Even this writer, who’s not a fan of Pink Floyd or the band’s politics, would be forced to admit that Roger Waters is a rock legend. That said, the Floyd lyricist and co-lead singer hasn’t produced any compelling material in decades, so I wouldn’t even listen to his opinions on modern music. Why would I care about what he has to say about politics?
But this is Super Bowl weekend, and the music being performed at the game in Atlanta is mired in controversy.
When Maroon 5 accepted the league’s offer to play at halftime of Super Bowl LIII, a petition for the band to recuse itself garnered over 100,000 signatures. The group had trouble finding other acts that would perform with them.
And then there were the calls for them to take a knee to protest Kaepernick’s treatment or social justice or something. (As it is with so many things involving the NFL anthem protests, the actual impetus behind why artists should protest remains vague.)
Now, Waters has joined the voices calling on Maroon 5 — along with rappers Travis Scott and Big Boi, who’ll appear with the rock band — to kneel in protest.
In a Facebook post Wednesday, Waters showed video of the band taking a knee during a concert in Hartford, Connecticut, in 2017.
Before we go into the post, the date is key: That was the day of the most intense NFL protests, sparked not by Kaepernick but by President Donald Trump. Campaigning for Alabama Republican senatorial candidate Luther Strange — the president said, “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a b—- off the field right now. Out! He’s fired. He’s fired!’?”
But that wasn’t what Waters says the impetus behind it was.
“This is my band taking a knee at the end of a gig in Hartford, Connecticut on Sunday 24th of September 2017. We did it in solidarity with San Francisco Quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s gesture of protest against the endemic racism and often deadly force meted out by police departments across this land,” Waters wrote. “It was the third Sunday of Colin Kaepernick’s lock out by the NFL. The message was clear, ‘Shut your mouth, boy!’
“Next Sunday will be the 36th Sunday he has been locked out of your national game. This is not a victory for the NFL, it is a defeat, you have denied football fans everywhere the pleasure and the honor of watching one of the greatest quarterbacks who ever played the game, and you have shown your true colors. You can sit in your boardrooms and huff and puff on your cigars in your glass boxes, but your action is a poke in the eye for everything that is decent in America.”
Not only does Waters think Kaepernick is “one of the greatest quarterbacks who ever played the game” (the British have always proven themselves entirely resistant to understanding the game of American football, and Waters is certainly doing his country no favors in that respect), but he also says Kaepernick is an “American hero” who we’ll need to lead us if our country “is to have a future.”
And then comes his entreaty to the musical acts playing the halftime show.
“My colleagues Maroon 5, Travis Scott and Big Boi are performing during the halftime show at the Super-bowl this coming Sunday, I call upon them to ‘take a knee’ on stage in full sight,” Rogers wrote.
“I call upon them to do it in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick, to do it for every child shot to death on these mean streets, to do it for every bereaved mother and father and brother and sister,” he said. “My mother used to say to me, ‘In any situation there is nearly always a right thing to do, just do it.’
“So, there you go my brothers, you are faced with a choice, I’m not saying it will be easy, all the Presidents men, all the huffers and puffers, will be royally pissed off, but, $#@%’em, I call upon you to do it because it’s the right thing to do and because somewhere inside you know it.”
I’d like to point out that Waters’ internal compass of what’s wrong and right may be a bit off-kilter, given that he’s one of the world’s most strident BDS supporters, once displaying a pig with a Star of David on it at a concert.
He denied it was anti-Semitic: “In a functioning theocracy it is almost inevitable that the symbol of the religion becomes confused with the symbol of the state, in this case the State of Israel, a state that operates Apartheid both within its own borders and also in the territories it has occupied and colonized since 1967,” he said, according to Rolling Stone.
“The Star of David represents Israel and its policies and is legitimately subject to any and all forms of non violent protest. To peacefully protest against Israel’s racist domestic and foreign policies is NOT ANTI-SEMITIC.”
Right. Assume it isn’t. This is the problem with stars using their platforms to lecture us about politics: What do they know about these issues that those whom they’re lecturing don’t? If anything, I would say that they’re usually less informed than most of the people they’re trying to influence, but I can only go off of statements like … well, Roger Waters displaying a pig with the Star of David on it, which he went on to deny was anti-Semitic. Most everyone in the audience would understand how nonsensical that was.
I can’t speculate on what the performers Sunday will do. I can look at Roger Waters’ entreaty and realize just how pathetically wrong it was.
Kaepernick lost his starting job in San Francisco because of his performance on the field (he led the 49ers to a 3-16 record in his last two seasons) and then opted out of his contract with the team.
He then managed to become an NFL pariah by his own actions, such as wearing socks depicting police officers as pigs and having his girlfriend compare the owner of the Baltimore Ravens to a slaveowner during contract negotiations with a team.
This all happened without those rascally cigar huffers and puffers intervening.
Also, Waters didn’t take a knee for Kaep, he took it because President Trump criticized those taking a knee.
The dystopia he presents — where children are shot dead on the “mean streets,” presumably by white supremacist cops — doesn’t exist. But thanks for playing.
I doubt Roger Waters will have too much of an impact on whether Maroon 5, Big Boi or Travis Scott decides to take a knee. But the fact that any of them think they’re going to influence how we think is pure rubbish.
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