Planet Clair 

Last week George Dubya gave his speech for Congress to many a standing ovation, his eyes eerily animated and his nostrils intermittently sucked in with that nervous blitz-snort thing he does, like Elizabeth Montgomery on Bewitched.

After it was done, everyone, on every network, talked about his speech. But they didn't talk about what he said, they talked about how he said it. "Today he became President!" they announced. "He showed warm resolve!" There was one person interviewed on the news who said, in effect, "Wait a minute! They are talking like we are going to march over there and 'take out Afghanistan, then 'take out' Iraq... This isn't a game. These people have been fighting for over twenty years. We are really getting into some deep shit here..." Ok, maybe not that last sentence, but do you know who it was who dissented? Pat Buchanan. Yep. The same guy who had the balls to say that he probably didn't get all those votes in Florida.

One thing that can be said for the Bush is that he has told us on a few occasions to be tolerant of Muslims. But even people who really have nothing to do with Islam are getting shit. Take Rick Sims in the Gaza Strippers, for example. The band is on Lookout!, and during its current tour itsup1s having to change its name on fliers and in ads. People are threatening them. Granted, Sims isno stranger to controversy: When his band the Didjits came out here at the end of the '80s, he called a heckler a "fag." Not cool in Frisco, but back in Illinois it is, unfortunately, just another generic putdown.

But nothing has made international news like the Coup's pulled album art. The Oakland hip-hop duo's planned November release of Party Music depicted DJ Pam and Boots with a detonator and dynamite in front of an exploded World Trade Center. The cover was literally on the presses when the group's label 75Ark made the decision to scrap it. The story was covered everywhere from E! On-Line to Le Monde. Unbelievably, some papers even accused the Coup of being involved in the terrorist plot.

"There's a tabloid in England," says a hoarse Boots over the phone, "saying that we have heavyweight ties to Muslim fundamentalists in the Mideast, and that I knew the plan." Dang. The Coup is definitely political and anticapitalist, meaning to some "extreme leftists," as E! On-Line referred to them.

The album cover was supposed to be a metaphor for the music destroying capitalism. "The World Trade Center is a worldwide symbol of capitalism," says Boots. "It wasn't supposed to be realistic in any way. What the Coup talks about is a mass movement."

Most of the stories (okay, all of the stories) about this controversy mention the album art, and then the condolences from the Coup about the tragedy, but they leave off most of the duo's politics, and the real message behind the cover art. "It's sad that it happened," says Boots. "That so many people got killed. What people aren't talking about, though, at least in the mainstream media, is the fact that the sadness and fear that a lot of people are going through right now, people all over the world have to go through at the hands of the United States -- to levels that dwarf what happened on Tuesday. People are scared when they see images of the United States Army. People shake. People cry. People vomit. Because they know what that means. That's not at all to shine off what happened in any way, mind you. But in East Timor there were peaceful demonstrators killed, thousands upon thousands of them. What happened on Tuesday has happened to people at the hands of militaries that were funded by the US, and were guided and counseled by United States Army generals."

"So," says Clair, "you've said this stuff to everyone who has interviewed you. It doesn't surprise me that they haven't printed it."

"Right," says Boots. "They might put something else in there that says I'm not patriotic -- which I'm not." (You don't say!) "The same way people are grieving for the people killed inside these borders, which people should, they should also grieve for the people killed outside. Bin Laden was trained by the CIA himself to work against the Soviets in Afghanistan. And so the tactics they say he used were fine with the US back then -- [the] killing [of] other people -- as long as it was for US interests. When you look at these things in a vacuum, then you get caught up in the jingoism that the US is now trying to get everyone into -- going to war and waving the flag, and all those disgusting things. What we are about to see is going to be a bloodbath the likes of which people have never seen before."

It probably comes as a surprise to Boots that Pat Buchanan might agree with that last sentiment. We hope both of them are wrong.

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