10 Aug 09 - 08:53 AM
Jack Blandiver 10 Aug 09 - 10:20 AM
Jim Carroll 10 Aug 09 - 11:12 AM
GUEST,schlimmerkerl 10 Aug 09 - 11:56 AM
Jim Carroll 10 Aug 09 - 01:14 PM
GUEST,mg 10 Aug 09 - 02:53 PM
The Sandman 10 Aug 09 - 03:35 PM
GUEST,Neil D 10 Aug 09 - 03:56 PM
McGrath of Harlow 10 Aug 09 - 04:21 PM
Phil Edwards 10 Aug 09 - 04:34 PM
GUEST,mg 10 Aug 09 - 05:15 PM
McGrath of Harlow 10 Aug 09 - 05:20 PM
GUEST,mg 10 Aug 09 - 07:26 PM
Barbara 10 Aug 09 - 08:07 PM
GUEST,mg 10 Aug 09 - 08:14 PM
GUEST,mg 10 Aug 09 - 08:45 PM
Joe Offer 11 Aug 09 - 03:43 AM
Jim Carroll 11 Aug 09 - 05:55 AM
McGrath of Harlow 11 Aug 09 - 07:24 AM
GUEST,folk1e 12 Aug 09 - 06:50 AM
Jack Campin 12 Aug 09 - 08:18 AM
Jack Blandiver 12 Aug 09 - 08:33 AM
Leadfingers 12 Aug 09 - 09:20 AM
Jack Blandiver 12 Aug 09 - 09:32 AM
Jim Carroll 12 Aug 09 - 11:07 AM
fumblefingers 12 Aug 09 - 11:37 PM
Peace 13 Aug 09 - 12:40 AM
Phil Edwards 13 Aug 09 - 02:46 AM
GUEST,Black belt caterpillar wretler 13 Aug 09 - 08:19 AM
Acorn4 13 Aug 09 - 08:58 AM
Phil Edwards 13 Aug 09 - 09:30 AM
Peace 13 Aug 09 - 09:24 PM
Gedi 14 Aug 09 - 08:50 AM
McGrath of Harlow 14 Aug 09 - 10:33 AM
Jim Carroll 14 Aug 09 - 02:33 PM
GUEST,Bruce Michael Baillie 14 Aug 09 - 05:54 PM
Jim Carroll 15 Aug 09 - 03:53 AM
GUEST,John Hartford 15 Aug 09 - 04:23 AM
GUEST,Black Belt Caterpillar Wrestler 24 Aug 09 - 07:53 AM
Leadfingers 24 Aug 09 - 12:37 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 24 Aug 09 - 12:53 PM
Jack Blandiver 24 Aug 09 - 01:03 PM
Wolfgang 24 Aug 09 - 01:57 PM
The Sandman 24 Aug 09 - 02:45 PM
McGrath of Harlow 24 Aug 09 - 06:24 PM
Jim Carroll 24 Aug 09 - 07:10 PM
GUEST,Jim Knowledge 25 Nov 09 - 10:43 AM
GUEST,Ed 25 Nov 09 - 12:23 PM
Les in Chorlton 25 Nov 09 - 01:00 PM
MGM·Lion 25 Nov 09 - 01:24 PM
Les in Chorlton 26 Nov 09 - 02:58 AM
Gurney 27 Nov 09 - 01:23 AM
MGM·Lion 27 Nov 09 - 01:32 AM
MGM·Lion 27 Nov 09 - 02:38 AM
Gurney 27 Nov 09 - 02:40 PM
MGM·Lion 27 Nov 09 - 02:41 PM
McGrath of Harlow 27 Nov 09 - 05:42 PM
The Sandman 27 Nov 09 - 06:01 PM
GUEST,Bruce Michael Baillie 28 Nov 09 - 03:59 PM
jennyr 29 Nov 09 - 04:21 AM
Les in Chorlton 29 Nov 09 - 06:44 AM
Jim Carroll 29 Nov 09 - 09:45 AM
Les in Chorlton 29 Nov 09 - 09:58 AM
GUEST,Bruce Michael Baillie 29 Nov 09 - 03:19 PM
Herga Kitty 29 Nov 09 - 05:56 PM
Herga Kitty 29 Nov 09 - 05:58 PM
Gurney 29 Nov 09 - 06:57 PM
Amos 01 Dec 09 - 11:26 PM
Les in Chorlton 02 Dec 09 - 08:09 AM
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Subject: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 07:20 AM

Last night I split early from my local folk club in a state of dark depression after one of the singers sang A Mon Like Thee which contains the line For I'm not poor, but rich as ony Jew to which the response went up Oy Vey!. Oy vey indeed! I did not comment at the time, but bore it with quiet dignity as we slunk off to ADSA where we did our weeks shopping at 10.30pm by way of catharsis.

I hate the fecking song anyway; one of the draw-backs of living in Lancashire is having to wade the depths of mawkish tripe like this which is sung with great relish (however so innocent the racism) in folk clubs the county over. So - what does the panel think? Over reacting? Political Correctness Gone Mad? Or justified wariness at how insidious and nauseating this stuff can be whatever the intention?


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Emma B
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 07:36 AM

I notice that in a previous thread about this song the line as sung on some recordings is 'as rich as honey dew' so obviously there was some recognition of negative stereotyping previously.

It's often difficult singing old songs written in a different time that clash with modern sentiments but, I've never heard the response you describe accompaning the singing of this song and I would find that equally depressing I think.


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 07:41 AM

I guess its part of the casual racism that peppers popular songs of the 19 Century. No doubt some people will want to leave it as it is, some to change it and some not to sing it at all.

We used to sing it in the 60's and discussed it at a reunion. As it happens the singer didn't know that verse - or had forgotten it. I seem to remember The Oldham Tinkers, on Deep Lancashire, only had 2 versions - the others being collected later.

I hope we don't beat each other up over this but I feel it is inappropriate to sing "rich as ony Jew".

Cheers

L in C
PS Anybody using the phrase "Political Correctness Gone Mad" - a donation to a charity of your choice?


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 07:42 AM

Sorry

I seem to remember The Oldham Tinkers, on Deep Lancashire, only had 2 versions - the others being collected later.

should read 2 verses


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: GUEST,Russ
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 07:46 AM

If it is your "local folk club" why would you hesitate to give them some negative feedback? Aren't these people you know and who know you?

My friends in my club would be more suprised if I remained silent than if I spoke up.

A bunch of total strangers would be an entirely different situation.

Russ (Permanent GUEST)


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 07:47 AM

Why sing the song then? Nobody's twisting your arm.


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Simon G
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 07:53 AM

Just show how much notice I take of other people's singing. I've never even noticed the mention of a Jew before. Equally amazed at the Oy Vey.

There are certainly deep seams of racism and anti-semitism that continue to be mined in Lancashire as with probably many other places.

I find myself torn between grudging allowing the mining, or suppressing it. I think in the long term the feelings need to be expressed in the open before there can be any solution - a sort of truth and reconciliation process. The problem is the expression does harm, particularly for people who appear to be in the target group. Suppression limits the harm today, but does it ever lead to the hatred going away or does it simply reappear at a later date in some more vile form.

If songs exist for anything is is to allow us to explore feelings, some of which we may share ourselves and others may be completely outside our experience or indeed opposite of our own. I do hope we don't become politically correct and cease singing songs that express other points of view. The audience clearly explored their anti-semitism however latent and hopefully some find a better way.


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Will Fly
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 08:03 AM

There's always (seems to me) a residual problem in singing some period songs where the sentiments of the time were less socially sensitive than today. I sing Gus Elen's "A Nice Quiet Day - The Postman's Holiday" which has as the first line Now I works just like a n*gg*r and I isn't very strong. It's just possible, I suppose, to present the song honestly, in the acceptance that what you're singing is historically and socially correct in the full knowledge that "we all know it's wrong". Perhaps... I always sing Now I works just like a navvy and always have done, even in sensitive and understanding song circles. Apart from that first line, it's a great and very funny song - and worth singing.

If you look at the performance and written sheet music history of popular songs from the 1900s onwards, you'll generally see that they've been changed to match the sensitivities of the time. A line in the song Moonlight Bay has changed in both written and performed versions from You could hear the darkies calling to You could hear the people calling. And rightly so, in my view - it would be crass to sing the original version, for any audience. So why do people do it? Just unthinking? Stupid?

Mind you, I once started to sing Oh Mr. Wu was a laundry man... without realising there were half a dozen Chinese people in the front row of the audience. The band cracked up - and they never let me forget it.


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 08:05 AM

Being a good deal younger than the average folk club goer, and as yet, still a relative newcomer to folk song, I've hovered without any certain feeling on the singing of such songs.

I wouldn't sing them myself, and (I suspect) neither would most members around my generation and younger, but I tend to accept the context in which such songs are sung as being fairly unique and isolated from 'the world at large'.

I don't know if this makes it any more acceptable or not, but I seem to have cordoned off my more personal and err modern sensibilities regarding the singing of such songs, because I see the folk world as existing in a kind of anachronistic time bubble, rather akin to 'the land that time forgot'.

