That time an inaugural address sounded like Bob Marley had edited it.
Sixteen years ago, in January 2005, U.S. President George W. Bush delivered his Second Inaugural Address. At the time, talking heads and historians struggled to explain the freedom ideas expressed therein: could this be love from a leader who had initiated two wars? Now, four inaugural addresses later, President Bush's Second Inaugural Address deserves some historical reevaluation for the obvious influence of Bob Marley.
Consider these two reports together:
1. President Bush knew Bob Marley's music. See, for example, https://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/laura-bush-rastafarian-daughter-jokes-article-1.1863279
2. President Bush told his chief speechwriter, Michael Gerson, "I want this to be the freedom speech." https://www.nytimes.com/2005/01/21/opinion/bushs-freedom-speech.html?searchResultPosition=1
The President may not have drafted or fashioned his inaugural expressions of liberty, but he did approve and deliver them. The speech is his. And so it must be true that George W. Bush's stated freedom philosophy harmonizes with Bob Marley's stated freedom philosophy.
What follows is not a finished analysis, but rather a provocation for your meditation. Here are 15 quotes from Bush's Second Inaugural Address that echo (sometimes faintly, sometimes loudly) quotes and lyrics by Bob Marley. We leave it both to the reader to draw conclusions and to historians to investigate. These may simply be mere coincidences. But maybe... just maybe... President George W. Bush IS Rasta.
Know your history
George W. Bush: "At this second gathering, our duties are defined not by the words I use but by the history we have seen together."
Bob Marley: "In this great future, you can’t forget your past" (No Woman No Cry)
See for yourself
George W. Bush: "believe the evidence of your eyes"
Bob Marley: "Open your eyes and look within" (Exodus)
Freedom is imperative
George W. Bush: "only one force...can break the reign of hatred and resentment, and expose the pretensions of tyrants and reward the hopes of the decent and tolerant, and that is the force of human freedom."
Bob Marley: “Just can’t live the negative way” (Positive Vibration); "Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery; none but ourselves can free our minds" (Redemption Song); and "You must be free, to do whatever you want to do."
Freedom is for all
George W. Bush: "The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world."
Bob Marley: "I believe in freedom for everyone."
Slavery is immoral
George W. Bush: "Across the generations we have proclaimed the imperative of self-government because no one is fit to be a master and no one deserves to be a slave."
Bob Marley: "Every time I hear the crack of the whip, my blood runs cold / I remember on the slave ship, how they brutalized my very soul." (Slave Driver)
Set the captives free
George W. Bush: "And we can feel that same unity and pride whenever... the captives are set free."
Bob Marley: "Set the captives free." (Exodus)
Hear the call of truth and freedom
George W. Bush: "Eventually, the call of freedom comes to every mind and every soul…Liberty will come to those who love it."
Bob Marley: "When the time comes, people will see the truth in all things. They get it when they are ready to hear it."
Freedom requires choice of destiny
George W. Bush: "By making every citizen an agent of his or her own destiny, we will give our fellow Americans greater freedom"
Bob Marley: "Every man got a right to decide his own destiny." (Zimbabwe)
Freedom requires economic sufficiency
George W. Bush: "Poverty causes oppression. In America's ideal of freedom, citizens find the dignity and security of economic independence, instead of laboring on the edge of subsistence."
Bob Marley: "Not one of my seed shall sit on the sidewalk and beg bread" (So Jah S'eh); and "I want people to live big and have enough."
Freedom requires an end to racism
George W. Bush: "our country must abandon all the habits of racism, because we cannot carry the message of freedom and the baggage of bigotry at the same time."
Bob Marley: "if you’re prejudice, that means you have a hate. If you have a hate inside of you, you can’t be righteous"; and quoting Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie I: "until the color of a man’s skin is of no more significance than the color of his eyes...the dream of lasting peace and world citizenship... will remain but a fleeting illusion, to be pursued but never attained" (War)
Fight for freedom with confidence and necessary force
George W. Bush: "This is not primarily the task of arms, though we will [use] force of arms when necessary …We go forward with complete confidence in the eventual triumph of freedom."
Bob Marley: "We...will fight, if necessary, and we know that we shall win, as we are confident in the victory of good over evil." (War)
Love is necessary
George W. Bush: "Our nation relies on men and women who look after a neighbor and surround the lost with love."
Bob Marley: "What we need is love to guide and protect us on" (No More Trouble)
One Heart is the ideal
George W. Bush: "when freedom came under attack... our response came like a single hand over a single heart."
Bob Marley: "One Love. One Heart. Let’s get together and feel all right." (One Love)
God's hand controls
George W. Bush: "God moves and chooses as He wills."
Bob Marley: "God just moves me in time."
This message is global
George W. Bush: "America...proclaims liberty throughout all the world"; [and cut from a near-final draft of the address was the line on the side of the bell from Leviticus: "Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof"]
Bob Marley: "Rastaman Vibrations gonna cover the earth like the water cover the sea!"