Digital Journal Op-Ed: America could learn from rappers’ tribute to Radio Free Europe
by Ted Lipien
Truckee – Led by Peja of the Polish rap group Slums Attack, Europe’s rappers recorded a multilingual tribute to political and cultural freedom message of the American-funded station Radio Free Europe.
Using historical film footage of Radio Free Europe broadcasters, rappers from several European countries make statements similar to dissident voices heard on the station before the fall of the Iron Curtain. During the Cold War, Radio Free Europe broadcast both news commentary and music, which communists in Poland and other Soviet-dominated nations tried unsuccessfully to silence through jamming of radio signals.
But in today’s unusable and not much freer world, the station’s important message of freedom to nations which continue to suffer under authoritarian regimes is becoming unfortunately much weaker due to decreased U.S. funding and growing indifference in America to showing solidarity with dissidents who fight for their rights in countries like China, Iran and Russia. The song recorded by Slums Attack and other European rappers serves above all as a reminder that the struggle against political oppression and against banality of popular culture which ignores this struggle, is both timeless and universal.
“Radio Wolna Europa” (Radio Free Europe) is the first single of the Slums Attack latest album “CNO2” released in mid-September 2012. The video for the song was recorded in Poland, Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, and Italy. It includes guest appearances by DeFuckTo (Czech Republic), Azyl (Germany), Sniper (Lithuania), Clementino (Italy), R-MC and Loo (Belgium), Shazaam (Sweden), Hijack (UK) and Gandzior (Poland).
Americans have forgotten how effective dissident voices from Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty and Voice of America (VOA) were in peacefully transforming unfree societies at a minimal cost. But as powerful as it is, the message of dissent, human rights and freedom cannot be delivered completely for free and without upsetting foreign powers like Russia and China, or even the White House and the State Department. Europe’s rappers’ tribute to RFE serves as a reminder that while Central and Eastern Europe are now largely democratic, many less fortunate nations still need a platform for uncensored, dissident voices and a show of solidarity from America.
Ted Lipien listened to Radio Free Europe while growing up in communist-ruled Poland and later served as Voice of America (VOA) acting associate director. He is a co-founder of the Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting (CUSIB).
READ MORE of the original Digital Journal article: “Op-Ed: America could learn from rappers’ tribute to Radio Free Europe” by Ted Lipien.