Where the folk world 'meets' the real world, that bubble is burst, and as such I think has a responsibility to shake itself out of that time warp. Otherwise, I do not see it as 'my place' to pass judgement. Bit of a cop-out perhaps.

I would however be disturbed by hearing non-PC songs in a folk context, where members included the new breed of Nationalist and overtly racist style 'folk lovers'... Which raises a whole other issue. And indeed one which might ultimately necessitate that that anachronistic time bubble, is indeed fully burst once and for all.


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 08:10 AM

In the ADD: A Mon Like Thee - extra verses?
thread you get both any Jew and the absurd Honeydew. You also get Mike Harding's additional verse which takes Lancastrian Mawkishness to another level, especially in the context of such nauseating anti-Semitic sentiment.


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Acorn4
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 08:15 AM

Sensible post, Crow sister -

Are we to ban all songs written during the Napoleonic Wars for their anti-French sentiment?


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Will Fly
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 08:16 AM

Talking of racism and similar matters in performance venues, I'll just add that - in my experience of playing in working men's clubs, social clubs, trades & labour clubs, private clubs, British Legions for over 13 years from the early '80s onwards - it was only a matter of time before the 3rd-rate comedian on the bill started on the racist, sexist and blue jokes. It was rife. Sometimes the audience would scream with laughter - sometimes they would not. Our response as a band either waiting to play or having played, would be to get out to a dressing-room as fast as we could.

I do remember one night, at a club in Brighton where there were friends' elderly parents and family in the club, that we lost our tempers and heckled the comedian so viciously that he dropped part of his act and left early. The club owner wasn't pleased, so we told him to fuck off and left as well. Not a career move, but we felt OK about it...


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 08:51 AM

the folk world as existing in a kind of anachronistic time bubble, rather akin to 'the land that time forgot'.

How old is something before it becomes an anachronism? And what part does that anachronism play in a folk-song from the 1960's that perpetuates the same old Anti-Semitic crap that inspired many a pogrom throughout history? Besides which - I don't leave my humanity (much less my ethnicity) at the door when I go into a Folk Club; on the contrary, the songs I sing (all of them traditional with but few exceptions) are affirmations of that humanity which is very much still relevant in the real world, which is precisely the reason why I sing them.

Are we to ban all songs written during the Napoleonic Wars for their anti-French sentiment?

I think you've missed the point there rather, Acorn4. This is not a song from history, rather one which perpetuates an age-old racism which has resulted in the deaths of millions. We're not talking about war here, rather rabid persecution, pogrom and holocaust.

Otherwise, see above.


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 09:02 AM

a folk-song from the 1960's

I'm assuming A Mon Like Thee is modern; from what Les says it's 19th Century. This doesn't change how I feel about it any more than I would someone quoting the pre 1860 Age of Consent as a justification for paedophilia.


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 09:20 AM

"Besides which - I don't leave my humanity (much less my ethnicity) at the door when I go into a Folk Club;"

Sorry, I wasn't clear in my meaning. I'm not suggesting such songs are immune from criticism due to their ancient historical origins, but that folk clubs and in particular their *membership* exist in a *1960's* anachronistic bubble.

In the same way that I wouldn't bother telling my Grandfather off for using the term N*gger Brown, I see the folk club context as something almost 'alien' belonging to a generation who are fading out, and thus taking those kinds of songs (which will not be remembered apart from as examples of almost kitch or quaint forms of ignorance) with them.

You say you don't leave your humanity at the door. Well neither do I, I see these people in terms of a context. Not intrinsically racist, but examples of their time. One that is now, an anachronism. It's not for me to take it upon myself to wade in and 'enlighten'. Thus as you said yourself, you tolerated it. Which is in effect what I'm saying too, though with some qualifications as to *why* I might do so.


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 09:28 AM

I know people who sing it here in Yorkshire but for the life in I don't know why, it's contrived sentimental shite at it's worst.

Dave H


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: foggers
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 09:35 AM

Singing a folk song that conflicts with modern sensibilities in the context of accepting it was a norm at some time in the past is okay when we are talking about topics such as hunting where society may still be divided on the topic. Many people today are anti-hunting and I have heard the Young Coppers refer to being heckled for still singing hunting songs, but they are quite clear that these songs are part of the tradition they have inherited, though they acknowledge when introducing such songs that attitudes have moved on.

But racism in all its forms is a different matter as the stereotyping and dehumanising of certain ethnic groups has been propagated (historically and now in certain parts of the globe) in order to justify slavery, colonisation and genocide. Anything that puts forward these stereotypes in song, literature, or any other manifestation needs to be discussed and challenged as the stakes are so much higher.

We can't just sit in our little anachronistic bubble when it comes to racism, for all the reasons explored on other threads and leading to the fomration of Folk Against Fascism.


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Midchuck
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 09:58 AM

Ching-chong Chinaman, he's got a curlicue,
And he'll get my job some day,
'Cause he works like the devil owned his soul
And settles for half the pay.


Utah Phillips. I don't think many people would accuse Utah of having been racist. On the other hand, his character, the 1860s Irish immigrant railroad worker who's singing the song, certainly was - like many groups who are victims of discrimination, seeking someone else to discriminate against in his turn.

So how do you make that point without using what appears to be racist language?

Peter.


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 10:03 AM

but that folk clubs and in particular their *membership* exist in a *1960's* anachronistic bubble.

This is interesting in the light of the Folk Against Fascism and Us and Them: folk music and political persuasion threads in which it becomes clear what the political aspirations and allegiances of the Folk Scene have been since its inception by The Baby Boomer Generation.

I am very much wary (and weary) of political opinion; this is very much a personal thing, as my interests lie with inter-personal humanism and a timely re-emergence of the anarchist humanist idealism of my youth which might allow a reason for innocent racism, but never an excuse for it, feeling as I do that these things must be understood for what they are, in terms of intent.

How far I'm prepared to go in applying that to a Folk Scene founded on radical and militant political thinking hangs in the balance. Maybe this is why I slunk off rather than confronting it, depressed and demoralised that such an inhumane sentiment had been reinforced in a context which would otherwise pride itself on its political humanity.


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 10:19 AM

Sure, I think that there are an active percentage of more politically vocal (indeed highly so) individuals in the folkies I've met (and indeed are vocal on threads such as FaF - these are indeed the same people that I personally tend to resonate with), but IMO they are nonetheless, still only a percentage. I don't think, at least from my own exposure, that the greater proportion, are that interested in political idealism. For myself, I straddle two points of view: one is my personal opinion which is very much in accord with aims and objectives of groups such as FaF, the other is more one of an outsider who observes and prefers not to judge the sometimes outdated assumptions of older generations. I'm in no way suggesting that others aught to feel the same. It's simply a perspective born of recognising a generational, and cultural dischord between myself, and other more long-standing members of the folk scene.


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: GUEST,Russ
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 10:26 AM

Suibhne,

Why are you telling us?

Why are you not saying these things to your "local folk club"?

Why are you suffering in silence at your "local folk club"?

Russ (Permanent and Persistent GUEST)


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 11:16 AM

Why are you telling us?

Because this the Mudcat Cafe - a Folk Music Discussion Forum, thus do I raise as a subject of Folk Music Discussion; we come here only to discuss things.

Why are you not saying these things to your "local folk club"?

Because my local folk club is not a discussion forum; we go there to sing folk songs and have a good time.


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 02:47 PM

Must say it ain't my cuppa tea either - Too many bad experiences with th'aughton weavers (Sorry lads - I still enjoy the pantos:-) ) A friend has a good substitute though - 'As rich as any o' you...'


DeG


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Barbara
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 04:15 PM

Or maybe, "...richer than ony o' you"

Myself, I choose by each song.
I've been reading this thread and thinking about a song we sang last week at my mother's memorial celebration. We chose a number of songs she'd sung with us kids and shared them with those who came -- passed out words, and I played the pump organ while everyone sang.
One of those songs was a Stephen Foster song called "Old Black Joe" and I changed one word in it -- instead of singing "I hear their darkie voices calling," we sang " I hear their gentle voices calling..."
It's Stephen Foster, so it speaks in the voice of a slave who is being called home by his friends after a life of hard labor, and it was written by a white southerner.
I wouldn't sing it at a folk club, but it is a part of my family history, and I liked singing it with my family and Mom's friends. Still when someone asked me after why I'd picked that racist chestnut, it made me wonder if it is a mistake to ever sing songs that have any racist connotations.
The words:
    Gone are the days when my heart was young and gay
    Gone are my friends, from the cotton fields away,
    Gone from this earth, to a better land, I know
    I hear their gentle voices calling, Old Black Joe
    I'm coming, I'm coming, for my head is bending low
    I hear their gentle voices calling, Old Black Joe.

What do you think?
Blessings,
Barbara


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Joe Offer
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 04:19 PM

Hi, Barbara -
I think "Old Black Joe" has always had "I hear their gentle voices calling..."

