First of all, let’s talk about what this piece is not. It is not a criticism of Neil Peart, the drummer. My belief continues that he is one of the greatest drummers of all time, in any genre of music. As a lyricist, my belief continues that he is still one of the very best at writing thought provoking, philosophical, high-minded lyrics.
Something else this piece is not is one of politics. While it centers around some political criticisms made by Peart, I have no beef with the fact that he disagrees with a certain politician or certain political viewpoint. So any of you readers who do choose to comment here, please do not turn it into a political debate. Comments that attempt to do so will be yanked before they are ever seen.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about the recent Rolling Stone cover story on Rush, and a statement or two in particular. Like this one:
Peart says that it’s “very obvious” that Paul “hates women and brown people” — and Rush sent a cease-and-desist order to get Paul to stop quoting “The Trees” in his speeches.
Really, Neil? He hates women and brown people? On what do you base this ugly, nasty, ad hominem attack? What facts to you have to back up such an ugly smear. Was it this? Or maybe this? What about this? And this? It seems to me that it’s very obvious that the facts are in diametric opposition to your position that “he hates … brown people.”
Neil, aren’t you the guy who wrote lyrics decrying those “people who judge without a measure of mercy”? If you truly believe that, then why are you tarring someone with ugly, baseless accusations of racism and sexism? That looks like a textbook definition of judging without a measure of mercy.
You also wrote about those people who were “quick to judge, quick to anger, slow to understand.” And yet here you are joining such a crowd, as evidenced by your failure (or unwillingness) to consider any facts that contradicted your position, such as those linked above. Instead of thoughtful criticism, you go straight for the lowest common denominator. As a somewhat newly minted American citizen, congratulations – you’ll fit right in with the prevailing mode of political discourse in this country (insert slow, sarcastic clap here).
The songs “Wish Them Well” and “Witch Hunt” from which lyrics in the previous two paragraphs were derived would encourage the thoughtful listener to take the high road. Your baseless, race-baiting smear is taking the low road all the way. Honestly, I thought you were better than that. That kind of rhetoric is the type of crap I would expect from the various poo-flinging talking heads if I had the stomach to watch Fox News, MSNBC, or some other televised food fight. If there is one positive, at least you’ve given me another reason to be thankful that I’m a cord-cutter.
I wouldn’t feel any different about this if you had made a preposterous statement that Obama was born in Kenya, or an equally preposterous statement that Hillary hates men. Neither of those two people has a snowball’s chance in hell of making my favorite persons list. And still, I’d think anyone who uttered such things in seriousness would be guilty of the most baseless and ugly smearing as you are in regard to your statements about Paul. Unsubstantiated accusations of racism and sexism are no better than racism and sexism itself.
Look, I’m fine if you don’t like Rand Paul, or any other politician for that matter – after all, 99% of politicians give the rest a bad name. While there are things about him I like, there are others that give me great pause. As for me, my clear frontrunner is SMOD ’16 (Sweet Meteor of Death). But don’t mind me, when it comes to politics I’m one of the most cynical people around. I take exception to Ronald Reagan’s statement that, as the world’s second oldest profession, it bears a remarkable resemblance to the first, as I think such sentiments grossly unfair to oldest profession practicioners.
Still, I can’t help but be disappointed when I think about the example you’ve set and I’ve attempted to follow (poorly, often times, but hey, I try) through your lyrics and through the unshakable artistic integrity of you and your bandmates. As you well know, “The measure of a life is a measure of love and respect, so hard to earn so easily burned.” Reading through the comments section of the Rolling Stone piece online, I can see that I’m not the only one for whom you’ve burned some of that respect.
With regard to the craft of drumming, I know you have a great deal of humility. It’s a necessity for any drummer of your caliber to insist that he still needs to take lessons from others like Freddie Gruber. Perhaps you could let some of that humility bleed over into other spheres. If you do, maybe you’ll realize that there are ways to express political disagreement with those you oppose without descending into mud of ugly, baseless accusations of racism and sexism. Maybe you’ll realize that, whatever you think about Paul’s policy proposals, it’s completely unnecessary and counterproductive to accuse him of hating brown people and women, particularly when there are easily verifiable facts that say the exact opposite. Maybe, even you could get in touch with the man who wrote these words:
A quality of justice
A quantity of light
A particle of mercy
Makes the color of right
Erik A. Heter
Rush Fan since 1979 and at least until the day I die.