Rick Perry Video Uses Aaron Copland Music

My video parody of Rick Perry’s “Strong” campaign ad on YouTube has been attracting a lot of attention with about 4,500 likes and under 100 dislikes, including close to 650 comments. It has been featured in USA Today, Daily Kos, Jewish Journal, JTA, Forward, Jewcy, and Spiegel Online (German).

There have been many video parodies of Rick Perry’s campaign ad turning it into a meme on the Web. But I’ve noticed that the best way to mock Rick Perry and his homophobic, “war on religion”-paranoid message is to do nothing. The video mocks itself.

When I was choosing the background music for my video parody with the video’s editor Adam Luger we tried to come as close as possible to the background music in the original Rick Perry commercial. However, we were unable to determine who composed the music. Well, it now appears that the joke’s on Rick Perry because that background music was inspired by none other than Aaron Copland. Jewish? Check! Gay? Flaming! Member of the Communist Party? You betcha!

Paul Schied writing in the Harvard Political Review first reported that the music heard in the background of Rick Perry’s “Strong” ad was composed by Aaron Copland, a prominent composer who was Jewish, outwardly gay, and a member of the Communist Party. It turns out that Schied’s music majoring roommate detected the Copland composed music. It turns out that the music was inspired by Aaron Copland, but is actually a “cheap knock-off of sorts of Copland’s Appalachian Spring according to The New Yorker music critic Alex Ross.”

The background music in Rick Perry’s ad was inspired  by composer Aaron  Copland who was gay.

So, for those of you keeping score at home, Rick Perry’s campaign ad (which was originally created for the Iowa television market but quickly went viral on YouTube) has him proclaiming that it’s wrong for gays to serve openly in the military when kids can’t celebrate Christmas in school, but has him wearing a jacket that looks like the one worn by Heath Ledger in the gay romance movie “Brokeback Mountain” and features background music inspired by a gay, Jewish composer. You just can’t make this stuff up!

Here’s my video response:

(c) Rabbi Jason Miller | http://blog.rabbijason.com | Twitter: @RabbiJason | facebook.com/rabbijasonmiller

Response to Rick Perry’s Campaign Ad

Like many millions of people, when I watched Texas Governor Rick Perry’s “Strong” Campaign ad for the first time on YouTube I was deeply troubled. “I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m a Christian,” Perry begins. “But you don’t need to be in the pew every Sunday to know there’s something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military but our kids can’t openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school.”

My first thought was of the gay men and women currently serving in uniform who are risking their lives in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere around the globe to protect our country. I immediately decided to film a parody of Rick Perry’s video. I wanted it to be a spoof of his video in order to show the ridiculousness of his message.

The response to my video has been great so far. After only 15 hours there have been about 800 likes and only 10 dislikes with almost 5,000 views. The most meaningful aspect has been the comments on the YouTube video. One viewer wrote, “i’m an atheist but i would sure would vote for rabbi jason over any of the idiots that are postulating themselves if i could.” Another wrote, “As a non religious person raised as a christian in the church, i strongly support this, I have friends of all religions and believe our differences is what makes this country great! THANK YOU FOR YOUR EDUCATED WELL THOUGHT OUT OPINION.”

I have been pleasantly surprised that there have not been more negative, hate-filled comments in response to my video. I will not censor any comments because I believe it’s important that everyone sees the hate that exists in some people’s hearts and the ignorance that exists in their minds. Here’s a comment that made me feel very good this morning: “Bless you, Rabbi! Thanks for retaliating in such an intelligent, focused, and humorous video! Every time I’m reminded that there are people like you in this country, I have hope for it again… Hope you and your family have a bright and beautiful Hannukah! Cheers! -from Agnostic, Gay, Christopher :)”

Here is the video, which was filmed and edited by Adam Luger:


Text:
I’m not ashamed to say that I’m a Jew — Heck, I’m even a Rabbi… but you don’t need to be in shul on every Shabbos to know there’s something wrong in our country when gays can serve openly in the military and yet they still can’t get married legally in most U.S. States.

