cd cover: the feral crow by scott ainslie©1997, Scott Ainslie.
All rights reserved.

We picked you up at your house.
Bound your wrists, taped your mouth.
Used our hands and our clubs.
You weren’t human to us.

We drove home and kissed our wives;
Sang our children lullabies
Joked with our parents on the phone.
When we went to our cars, we went alone.


Once learned, never forgotten.
Once injured, ever scarred.
Some people will change like the moon;
Some are like stars.

We threw you back in the van.
Combed our hair; washed our hands.
We locked you inside;
Took you out for a ride.

It started to rain.
Your breathing was strange.
For five hundred miles.
Not going to trial.

Once learned, never forgotten.
Once injured, ever scarred.
Some people will change like the moon;
Some are like stars.

And is it night or is it day?
Did you see them take me away?
We have eaten our fill;
First light brings a chill.

Nothing left to defend;
The long night comes to an end.
We are the makers of lies;
Fathers our children idolize.

As patriots: we were the best!
Now, we come forward and confess.



Scott Ainslie
Acoustic Guitar, Vocals
Scott Petito
Jerry Marotta
Drums, Percussion
Marc Shulman
Electric Guitars
Leslie Ritter
Harmony Vocals

In 1997, the five men of the nine men implicated in the death of Steven Biko, appeared before the South African Truth Commission. The Truth Commission refused them amnesty because they did not bring the truth to light, but repeated the same lies they had told in 1977 and 1978. Last fall charges against the men who murdered Biko were reluctantly dropped. The time elapsed since the crime and the inability to secure witnesses to the murder who were willing to testify were cited as the reasons that these men were getting away with murder. New York Times article, October 8, 2003

This song, written from a torturer’s point of view, finds many of its details in Biko’s killing, but it is a regrettably timely warning for all of us about the use of patriotic emotions to justify behavior toward our fellow human beings for which we would accept no other excuse. Having joined the roster of torturing nations under policies that openly violate the Geneva Conventions—signed by both President Bush himself (Presidential Finding on Special Access Programs for ‘enemy combatants’) and by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfelt—-it is long past time for Americans to examine their leaders and recognize the gap between our values and the principles upon which our nation was founded, and the values and behavior of the Bush Administration.
There have been little reported calls in other lands for members of the Bush Administration to be charged with war crimes for the torture and killing of prisoners in its custody. These calls should be joined by Americans. The small clique of neoconservatives who are running Administration policy are not us.
For more information on the basis for these charges, see Seymour M. Hersh’s new book: Chain of Command.
For a couple of good articles on Biko and the South African Truth Commission on line, check out:

South African Truth and Reconciliation Files

Scott Ainslie

Born in Rochester NY in 1952, Scott Ainslie has been playing music on something since he was three years old. A guitarist since 1967 with powerful appreciation for and apprenticeships with elder black and white musicians in different musical traditions, Ainslie carries a portion of them forward in his own traditional blues performances and songwriting.

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