Here's the 1860 sheet music.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Barbara
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 04:35 PM

Interesting, Joe. I'm pretty sure we had a songbook, or maybe a wordbook that we used when I was growing up that said "Darkie" not "gentle". But it's good to know that the original didn't have that word in it.
Blessings,
Barbara


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: sid
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 04:55 PM

Oh Dear! In all my years (which are considerable) of listening to and performing Lancashire songs, I have NEVER come across the audience reaction you highlight to "that" line. NEVER! Yes, I am familiar with the song, and no, it does not form part of my normal repertoire, but that's because I rarely sing well known chorus songs.

I have, however, frequently come across the "one of the drawbacks of living in Lancashire/ Lancashire mawkishness" attitude that prevails to our songs and have spent considerable time in trying to change people's perception of our County's spoken heritage with, I should say, some success.

I don't recognise your name and we may know each other, but, either way, please try to get to one of my talks on the history of Lancashire in songs, stories and poems. There's something you need to know. See my website calendar(sidcalderbank.co.uk) or PM me for a free ticket! - SID


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: John P
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 05:50 PM

We used to do a French song that can only be described as sexist and ageist. We would introduce it by saying something like "the sentiments expressed in some of our songs don't reflect the opinions of the band" and make a joke of it.

I take songs on a case by case basis. I don't clean them up at all. If I decide to do a non-PC song, I just say I'm going to do a non-PC song, it's from the 18th or 19th century, this is how people felt back then, and isn't it nice that we've moved on? That said, I'm not drawn to songs that have overtly racist lyrics. If I really like the melody, I can always find a different set of lyrics to go with it.


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Joe Offer
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 06:34 PM

We established in the other thread that "A Mon Like Thee" was written by Edmund Hill, whose "Down in the Engine Room" was published in a book called "Poems," in 1913. That gives at least somewhat of an idea of the age of this song. "As rich as any Jew" was certainly a common phrase at that time.

This Is Cheshire has an interesting little piece on Edmund Hill:

    An unknown songsmith

    From the Guardian Series, first published Thursday 24th Jun 2004.

    HIS folk-song classic, A Mon Like Thee, has survived for the best part of a century. Yet little seems to be known of Lanky twang songsmith Edmund Hill, except that he was a Kentish miner who came to live in St Helens and apparently fell in love with the heavy northern dialect then prevailing in these parts.
    His name is thrust into the spotlight by Chris Coffey of the Sutton Historic Society who is keen to learn more about the old-timer whose keynote song keeps alive the spirit of owd Lancashire.
    Chris's curiosity was roused after an enjoyable visit to the St Helens Theatre Royal to see two of his favourite acts, The Oldham Tinkers and Bernard ('The Bolton Bullfrog') Wrigley, part of a tiny minority still promoting old Lancashire songs and tales.
    He later tuned in to the Andy Kershaw radio show, part of which was recorded in a pub where the session began with their traditional opener, A Mon Like Thee, describing the natural friendliness of Lancashire people towards strangers.
    Chris promptly dug out a CD, bought on his Theatre Royal visit, and examined the sleeve notes. Hill's gradely masterpiece, it confirmed, was a popular song in the First World War trenches 90 years ago. Since then, it's continued to this day as a popular taproom number in the more traditional parts of Lancashire.
    Chris signs off by confessing that he hadn't recalled ever seeing previous mention of Edmund Hill, and any local knowledge that customers of this page could supply would be most welcome.

    Archive Home

    From the Guardian Series
    http://www.thisischeshire.co.uk
    © Newsquest Media Group 2004

I think I prefer Dave's 'As rich as any o' you...' or MMario's "but as rich a mun (mon?) as you" from the other thread. "Honeydew" makes me think of a melon or a husband's "to do" list. I suppose "honeydew" once had other connotations, but no longer. Now it sounds silly.

I have mixed feelings about altering songs - but in this case, the "rich as any Jew" reference is not essential to the song and can easily be changed. To retain it would distract the audience, calling their attention to the single word instead of to the meaning of the song.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 06:54 PM

What in the world is racist about the song "Old Black Joe"?


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Joe Offer
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 07:05 PM

I sing "Old Black Joe," and I think it's a beautiful song. John Roberts, whom I greatly respect, chewed me out for singing it; but we're still friends, and I still sing the song. Some people think the song expresses nostalgia for the days of slavery, and they get nervous about the word "black." Paul Robeson recorded it as "Old Man Joe," which I didn't like. I see it as a song of nostalgia for the days of youth, which is when I learned the song.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Peace
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 07:17 PM

Old Black Joe
Stephen Foster, 1860 (1826-1864)

Gone are the days
When my heart was young and gay.
Gone are my friends
From the cotton fields away.
Gone from this place,
To a better land I know.
I hear their gentle voices calling:
Old Black Joe

Chorus:
I'm coming, I'm coming
For my head is bending low
I hear their gentle voices calling
Old Black Joe.
Why do I weep
When my heart should feel no pain
Why do I sigh
That my friends come not again
Grieving for forms
Now departed long ago
I hear their gentle voices calling:
Old Black Joe.
Chorus:

Where are the hearts
Once so happy and so free
The children so dear
That I held upon my knee
Gone to the shore
Where my soul has longed to go
I hear their gentle voices calling:
Old Black Joe.
Chorus:


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 07:46 PM

19th Century songs, particularly from the North of England, quite often contained references such as these; the Turks crop up regularly.

"Fourpence a day me lads, and verra hard to work,
Wi' never a kindly word from a gruffy lookin' Turk"

I have always been pleasantly surprised that there aren't more derogatory references to other races, considering the age of the songs.
I used to think it was because collectors censored them out, but I found that on a number of occasions the singers themselves did so.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 07:47 PM

I think you should bring the subject up with your club, but not at a regular event, or song circle etc. Maybe go out for coffee after with interested members and ask them how they feel etc. And tell them how you feel. mg


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 08:10 PM

OLd Black Joe- thread 2543: Old Black Joe and also DT.
The posting here is unnecessary.


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Peace
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 08:13 PM

In your opinion, no doubt. But I did it because people might like to have the lyrics in FRONT OF THEM? Go admonish someone else.


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 08:15 PM

Thyey can look it up. A couple of clicks away.


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Peace
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 08:17 PM

Well, it's posted. Live with it.


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Jeri
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 08:19 PM

Could you kids find something less stupid to fight over, and then go somewhere else to do it? Is there an alien brain-wave thing pointed at Earth or something? Yeesh!


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: GUEST,MtheGM
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 10:17 PM

It is always a matter of nice judgment how far one respects historical context and how far taste or changed circumstances demand emendation. A character in Northanger Abbey uses the phrase "rich as a Jew", but he is explicitly an unpleasant fool so it appears that Jane Austen disliked the phrase; but surely nobody would take it on themselves to alter the title of Joseph Conrad's novel about the seaman who served on the 'Narcissus'? On a related point: when I reviewed folk records and books for The Guardian, The Times, Folk Review &c, I remember denouncing a new disc by Frank Harte the fine Irish singer for including a song which gloated about 'all the dead khaki soldiers in Erin-go-Bragh', which seemed to me unacceptable at the height of the Troubles in the mid-80s; but now we have a thread on this very site trying to identify the best Irish rebel song...


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: GUEST,MtheGM
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 10:27 PM

... and I forgot to mention the much-canvassed question of the use of the N-word in one of the greatest of American novels, Huckleberry Finn. It's just what Huck and Tom Sawyer and the escaped slave Jim would all have said, both in the 1830s when the book is set and the 1880s when it was written, and it would be a-historic and unreasonable to try and edit such references out.


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Peace
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 10:58 PM

Michael, that's true. However, it's still a painful term to Black people.


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: GUEST,MtheGM
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 11:18 PM

Peace - I fear I am a taxonomic pedant and one who, like Clennam in Little Dorrit, 'likes to know you know'; so cannot resist asking how you extrapolated my name & {presumably} identity from my pseudonymous nickname + info given? Do we know one another? Or what?   Michael


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Peace
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 11:29 PM

I shall answer you by e-mail.


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Peace
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 11:34 PM

Done.


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Snuffy
Date: 08 Aug 09 - 04:39 PM

In England I've always (since the 1950s) known the song as "Poor Old Joe" rather than "Old Black Joe"


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: robomatic
Date: 08 Aug 09 - 04:51 PM

I appreciate the sentiments that created this thread. I'm trying to imagine how I'd react if I happened by the performance and just ran into it unprepared. I expect I'd feel blindsided and unhappy. I think I'd get over it because England has a lot of historic anti-semitism in the language and a lot of attitudes, among many many such things across a range of ethnicities. I'd get over it. The knowledge I now have that the very folks singing it have mixed feelings only broadens my appreciations of the depth and complexity of the island dwellers.

After all, there are some anti-semitic references in Shakespeare, not to mention an entire play, and I accept that. If I were directing or acting in 'em, I would not change 'em.

