Vietnam Protest Singer Baez Gets Top Billing on Post Website

Joan Baez?

Yeah, before my time too, but the Vietnam Era folk singer/protester (pictured at right on the washingtonpost.com front page earlier) scored a publicity coup today. In addition to space in the letters-to-the-editor section, the Post dispatched writer Teresa Wiltz to cover Baez. So what was so deserving of giving an aging Vietnam Era folk singer so much attention?

Why, a complaint against Army brass, of course.

Apparently the Army couldn't accomodate her planned appearance at Walter Reed Army Medical Center with rocker and liberal Iraq war critic John Mellencamp. (A Post music critic covered Mellencamp's set in the April 28 paper)

Of course nowhere in Wiltz's article did she interview any concertgoers to see if anyone really missed the earth-shattering experience that is hearing Baez's music.

What's more, Wiltz left unconsidered how negatively injured soldiers might receive Baez's decidedly politically-infused folk music and ultra-left wing leanings. Mellencamp is no Bush fan, but it's hard to accuse the rocker of being opposed to the institution of the military itself. (see correction below)* (continued...)

Notes Wiltz, "Baez, who said Mellencamp had asked her to sing two songs with him, has been an avowed anti-violence activist ever since she refused to participate in an air raid drill at her Southern California high school."

Gee. Here she is a radical left-wing critic of the military, someone who sees little if any utility for the American military to execute violence upon an enemy in defense of the country. And yet somehow it's a good idea to set her in front of wounded soldiers whose very job it is to legitimately exercise violence upon an enemy in defense of the country?!

Is it really that hard to put together how lame-brained an idea that was on Mellencamp's part, or how wise it may have been on the part of Army officials to put the kibosh on Baez performing?

Indeed, buried deep within her article, Wilitz relays an exchange between Mellencamp and Baez wherein the latter takes being turned down by Army brass as a badge of honor:

After the concert, Baez said, Mellencamp left her a message to say, "I hope you're not mad at me." Her response: " 'Of course not. It's an honor to be turned down by the Army.' . . . But I would have been happier getting in . . . I thought times had changed enough."

Baez's sanctimony also shined through her May 2 letter to the Post's editors wherein she hinted that she was wrong during the Vietnam War to deprive the "needs of the men and women" who served in that war. The need, that is, to hear her groovy music:

"What I do regret is having ignored the needs of the men and women who returned from Vietnam.... I realize now that I might have contributed to a better welcome home for those soldiers fresh from Vietnam. Maybe that's why I didn't hesitate to accept the invitation to sing for those returning from Iraq and Afghanistan," wrote Baez.

*UPDATE (18:49 EDT): I stand corrected. Mellencamp also had a problem with our military action in Afghanistan post-9/11. Of course given his musical history and the image he gives off as a gritty, blue-collar rocker, it's perhaps a fact that gets easily forgetten, as was the case with yours truly.

Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd is the Managing Editor for NewsBusters