Our Jewish kids in public school have to watch as their peers celebrate Christmas — a holiday they don’t observe. They have to sit quietly as the Christian students pray in school. That just seems uncomfortable.

As President, I will fight to end this crazy talk that there’s a war on religion. And I will fight anyone who discriminates against others simply because of their sexual orientation.

Intelligence made America strong. It can make her strong again.

I’m Rabbi Jason Miller and I think it’s too cold to film a video outside in Michigan in the winter. Who approved this?

(c) Rabbi Jason Miller | http://blog.rabbijason.com | Twitter: @RabbiJason | facebook.com/rabbijasonmiller

Veterans Day

Today is Veterans Day. It is time for us to think about how we can reach out to our Jewish servicemen and women, and show them how appreciative we are for all that they do for our country and to ensure our freedoms.

One of the most active organizers of Veterans Day activities is the Jewish War Veterans (JWV), the oldest veterans group in the country, founded in 1896 for veterans of the Civil and Spanish-American wars. This past Monday evening at the annual induction gala of the Michigan Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, in addition to the induction of several local Jewish sports figures, the Michigan Jewish Sports Foundation also honored Jewish War Veterans of Joseph Bale Post #474.

A special plaque will soon hang in the Michigan Jewish Sports Hall of Fame to honor and celebrate the contributions to athletics by those who were lost or maimed in war and never had a chance to fulfill their athletic dreams. The Pfc. Joseph L. Bale Post #474 of the Jewish War Veterans was dedicated in memory of Joseph Louis “Little Joe” Bale who was born in Detroit in January 1924. It eventually grew to become the largest post in the Department of Michigan. Little Joe’s cousin, “Big Joe” served as Post Commander, as well as Department of Michigan Commander.

Throughout Jewish texts and our history, we see that we have always been a nation that has fought for freedom. Our biblical ancestors like Moses, Miriam, and the Maccabees believed in service above self. We owe our lives to those who gave their lives for our freedom, not only our freedom as Jews, but also as Americans, and as individuals. Thus when we reach out to our Jewish brothers and sisters in the military we are making the statement that we too believe in the importance of freedom and the importance of people regardless of our politics. For regardless of what our political persuasion may be, our Jewish servicemen and women need us to stand with them and support them.

So, what can we do? We may not be able to serve as chaplains or convince others to serve as chaplains, but we can create personal connections with Jewish soldiers and show them that we care. We can do this by writing letters and sending emails of support and appreciation. We can help meet the religious needs of Jewish soldiers, by collecting and sending them supplies for living a Jewish life in a foreign country. The Jewish Welfare Board does their best to get Jewish ritual items and even holiday food items to our Jewish soldiers, but their support can only provide so much and there is always more that is needed.

Perhaps with Hanukkah approaching as the next Jewish holiday we should consider collecting supplies to send to a military base abroad. Items that perhaps we take for granted, such as grape juice, candles, dreidles, and even chocolate gelt.

Source: Jewish Telegraphic Agency Archives – August, 28 1962

Today, we are grateful for the many Jewish Americans who serve in our military. Their efforts and example help advance the cause of freedom and provide hope for people around the world. We, as Jews, can stand tall and proud of our Jewish soldiers’ accomplishments, as veterans of past service and as current participants in our country’s Armed Forces.

It is our sacred duty to honor and remember those who try to bring God’s sheltering presence to the world through their service to our country. May we feel called to help bring the light of Judaism to our brothers and sisters in the military, and may God’s presence continue to be with all who have given of themselves to serve in our country’s armed forces. Today is a wonderful day to make a donation to the Jewish War Veterans. The video below introduces the new memorial that honors Jewish chaplains at Arlington National Cemetery.

Todah Rabbah to all of our men and women in uniform – present and past.

Shabbat Shalom!

(c) Rabbi Jason Miller | http://blog.rabbijason.com | Twitter: @RabbiJason | facebook.com/rabbijasonmiller