I have a set of lyrics I'd like to fix. One of my old favorites was a poem set to music and sung on a Gordon Bok album:

Little River
Words by Ruth Moore
Tune by Gordon Bok

Little River, lighted whistle, cry no more
Sleepy sound from the breakers calling me back to shore

Whistle it soft to the silver river
Whistle loud to the drumming sea
Whistle it low to the moon and the morning
Not to me, never to me

For I'm swinging high in another country, swinging low
Playing it easy, the dolphins follow me where I go

Whistle it loud to the floodtide making
Whistle it soft to the wheeling sun
Whistle it wild to my girl's heart breaking
She'll remember, she was the one
Spring comes warm to Little River, storm comes black
I was headed home when the Indian Giver took me back

Whistle it high to the grey-beard breakers
Where the secret over the great shoals ran
Whistle the world that was in my pocket
When I had pockets, when I was a man

I'd love to have a substitute that scanned for "Indian Giver" and conveyed the same meaning but I haven't found it yet.


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Joe Nicholson
Date: 08 Aug 09 - 06:38 PM

Is it a coincidence that most somgs about tailers put them down as thieves, scalywags or fools and that tailering was principaly a jewish trade in the nieteenth and early twentieth century


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: harpmolly
Date: 08 Aug 09 - 07:07 PM

Here's a bit of a poser, which may have been discussed before:

One of my favorite songs is Bill Watkins'/Andy M. Stewart's "The Errant Apprentice". It has the whole bit about the Turk, which some MIGHT interpret as racist (though hilariously written..."Sure bravery's no virtue when some heathen's trying to hurt you/And all noble thoughts desert you when you see his curly knife...").

My personal interpretation is that the Turk is not actually being portrayed unsympathetically; he's basically an innocent bystander who gets his head bashed by the protagonist, who is quite possibly the best example of an "unreliable narrator" I've ever seen. Throughout the song, the narrator is shown to be, well, a complete idiot. ;) So we're seeing the Turk through his eyes, and like blind lovers everywhere, he is blaming the Turk for his supposed true-love's infidelity. (Typical).

Anyway, I'm disposed to interpret the song in that light, and don't find it offensive at all. But I'm afraid to perform it these days, as you can't always expect audiences to see through that many layers of subtlety.

Sigh.


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 08 Aug 09 - 07:17 PM

Well, you could cut Indian Giver in half and call it a Dutch Treat.

"In these days" Yes, throw out Rudyard Kipling as well.

Oh, wring dem hands.


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: robomatic
Date: 08 Aug 09 - 08:16 PM

Q: LOL

How about the song about the Monkey washed up on the beach and taken for a Frenchman?

"Come and see the Frenchy what's landed on th' beach-
'E's got long arms, a great long tail and 'e's covered down in hair-
We think that he's a spy so we'll 'ang 'im in the square!"


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Emma B
Date: 08 Aug 09 - 08:24 PM

I must confess it's not the words of an old song written in a different time that I find offensive - I have been known to sing along with whale and fox hunting songs from a different era, not to mention a little bit of Francophobia as above :(

It's the description of a 'modern' audience joining in with a racial sterotype 'joke' that has absolutely no origin in the original lyrics, that concerns me most.


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Neil D
Date: 08 Aug 09 - 09:26 PM

Robomatic, how about fickle life-giver. Not quite the same but it might work.


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Gurney
Date: 08 Aug 09 - 09:46 PM

Wealth is neither a character fault nor a reprehensible situation, so far as I've ever been aware. Since many Jews have been, and are, rich, usually due to their own efforts, I'd be more interested to hear THEIR reactions to that line than those of people raised to politically-correct educational standards.   Any offers?

Whilst we are exploring racism; in the present discussion should we not also decry all the anti-English songs (let alone lines!) that abound in our genre.
Fair's fair, if a Jew can't be called rich, what do we make of 'Brittania's Huns,with their long-range guns...'
Economic, eh, to decry both the English, the Germans, and advancing technology so succinctly. ;-)


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: GUEST,Mike B.
Date: 09 Aug 09 - 12:44 AM

One correction - the 19th century songwriter Stephen Foster was referred to as a white southerner in an earlier post but he was actually from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Peace
Date: 09 Aug 09 - 12:47 AM

"Foster was born in Lawrenceville, now part of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania."

From the www. No offense.


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Barbara
Date: 09 Aug 09 - 01:29 AM

Oops, sorry about the Foster reference. I knew that.

The problem with "rich as ony Jew' as I see it is that "Jew" has been (and still is) used as a cultural stereotype to describe someone who is too interested in making money -- my grandmother used it in that sense -- and I was mortally embarrassed by her. In her vocabulary it meant be a person who showed an unseemly interest in money.

Thing is, someplace back there the Church made it illegal for Christians to -- what was it? charge interest in lending money? handle money transactions? and by default the job fell to the non-Christians. Who then got maligned for doing it.

It's way past time we got over it.

Blessings.
Barbara


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 09 Aug 09 - 03:25 AM

"How about the song about the Monkey washed up on the beach and taken for a Frenchman?"
But that was true, wasn't it?? (joke)
It was usually used to describe the 'unworldliness' of people from Hartlepool. It dates back at least as far as the Napoleonic Wars and was still being told as fact during WW2.
My father was a building worker and he said that fights were often caused among the men (deliberately) by asking somebody from Harltepool, "Are you the man who hung the man who hung the monkey?"
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 09 Aug 09 - 03:50 AM

People from Hartlepool are still called monkeyhangers but it's STILL a joke, they elected a monkey called Hangus as Lord Mayor a few years ago.

Dave H


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Acorn4
Date: 09 Aug 09 - 03:52 AM

This gives quite a good resume of the historical aspect of this subject:-


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edict_of_Expulsion


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: GUEST,HelenJ
Date: 09 Aug 09 - 05:22 AM

Things are reaching a ridiculous pitch. Now I fear for our Warburton Souling Players and others who perform the same play. It is medieval in origin and by tradition the Turk is slain by St. George. How are the do-gooders going to tackle that?

Things are being blown out of proportion, i.e. foxhunting etc.,is historical fact whether we like it or not. I know of someone who was forbidden to teach schoolchildren The Boar's Head carol in case of insult to certain groups. I sing it every Yuletide; so far nobody has objected.

Will the next thing on the agenda be the scrutiny of history books or even the Bible for fear of offence?

I give up!


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: GUEST
Date: 09 Aug 09 - 06:02 AM

What do you mean "Even the bible"? Why should that be exempt?

If a context can be given that the singer and audience are likely to understand there is a case for including references that in this day and age we have learned to understand as damaging. I suppose a good rule of thumb is: would you sing a song including racial misrepresentation (never mind "stereotype") to an audience with a number of representatives of that ethnic group sitting among your audience?
    Please note that anonymous posting is no longer allowed at Mudcat. Use a consistent name [in the 'from' box] when you post, or your messages risk being deleted.
    Thanks.
    -Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 09 Aug 09 - 06:16 AM

Now I fear for our Warburton Souling Players and others who perform the same play. It is medieval in origin and by tradition the Turk is slain by St. George. How are the do-gooders going to tackle that?

Well, this particular do-gooder will point out that it is neither medieval or traditional, rather the conceit (and therefore the responsibility) of the particular community who have chosen to REVIVE said Souling Play and in the context of REVIVAL they must be aware that the only historical & folkloric context that really matters is the one in which the play is performed. Anything else is a fake-loric fantasy.

I love Mummers Plays as much as I do Folk Song and Morris, but would strongly advise latter day REVIVALISTS to cut the crap, be it back-faced Border Morris (or even the traditional the Britannia dancers) or the rancid racial stereo-tying in Mummer's Plays, or else overt racism in folk songs.


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Acorn4
Date: 09 Aug 09 - 07:28 AM

An intereresting case in point is the opening chorus of the musical "Showboat". This contains the line "N*****s all work on the Mississippi", which was apparently included by Oscar Hammerstein because at the time it was a slightly tongue in cheek self deprecating term used by the black community itself. There was never any suggestion of OH being a racist.

This subsequently was altered to:-

"Darkies work...

then to

"Coloured folks work...

then to

"We all work.....

Until finally no one at all worked on the Mississipi and the opening chorus was omitted completely.


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Leadfingers
Date: 09 Aug 09 - 07:32 AM

Personally , I think there is FAR too much concern as to what 'Other People' will think of 'You' from a P C or Racialist , or even Chauvenist outlook when singing 'Old' songs !
As far as I am concerned , the 'Rich as any Jew' from over a hundred years ago means nothing , though I would NOT be happy with the Oy Vey
MODERN addition .


