If the national news media won’t cover it, then perhaps John Ondrasik can. “Accountabilty – 0” applies in equal measure to both Joe Biden and the news industry that keeps conveniently burying the story of Americans abandoned in Afghanistan. Five for Fighting‘s lead singer released a new video today for his protest song “Blood on My Hands,” and offered this accounting of the damage done by Biden in his pell-mell retreat from Afghanistan:
Abandoned to Taliban
Afghan Brothers in Arms 200K
Women Rights Decimation 20M
Children sold for food
Accountability – 0
— John Ondrasik (@johnondrasik) January 3, 2022
John issued a statement this morning to accompany the release of the video:
“After experiencing the reaction to ‘Blood On My Hands,’ particularly from veterans, I felt a calling to document with images, music and commentary, America’s catastrophic withdrawal from Afghanistan, and its ongoing ramifications
This music video is not a yesteryear documentary. Contrarily, it is call to action in the days, months and years ahead, to demand accountability where there has been none; to fiercely fight for Afghan women and children facing the greatest human rights setback of our generation; to support freedom of expression for artists in hiding; and to recognize and assist said heroic organizations rescuing American Citizens, SIV Holders, and Afghan allies, who still, to this day, are abandoned to Taliban atrocity.
Heartfelt thanks to the brave journalists, photojournalists and private citizens who risk their lives documenting ongoing Taliban atrocities. Thank you former Vice President Saleh, for your clarity and eloquence. It was important to me that an Afghan leader spoke the last word. I’d also recognize those in the state department who, under challenging circumstances, are assisting evacuation efforts. And to the vets, patriots and orgs around the world keeping the promise of ‘no man left behind’ — you humble and inspire me. You are the shining light of this dark time. You are the definition of the word ‘honor.’
The passing of time will not ease the great shame festering in our collective gut. In fact, America turning the page on Afghanistan would only accelerate the erosion of our moral conscience. I take heart in bi-partisan measures currently being undertaken in Congress that recognize this truth. Until we admit our complicity and implement policy to atone for our actions, I believe that only then, will we begin to regain our stature as a nation.”
John had previously released “Blood on My Hands” in video form as his solo performance only. This new music video puts his message in stark terms, so much so that YouTube is already restricting its play to its own site rather than embeds. (I embedded John’s tweet to deal with that issue.)
Right now, we have over 100 citizens still stuck behind Taliban lines, but we have thousands of legal permanent residents still abandoned in Afghanistan as well. The State Department keeps eliding that issue, but they’ve quietly informed Congress that over 14,000 LPRs got left behind, and as of mid-December fewer than a thousand had been exfiltrated. Over 60,000 Afghan interpreters got abandoned too, and the State Department has not just largely ignored the issue but are “actively impeding” private efforts to get those allies out of harm’s way.
John’s hoping to raise funds for those efforts as well as other humanitarian efforts for Americans and Afghans. He’s using his charity platform, What Kind of World Do You Want, to consolidate those efforts. John wants to share some of the funds with the Gary Sinise Foundation and the ex-pat Afghanistan National Institute of Music, along with the exfil groups that have tried to fill the role that the American government should be playing in getting people out.
In an exclusive* interview this morning, I spoke with John Ondrasik about the music video, his reasons for launching it, and the “disgrace” of silence from artists and media outlets on the situation in Afghanistan. We’ll have John back to hear more about his upcoming tour dates and music, but right now John wants as much focus and visibility on this catastrophe as possible. Be sure to watch to hear how John is encouraged by bipartisan interest on Capitol Hill, what he sees the exfil operators experiencing, and how the rest of us can demand some accountability even now — and how we can help more directly.
Note*: Normally I’d joke about using the media definition of “exclusive” as being “no one else was in this particular conversation,” but I suspect that John may not get very much face time from mainstream media outlets. I’m thrilled to get a day-of-release interview — and John was very gracious in doing it on short notice — but I’m hoping this won’t be entirely “exclusive.”