The Human Rights Warrior

Jennifer Prestholdt

Jennifer Prestholdt
Location
Minneapolis, Minnesota,
Birthday
February 25
Bio
Human rights lawyer, wife, and mother of three. (Not necessarily in that order.) I write about my experiences in fighting for human rights and how I am trying to bring those lessons home to my kids. Join our journey at www.humanrightswarrior.com, Humanrightswarrior on facebook and @JPrestholdt on Twitter. All material on this blog is © Jennifer Prestholdt, 2011, 2012

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APRIL 26, 2012 1:58PM

Children of the Rainbow v. Anders Breivik and Charles Taylor

Rate: 9 Flag

 Folksinger Lillebjørn Nilsen and a crowd of 40,000 sing Barn av regnbuen (Children of the Rainbow) at the trial of Anders Behring Breivik in Oslo

Source NRK 

I thought I would write about the Charles Taylor verdict today.  The verdict by the Special Court for Sierra Leone marks an historic moment in international justice - the first conviction of a serving head of state for war crimes and crimes against humanity.     I thought today would be a day to write about the importance of holding Charles Taylor accountable for the war crimes that he aided and abetted in Sierra Leone, but also about  the remaining impunity for the war crimes he was responsible for in Liberia.  I've been spent time in both Sierra Leone and Liberia, so I've seen firsthand the horrific  impact that Charles Taylor and his National Patriotic Liberation Front have had on the people in those countries.  I've followed this trial at the Special Court for Sierra Leone - and waited for this verdict - for years.

But I found myself this morning more powerfully impacted by events surrounding another trial, in another country where I have spent time. I speak Norwegian, so have been following the Norwegian media coverage of the trial of Anders Behring Breivik in Norway.   Today, that coverage included an allsang with the well-loved Norwegian folksinger Lillebjørn Nilsen.   In a chilly spring rain in Oslo, a crowd of more than 40,000 people joined Mr. Nilsen in singing Barn av regnbuen.  

Apparently, this is a song that Mr. Breivik detests. He testified recently that this song, with its concept of living together in a multicultural Norway (“sammen vi skal lever“) was brainwashing children into supporting immigrants. Norwegians throughout the country sang it today as a kind of protest. 

This is a song that I learned many years ago.  It is actually a Pete Seeger song called My Rainbow Race, translated into Norwegian by Lillebjørn Nilsen.   My rough translation follows (with apologies for inaccuracies).I use the translated version as there are a lot of aspects that make this song feel particularly Norwegian.  The references to nature, for example, and the disdain for "plastic and synthetic food".  

Written during the Vietnam era,  the song has an obvious anti-war theme. The lyrics of the song, however, seem especially  fitting on this day.  "Some steal from the young, who are sent out to fight..." could well apply to Charles Taylor, whose recruitment of child soldiers stole the lives of thousands in West Africa.  "Some steal from the many, who will come after us." Anders Behring Breivik's acts of violence stole not only the future of dozens of young people, but the innocence of a peaceful nation.

I won't write about Charles Taylor today.  Neither will I write about Anders Behring Breivik.   Instead, I will write today about the voices raised throughout our world - in celebration of justice and in a call for peace in the face of hatred. Because today I remembered that  Lillebjørn Nilsen - and Pete Seeger - were right.  We need justice for the Charles Taylors and Anders Behring Breiviks of the world, but we also need to share our hope for the rest of us.

Si det til alle barna!
Og si det til hver far og mor.
Ennå har vi en sjanse
til å dele et håp på jord.

Say it to all the children!
And tell every father and mother.
We still have a chance
to share our hope for this world.

 

Barn av regnbuen

 En himmel full av stjerner.

Blått hav så langt du ser.
En jord der blomster gror.
Kan du ønske mer ?
Sammen skal vi leve
hver søster og hver bror.
Små barn av regnbuen
og en frodig jord.

Noen tror det ikke nytter.
Andre kaster tiden bort med prat.
Noen tror at vi kan leve av
plast og syntetisk mat.
Og noen stjeler fra de unge
som blir sendt ut for å sloss
Noen stjeler fra de mange
som kommer etter oss.

 Refreng:

Si det til alle barna!
Og si det til hver far og mor:
Ennå har vi en sjanse
til å dele et håp på jord.

  Refreng:

Si det til alle barna!
Og si det til hver far og mor:
Ennå har vi en sjanse
til å dele et håp på jord.