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 09 Aug 09 - 08:16 AM

There is a little difference between using terms like 'Turk' and 'Jew' as derogatory stereotypes and presenting Turks (or French/German/etc) and English theatrical characters as combatants, as they historically have been.
Unfortunately we live in a world where these stereotypes have become weapons used by scumbags like BNP and it does no harm to consider carefully before they are used - the oy vey response seems to me to underline this; a bit of closet racism if ever I heard it.
Having followed with interest the events in the north of Ireland over the last three decades I find the 'even the bible' bit a little rich.
Religion, christianity included (especially even), has been the cause of enough persecution, suffering and death down the centuries to be worthy of a long hard look before exposing a child's mind to its teachings.
In general, I feel censorship to be undesirable if it can possibly be avoided, but we have to make room for the fact that racial stereotypes are designed to be hurtful, discriminatory and, unchecked, can be lethal in certain circumstances.
It's easy to say they do no harm if they don't effect you or yours.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 09 Aug 09 - 08:18 AM

PS:
"the 'Rich as any Jew' from over a hundred years ago means nothing"
Maybe this should be inscribed on the gates of Belsen - or is that history too?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Azizi
Date: 09 Aug 09 - 08:29 AM

This is written in partly in response to Barbara's 07 Aug 09 - 04:15 PM post but mostly in response to McGrath of Harlow's question in his 07 Aug 09 - 06:54 PM post to this thread:

"What in the world is racist about the song "Old Black Joe"?"   

I'm aware that some people considered and still consider Stephen Foster's "Old Black Joe" and some of his other songs to have been 'enlightened' for the 19th century. However englightened "Old Black Joe" may have been, it still expresses and reinforces the meme of happy slaves who are/were content with their lot. This meme was used (and still may be used) as a justification for the inhumane and often brutal chattel slavery system.

I'm specifically referring to these lines from "Old Black Joe":

Gone are the days
When my heart was young and gay.
Gone are my friends
From the cotton fields away.

-snip-

and these lines:

Where are the hearts
Once so happy and so free

-snip-

It certainly seems to me that the hearts of enslaved people would have been much happier if their bodies had been free.

Furthermore, Old Black Joe's longing to again see "the children so dear/That I held upon my knee" minimizes the atrocities of the chattel slavery system which routinely and casually separated friends and family (such as those children who Old Black Joe remembers holding on his knee). Once family and friends were sold apart from each other, they were unlikely to see each other again on earth. Yet "Old Black Joe" implies that death was the only way that family and friends were parted from each other.

In addition,(and to 'flesh out' my first point), "Old Black Joe" dehumanizes African Americans by painting a word picture of Black slaves as bucolic, un-threatening and therefore harmless "gentle people" who are content with their lot as skaves and resigned to wait for death for any improvement of that lot.

Gone to the shore
Where my soul has longed to go
I hear their gentle voices calling:
Old Black Joe.

-snip-

It's not just that this portrait of Black people is simplistic and untrue. It's not only that as any people, African Americans would have had various responses and reactions to enslavement-including armed rebellions, rebellious acts while enslaved (think "Jimmy Vrack Corn's actions and his reaction to his 'master's death) and in addition to attempts to escape from slavery to the Northern states and/or to Cabada.

Part of the problem with songs like this is that their justification for slavery may still be used today by some people. In addition, in the 21st century there are still people who prefer to engage in stereotypical thinking about African Americans as one homogeneous group of people. Expression of that stereotypical thinking are the use of terms such as "the "black man"; "the black woman" and "the black community. In such ways we are seen as one people instead of as individuals who may have some biological and cultural similarities and who may join together politically when it's in our best interests to do so. However, we African Americans are still   multifaceted and diverse in our responses to life.

That said, with all due respect to all those who view "Old Black Joe" with nostalgia, I expect that there are very few Black people who do so.

**

By the way-for what it's worth- I live 5 minutes by car away from Stephen Foster's home and I understand-through reading books about Foster's life- that his regard for Black people was influenced by his Black nurse(nannie). According to at least one book on Foster that I purchased, his nurse sometimes took him with her to Black church services and probably other events which were largely attended by Black people. I also understand that as an adult Stephen Foster had some Black friends or at least some Black acquaintances. But in no way does any of that change my opinion about his songs.

**

Also by the way, I thank Bruce for posting the lyrics to "Old Black Joe" on this thread because I don't have the emotional energy to read that "Old Black Joe" thread right now.

I had no intentions of posting to this thread or any other Mudcat thread about race/racism. However, I felt the need to share my opinion about this song because I think it's important for at least one person who publicly acknowledges her or his Black racial identity on this forum to do so. And I gathered-from my five years this month experiences on this forum that if I didn't post to this thread, no other Black person would. But I am increasingly becoming tired of such a role and I don't intend to continue being in that role.


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 09 Aug 09 - 10:48 AM

"But I am increasingly becoming tired of such a role and I don't intend to continue being in that role."
Personally, I have valued and learned much from Azizi's input into this forum on this and of other subjects, and would be extremely sorry not to have the benefit of it in the future.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Barbara
Date: 09 Aug 09 - 01:32 PM

I value your input, Azizi, please keep on keeping on. You helped me clarify what I didn't like about the song. It is oppressive. The picture it paints of African Americans is actually of a person, a people damaged by their circumstances.

I cannot imagine a circumstance where I would sing it at a folksong gathering or song circle.

However, as a song that my mother loved, it helps me to understand her and her world view, and I am not sorry that we did it at her Celebration/memorial. There it helped me accept her and see how we are different.

Blessings,
Barbara


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Azizi
Date: 09 Aug 09 - 05:25 PM

Jim Carroll and Barbara, thank you for your words of support.

As for my posting on this forum, I just haven't had much of an interest in doing so lately. But, who knows, that might change.

Best wishes,

Azizi

PS:
Barbara, I responded to your private message. I'm glad that you took no offense to what I was trying to say for certainly no offense was meant by any of us.


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 09 Aug 09 - 06:07 PM

I think that Joe Offer is maybe closer to the mark when he wrote, up the thread, "I see it as a song of nostalgia for the days of youth", rather than for any notion of nostalgia for the days of slavery - nostalgia which, given the date of the song (1860), would have been somewhat premature.

As for "Yet "Old Black Joe" implies that death was the only way that family and friends were parted from each other", that seems to me the wrong way round. Surely Joe is seeing death as the only way family and friends who have been torn apart can be re-united.

Rather from the song painting slavery as bucolic and happy, the implication I hear is that Joe is specifically presented as longing for death as a way of escaping a life of slavery and loss. The "gentle voices" aren't those of happy slaves, but of his dead friends and relatives.
....................

I'm wholly in agreement with what Jim Carroll wrote there - I would very much miss Azizi's contributions here, and I think the Mudcat would be poorer without them.


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Peace
Date: 09 Aug 09 - 07:21 PM

"Personally, I have valued and learned much from Azizi's input into this forum on this and of other subjects, and would be extremely sorry not to have the benefit of it in the future.
Jim Carroll"

I'm with you on that Jim (and McG of H).


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: The Vulgar Boatman
Date: 09 Aug 09 - 08:22 PM

Oh dear me...
I am not Jewish, but I worked closely with a major Jewish charitable organisation for ten years, and spent many nights sitting up over a glass or three with their Rabbi and other officers putting the world to rights. Funny thing is, they had a great store of humour about Jewish stereotypes, and they weren't being defensive - they loved their heritage as much if not more than the next man, were of the generation of holocaust survivors and capable of being very serious indeed, but a number of them also came from the same roots as David Kossoff, Marty Feldman, Wolf Mankowitz and Unity Theatre, and they were some very politically aware people.

If we have a fault here on the Mudcat (perish the thought), it seems to be the urge to deconstruct everything to a minute degree. Sometimes it's useful, informative and occasionally uplifting; others, with the greatest respect, it's something of a pain in the arse. Context is a hugely important concept - all sorts of things get lost forever if we don't take account of it, and I suspect this may apply to the performance of songs, including the awful, mawkish "A Mon Like Thee". Perhaps we should just accept that some part of the function of a folk club is to act as a rather dowdy and beery sort of museum.

Oddly enough, the only time I ever heard my friends use the words "Oy vay", other than in exasperation, was in the context of a joke taking the p*** out of a Jewish stereotype. That said, there will probably always be instances of bigotry out there, and people who will set out to be offensive. I just hope that this isn't one such example, rather that it may be a roomful of people somewhat ignorantly shooting themselves in the foot.


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 10 Aug 09 - 08:32 AM

I'm not Jewish either, but I'm afraid that my take on the subject of anti Semitism is a little different to that of VB.
During the period I spent in Manchester in the mid 60s, many of my friends and acquaintences were working-class Jews, also very politically aware people. This was twenty years after the horrors of the Holocaust and there was still a great deal of sensitivity surrounding the subject, the rabid right by then having turned their attention to the people coming to Britain from the former colonies.
In the intervening period things have altered radically and once again racism, irrespective of colour or ethnic origin, is back on the menu, thanks to our blackshirted friends.
Their drive for respectibility in order to make gains via the ballot box makes it doubly necessary to be aware of the fact that they may have altered their tactics somewhat over the last ten years or so, but they haven't gone away.
I am always very wary of all forms of racist expression, as harmless as it often seems; I find the folk club "oy vey" morons particularly stomach-heaving in the 'rich jew' context.
But that's me!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: GUEST,MtheGM
Date: 10 Aug 09 - 08:53 AM

Having just read Jim's post above, I think it might be relevant to copy on to this thread a letter I sent to The Times this morning. Did any of you know about this?

