Neil Young blames social media for divided nation, calls for empathy

Neil Young in 2019
(Image credit: Gary Miller / Getty Images)

Neil Young has penned a short essay in response to last week's events in Washington DC, when crowds supporting President Donald Trump stormed the United States Congress in an attempt to overturn his defeat in November's presidential election. 

Striking an unusually conciliatory tone, Young wrote, "Sadness and compassion hit me last night as I watched fellow Americans telling their stories.

"A young lady in tears spoke of being maced in the Capital [sic]. She was crying because she had been attacked and all she was doing was trying to have her voice heard in the Revolution. She was one of thousands who have been carrying the feeling of being persecuted for their beliefs, their feeling that American power just didn't care.

"This, to me is beyond my own feelings that our president has betrayed the people, exaggerated and amplified the truth to foment hatred. Resentment of the Democratic party among the insurrectionists at the Capitol was rampant. We don't need this hate. We need discussion and solutions. Respect for one another's beliefs. Not hatred."

Young also spoke of his dismay at seeing the Confederate battle flag waved inside the Congress chamber, and at the apparent ease with which last week's protesters broke into the Capitol building. He also blamed social media for the rising tensions, writing that, "issues are turned to psychological weapons and used to gather hatred in support of one side or the other."

"I still have my strong beliefs," Young concluded. "That has not changed. But now I feel empathy for the people who have been so manipulated and had their beliefs used as political weapons. I may be among them. I wish internet news was two-sided. Both sides represented on the same programs. Social media, at the hands of powerful people – influencers, amplifying lies and untruths, is crippling our belief system, turning us against one another."

A second pressing of Neil Young's Archives Volume II: 1972-1976 is released on March 5, and is available to pre-order now.

Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 38 years in music industry, online for 25. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.