As Roger Waters Plays Politically Charged NYC Performances People Call Him A Jew-Hater
As Roger Waters Plays Politically Charged NYC Performances People Call Him A Jew-Hater

As Roger Waters Plays Politically Charged NYC Performances People Call Him A Jew-Hater

On August 30 and 31, just days before his 79th birthday, British rock legend and Pink Floyd co-founder Roger Waters took his “This Is Not A Drill” tour to New York City. The opening night of the two-night performance at Madison Square Garden was attended by a large but not sold-out crowd. Waters’ pre-recorded voice repeated, “If you’re one of those ‘I adore Pink Floyd, but I can’t tolerate Roger’s politics’ folks, you might do well to fuck off to the bar right now.”

No one could claim ignorance of the danger. Most concertgoers have a pretty good idea of what to expect from a Roger Waters show by now. The former principal songwriter for Pink Floyd and bassist for the band is outspoken on many issues, including being an early supporter of the BDS movement to boycott, divest, and sanction (BDS) Israel.

Protesters near the entrance of New York’s most prominent music and sports arena would have made sure that any attendees who were unaware of this were informed.

“Roger Waters is a Jew hater! Who wants to hear why Roger Waters hates Jews?!!” a woman cried out. Most people in line (a healthy mix of ages, but skewing Boomer, and almost entirely white) ignored her, but one fired back, “He’s not against Jews, he’s against Israel!”

Protester Michelle Ahdoot quickly assured me that “this is apolitical, nothing to do with politics,” besides actor Yuval David and others wearing T-shirts that say #StopJewHatred. We’re here because of the lies and bigotry that Roger Waters spreads.

There is some truth to what Ahdoot claimed. It’s not all true. We’ll overlook the fact that MSG can seat fewer than 20,000 people. The night’s sole representative from Waters’ 1987 solo album “Radio K.A.O.S.” is the song “The Powers that Be,” which is accompanied by an animated sequence showing violent, stylized police violence displayed on the massive video screens during the performance.

The names of people like George Floyd, Eric Garner, and Breonna Taylor, who have been killed in confrontations with armed authorities, are interspersed throughout the film. Their names, locations, offenses, and sentences are printed prominently on the card.

Their setting is an American city. The crime is “being black,” and the sentence is death. In addition to Ali Al-Hamda, a Syrian boy shot dead by Turkish police, there are also the cases of Rashan Charles, who was killed by British police, and Matheus Melo Castro, who was assassinated by police in Brazil.

Other names appear, such as that Ahmaud Arbery, a Black American who was killed in Georgia not by police but by local folks, and Shireen Abu Akleh. The protester’s assertion that it was “committed by the IDF” is entirely unfounded. This picture is from their event in Albany, New York.

Political content is always present on the vast, cutting-edge screens that float above Waters’ in-the-round stage. (The sloganeering is finally put to rest when he starts reminiscing about his old band and showing pictures of the guys when they were young and hip.) Additionally, a few scenes are set in or have some relevance to the Middle East.

For instance, before it was included on his 2017 album “Is This The Life We Want?,” the song “Deja Vu” was titled “Lay Down Jerusalem [If I Had Been God].”

At various points in the show, multiple words, such as “F*ck Drones” and “F*ck the Supreme Court,” are displayed on the screens. The following two read, “You Can’t Have Occupation And Human Rights” and “Fuck Occupation.” The following visual effect involves keeping the term “Rights” on the screen while scrolling in the additional text below it. From “Human Rights” to “Equal Rights” to “Palestinian Rights” to “Yemeni Rights” to “Indigenous Rights” to “Trans Rights,” and so on.

The last slides are timed to the refrain “Lay Down Jerusalem.”

Lyrically, the song only obliquely references international harmony and brotherhood (and some kvetching about getting old.) Contrary to what one might expect from someone accused of anti-Semitism, it attributes the crucifixion to the Romans.

Lastly, a UNICEF-style movie plays during “Us and Them,” symbolizing the gap between the rich and the poor. Images of various walls and boundaries include the barrier separating Israel from the West Bank. However, to capture it, one must be familiar with its appearance, as it lacks labels.

The show included many other elements, such as a song honoring the Standing Rock protesters, a localized land recognition for the Munsee Lenape Indians, a call for the release of Julian Assange, and a montage of all of the United States presidents being branded as war criminals and the number of foreign deaths that occurred under their administrations. It said “just getting begun” for Joe Biden.

The audience cheered enthusiastically at these political statements. My seatmate, who could have been straight out of Noo Yawk central casting, did, I swear, exclaim, “Enough tawkin’ Roger, sing!!” during one of the Waters’ spoken wind-ups, which elicited a round of laughing.

While “This Is Not A Drill” gives attention to every other political movement that has gone viral on Twitter in the past several years, the situation in Ukraine is conspicuously absent. Waters has publicly supported appeasing Russia in this fight as recently as this month.

Blackstone, a private equity firm, reportedly bid $500 million (among other amounts) for Pink Floyd’s back catalog, but this fact was left out of the article. Despite the show’s rant against oligarchs and sympathy for indigenous people (not to mention the horrors of capitalism addressed in the song “Money”), this story was left off the air.

Aside from that, there were two more contradictions: first, slides lauding visionaries who foretold our current dystopia featured authors like George Orwell and Aldous Huxley; second, President Dwight D. Eisenhower was praised for his speech on the military-industrial complex.

Does Roger Waters like Ike? I didn’t see that coming.

Also, the word “fags” is featured in the 2017 song “Is This The Life We Want?”, which is surprising for someone who is so obviously left-wing (a shot of Dr. Cornell West shows on the screen at one point). The use in this contemporary song is vague and unexpected, in contrast to “In the Flesh,” which is humorous and in quotations (and is also from a less sensitive time). I’m sure Waters is aware that many members of the gay community feel that heteros*xual people should not use that phrase.

The threat of nuclear war is addressed in “Two Suns in the Sunset,” a song performed near the show’s end. He introduced it with genuine enthusiasm for disarmament and concern for global safety.

Two elderly men were making their way down the stopped escalators as I walked out, the pulsating disco beat of “Run Like Hell” still echoing in my ears.

“He’s still fantastic,” one person remarked. However, the other argued, “The show is just too political. A reasonable person may say, “Even if you agreed with him, it’s just too much; he’s gotta tone it down.”

After counting several more levels, the two guys sighed.

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About Govind Dhiman 2041 Articles
Govind Dhiman is a young and passionate entrepreneur who hails from Haryana, India. He founded to help journalists in the world of journalism grow their presence and amplify their voice on social media. Govind believes that content marketing is one of the most effective ways for businesses to establish themselves as authorities in their niche market space by publishing quality content on a consistent basis with an eye towards key metrics like engagement and shares.

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