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YouTube takes down, then reinstates John Ondrasik video that criticized Biden Afghanistan withdrawal

A music video produced by famed singer-songwriter John Ondrasik titled “Blood on my Hands” went viral this week before being removed and then reinstated on YouTube Friday.

The video, which used real-world footage depicting atrocities by the Taliban and the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, was reportedly flagged as having violated YouTube’s “graphic content policy.”

John Ondrasik

Grammy-nominated, multiplatinum-selling artist John Ondrasik of Five for Fighting. (Paul Morigi/Getty Images for Capital Concerts / Getty Images)

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In a statement on Twitter, Ondrasik, also known by his stage name Five For Fighting, said he posted the video Jan. 2 to YouTube and other social media channels.

The video was paired with “a ‘graphic warning’ disclaimer at the front of the video to let the audience know that the content would not be suitable for younger audiences due to images of Taliban atrocities.”

FIVE FOR FIGHTING SINGER TALKS NEW ‘BLOOD ON MY HANDS’ MUSIC VIDEO CRITICIZING AFGHANISTAN WITHDRAWAL

“YouTube reviewed the video and inserted a child content restriction which I appreciated and found appropriate,” he continued.

Ondrasik said the video remained live for five days, capturing more than 250,000 views.

The musician, known for hits like “100 Years” and “Superman,” said refusing to depict human rights abuses by the Taliban and events that happened during the U.S. withdrawal was a “gross injustice” to the victims.

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Additionally, Ondrasik noted he found that other videos depicting “similar Taliban atrocities,” but that which were monetized by the video platform, remained live. 

Taliban fighters

Taliban fighters display their flag on patrol in Kabul, Afghanistan, Aug. 19, 2021.  (AP / AP Newsroom)

Roughly nine hours after the songwriter tweeted about his video having been removed, YouTube reinstated it. The platform added a warning that the video could be “inappropriate or offensive to some audiences.”

JOHN ONDRASIK RELEASES GRAPHIC VIDEO FOR ‘BLOOD ON MY HANDS’ FEATURING FOOTAGE OF AFGHANISTAN UNDER TALIBAN

“This was our mistake and we’ve reinstated your video. So sorry this happened and thanks for being patient while we worked this out,” Team YouTube said on Twitter followed by a prayer hands emoji.

FOX Business could not immediately reach YouTube for comment on why the platform initially removed the video.

Afghan capital Kabul's Hamid Karzai International Airport

A view from the scene after at least five rockets were fired at the Afghan capital Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport Aug. 30, 2021.  (Haroon Sabawoon/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images / Getty Images)

The Five for Fighting musician accepted YouTube’s apology on Twitter but told FOX Business he was still left wondering why his video was targeted. 

“The reality that this tends to just happen when artists or people are criticizing one side of the aisle makes it hard to give them that benefit of the doubt,” he said. “But that said, they did the right thing – they addressed it quickly. They reposted it, which I appreciate.”

“I do feel for artists that may not have a similar platform as me,” he added, noting that his 2 million strong YouTube following may have motivated the platform to move quickly on the issue. 

“I also was thinking about the protest songs of the ‘60s and ’70s,” Ondrasik told FOX Business. “Imagine there was a dynamic where Creedence Clearwater Revival or Bob Dylan could have their songs basically eliminated from the culture.”

“That’s a chilling thought to me,” he said.  

The removal garnered attention from not just fans of the nearly seven-minute video but from members of Congress.

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“It’s absolutely ridiculous YouTube removed John Ondrasik’s video depicting the true events that occurred during POTUS’ horrific withdrawal from Afghanistan,” Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, wrote on Twitter. “Americans deserve to see the consequences of POTUS’ decisions. YouTube should put the video back up.”

Ondrasik thanked the congressman and tweeted his message at YouTube and President Biden. 



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