David Cohen

Comfortably dumb

G K Chesterton famously held that journalism largely consists of saying “Lord Jones Dead” to people who never knew Lord Jones was alive. Roger Waters, who is alive, says he nowadays finds himself in the opposite situation at the hands of a media industry controlled by … well, you know who.

Waters has come to believe that he is a boycotter boycotted, the victim of a cordon sanitaire implemented by the American media. He claims his political beliefs are being silenced and that the American public are not being allowed an opportunity to connect with the anti-Israel message he has been relentlessly flogging now for the better part of a decade.

In an interview with RT, the 73-year-old British musician said he wasn’t “quite sure” where the supposed stateside directive originated from “but it comes from above.” The claim is based on what he alleges a producer for PBS interviewer Charlie Rose told him. “So, you can figure it out for yourself. It’s not rocket science.”

For the benefit of American readers who may therefore have never heard of him, Roger Waters used to front a group called Pink Floyd before flying solo with the BDS cause.

Alas, due to a significant lack of purchase among fellow artists, the current gig has proved to be something of a one-man-band affair for Waters, whose calls for the Jewish state to be shunned have fallen on largely deaf, and even notably unsympathetic, ears. The latest act to ignore his demand, the alt-rockers Radiohead, are also excoriated in the same RT interview.

To anyone with even a passing familiarity with the way the media works, this latest claim must sound a tad paranoid.

News outlets in America, like those in Waters’ native Britain and indeed Israel, are a fractured bunch. The idea that some central organizing committee — a gaggle of bearded gents domiciled in Jerusalem, say, and nod or shake their heads gravely over news schedules submitted to them in advance — is plainly batty or racist.

Or possibly both. Waters has been here before, of course, over and over,  his hectoring message sounding oh-so-predictable with each passing musical month.

“My industry has been particularly recalcitrant in even raising a voice [against Israel],” he raved to the British Independent earlier this year. American artists, in particular, he added, “are scared shitless.” Why? Because they are “terrified” to speak about Israel for fear their careers will be destroyed.

Well, maybe they are and maybe they ain’t. Still, it’s difficult to see the editorial point in allowing some guy who may have once been deft at knocking out the odd album a few centuries ago an open-ended invitation to hold media court forever about this one unrelated subject.

It’s not rocket science. Banging on in quiet desperation is the Waters way, but the time is done, the song is over, and no-one thinks he has something more to say.

About the Author
David Cohen is a Wellington-based author and journalist whose work appears frequently in publications around the world.
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