SINGERS WITH ENOUGH TALENT can overcome their politics, and Judy Collins has enough talent. So on Oscar night, the wife and I dragooned a younger couple, like the time my parents dragged us to hear Perry Como, and off we went to an auditorium on the campus of Claremont College to hear Judy and David Crosby in concert.
The largest quarter of CSNY played the opening set, an hour long display of guitar mastery and a surprising command of the higher vocal ranges. Crosby was a miser when it came to familiar tunes, though, and his time onstage left the audience a little restless. He veered towards politics just once, and the crowd tensed. But this was a night on which Americans had been taken prisoner and some of them perhaps executed. Only the oafish Michael Moore, with all of the gravity of Pat Paulsen but none of the humor or intelligence, could miss the significance of such events. Crosby explained that even dissenters from the war loved the country and he sang "My Country Tis of Thee." Really. He left it at that.
Collins was even more circumspect. Ireland could find peace, she noted, so it was possible anywhere. And she played a moving tribute to the New York City Fire Department, "Kingdom Come." I paid for the download and have twice let my radio audience hear the song. My center-right listeners love it.
Collins has lived in New York City for many years, and like most New Yorkers she has no love for the terrorists of 2001. Her song holds up the heroes who rushed to the World Trade Center and so did her commentary from onstage.
She did not mention American heroes fighting in the desert that night, nor did she mention Saddam or the Kurds or the Marsh Arabs or our POWs. This is the riddle: How could she be so moved by September 11, and so indifferent to the victims of a different set of butchers, or the soldiers gone to rescue them?
Can it be that the Left, so dominated by artists, lacks imagination? That they really cannot imagine the truth of the Iraqi regime? I doubt Judy or David reads Sports Illustrated. If they did, this week's issue has a chilling and revolting account of Saddam's son's administration of the Iraqi Olympic effort. To fall short of Uday's goals guaranteed an athlete torture and sometimes death. This is just a small corner of the kingdom of horrors in Iraq. But the majority of the members of the Academy and their colleagues in the music world just don't seem able to understand the evils of Saddam, much less the threat he poses us.
Judy can sing and play, and so can David. They finished with a Beatles' tune: "In My Life," a sweet look back at the good old days and the good old friends. It has been 25 years since Pol Pot silenced the part of the anti-war crowd with a conscience. If they don't have imagination, perhaps the Woodstock talent have developed caution.
Or maybe it was just the Dixie Chicks.
Hugh Hewitt is the host of The Hugh Hewitt Show, a nationally syndicated radio talkshow, and a contributing writer to The Daily Standard.