RATM Organizes AZ Boycott Sound Strike


Among the artists
agreeing to participate: Rage Against The Machine, Street Sweeper Social Club,
Café Tacvba, Kanye West, Conor Oberst, Ozomatli, Massive Attack, Sonic Youth, Rise Against, Tenacious


By Fred Mills


To some of us, we’ve seen it happen before: back in the late
‘80s, the state of Arizona canceled a paid
Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday
for state employees, and in the ensuing
uproar, many boycotts of Arizona
kicked in, with artists ranging from U2 to Steve Wonder criticizing the
situation and pledging not to perform in the state. Point of fact, it was a
boneheaded decision on the part of then-governor (and soon to be impeached
governor) Evan Mecham, a Republican, to cancel the holiday, and not necessarily
a sentiment shared by the majority of AZ residents; but the result was the same
as if it had been a statewide referendum approved by voters, with protests,
cancelled conventions, a drop in tourism, and the aforementioned boycotts.
(Yours truly moved to AZ not long after the flap, and I can say in all
truthfulness that the state was NOT populated by hordes of unreconstructed
racists and wannabe Klansment. Well, there were quite a few of militia types,
but that’s another story. At any rate, the MLK affair was embarrassing to most
folks who lived there as they didn’t like being portrayed by the rest of the
country as being racist.)


So here we are in 2010, and another Republican governor, Jan
Brewer, has stirred up some serious shit by signing into law the now-notorious
immigration bill, AZ SB1070
. You don’t need me to brief you on the law and the
still-unfolding fallout as it’s already made more headlines than the MLK flap.
The music community has gradually been coming together in voicing its opinion –
negative, as you might imagine – about the matter; just a couple of days ago we
brought you word (and an MP3) of Tom Morello and Outernational’s collaboration
on a protest cover
of Woody Guthrie’s “Deportees”.


Morello’s bandmate in 
Rage Against The Machine, Zack De La Rocha, is going even further,
organizing what he calls Sound Strike, which is calling for a boycott of
Arizona by both bands and music fans as well as organizing a online petition
(in both English and Spanish) asking President Obama to take action
(unspecified) to protect the civil rights of Arizona citizens.


You can view and sign the petition here at the Sound Strike site,
while elsewhere on the site you can read De La Rocha’s press release about the
boycott. It reads, in part:



When Rosa Parks
refused to give up her seat, they arrested her. As a result, people got
together and said we are not going to ride the bus until they change the law.
It was this courageous action that sparked the Montgomery bus boycott. What if we got
together, signed a collective letter saying, “we’re not going to ride the
bus”, saying we are not going to comply. We are not going to play in Arizona. We are going to
boycott Arizona?!


We are asking artists
the world over to stand with us, and not allow our collective economic power to
be used to aid and abet civil and human rights violations that will be caused
by Arizona’s odious law.



Listed thus far as having agreed to participate in the


Cypress Hill
Conor Oberst
Los Tigres del Norte
Rage Against the Machine
Cafe Tacvba
Michael Moore
Kanye West
Calle 13
Joe Satriani
Serj Tankian
Rise Against
Sabertooth Tiger
Massive Attack
One Day as a Lion
Street Sweeper Social Club
Spank Rock
Sonic Youth
Tenacious D


You can readily imagine what clubland in Arizona would look like this summer if the
boycott effort snowballs…


As an aside, syndicated columnist Gustavo Arellano, who
authors the popular “Ask A Mexican” column that runs in Village Voice and other alternative newsweeklies, recently
expressed his sympathy with folks who would call for a boycott, but he
suggested an alternate strategy too: a boycott,
in which you additionally support (with time, manpower, money, etc.)
organizations who actually get threatened by policies and actions prompted by
the Arizona law. You can read his column about this and about “some of the good
people of Arizona” here
– and indeed, just like I discovered when I moved to
the state years ago, many, if not a majority, citizens living there don’t
necessarily support the law, or at least they don’t support the way it’s likely
to be implemented.



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