Sir, You report on page 19 ("Police ready for clashes at BNP festival") that in previous years there have been complaints of "the playing of Third Reich martial tunes". I was astonished, googling British military marches on YouTube the other day, to discover that a few clicks of the mouse on "Related Videos" would bring me videos of "The Waffen SS March", "The Afrika Corps March", "Hitler's 'Sieg Heil'", "Viktoria Sieg Heil" ... all complete with footage of Der Führer and his acolytes; and all available free-online.   I wonder how many people know this.
MICHAEL GROSVENOR MYER
Cambridge


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 10 Aug 09 - 10:20 AM

I'd just like to point out that in my OP I was sure to stress there was absolutely no intention of bad feeling on the part of the singer, nor yet on the part of those who raised the Oy Vey - just one of a set of responses which, if not rehearsed as such seemed as customary a part of the song as the stretching of the imaginary braces when someone sings the canon and ball line in Please to See the King (Joy, Health, love and Peace).

My reaction was a personal one, and certainly not a righteous one, and God knows the perpetrators are some of the finest human beings I've ever met in my life. My point was not to out them as racists, which they most assuredly are not (nor yet are they morons) rather to draw attention to just how implicit a lot of this stuff is anyway, being so buried in our culture that at times we fail to notice it on account of the innocence of the intention - much less the tradition, in the name of which just about anything would appear to be excusable.

On such matters I am, for whatever reason, especially sensitive; so perhaps my reaction was an over-reaction, but this isn't about The Enlightened vs. The Unenlightened, rather the extent to which such racism would appear to be encoded into culture as a whole. An example, when searching for a link to The King in the DT, I entered the and king into the DT search and amongst the various songs that came up there was This.

I remind myself that the worst racist anecdotes I've ever heard were those told by Indian Hindus about Pakistani Moslems.


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 10 Aug 09 - 11:12 AM

Thanks Mike; I certainly didn't know that - though I'm not surprised
"just one of a set of responses "
A sort of right-arm-jerk reaction. If it wasn't for the suject matter this would probably be no more harmful than the somewhat feeble-minded 'cheek-popping' that goes on in some clubs but.....
"The worst racist anecdotes I've ever heard were those told by Indian Hindus about Pakistani Moslems."
Really? The worst ones I've heard were about Indians, Pakinstanis, Moslems, West Indians, Irish, Jews............................ anybody who wasn't English.
I don't really think it is possible to over-react to racism in any form - it kills people.
Thoughout my working life I found the UK, particularly London, an extremely racist place, albeit passively so. What upset me more than anything was the way the subject was dealt with so matter-of-factly. There was never any question that you might disagree with the speaker, it was always assumed tat you were of a like mind (or mindlessness).
I find it disturbing that somebody who is able to put up for election (leader of the BNP) can not only propose the repatriation of all 'foreigners' but he can also suggest that those who enter the country illegally should be cast adrift in open boats, which to me is advocating murder, or at the very least, manslaughter.
As far as I'm concerned, long live political correctness.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: GUEST,schlimmerkerl
Date: 10 Aug 09 - 11:56 AM

When i do "The Bitter Withy", i include the verse "but you ain't nothing but the Jew's child, born in the oxen stall." I'm "entitled", to paraphrase many Black comedians who use the n-word, but no one has complained. (otoh, i ask before doing a Republican song when in Orange territory— and vice versa)


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 10 Aug 09 - 01:14 PM

"you ain't nothing but the Jew's child,"
Usually "I ain't nothing but a 'poor' Jew's child.
Can't see anything wrong with this - I understand Jews have children and many of them are poor.
It's when they are used as derogatory stereotypes that the problems arise - like when it is implied that they are all rich.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 10 Aug 09 - 02:53 PM

Back to Old Black Joe. I think it is one of the most respectful songs ever written. I don't sing it because I understand it upsets people and it is taboo now. I respect their wishes...but I still don't get it.

It is my understanding that it is about a real person who worked in the house of a friend of his and he promised to write a song for or about this man. I do not know if this is true or false, if he was free (I hope) or a slave. It was a tribute supposedly to a particular man. I think when most of us heard the song it was with relief that someone had at least escaped the horrible work of the fields for hopefully better work in the house at least. I don't think it excuses slavery, I don't think anyone with any education would think it represents slavery in general or deludes themselves that it was a happy situation (after all a country had a civil war with huge massive loss of life and revenue to stop this). I think it helped to humanize one person and get people to change their thinking and lessen the dehumanization of people who were enslaved...and that is how slavery and other abuses are tolerated...by dehumanization..not conscious..like they say fish don't notice the water...people are born into situations and things seem normal to them that should not.

Anyway, I think it is very extremely respectful song. It romanticizes what was probably a horrible life starting out in the cotton fields. But look how horrible lives were romanticized elsewhere..the life of the sailor, who had scurvey and VD and unset broken bones...or the railroad man...I've been working on the railroad..just to pass the time away...they say there is an Irishman buried under every tie. . I think it was partially a style..partially a way people had of coping..partially a way to get respect for other people who were not respected in society....

Well, I don't sing the song so don't worry..but I did listen on you tube to the Trapp family...give it a listen. If you have not heard the song, I think you should. It is quite beautiful. I would say don't sing the song because it is upsetting to people, but hear it and hear it with the intent that it was written.    mg


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: The Sandman
Date: 10 Aug 09 - 03:35 PM

I totally agree with Jim Carrolls post,10 aug 09,1 14 pm.


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: GUEST,Neil D
Date: 10 Aug 09 - 03:56 PM

Add me to the number here who have said they appreciate, and would miss, Azizi's informed and perceptive posts to Mudcat threads. And not only as a representative black voice, but as an intersting and edifying contributor on many topics, and as a good friend. On the other hand I can understand how being "one person who publicly acknowledges her or his Black racial identity on this forum" can be wearisome after five years. I've often wondered why a forum dedicated to Folk and BLUES music hasn't attracted more Black people to participate.
   Suibhne O'P, in your last post you said of the people who sang the song and gave the Oy Veh response "My reaction was a personal one, and certainly not a righteous one, and God knows the perpetrators are some of the finest human beings I've ever met in my life. My point was not to out them as racists, which they most assuredly are not (nor yet are they morons)". I would think that that being so, it would have been easy enough to explain to them why you found it offensive without being confrontational. Something similar happened to me. A good friend plays in an Alt-country band that we go see regularly. They had a guy sit in with them on guitar and front them on a few of his own songs one night. When he did a song called "Towel Headed Trucker" my wife and I walked out. The next time I talked to my friend I explained why we had done so. I don't know if it did any good but the only time since then that the guy sat in, he didn't do that song. Ironically, the dude's previous song was one he wrote based on a message of tolerance professed by the Preacher character from "The Grapes of Wrath".


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 10 Aug 09 - 04:21 PM

Does "towel headed" have some special meaning that's offensive?


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 10 Aug 09 - 04:34 PM

It's a demeaning caricature of traditional Arab dress - hence 'towelhead' & 'raghead' as terms of abuse for Arabs & people with Arab roots.


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 10 Aug 09 - 05:15 PM

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,792374,00.html

There is a Time article from 1945 that talks about his niece saying it was written for his wife's family butler. It does not say where his wife's family is from and that is an important piece of knowledge.

Anyway, the reason it is such a hard song to give up singing is because it is not only so beautiful, but it is so universal and so iconic and about a portion of the population that does not get many songs written about them..older men on their way out of life.

It is like people wanted us to quit singing Danny Boy..which as a woman I believe I am not supposed to sing so I don't..but think how sad it would be for all those old men who it means so much to..that they want it sung at their funerals etc. Same sort of song.

Oops..every St. Patrick's day we get the message loud and clear we should not be singing Danny Boy as it is corny beyond words..so bad comparison. mg


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 10 Aug 09 - 05:20 PM

Songs often provide a sort of minimalist framework, to which listeners have added various additional elements to fill out the story, Nothing wrong with that, its how we make sense of a song we sing or hear.

Sometimes the story that gets built up around a song can be one that come up with is one that they find disturbing or offensive, sometimes the reverse.

But very often when you look at the actual words, that story isn't actually in there. Old Black Joe is a case in point. So are any other number of songs, such as Danny Boy notoriously.


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 10 Aug 09 - 07:26 PM

Another problem, and I am not saying we should still sing the song, as it is understood that people are offended by it...but it is probably 10% of the American repertoire..that and Clementine and I've been working on the Railroad, oh Susanna..songs that almost everyone knows (and probably half by Stephen Foster)...home on the range...

