Friday, August 26, 2016

Nixon Then, Trump Now? The John Lennon Deportation Scandal

It is interesting to imagine what our current jingoistic culture would do with John Lennon, if he arrived in America today. A pot smoking hippie way back when, he was despised by Republican politicians, who sought to deport him. Young people loved him for resisting the Vietnam War and Nixon. Today, even after having never won a war since, instead of being shot by a lone gunman, Lennon might be called upon by Trump and others to be put in front of a firing squad for treason. A new audiobook, JOHN LENNON vs THE USA by Leon Wildes (a lawyer for an immigration related law firm) details the attempts to get the Beatle out so he couldn’t join Jerry Rubin in a “Dump Nixon” rock rally prior to the 1972 RNC. Strom Thurmond was in on it, as was John Mitchell (attorney general in charge of illegal alien deportation.) Nixon also listened to John Dean, and wanted (with expletives not deleted) to deport Lennon and Yoko Ono. But Lennon had an expert on immigration on their side: the author of this book. Wildes found a loophole in the law to grant an exemption for the couple, even after stays were denied and applications for “outstanding artists” were postponed for consideration by the INS until after they were gone. The Man in the Oval Office is different now, but Nixon was not done killing young men for no reason, and wanted to get more blood on his hands. Lennon and Ono were in the way. So was Hunter S. Thompson, as revealed in FEAR AND LOATHING IN AMERICA. Both audiobooks are narrated by one of my fav voiceover artists, the always engaging and mellifluous Malcolm Hillgartner. Wilde’s book is an interesting look at how custody battles and the politics of greed worked back then, and they are both relevant to today…almost in lock step. What was at stake then is at stake now. Can we learn from history, or not? Richard Nixon: The LifeFEAR by Bob Woodward.

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