Ed Driscoll

Us and Them

Back when I was regularly attending concerts in the 1980s at Philadelphia’s Spectrum indoor stadium and mammoth JFK outdoor stadium (both since demolished), young wrinkle-free rock musicians routinely played those venues to promote their latest albums. Today, most stadium tours are by AARP-approved rockers in their 60s and 70s, promoting albums they recorded 30 or 40 years ago. The Rolling Stones are over 70, The Who recently announced plans for their 2015 farewell tour — no really, we mean it this time fellas, honest. (I saw them on their first farewell tour, three decades ago, back in 1982 at JFK Stadium.) And Paul McCartney’s tours are heavily loaded with Beatles and Wings-era hits from the 1960s and ’70s.

Roger Waters is another leathery-faced road warrior, reliving the glory days of chart-topping ’70s-era Pink Floyd albums such as Dark Side of the Moon and The Wall, but he’s found a unique twist to put a fresh new spotlight on that hoary old material — paranoia and anti-Semitism, as Jonathan Marks writes at Commentary:

While Waters may have shocked some people when he said that the “parallels [between Israel’s treatment of Palestinians] with what went on in the 30’s in Germany are so crushingly obvious,” this kind of vileness is par for the course in pro-boycott circles. I have this statement in mind:

The Jewish lobby is extraordinarily powerful here and particularly in the industry that I work in, the music industry and in rock’n roll as they say. I promise you, naming no names, I’ve spoken to people who are terrified…. They have said to me “aren’t you worried for your life?”

Waters has not been adequately coached. In the BDS movement, you are supposed to refer to your targets as “Zionists” (because it is all right to view people who support Israel’s national project as proto-Nazis) or as “pro-Israel.” With that one “Jewish lobby,” the mask slipped. One does not have to think that Roger Waters dislikes Jews to think that his general way of thinking, along with the way of thinking of many of his comrades in arms, is infected with anti-Semitic mythology. To repeat: Roger Waters thinks that there is a powerful Jewish lobby in the music industry that may just be out to kill him.

Waters has not apologized for these remarks, and his fans in the pro-boycott community remain “comfortably numb” about Waters’s record. They continue to regard his support as a great blessing.

And that’s on top of this moment from last summer:

“Even as Waters is a known activist pushing for the boycott of Israel, Israelis were still amazed to see that the show included a blatantly anti-Semitic display,” Israel’s Ynet News reports, describing his recent concert in Belgium:

Toward its end, a black balloon in the shape of a wild pig was released to the sky, on it a Star of David, in the company of symbols of dictatorial organizations and regimes from around the world.

Rogers’ concert took place as part of the music festival in the city of Werchter, and it opened his European tour. Next to the Star of David, on the wild pig balloon, there was also a sign of oil conglomerate Shell, and a graffiti message stating, “Everything will be okay, just keep consuming,” and “What’s wrong with people?”

I assume that when Waters trashes those who “keep consuming,” he’s not referring to the people in the audience who’ve bought The Wall over the past 23 years on LP, CD, VHS, LD, DVD and Blu-Ray, not to mention tickets, tour books, and T-shirts at his concerts.

It’s almost as if Waters is embarrassed that England even bothered to fight the Nazis during World War II. Oh wait — he is.

Update: Related thoughts from James Beattie at CNS News.com.