Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Apologia: Responding to UN Dispatch

Seth alerted me to this post over at the UN Dispatch that purports to address all of the supposed inaccuracies in the title track of Megadeth's most recent release, United Abominations. Dave Mustaine being Dave Mustaine (boy is that the subject of a whole other post), he's written a long, rambling response that comes down to, "You're right and wrong, but I'm still right. Nyah!" plus some stuff about how the fans love him best anyway. I could hope for something more erudite and incisive from the song's creator, but then I wouldn't feel motivated to write my own response and point out, point by point, all of UN Dispatch's mistakes and really, what's the fun in that? See the original article for full context of quotes and note that I'm only responding to those sections that are either incorrect or seem to miss the song's point. Without further ado:
Last summer, UN Dispatch learned that the heavy metal band Megadeth was recording an album titled United Abominations, which featured cover art depicting a 9-11 style attack on the UN building in New York.
Not to be pedantic, but "9-11 style attack" would be something involving planes or, at the very least, a group of terrorists. The album art, which blogger Mark Leon Goldberg reprinted in a blog he wrote last August - the same post he references in the quote above, by the way - shows what looks like a meteor attack, a group of bloodied angels and Vic Rattlehead looking bad ass and holding a shotgun while glowering at the meteors streaming in from the right of the viewpoint. I think we can all agree that terrorists are as much a source of meteor attacks as Britney Spears is a source of good music.
But not being much of a Megadeth fan, I forgot to pencil the release date into my calender.
Mr. Goldberg will go on to prove how little he knows of Megadeth's music many, many times during this article.
Blaming the UN for 9-11 is a new trope, even for conspiracy mongers--and rightly so.
Actually, the line in question is "[the United Nations] failed to address the most dangerous threats facing the world," not "[the United Nations] failed to prevent 9-11." You'll notice that threats is pluralized, which dovetails with Mustaine's rant about UN lapses at the end of the song. Mustaine's politics aren't always crystal clear, but his lyrics have always been anti-war, starting with Peace Sells...But Who's Buying?, where incidentally, the band chose to depict the UN after a nuclear holocaust in the cover art. Mr. Goldberg also misquotes the lyrics several times in this section, which doesn't add much credibility to his arguments.
Assuming the antecedent to the pronoun "they" refers to the UN Secretariat, lead singer and guitarist Dave Mustaine (whose voice we now hear) seems to be implying that UN staffers are enriching themselves while the poor in their country suffer.
Could be...the meaning of "they," used throughout the entire verse, is so ambiguous that Mustaine could talking about UN employees as thieves, or - especially in the second half the verse - the UN as dupes to President Bush. Also, that's been Mustaine's voice throughout the song.
By warning of 'another mushroom cloud, another smoking gun,' Mustain [sic] seems to be implying that the nuclear threat from Iraq was real, or at least as real as the threat from the United Nations. [emphasis in the original]
Or, once again, Mustaine could be implying that the UN didn't do enough to stop the invasion of Iraq, which would be a message much more consistent with Megadeth's anti-war stance.
This is where things get weird. 'The Locust King' is drawn from the Book of Revelation, Chapter 9. Mustain's [sic] decision to use apocalyptic literature found in Revelation is quite, uh, revealing. He seems to be sympathetic to a fundamentalist doctrine known as pre-millenialism [sic], in which an anti-Christ is said to rule the world during a period of tribulation before the messiah (Christ) returns. Some modern day pre-millenialist [sic] sects believe that the United Nations (or the Secretary General), is either literally the anti-Christ, or is setting the geopolitical conditions in which the anti-Christ will rise. Mustaine seems to believe this lunacy as well.
You know who else is a Christian? President George W. Bush - and he's had no qualms about incorporating his religious beliefs into his governing doctrine. Following the UN-as-dupes theme, Bush could be the Locust King, dragging the United States into a conflict that becomes the war that spawns Armageddon. Knowing Megadeth's song catalog as I do (and as Mr. Goldberg clearly does not), I'd have to say a literary allusion from a guy known for songs about comic books superheros and fictional characters doesn't seem too far off the mark.
Again, Mustaine seems to be ascribing pre-Iraq war intelligence failures to the UN.
As with most of the first verse, there are no proper nouns, so Mr. Goldstein seems to be filling in the blanks by drawing on the title of the song. "The decision to attack/Based on secret intelligence" is an indictment of the lies told by the US government before the Iraq invasion. Added evidence: you can clearly hear Mustaine add "Iran and [North] Korea," which are the other two countries named as the "Axis of Evil" by President Bush in 2002.
At this point, you can hear French spoken in the background. The only thing I could decifer [sic] was, "Nous besoin d'ordre mondial," meaning, "We need global order." This apparently upsets Mustaine, because he launches into a monster guitar solo!
The French speaker in question actually says "we need a new world order" first and then "yes, a new order." It's actually too bad Mr. Goldberg missed this tidbit, as the phrase "a new world order" is a pretty important piece of 20th century history: it started as an expression of optimism for peace after the First and Second World Wars, incorporating the spirit that led to the foundation of the League of Nations in 1919 and then the United Nations in 1945. After the Cold War, the first President Bush co-opted the phrase to build support for the first invasion of Iraq. Look at that: two tie-ins to the song, just by going back and listening closely.
In 1986, Libyan agents bombed a nightclub in Berlin, killing two US servicemen. President Regan retaliated by bombing two sites in Libya. It is hard to see how this episode is somehow an indictment against the United Nations.
To quote the UN Peacekeeping FAQ: "The United Nations was founded, in the words of its Charter, in order “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war”." Bombings and counter-bombings by two members of the United Nations on the soil of a third would seem to fly in the face of the organization's charter. In other words: the UN can't even prevent its own member nations from fighting each other.
Facing War without end, looking into the future, there (grunt) was
(grunt) no (grunt) more (grunt) UNNNNNNNN!
Grunt?! Did you listen to this song on a telephone speaker when you transcribed the lyrics? Do you not recognize double-tracked vocals when you hear them? Enough of you, Mark Goldberg, you're done.

No comments: