Bruce Springsteen Shares Statement On Trump’s “Inhumane” Border Policy

Bruce Springsteen’s Broadway show is a scripted, two-hour long performance. He sings 15 songs interspersed with monologues, some of which are taken almost verbatim from his autobiography Born To Run. Though he may go a tiny bit off-book from night to night, most shows are basically the same.

Last night, however, Springsteen took a moment to acknowledge what he called the Trump Administration’s “inhumane” policy of separating immigrant children from their parents along the US southern border. The policy has been heavily criticized over the course of the past week after various news outlets reported on conditions inside of a detention center for immigrant children, and ProPublica released disturbing audio of Central American children crying after being separated from their families.

Springsteen made his comments after reciting a paraphrased passage from Born To Run and briefly touching on the March For Our Lives protests against gun violence that took place in March. “We saw those young people in Washington, and citizens all around the world, remind us of what faith in America and real faith in American democracy looks and feels like,” he said. “It was just encouraging to see all those people out on the street and all that righteous passion in the service of something good. And to see that passion was alive and well and still there at the center of the beating heart of our country.

“It was a good day, and a necessary day because we are seeing things right now on our American borders that are so shockingly and disgracefully inhumane and un-American that it is simply enraging,” Springsteen continued. “And we have heard people in high position in the American government blaspheme in the name of God and country that it is a moral thing to assault the children amongst us. May God save our souls.”

After the monologue, Springsteen played his 1995 song “The Ghost Of Tom Joad” which isn’t a part of the standard show, though he has done it a handful of times previously. “The Ghost Of Tom Joad” refers back to Steinbeck’s The Grapes Of Wrath and Woody Guthrie’s “The Ballad Of Tom Joad.” It’s about the difficult lives led by those who migrate to borderlands seeking opportunity only to be turned back or persecuted once they arrive. Before singing it, Springsteen said: “I’ve played this show 146 nights with basically the same setlist, but tonight calls for something different.”

Read a transcript via Springsteen’s official website below.

In response to requests for the text of Bruce’s remarks before he performed “The Ghost of Tom Joad” last night, here is a rough transcript:

I never believed that people come to my shows, or rock shows to be told anything.

But I do believe that they come to be reminded of things. To be reminded of who they are, at their most joyous, at their deepest, when life feels full. It’s a good place to get in touch with your heart and your spirit, to be amongst the crowd. And to be reminded of who we are and who we can be collectively. Music does those things pretty well sometimes, particularly these days when some reminding of who we are and who we can be isn’t such a bad thing.

That weekend of the March for our Lives, we saw those young people in Washington, and citizens all around the world, remind us of what faith in America and real faith in American democracy looks and feels like. It was just encouraging to see all those people out on the street and all that righteous passion in the service of something good. And to see that passion was alive and well and still there at the center of the beating heart of our country.

It was a good day, and a necessary day because we are seeing things right now on our American borders that are so shockingly and disgracefully inhumane and un-American that it is simply enraging. And we have heard people in high position in the American government blaspheme in the name of God and country that it is a moral thing to assault the children amongst us. May God save our souls.

There’s the beautiful quote by Dr. King that says the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice. Now, there have been many, many days of recent when you could certainly have an argument over that. But I’ve lived long enough to see that in action and to put some faith in it. But I’ve also lived long enough to know that arc doesn’t bend on its own. It needs all of us leaning on it, nudging it in the right direction day after day. You gotta keep, keep leaning.

I think it’s important to believe in those words, and to carry yourself, and to act accordingly. It’s the only way that we keep faith and keep our sanity.

I’ve played this show 146 nights with basically the same setlist, but tonight calls for something different…

- Bruce Springsteen