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Tom Lehrer National Brotherhood Week Lyrics

Last updated: 04/28/2014 10:29:36 PM

One week of every year is designated National Brotherhood Week. This is just one of many such weeks honoring various worthy causes. One of my favorites is National Make-fun-of-the-handicapped Week which Frank Fontaine and Jerry Lewis are in charge of as you know. During National Brotherhood Week various special events are arranged to drive home the message of brotherhood. This year, for example, on the first day of the week Malcolm X was killed which gives you an idea of how effective the whole thing is. I'm sure we all agree that we ought to love one another and I know there are people in the world that do not love their fellow human beings and I hate people like that. Here's a song about National Brotherhood Week.

Oh, the white folks hate the black folks,
And the black folks hate the white folks.
To hate all but the right folks
Is an old established rule.

But during National Brotherhood Week, National Brotherhood Week,
Lena Horne and Sheriff Clarke are dancing cheek to cheek.
It's fun to eulogize
The people you despise,
As long as you don't let 'em in your school.

Oh, the poor folks hate the rich folks,
And the rich folks hate the poor folks.
All of my folks hate all of your folks,
It's American as apple pie.

But during National Brotherhood Week, National Brotherhood Week,
New Yorkers love the Puerto Ricans 'cause it's very chic.
Step up and shake the hand
Of someone you can't stand.
You can tolerate him if you try.

Oh, the Protestants hate the Catholics,
And the Catholics hate the Protestants,
And the Hindus hate the Muslims,
And everybody hates the Jews.

But during National Brotherhood Week, National Brotherhood Week,
It's National Everyone-smile-at-one-another-hood Week.
Be nice to people who
Are inferior to you.
It's only for a week, so have no fear.
Be grateful that it doesn't last all year!

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There is no studio version... | Reviewer: Shirley Dulcey | 4/29/14

National Brotherhood Week is from Tom Lehrer's final album, That Was The Year That Was. Unlike his previous two albums, which have both studio and live versions, there is only a live album made at the hungry i in San Francisco.

Lehrer often revised his songs to update them or to cater to local audiences. We hear that in the video above, where Cassius Clay and Mrs Wallace dance cheek to cheek instead of Lena Horne and Sheriff Clark.

Re: Correction ... | Reviewer: David F | 4/5/14

Marty, I believe the version here is what's on the sheet music. If you heard something different on a recording, it's possible he made a mistake in that particular performance. That's relatively unlikely if it was one of his (very careful) studio recordings, but such things happen all the time in live performances.

Correction... | Reviewer: Marty | 5/30/13

"It's fun to eulogize/The people you despise" is not what's on the Tom Lehrer CD I bought a couple of years ago. The lyrics on the CD are "It's fun to eulogize/With someone whom you despise".

National Brotherhood Week: a timeless classic | Reviewer: Gary Neidhardt | 3/1/05

"Be kind to people who are inferior to you, its only for a week so have no fear, be grateful that it doesn't last all year!"

This goes right along with another bit of Lehrer brilliance in describing "do-gooder" hypocrisy: "The nicest thing about protesting something is that it makes you feel so good."

It seems that the very people that are often screaming the loudest about "intolerance" are the most intolerant themselves. They're smarter than you, and better than you, and are entirely able, without the slightest reservations, to tell you what you should do. Just don't do as they do, because their shortcomings are forgivable and others aren't.

Thus these Lehrer lyrics, among many others, have a timeless quality, that remind us that many American-style protests reveal far more sad truths about the protestors than the targets of the protests.