The headline in Foon Rhee’s column asks the right question, “Should a performer’s politics matter in arena bookings?” (Insight, April 13). The answer for the city of Sacramento should be: Yes, it does.
When I buy tickets to a concert, I want to be entertained. I don’t want to be subjected to the rants or raves of a performer who uses the stage to incite hatred and bigotry. That’s why I will not be going to the June 12 Roger Waters concert at Golden 1 Center.
Waters is certainly a musical genius and has had a successful career. But sadly, instead of using his gifts as an artist to entertain, his performances have polluted the waters with anti-Semitic and anti-Israel pronouncements.
In addition to Water’s rants in an October 2016 concert in Indio, at a July 2013 concert, he arranged for the concert staff to release a pig-shaped balloon painted with a Star of David as he sang the lyrics, “Get him up against the wall, that one looks Jewish.” When confronted afterward, he replied, “Some of my best friends are Jewish.”
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What baffles me is that Waters has not used his celebrity status to speak out against Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime’s murdering of hundreds of thousands of Syrians – a casualty count 10 times higher than the deaths in all the Arab-Israeli wars combined. He has not supported the Kurdish people who are fighting for their lives against terrorists. He has not spoken out in support of the millions of Arab women who are treated as second-class citizens in Saudi Arabia.
Instead, he is obsessed with one ethnic group, the Jews. And one country, the homeland of the Jews – Israel.
While he has the First Amendment right to express his views, the concert stage is the wrong venue. I commend corporations like American Express and Citibank who also have the right to withhold their support for someone whose views are filled with hate and bigotry. They made the right decision to withdraw their sponsorship of Waters’ concerts. The city of Sacramento and its tenant should seriously consider doing the same.
Reuven Taff, a past president of the Board of Rabbis of Greater Sacramento, is rabbi and spiritual leader of Mosaic Law Congregation in Sacramento. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.