The U.S. vs. John Lennon- Candice Dehnbostel
The United States seems to have a long history of riding the wave of American Nationalism. This â€śpatriotismâ€? can be seen in World War I, World War II, the Cold War and the Korean War. If a citizen questioned the countryâ€™s exceptionalism or global domination, he or she was labeled as a dissenter. John Lennonâ€™s politically charged and anti-war involvements in American foreign policy turned him into an enemy of the state. As the FBI agent commented in The U.S. vs. John Lennon, one may either remain quiet about his or her dissatisfaction with American politics or leave the country. Remembering the nation was built on ideas of free speech and democracy, the agentâ€™s statement would appear to be in obvious contradiction to the Constitution. The founding fathers thought it especially important to have a means of critiquing the government to keep it in check, to maintain democracy and keep the voice of the people. Lennonâ€™s attempts at questioning government authority through art, music and peaceful demonstrations follow the First Amendmentâ€™s freedom of speech platform.
Yet, Nixonâ€™s administration must have felt threatened by Lennonâ€™s ability to reach a large portion of young people world wide. Lennon was implanting un-American ideals into these youth. Street suggests the political right during the time felt Lennon and rock and roll would subvert traditional values, family life and capitalism (p. 243); the things that make America truly American.
Radicals like Lennon and Ono were called traitors by the government, though they were not actually Americans, for highlighting racial and gender inequality, anti-war sentiments and the like, resulting in greencard issues for these political stances (Perone p. 108). Disagreeing with government policies is not the same thing as being a traitor to the state. Open discourse is necessary for forming policies that accurately represent the people for which those policies stand.
Lennonâ€™s tactics were questioned by disbelievers, like reporter Gloria Emerson, but that does not mean they were not successful in any respect. While there is not a direct cause-effect relation between Lennonâ€™s politics through music and art and change in the United States, there is a link between his movement and awareness. Lennon created a venue for anti-establishment and anti-war attitudes to reach young people. Through his celebrity he allowed the counterculture to be heard by the rest of the conservative country. It gave people the chance to question choices made by those governing them.