Minutemen – The Big Stick

The last verse of this song changes gear into civil rights and American Indians. But elsewhere it is an anti-war ditty focused on American involvement in Central America back in the 1980s. The US Central Intelligence Agency provided information to the Guatemalan government regarding its longstanding war against guerillas. Here, the CIA has been accused of human rights abuses, but it also helped prevent such abuses in some instances. Nicaragua is also referenced in this song. The US role here at this time is explained with Sting’s Fragile tune.

The notion of a “big stick” goes back to a quotation from US president Theodore Roosevelt around 1901: “Speak softly, and carry a big stick.” Politically, this is suggesting that the threat or presence of a big stick, or weapon, can aid in negotiations. It is political realism with a plan B should talking not work.

Also by Minutemen: Cheerleaders


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