Grammy-nominated Five for Fighting’s John Ondrasik’s new docu-music video that was released on January 3, was pulled down by YouTube on January 7, and then reinstated later that day with an apology from YouTube.
John Ondrasik’s statement:
“After receiving widespread criticism on social media, YouTube reinstated my ‘Blood On My Hands’ music video, which documented the disastrous American withdrawal from Afghanistan. On Friday night, YouTube issued an apology, writing that taking down the video was a mistake. I accepted YouTube’s apology and appreciated the reposting of my artistic statement.
Subsequently, I read a statement by YouTube’s spokesman implying that the video was reinstated after the company inserted an age restriction. This explanation is disappointing and disingenuous. YouTube had already included an age restriction, which I supported, on the initial publication five days earlier. It’s important to note that I proactively inserted a graphic warning disclaimer at the beginning of the video due to the inclusion of images of Taliban atrocities.
YouTube's decision to censor the ‘Blood On My Hands’ docu-music video as it gained momentum has me thinking about issues larger than this one song and statement. What happens when artists, who do not have large platforms and national advocates, are singled out and silenced? Imagine if there was a dominant entity in our past that could, with the flip of a switch, mute the iconic protest songs that were, and continue to be, critical voices in the struggle for our nation’s moral conscience.
I find little credence that these actions by Big Tech are not colored by political bias, as they tend to only censor views critical of one worldview. This is not a symptom of a healthy republic. Today, I find myself not just asking ‘What's Happening?’ but ‘What's Going On?.’”
The video and song titled “Blood On My Hands (White House Version),” is the acoustic version of Ondrasik’s viral anthem song, "Blood On My Hands" (more than half a million on YouTube), which is a non-politically motivated song that speaks out about the U.S. withdrawal strategy from Afghanistan (both versions of the song are available on Spotify, iTunes and Apple Music). The video features John performing in front of the White House and contains excerpts of an interview he recently conducted with former Vice President of Afghanistan, Amrullah Saleh. It also includes a donation link to Ondrasik’s charity site, WhatKindOfWorldDoYouWant.com, where people can donate to the “Americans for Afghanistan Cause.” Check out video for “Blood On My Hands (White House Version)” HERE (YouTube); HERE (Twitter), HERE (Facebook) and HERE (Rumble).
All proceeds from the sale of the “Blood On My Hands (White House Version),” and the original version, “Blood On My Hands,” will go to various organizations assisting with evacuations and rescues in Afghanistan, in addition to the Afghanistan National Institute of Music and the Gary Sinise Foundation.
Says Ondrasik: “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 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 of Afghanistan Amrullah Saleh, for your clarity and eloquence. It was important to me that an Afghan leader spoke the last word. I’d also like to recognize those at the U.S. State Department who, under challenging circumstances, are assisting evacuation efforts. And to the vets, patriots and organizations around the world who are 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.”
Ondrasik’s passion for supporting the U.S. military has been a longstanding commitment for the artist. His Grammy nominated song, “Superman (It’s Not Easy),” the worldwide hit single that went Platinum, became an anthem for the heroes of 9-11; and Ondrasik performed the song at The Concert for New York City. He has given countless performances for the USO and participated in keynote speaking engagements across the globe. Over the years, Ondrasik has given away five volumes of his compilation, “CD for the Troops,” to our U.S. Armed Forces, and more than one million copies have been distributed to soldiers worldwide.
Ondrasik was recently recognized on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives by Pennsylvania Representative Brian Fitzpatrick who noted, “(John) has spent the last two decades writing deeply personal songs that include social messages that make an emotional connection and invoke the human spirit…we will never forget 9-11, and in the same vein, we can never forget the heroes that fought in the subsequent 20-year war in Afghanistan, and thanks to brave storytellers like John Ondrasik, we won’t forget these heroes…John is a true patriot.”
Ondrasik’s charity site www.whatkindofworlddoyouwant.com, inspired by his song, “World,” has seen fans uploading videos showing their respective interpretations of a better world. That initiative has raised more than $250,000 for five designated charities – Augie’s Quest, Autism Speaks, Fisher House Foundation, Save the Children and Operation Homefront.
For more information on John Ondrasik and Five for Fighting visit: https://fiveforfighting.com/.
*Note: I interviewed John Ondrasik for Full Measure in October featuring this song and story behind it.
Watch Full Measure segment here.