Bob Dylan’s “Only A Pawn in Their Game” and Charlottsville VA

Bob Dylan plays a guitar and sings into a microphone.

Bob Dylan’s song, “Only A Pawn In Their Game,” came to mind while watching the neo-Nazis and white supremacists at Charlottesville VA. Let me say that race is a social construct, not a genetic or biological one, and none of the protestors are really white, whatever that means. Their DNA is from all over the world. Furthermore, not only did modern humans originate in Africa, but all of us living today outside Africa today have small amounts of Neanderthal DNA! Moreover, our DNA is about  99% identical with chimpanzee DNA. Simple observation of humans should confirm this last fact.

But here’s what interesting about the protestors. They vilify African-Americans, Jews, Hispanics and others, not realizing their real oppressors are people like their racist President, who has a long history of scamming the working classes.

The plutocrats have always divided the rest of us, distracting us from the fact that they oppress us. (They try to enact laws that shred the social safety net and keep wages down along with their taxes.)They encourage racism, sexism, xenophobia, homophobia and other forms of bigotry so that we see our fellows as the enemy. In other words, divert attention away from themselves by redirecting anger toward scapegoats. But its wealthy bankers and wall street and corporations that make most of our lives hard—not immigrants, atheists, blacks or LGBT folks.

It’s straightforward. If you have power, you want to keep it. But you might create a revolution if you oppress or exploit your subjects. So instead you direct your subject’s anger away toward those they should be aligned with—other oppressed people.

The lyrics of the song are below. Medgar Evers gave his life in the struggle for justice, and I fear he won’t be the last.

A bullet from the back of a bush
Took Medgar Evers’ blood
A finger fired the trigger to his name
A handle hid out in the dark
A hand set the spark
Two eyes took the aim
Behind a man’s brain
But he can’t be blamed
He’s only a pawn in their game

A South politician preaches to the poor white man
“You got more than the blacks, don’t complain
You’re better than them, you been born with white skin, ” they explain
And the Negro’s name
Is used, it is plain
For the politician’s gain
As he rises to fame
And the poor white remains
On the caboose of the train
But it ain’t him to blame
He’s only a pawn in their game

The deputy sheriffs, the soldiers, the governors get paid
And the marshals and cops get the same
But the poor white man’s used in the hands of them all like a tool
He’s taught in his school
From the start by the rule
That the laws are with him
To protect his white skin
To keep up his hate
So he never thinks straight
‘Bout the shape that he’s in
But it ain’t him to blame
He’s only a pawn in their game

From the poverty shacks, he looks from the cracks to the tracks
And the hoofbeats pound in his brain
And he’s taught how to walk in a pack
Shoot in the back
With his fist in a clinch
To hang and to lynch
To hide ‘neath the hood
To kill with no pain
Like a dog on a chain
He ain’t got no name
But it ain’t him to blame
He’s only a pawn in their game

Today, Medgar Evers was buried from the bullet he caught
They lowered him down as a king
But when the shadowy sun sets on the one
That fired the gun
He’ll see by his grave
On the stone that remains
Carved next to his name
His epitaph plain
Only a pawn in their game

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