 

Children of the Rainbow

 A sky full of stars.
Blue sea as far as you can see.
A land where flowers grow.
Could you want more?
Together we will live
every sister and every brother.
Small children of the rainbow
and a flourishing world.
  Some believe there is no point.
Others throw their time away with idle talk.
Some believe that we can live on
plastic and synthetic foods.
And some steal from the young,
who are sent out to fight.
Some steal from the many
who will come after us.

 Refrain:

Say it to all the children!
And tell every father and mother.
We still have a chance
to share our hope for this world.

  Refrain:

Say it to all the children!
And tell every father and mother.
We still have a chance
to share our hope for this world.
 
With many thanks also to Pete Seeger for his song My Rainbow Race.  Words and music by Pete Seeger (1967) © 1970 by Sanga Music Inc.
One blue sky above us,
One ocean lapping all our shores,
One Earth so green and round,
Who could ask for more?
And because I love you,
I’ll give it one more try.
To show my Rainbow Race
It’s too soon to die. Some folks want to be like an ostrich,
Bury their heads in the sand.
Some hope that plastic dreams
Can unclench all those greedy hands.
Some hope to take the easy way,
Poisons, bombs, they think we need ‘em.
Don’t you know you can’t kill all the unbelievers?
There’s no shortcut to freedom.

CHORUS

Go tell, go tell all----- the little children.

Tell all their mothers and fathers, too --

Now’s our last chance to learn to share

What’s been given to me and you.

CHORUS

 Go tell, go tell all----- the little children.

Tell all their mothers and fathers, too --

Now’s our last chance to learn to share

What’s been given to me and you.

 


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Comments

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Thank you for this beautiful, haunting post. I love the idea of fighting hate with music. I love what that means. Thank you.
Thanks Alysa. Seriously, could the Norwegians have picked a better form of nonviolent protest? Thanks for your comment.
Thank you for sharing this. The protest is not only a wonderful and loving rejection of Breivik's hatred and violence, but it is also a beautiful way of honoring his victims as well as their families and friends.
Yes, and timed to correspond with the witness/victim testimony. The singing was so loud that it could be heard in the courtroom. Isn't that cool? And after they sang, thousands of people laid roses at the courthouse in honor of the victims. Thanks so much for your comment, SeventhSister!
I'm proud to have Norwegian blood. This is really the perfect response and background for the trial.
Oh, so beautiful, all the singing voices and umbrellas and roses in the rain...thank you for sharing this, Jennifer. This does bring hope.
Good triumphs. Absolutely lovely. Thank you so much for posting this.
r./
Tusen takk to all of you for reading and commenting!

@jlsathre - Heia Norge! It's hard to imagine this happening here in the U S of A.

@clayball - this was the big event, but smaller groups all around the country also sang.

@onislandtime - "Good triumphs." What a great way of putting it. Thank you for that!
Very inspiring. Them ex-Vikings, except for the occasion lunatic like the one on trial, really are at the forefront of human decency. Yeah, and I mean the socialism too, or especially!
Hi Myriad! No question, those Scandahoovians have their priorities straight. Thanks for reading and commenting.
Thanks, Jen, for your focus on the positive. I love what you do.
Ah, Pete Seeger strikes again. Such a powerful legacy he has amassed. I did not know the song was a translation of his song, "My Rainbow Race." His mentor Woody Guthrie had the inscription "this machine kills fascists" on this guitar, but in light of the modern world and its Anders Breiviks, perhaps Pete's banjo should read, "this machine defeats fascists."
Ah, Pete Seeger strikes again. Such a powerful legacy he has amassed. I did not know the song was a translation of his song, "My Rainbow Race." His mentor Woody Guthrie had the inscription "this machine kills fascists" on this guitar, but in light of the modern world and its Anders Breiviks, perhaps Pete's banjo should read, "this machine defeats fascists."
I really love Pete - and Woody, too. I thought that it was interesting that the Norwegian version is so much less strident than the original. Children of the Rainbow is not just a translation of My Rainbow Race. Thanks very much for your comment, Steve. Happy May Day! "Solidarity Forever"!
That's a beautiful response to hatred. Sing it away.
I guess some people here don't know the difference between living in darkness and light, closed and open society. Those who fear they will loose their welfare due to immigrants did not realize till now they are addicted to alcohol, durgs, pleasure and don't give a shit to how the plant earth works and the circle of life to grow ones life and help grow others. Looking for Cheapest Auto Insurance In Florida?