And I have been trying to think of other sort of end of life songs...that are commonly known in America..however it is defined..certainly North, Central and South America including Greenland, although I do not know all of the main languages of these countries that comprise America. I can't think of any. My Pappa? Is that an Italian American song? I don't know it. I can think of a few that most people don't know..Bard of Armaugh, David of the White Rock (helps if you know Welsh), Oft in the Stilly NIght...but of the commonly known respecting your elders type of song, particularly male elders..I can only think of Old Black Joe and Danny Boy..and we have eliminated one and the other one people make fun of. Well, there are probably others I can't think of. mg


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Barbara
Date: 10 Aug 09 - 08:07 PM

Are you forgetting -- or ignoring -- hymns, mg?
Blessings,
Barbara


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 10 Aug 09 - 08:14 PM

Faith of our fathers? I don't really know Protestant hymns and most people don't know the older prettier Catholic ones..and I can't think of any other than Faith of our Fathers that would be about this topic. mg


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 10 Aug 09 - 08:45 PM

Here is a pretty version of Old Black Joe. Again, I am not saying we should sing it, but people should hear how pretty and respectful it seems to many of us.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OeqH7yXAwxg


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Joe Offer
Date: 11 Aug 09 - 03:43 AM

Azizi, perhaps you should consider revising your thinking on "Old Black Joe." Yes, your position is plausible, but it involves reading meaning into the song that really isn't there (or at least not very strongly). I think it's a song that helped a lot of white people realize that black and white people had feelings about old age that were very much the same, and I can't see that as anything but helpful. I think it's absolutely clear that Stephen C. Foster intended to express compassion and empathy in the song. Why not accept that compassion and empathy at face value, and not try to find something offensive about it?

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 11 Aug 09 - 05:55 AM

Sorry Joe, songs such as Old Black Joe have to be taken in the contexts that gave rise to them - I go along with Azizi on this one.
I was brought up on 'Stay In Your Own Back Yard' (Lilac Trees), which I now believe to be a piece of patronising racism, albeit well meaning.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 11 Aug 09 - 07:24 AM

If songs are to be rejected because of the context that gave rise to them that'd be an awful lot of good songs we'd lose.   

In fact if "the context that gave rise to them" means "a society in which there were a lot of unexamined prejudices and which was intolerant and unjust in many ways", I doubt if there's ever been a society that would pass the gest - including our own.

The circumstances of the times when a song was written are of course of interest, and can enable songs to give us an understanding of those times and those circumstances that perhaps nothing else can - but that's only half of the story, Songs can come to life again in very different circumstances, and help us to understand them also.   I'm thinking of the way that a song such as "Will you go to Flanders?" takes on a new depth and meaning when it is sung in the context of looking back at the Great War.

Basically Old Black Joe is a song about getting old, and that's something common to all of us.


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: GUEST,folk1e
Date: 12 Aug 09 - 06:50 AM

I am not Jewish myself, but I am fat, follicly challenged and visually impaired, so am not totally oblivious to derogatory stereotyping!
Whilst overt racially based derogatory statements are obviously wrong I feel that we are getting into a silly situation where any implied slight to any race, colour or creed is met with a backlash that is more damaging than the original act!

A gun is just a gun. It only becomes a weapon of evil when somebody uses it as such! How the gun is used becomes the important issue, not what type and model the gun is. I think it is the same with songs. Overt editing of our songs will not only sanitize them out of all recognition, but will prevent anyone from appreciating the context they were written in!
I don't hear anybody (sensibly) saying we should edit out all the racist speeches made throughout history because we disagree with the sentiments expressed.

I have been sitting in my local folk club when "A Mon Like Thee" has been performed (with the "rich as any Jew" line in). At least one member of the audience was Jewish, but he took no offense!
He did however get barracked for singing a song "I Hate Wogs" by Eric Bogle (the song is an anti-racist song) merely because people were unable to look beyond the racist words to see the meaning of the song!


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Jack Campin
Date: 12 Aug 09 - 08:18 AM

Is it a coincidence that most somgs about tailers put them down as thieves, scalywags or fools and that tailering was principaly a jewish trade in the nieteenth and early twentieth century

Most songs about tailors are older than that and don't come from the places (particularly London) where tailoring was a Jewish occupation.

The usual stereotype you get about tailors is that they weren't very masculine, compared with ploughmen or sailors. Maybe the stereotype expressed an inchoate form of homophobia, but not anti-Semitism.


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 12 Aug 09 - 08:33 AM

My great-(great?)-grandfather was an Irish tailor who upon arrival in Newcastle set up shop on the Castle Garth Stairs, noted in the Traditional Tyneside song A U Hinny Bird for an associated with the trade:

The quayside for sailors - A U Hinney Bird
The castle garth for tailors - A U A
The Gateshead hills for millers - A U Hinney Bird
The north shore for keelers - A U A


The old shop fronts are still there...


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Leadfingers
Date: 12 Aug 09 - 09:20 AM

Sean - The 'Rich as any Jew' is hardly Anti-Semitic , though the Oy Vey chant is decidedly Impolite to say the least


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 12 Aug 09 - 09:32 AM

The 'Rich as any Jew' is hardly Anti-Semitic ,

It's the perpetuation of one of the most persistent stereotypes in history, one that has resulted in the deaths of millions. In what way is that not Anti-Semitic?


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 12 Aug 09 - 11:07 AM

"He did however get barracked for singing a song "I Hate Wogs" by Eric Bogle"
Can anybody verify the story of Eric Bogle being popped in the mouth by an irate audience member for singing this?
"It's the perpetuation of one of the most persistent stereotypes in history,"
I agree with S O'P - first time for everything!!!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: fumblefingers
Date: 12 Aug 09 - 11:37 PM

You can't change history. If you find the old songs offensive, start or join a politically correct, revisionist, purer than thou folk club. And don't read The Merchant of Venice.


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Peace
Date: 13 Aug 09 - 12:40 AM

KYSSAN MIN AERS

I find that offensive. It's very old. Age does not itself bestow either respectability or right. Sometimes songs outlive their usefulness. No offense.


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 13 Aug 09 - 02:46 AM

If you find the old songs offensive

Has anyone, on this thread or anywhere else, said they "find the old songs offensive"?


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: GUEST,Black belt caterpillar wretler
Date: 13 Aug 09 - 08:19 AM

They may not have said so but it is obvious thay they do.

When a song is written it reflects the world as seen by the writer in his/her own view and vocabulary.

That world view may not be acceptable to another person at another time.

Or even the same time.

Do we deny history or remove the evidence? For example will German children grow up ignorant of the fact that the swatika (not allowed to be used in Germany today) was emblazoned on WW2 aircraft?

Can you offend by omission?


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Acorn4
Date: 13 Aug 09 - 08:58 AM

Racist attitudes were undoubtedly implicit if not explicit in quite a few old songs, and fortunately we've moved on to a more enlightened attitude with each generation.

I don't, however agree with the "Stalinist airbrushing" of history that one or two people seem to be advocating here.


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 13 Aug 09 - 09:30 AM

I don't agree with Stalinist airbrushing of history either, but I'm b####red if I can see who's been advocating it here.


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Peace
Date: 13 Aug 09 - 09:24 PM

Songs that have outlived their 'charm' often just go away. Perhaps that's a good thing. I can't see anyone on this thread being a Stalinist or a Stalin for that matter.


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Gedi
Date: 14 Aug 09 - 08:50 AM

"I hate the fecking song anyway; one of the draw-backs of living in Lancashire is having to wade the depths of mawkish tripe like this which is sung with great relish (however so innocent the racism) in folk clubs the county over."

Well said, Sweeney. This song makes me cringe every time I hear it, and not just because of the mention of Jews in such a fashion. "Mawkish Tripe" sums it up perfectly....

Ged


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 14 Aug 09 - 10:33 AM

Isn't it actually a gentle take-off of that very mawkishness?

Perhaps it's not just the other side of the Atlantic that people sometimes have problems with irony...


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 Aug 09 - 02:33 PM

""Mawkish Tripe" sums it up perfectly...."
Absolutely - the Scots refer to such songs as 'Kail yaird' poetry.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: GUEST,Bruce Michael Baillie
Date: 14 Aug 09 - 05:54 PM

Oh grow up for fucks sake! It's a song. Get over yourself!


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 15 Aug 09 - 03:53 AM

"It's a song."
So is The Horst Wessel song - do   likewise
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: GUEST,John Hartford
Date: 15 Aug 09 - 04:23 AM

hi

I agree...who was it that once said the Britain and America are two great nations divided by a single language???...lol

cheers

john


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: GUEST,Black Belt Caterpillar Wrestler
Date: 24 Aug 09 - 07:53 AM

At Saddleworth rushcart, yesterday, I heard an intersting variation.

"As rich as Ronnie Drew".


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Leadfingers
Date: 24 Aug 09 - 12:37 PM

So the ENTIRE folk world stops IMMEDIATELY singing ANY song that might offend ANYBODY - How many Traditional songs does THAT leave us with ???
"I am a Staunch republican , so NO songs about The Nobility , especially Kings and Queens"

"I'm a Vegan so NO songs mentioning Meat , Eggs , Milk or Cheese!"

"I am an Amimal Lover , so NO songs about Hunting or Whaling"

"I am a Pacifist , so NO songs about Wars"

"I am a VERY serious Naturist , so NO songs about Tailors or Clothing"

"I am a TeeTotaller , so no songs about beer or wine!"

"I am a Mysoginist , so no songs about the delights of women"

Where do you stop drawing the line ?


