Neil Young reacts to violence at US Capitol: “Social media is crippling our belief system”

“I feel empathy for the people who have been so manipulated and had their beliefs used as political weapons.”

Neil Young onstage

Photo: The Photo Access / Alamy

Neil Young has penned an open letter in response to the violence that ensued at the US Capitol Building in Washington D.C. last week, in which he blamed the influence of social media, partisan press and President Trump for the tragedy.

“I was shocked to see the Confederate flag being waved inside the [House Chamber]; the destruction and disrespect,” Young wrote on Neil Young Archives. “But mostly I felt bad for the people. With social media, issues are turned into psychological weapons and used to gather hatred in support of one side or the other. That is what Donald J. Trump has as his legacy.”

On the powerful influence of the news and social media, Young wrote that he felt “empathy” for those who have “been so manipulated and had their beliefs used as political weapons.”

“I may be among them,” he admitted. “I wish internet news was two-sided. Both sides represented on the same programs.”

He added: “Social media, at the hands of powerful people – influencers, amplifying lies and untruths, is crippling our belief system, turning us against one another.”

Young also drew comparisons between how demonstrators were treated at the Capitol and at the Black Lives Matter protests which happened last year.

“I was devastated to see the double standard,” he wrote. “The way people were treated in the Black Lives Matter demonstrations compared to the other day. There is no place here for white supremacy. People need each other to be truly free. Hatred will never find freedom.”

On 6 January, supporters of President Trump gathered outside the US Capitol Building to protest the results of the 2020 US Elections. A mob of demonstrators forced their way through authorities to breach the Capitol Building and disrupt lawmakers in the process of certifying Joe Biden’s victory. Though Congress eventually regrouped to certify Biden as President-elect, the incident cost four demonstrators and one Capitol Police officer lost their lives.

The FBI are now seeking information on the mob that breached the Capitol Building. One individual was Jon Schaffer of the heavy metal band, whose photo now appears on the Most Wanted section of the FBI’s website.

Read Young’s entire essay, here.

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