You could do worse than become known as a land of love and peace, a group of Marinites decided last week. That’s after comedian Jon Stewart referred off-hand to a “Kumbaya Patrol” in Marin County.
“Finally everyone from the NRA to the Marin County Kumbaya Patrol is ready to talk about gun violence, although, to be fair, the Kumbaya Patrol has been ready for quite some time now,” he cracked on the Jan. 8 “Daily Show.”
The Marin remark comes toward the beginning of this segment:
According to the Marin Independent Journal, the remark took on a life of its own:
The next day, Iron Springs Brewery in Fairfax saw Marin’s national exposure as a chance to have some fun with its customers, posting on its Facebook page an offer of complimentary fries to “anyone from the Marin County Kumbaya Patrol from noon to 4 today.”
Of course the brewery didn’t have to worry about a run on fries because there really wasn’t a Marin County Kumbaya Patrol. But there would be soon enough. After one of his friends was refused free fries, Adam Ladwig, a 32-year-old San Rafael accountant, created a Marin County Kumbaya Patrol Facebook group page that became an instant hit.
As of noon on Tuesday, 646 people have “liked” the Facebook group. So far the group has not announced any actual patrols. But Stewart has it right when he calls Marin County a place likely to control guns. A recent gun buy-back program in Novato was a huge success, the San Anselmo-Fairfax Patch reports:
So far the Kumbaya Patrol has not announced any actual missions.
But what exactly would a Kumbaya Patrol do, anyway?
Kumbaya, of course, is the name of a song with such lyrics as “Kumbaya, my lord, kumbaya.” According to a 2010 New York Times article, the word Kumbaya is a distortion of “Come By Here,” and dates back to Gullah dialect songs from the coast of Georgia, first documented in the 1920s.
The lyrics told of people in despair and in trouble, calling on heaven for help, and beseeching God in the refrain, “Come by here,”
…a song deeply rooted in black Christianity’s vision of a God who intercedes to deliver both solace and justice, by the 1960s became the pallid pop-folk sing-along “Kumbaya.” And “Kumbaya,” in turn, has lately been transformed into snarky shorthand for ridiculing a certain kind of idealism, a quest for common ground.
Given the schoolhouse massacre that inspired the current debate on gun control, perhaps the original meaning makes the most sense.