Regarding the lyrics: "They took away Sacco, Vanzetti, Connolly and Pearce in their time."Sacco and Vanzetti
may have been anarchists, but murder committed in the pursuit of material gain is hardly a revolutionary crime, and whatever one's view of the death penalty, these two men were rightly convicted, regardless of the foolish eulogies of Woody Guthrie and Joan Baez.
Huey P. Newton also gets a mention, another revolutionary
. In October 1967, Newton shot dead police officer John Frey and was convicted of manslaughter. Though this conviction was overturned on a technicality, years later he would boast to his circle that he had gotten away with murder. Prior to this, he was sentenced to a surprisingly lenient six months for stabbing an unarmed black man at a party with a steak knife. Newton could have done with a little less black power and a little more brotherly lover. The co-founder of the Black Panthers came to a sticky end in August 1989, when at the age of just forty-seven, he was found shot to death, apparently while on a mission to buy - or scrounge - crack.
It would be uncharitable to mention his two trials for the murder of a teenage prostitute, both of which resulted in hung juries. Newton's fellow revolutionary, Bobby Seale, suffered an even more ignominious fate, he wrote a cookbook, and became a spokesman for an ice cream company!
Though Warshaw obviously empathises with so-called revolutionaries worldwide - as does Moore - he appears to have developed a particular soft spot for Irish Republican radicals
, none more so than Bobby Sands, who along with his fellow IRA terrorists is the real hero of this song. Sands joined the IRA in 1972, was sentenced to five years imprisonment the following year, and starved himself to death in 1981 while serving another sentence for terrorist related firearm's offences, thus becoming a martyr for his perverted cause.
While - like Moore - all these men protested against state repression, the irony they miss, intentionally or otherwise, is that part of the reason the state is so repressive is because of their own activities. Most ordinary people regard phone tapping, the secret police and the occasional show trial as a reasonable alternative to being blown to Kingdom Come by men who profess high ideals while they sink lower than the belly of a snake.
Alexander Baron - London, England, for above 2