Opposing The War Machine Is Cool Again, And The Empire’s Getting Nervous

Caitlin Johnstone
4 min readMay 8, 2024


Listen to a reading of this article (reading by Tim Foley):

American rapper Macklemore has released a single titled “Hind’s Hall”, the name given to Columbia University’s Hamilton Hall by anti-genocide protesters in honor of the six year-old Hind Rajab who was murdered in Gaza by Israeli forces. The artist says all proceeds from the track will go to UNRWA.

The song with its accompanying video is such a scathing indictment of the US-backed destruction of Gaza that Google-owned YouTube promptly age-restricted it. Macklemore attacks Biden, the brutal police crackdowns on protesters, the conflation of anti-Zionism with anti-semitism, US politicians and the Israel lobby, with lines that will haunt you for days like “The Nakba never ended, the colonizer lied.”

This marks the first really mainstream artist to take on this issue in their chosen medium with a track intended for widespread circulation. It probably won’t be the last. Opposing the Gaza genocide is quickly moving from the right thing to do to the cool thing to do, which is a major problem for the empire.

The empire can handle being on the wrong side of an issue; it has all the media and mainstream culture-manufacturing institutions on its side, which allows it to frame public perception of that issue in a way that quells dissent. What it absolutely cannot handle is a critical mass of young people deciding the imperial murder machine sucks, and that opposing it is fun and makes you cool.

That’s when dissent takes on a momentum of its own. As long as opposing militarism and imperialism is just the morally correct thing to do it will always be a marginal position in an information ecosystem that’s controlled by the powerful, because simply being on the right side of an issue has little natural magnetism of its own. But the instant it moves from being about morality to being fun and cool it suddenly starts crackling with energy and drawing in huge numbers of people who normally wouldn’t be that interested on their own.

The empire has no answer to this. Seriously, how can a bunch of boring empire managers in DC and Virginia hope to compete once that happens? What are they going to do, win the young back by writing another Wall Street Journal think piece? Have Netanyahu rap about how Zionism is rad while Tony Blinken plays guitar? They’ve got nothing.

This crackling excitement behind an antiwar protest movement hasn’t happened since the sixties, and the empire had to retreat from Vietnam with its tail between its legs and dramatically restructure western civilization before it could recover from it. And all the empire managers who worked on solving that problem are dead and gone now; the people working on it now have never had to deal with anything like this, which is why it took them by surprise. The empire managers of today have only ever encountered protests against the war machine that were either very small or short-lived and easily diverted; this one’s only gaining momentum seven months in.

And the northern hemisphere’s summer hasn’t even started yet. I guarantee you the swamp monsters are scheming very hard to try and shut this thing down before summer starts, because the kids are going to have a whole lot of fun at their expense if they can’t.


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Featured image by Markus Felix via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0 DEED)