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Protest Song Of The Week: ‘Crisis’ by Anohni

The destruction and inhumanity of drone warfare is a subject, which singer Anohni confronts throughout her most recent album released on May 6.

One of the first singles off the album titled, “Hopelessness,” was “Drone Bomb Me.” It is the story of a 9-year-old girl in Afghanistan. Her family was killed in a drone strike, but she was not. The girl wishes the drone would have killed her too. She feels it is somehow her fault her family was killed instead of her. She begs the drone to kill her next and end her misery.

Anohni’s song, “Obama,” reflects on the record of the first black president, who promised hope and change. She condemns President Barack Obama for “execution without trial.”

But of the songs, where drone warfare is confronted, “Crisis” is the most moving in its lyrics and composition.

“Crisis, if I killed your father with a drone bomb, how would you feel?” Anohni asks. She continues, “Crisis, if I killed your mother with a drone bomb, how would you feel?”

Anohni then asks, “Father, if I killed your children with a drone bomb, how would you feel?” She shifts back, “Crisis, if I tortured your brother in Guantanamo.” But she doesn’t ask how those people would feel. She repeats emphatically, “I’m sorry.”

“Now you’re cutting heads off innocent people on TV,” Anohni states, confronting the rise of the Islamic State. But she contemplates, “If I filled up your mass graves and attacked your countries under false premise,” exactly what is happening in countries like Iraq would happen.

Anohni sings over electronic loops, which isolate the pain in her expression of despair even more. Who is Crisis but the child of the destruction, which America has wrought. Crisis is the manifestation of populations dealing with the ravages of endless war.

It is Anohni’s belief that every American has some moral obligation to take responsibility for what the government has done to innocent human beings. Her apology is an attempt to rid herself of complicity, to no longer be an accessory to assassination by remaining silent. The eruption of electronic sounds at the end of “Crisis” drives home this desire for atonement.

The entire album from Anohni is a protest album. Other songs deal with ecological destruction or climate disruption. She confronts her place as a human in the ecosystem of Earth. In subject matter, these songs bear a similarity to “Manta Ray,” which she wrote for the documentary, “Racing Extinction.” The song was nominated for an Oscar.

Anohni said of the album, “I wanted to do something that had a seductive sound, using contemporary pop language, and then embed within that this hardcore, very direct language. Not dressing anything up or hiding it. Just saying what I really feel.” She indicated her goal is to “galvanize and encourage the people whose minds are already clear.”

“Hopelessness” comes at a moment when the United States will elect Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, or Bernie Sanders as the next President. All three candidates have embraced the assassination policy institutionalized by the Obama administration. The vast majority of Americans have no qualms with the rise of drone warfare. So, regardless of who wins in November, the drone bombs will keep dropping on children and their parents.

Listen to “Crisis”:

President Obama delivers commencement address at Howard University. (Screen shot from White House video recording)
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Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure."