Editor’s note: This essay was submitted as an op-ed to The Tennessean and was expected to appear in that publication prior to its appearance in this issue of the Observer.
By Mark S. Freedman
Roger Waters is coming to Nashville on August 13. For those of you not conversant with the world of rock and roll, Roger Waters was a founding member of Pink Floyd, a wildly popular band of the 70s and 80s. Roger Waters is also, quite simply stated, your garden variety anti-Semite. Oh, Mr. Waters likes to claim he is a forceful advocate for human rights and that he opposes the Israeli occupation and Israeli government policies. But this is far from the case.
At past concerts Roger Waters has displayed a huge inflatable pig, descending from the rafters, emblazoned with the Star of David, dollar signs with images of Nazi swastikas projected on background screens. This is nasty stuff. If you want to complain about an Israeli government policy or practice, well, write a letter to the Prime Minister. But no, Mr. Waters’ actions are reduced to the lowest common denominator – a purveyor of hatred and bigotry. Just shameful.
Thus, we should be concerned that Roger Waters is coming to Nashville. We don’t want him here and we certainly don’t need him here. Mr. Waters is also a very prominent and vocal proponent of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) targeted against Israel. The BDS movement was started by Palestinian activists. The real goal of BDS is not to change Israel’s treatment of Palestinians through economic and political pressure; rather it is the elimination of the Jewish State of Israel. Its leaders have said so themselves. You could look it up. If you want to, here’s a reference: http://www.stopbds.com/?page_id=48.
Roger Waters always takes the low road and encourages other prominent musical performers to refuse to perform in Israel. For example, he tried to persuade The Rolling Stones and more recently Radiohead to cancel performances in Israel. Fortunately, most musicians have ignored, and some vocally and forcefully rejected Mr. Waters and they have been warmly and enthusiastically received in Israel. Who knows, maybe Mr. Waters is doing us a favor by creating more Israel advocates to counter his campaign of bigotry.
So, what shall we do about all this? We could join Mr. Waters on the low road and encourage you to boycott his concert that will be staged at the Bridgestone Arena on August 13. But then we are reduced to his level. If you want to waste your money to support a bad dude that’s your business.
But if you go to the concert, make your own sign and hold it up during the performance—let it clearly state that there is no room for hatred and bigotry in our great city. Inform Mr. Waters that Israel shares democratic values with our country that support human rights while Arabs across the Middle East continue to slaughter each other at an alarming rate. Tell Mr. Waters to take his pig back to the poke where it belongs.
Finally be in touch with the officials of Bridgestone Arena and the concert sponsors, letting them know that welcoming and supporting a Roger Waters performance sends the wrong message in a city that promotes diversity and respects people of all backgrounds and faiths.
Roger Waters has dubbed his tour “Us + Them”. My view is he is very much wrapped up in his “Us” and somehow he manages to send the message that the “Them” deserve scorn and condemnation. It’s all very sad and by standing together “WE” can do much better. •