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 24 Aug 09 - 12:53 PM

Leadfingers, the handwringers have taken over.


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 24 Aug 09 - 01:03 PM

Bullshit. All the things you mention there are very much lifestyle choices. We're talking here about racial slurs here, not the risk of offending the prissy sensibilities of pacifists, vegetarians & the like.


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Wolfgang
Date: 24 Aug 09 - 01:57 PM

For example will German children grow up ignorant of the fact that the swatika (not allowed to be used in Germany today) was emblazoned on WW2 aircraft? (black belt...)

Of course, the swastika is allowed to be shown (the Horst Wessel song allowed to be sung) in films, or theater plays about the Nazi time. It would be allowed in history lessons in school. It is also allowed to use the swastika in a context which makes clear that it is used as part of criticism of Nazi thinking.

So for instance when neo-Nazis reported their opponents to the police for using a crossed-out swastika (or, in another cartoon, a swastika being thrown into a garbage bin) as a symbol against neo-Nazis, they (the neo-Nazis) had no success.

Forbidden are some songs and symbols only when used for endorsing the thinking historically related to them.

Wolfgang


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: The Sandman
Date: 24 Aug 09 - 02:45 PM

as rich as Ronnie Drew,I like that.,that is brilliant.


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 24 Aug 09 - 06:24 PM

Being a woman is a lifestyle choice?


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 24 Aug 09 - 07:10 PM

"Where do you stop drawing the line?"
Unless you draw a line anything is permissable - as far as I'm concerned racism in any form is a line you don't step over - there are 6,000,000 reasons why if you've got a minute.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: GUEST,Jim Knowledge
Date: 25 Nov 09 - 10:43 AM

I `ad that Julian in my cab the other day. `e`s the one that`s got that poncy `airdressers on the Bayswater Road but `e does like `is folk music, for all that. I could see `e was a bit tearful, `is mascara `ad run right down to `is top lip.
I said, "What`s up Jules? You look like you just `eard Lord Rumba was going straight"
`e said, " Oh Jim. It`s worse than that.I sung an Irish song in the folk club last night and they all sung the chorus that quite put me off my stroke, they did. I came over all offended."
I said, " I thought that was the idea at a sing along. What did they sing then?".
`e said, " Fine Girl You Are"!!!"

Whaddam I Like??


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: GUEST,Ed
Date: 25 Nov 09 - 12:23 PM

I discussed this with a (non-folky) Jewish friend and he said that, had he been there, he would have joined in with the "Oyvay!"

It's not racist or malicious; it's the humour of the stereotype, like jokes about blondes and banjo players.


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 25 Nov 09 - 01:00 PM

It smells of silly stereo types and I don't find it funny.

And I like a joke

L in C


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 25 Nov 09 - 01:24 PM

... indeed, L i C — & I sense a lot of ill-will masquerading behind a smokescreen, or leaving a backdoor of escape, of "Can't you take a joke?"


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 26 Nov 09 - 02:58 AM

Good point -

L in C


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Gurney
Date: 27 Nov 09 - 01:23 AM

On the theme of members of the audience taking funny attitudes: One big young bloke threatened me for singing 'D-Day Dodgers.' Said it was insulting to his dad who was in the 8th Army during the war.

He was too big and too angry to treat with the contempt he deserved, so I explained carefully.

I still want to hear a Jewish take on the line. No-one out there?


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 27 Nov 09 - 01:32 AM

You have just had mine, Gurney, on the 'sense of humour' get-out of the interrupters. As to the line: one must keep a historical perspective; it's the way people used to think & say. I had my say some time back about Jane Austen putting a similar line into the mouth of a particularly stupid & disagreeable charachter in 'Northanger Abbey' [7 Aug, 10.17 pm.


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 27 Nov 09 - 02:38 AM

Mind you — *definition*, as we all know, is the bugbear of Catters when it comes to Folk — &, to introduce a new wrinkle, in a way when it comes to Jews too. My family were, & quite a prominent family in the Community too - my grandfather founded, & my father succeeded as editor, the only Yiddish daily paper in London. But I have been an atheist since about 15, except for trying Baptism·&·Confirmation to Anglicanism in early middle-age, when crises notoriously occur. But, as my late wife [who was Anglican from birth] said, it never really took, & after a few years I reverted to my default position of absolute Atheism. Still, one's genes are one's genes — so whether I am, by definition, qualified to respond to Gurney's post 2 back, is perhaps not for me to say.


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Gurney
Date: 27 Nov 09 - 02:40 PM

Sorry, Matthew. I hadn't taken in the significance of the name in your signed post. Sometimes I read too fast.


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 27 Nov 09 - 02:41 PM

It's actually Michael...


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 27 Nov 09 - 05:42 PM

"silly stereo types" - aren't they those people who get obsessed with fussing around with their expensive hi-fi systems?


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: The Sandman
Date: 27 Nov 09 - 06:01 PM

Ronnie Drew, was a gentleman, he gave me a fiver once[no not a bunch of fives] when I was busking in Cork City.
he was rich, and rich in spirit.RIP.


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: GUEST,Bruce Michael Baillie
Date: 28 Nov 09 - 03:59 PM

...I tell you what, why don't we all just listen to people like you and ban humour altogether and then no-one can get offended about anything. You mean to tell me you actually left a club early because someone sang an old song (written in a time when people had very different ways of looking at things to what they do today)I quite honestly suggest you grow up and don't take life as seriously as you obviously are doing. A wry comment about someones race doesn't neccesarily make someone a racist, It used to be called a sense of humour, something the folk scene used to be remarkably good at.
Not anymore I suppose with people like you sifting meticulously through the words of old songs for any hint of un political correctness so they can be justifiably offended and damn anyone foolish enough to dare sing them.
And to think a few years ago the folkies used to laugh at the idea of people like Vaughan Williams changing the words of old folk songs so as not to upset Victorian sensibilities!
...Not a lot has changed has it?


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: jennyr
Date: 29 Nov 09 - 04:21 AM

Suibhne, thank you for starting this thread - I have found a lot of the comments really helpful in clarifying my own thoughts about how to approach songs which don't agree with my political ideology.

May I suggest that the minority who have posted to say that they don't find the discussion interesting go and read something else instead?


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 29 Nov 09 - 06:44 AM

Bruce Michael Baillie?

I guess anybody with such a stupid half *rsed name would be used to confusing abuse with humour wouldn't they?

So do what jennyr suggests and ...........................

Only joking though aren't I?

L in C
Clearly in a short tempered state of mindlessness


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 29 Nov 09 - 09:45 AM

"Only joking though aren't I?"
Why?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 29 Nov 09 - 09:58 AM

Jim

"Only joking though aren't I?"

It's a question not a statement........... isn't it?

L in C


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: GUEST,Bruce Michael Baillie
Date: 29 Nov 09 - 03:19 PM

Hey Les in Chorlton. You may not have noticed it yet but in the non music section is a thread about whether jokes about dyslexia are offensive? I didn't see your name in there but I'm sure you'll find something in it to make you full of righteous indignation?

Enjoy!


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 29 Nov 09 - 05:56 PM

Re Gurney's post of 27 Nov at 1.23...

I can usually take a joke, but I never knew my maternal grandparents.. they were impoverished Jews who moved from Poland to Germany after the 1st World War to avoid pogroms, but ended up in the Warwaw ghetto (grandfather) and a death camp (grandmother), so the "Rich as any Jew" line made me wince, and the apparently conditioned audience response did too.

Kitty


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 29 Nov 09 - 05:58 PM

That should have been Warsaw ghetto, but War war might have been a Freudian interpretation....?


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Gurney
Date: 29 Nov 09 - 06:57 PM

Thanks for the response, Kitty. It seems to me that your wince is a conditioned response, too.
I am possibly a generation older than you, my father fought in WWII, and most younger people seem to me to be conditioned in different ways to me. When I was young, Negros were niggers, we had jocks and micks and wogs and wops and dagos and chinks, and when I came here to NZ I was called a pom. Except by Maoris, who called me a Pakeha. All considered horribly insulting, now, except Pakeha. They were only very mildly insulting in years gone by.
People are raised mealy-mouthed nowadays. I can't see how implying Jews become financially successful is in any way insulting. Must be a generation thing.
I don't sing the song, but I would if I wanted to.


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Amos
Date: 01 Dec 09 - 11:26 PM

I think the expression "as rich as any Jew" is not exactly racist but   is part of an economic, not racial, stereo-typing. That makes it no less humane and no less palatable socially. But the ancient stereotypes of the Merchant of Venice --unfair and bigoted though they were--are a genuine part of the context of the song. And it should also be stressed that the song in itself is about extremely humane impulses and attitudes, and the line in question is essentially merely accidental to its main narrative.

A


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Subject: RE: Anti-Semitism : A Mon Like Thee
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 02 Dec 09 - 08:09 AM

Exlnt point Amos. I would not want to sing this line at a Jewish social and hence anywhere else. It is no big point on the great scale of things but a point that some of us are making.

L in C


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