By now I’m sure most people are aware of the supremely fucked up shit happening down in Arizona. That immigration law is an absolutely despicable piece of garbage legislation, written and signed into law by a bunch of scared white fear mongers that desperately want to make people believe that the founding fathers were “just kidding” with all that “liberty and justice for all” stuff. Clearly what they meant is liberty and justice for everyone that is white and Christian…everyone else is clearly here illegally and needs to get the fuck out, right? Anyway, the point of this article is not the bill itself (I think my stance on that should be pretty clear at this point) since everyone and their goddamn mothers is either coming out for or against that sucker. No, this article is specifically about of the of the REACTIONS to the bill that, while not quite disturbing me YET, has got me thinking.
I direct you now to a quote from prolific social activist and sometimes Rage Against the Machine frontman Zack De La Rocha: “Fans of our music, our stories, our films and our words can be pulled over and harassed every day because they are brown or black, or for the way they speak, or for the music they listen to. People who are poor like some of us used to be could be forced to live in a constant state of fear while just doing what they can to find work and survive. This law opens the door for them to be shaked down, or even worse, detained and deported while just trying to travel home from school, from home to work, or when they just roll out with their friends.
Some of us grew up dealing with racial profiling, but this law (SB 1070) takes it to a whole new low. If other states follow the direction of the Arizona government, we could be headed towards a pre-civil rights era reality. This unjust law was set into motion by the same Arizona government that refused to acknowledge Martin Luther King Jr. day as a national holiday.”
This quote comes from a press release from a recently constructed coalition of artists called The Sound Strike. This group, including artists from many areas of the music and entertainment community (Rise Against, Conor Oberst, Michael Moore and Cypress Hill, just to name a few), has pledged to boycott the state of Arizona until which time as Bill 1070 is repealed and are currently encouraging others to do so as well.
This type of action I completely agree with and support. For what they’ve done, the Arizona chamber of commerce deserves ZERO support from anyone, especially anyone from out of state. However, my problem with this movement is relatively simple, and it revolves around who ACTUALLY suffers from an artistic boycott: the kids.
Let’s face it, the kind of people who signed this bill into law and who support it tooth and nail are by and large NOT the same people that would go to a Sonic Youth show or listen to a Rise Against record or watch a Michael Moore movie. They just aren’t. In fact, I would even wager that the people who WOULD do all of the above actively stand against the bill themselves. However, by boycotting the entire state, these artist are effectively punishing legions of (potentially young) fans for the sins of their overbearing, oppressive government that they, in all likelihood, had no hand in electing.
I mean, punishing the child for the sins of the father is totally punk rock, right?
Despite making it seem incredibly cut and dry, I am well aware that it is not. For a lot of bands, especially some of the bigger names on that list, putting on a show in a normal fashion costs a lot of money. Money that inevitably will end up back in the hands of the state. This is a very reasonable concern and that one that, I wager, is the basis of this boycott.
However, to that I say: remember your roots, suck it up and play.
Forgo your twenty page riders and your bottles of aquafina and your fancy lighting set ups. Just rent a PA, find a basement, a warehouse or an empty field and play for free. If it gets shut down, oh well at least you tried. Chances are, a fifteen year-old in Tuscon is going to be a lot more inspired to make a difference after witnessing something like that than by you playing and over-priced stadium show anyway. How the hell do you expect kids to inform each other, take action and arm themselves for a better future if you, the supposed paragons for a better tomorrow, completely abandon them. When I was that age, I sure as hell would not have been inspired by someone that told me to go fuck myself for something I wasn’t responsible for. For a bunch of pseudo-inspirational lefties (I’m looking at you, Zack), this seems like a really easy concept to grasp.
In short: by all means boycott the STATE of Arizona, but the moment you begin to equate the STATE with the PEOPLE, and punish both equally is the moment you officially lose a bit of that bleeding heart, activist cred you so crave…at least in my book.