Free John Walker Lindh


Listen to “John Walker’s
Blues,” below. Ten years enough. The national hangover should be clearing away
by now.


By Fred Mills


Editorial: In December
of 2001 a 20-year-old man named John Walker Lindh entered the public’s
consciousness by virtue of his having been rounded up in Afghanistan as
an enemy combatant who also happened to be an American citizen. I don’t have to
tell you the rest of the story; Lindh, as the de facto “face of treason” became
our official scapegoat for 9/11 and he was sentenced to 20 years in prison.


I emphasize the term “scapegoat” because that’s exactly what
many of us believed then and still believe – including the great songwriter and
activist Steve Earle, who wrote the song “John Walker’s Blues” for his album Jerusalem – since we couldn’t put our
hands around Osama Bin Laden’s neck, he sufficed for the time being.




Yet in the rush to achieve some measure of grief relief, a
lot of people may have not bothered to look more closely at the Lindh case –
his conversion to Islam, for example, did not necessarily translate into an urge
to wage war against the West. (For that matter, he wasn’t even convicted of
plotting to kill Americans; he only pleaded guilty to aiding the Taliban and
carrying weapons.)




He was also a young man, and someone’s son. (The photo above
is how he looked a few years before he left to go overseas.) So in an op-ed
piece in this Sunday’s
New York Times titled “Bin Laden’s Gone. Can My Son Come Home?” and penned by Frank Lindh – John’s father – we are given new food for thought. In the piece, Lindh talks
about visiting his son in prison a couple of days after President Obama
announced we had killed Bin Laden in Pakistan. He provides some of the
backstory for his son that people overlooked or ignored, including the details
behind why John was in Afghanistan
in the first place.


He adds that despite the ten years in prison, John “remains
idealistic and spiritual, and a practicing Muslim. He once told me he thought
Bin Laden had done more harm to Islam than anyone in history. As I said farewell,
we both felt a sense of closure. I saw grief in his eyes over the pain he has
caused himself and his family.”


Mr. Lindh then presents a very straightforward plea: “Now
that Bin Laden is dead, I hope President Obama, and the American people, can
find it in their hearts to release John, and let him come home. Ten years is


Amen. It’s more than enough. Our national 9/11 hangover
should finally be clearing away. Perhaps as we approach the terrible tragedy’s
tenth anniversary, we can move forward, and I can’t think of any better place
to start than to let this idealistic once-young/now-moving-toward-middle-age
man out of prison. The punishment never fit the crime anyway – if in fact there
ever was a real crime committed.


Think about it. Listen to the Steve Earle song again. And then
write President Obama if you agree.




“John Walker’s Blues”


I’m just an American boy raised on MTV
And I’ve seen all those kids in the soda pop ads
But none of ’em looked like me
So I started lookin’ around for a light out of the dim
And the first thing I heard that made sense was the word
Of Mohammed, peace be upon him

A shadu la ilaha illa Allah
There is no God but God

If my daddy could see me now – chains around my feet
He don’t understand that sometimes a man
Has got to fight for what he believes
And I believe God is great, all praise due to him
And if I should die, I’ll rise up to the sky
Just like Jesus, peace be upon him


We came to fight the Jihad and our hearts were pure and strong
As death filled the air, we all offered up prayers
And prepared for our martyrdom
But Allah had some other plan, some secret not revealed
Now they’re draggin’ me back with my head in a sack
To the land of the infidel

A shadu la ilaha illa Allah
A shadu la ilaha illa Allah



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