In case you are not up on your country’s news, last week Arizona signed into law the nation’s toughest bill on illegal immigration. Its aim is to identify, prosecute and deport illegal immigrants by making the failure to carry immigration documents a crime and giving the police broad power to detain anyone suspected of being in the country illegally (read more here). As politicans and citizens weigh in on this issue, a few musicians have also engaged themselves in the debate, as well as formulating the proper means of political dissent.
Today the music website Pitchfork reported the following:
As you may have heard, frontman Damian Abraham [of the band Fucked Up] spent a pretty good chunk of yesterday on his Twitter, debating fellow Canadian indie types Stars about the proper response to Arizona’s massively controversial and possibly unconstitutional new immigration law. When Stars announced that they’d boycott the state until the law is repealed, Abraham responded that there were better ways to express dissent. Later, he elaborated: “Why not keep playing Arizona, using the shows as an opportunity to engage the people there to get involved (they are the ones after all capable to affecting change in the state), use press ops before the show to talk about what is going on in the local media, donate some of the guarantee to nomoredeaths.org or other such groups that work on the front lines fighting draconian immigration laws…. hell even get them to table at the show.”
These musicians are taking to twitter in order to defend their position and so far here are some of the highlights:
Stars (@montrealstars) –
- “just heard Fucked Up don’t support a boycott of AZ. um…one of them has a job on fox news…so..yeah….we all have a voice! lets use it!”
- “boycotts work for many reasons . one of which is they incite discussion and debate and thought….its not about our shitty pop band……. “
- “so props to Fucked Up for taking up the argument but of course stars wont change anything….but TOGETHER people can change the world…”
Damian Abraham (@leftfordamian) –
- “Don’t get me wrong, I think the AZ immigration bill is horrible and must be repealed but I also think that indie bands boycotting the state is inane. Do Stars honestly think that by denying the state their brand of dreamy pop that they’re going to force the governor’s hand? All this does is not give the people that like your band enough credit and assumes that they are in someway supportive of the bill. Mind you, if you are Nickleback and a fan base of those types of douche bags then boycotting is a good strategy.”
- “Why not keep playing Arizona, using the shows as an opportunity to engage the people there to get involved (they are the ones after all capable to affecting change in the state), use press ops before the show to talk about what is going on in the local media, donate some of the guarantee to nomoredeaths.org or other such groups that work on the front lines fighting draconian immigration laws…. hell even get them to table at the show.”
Ultimately, I believe I side with Abraham. This is a large political issue to tackle that requires changing peoples opinions as well as activism. While Stars may moblize some of their fans to repeal this law by boycotting playing in AZ, presumably either because they want the band to come back to their state or they will care about the issue because Stars cares about the issue, they will not be able to change widespread opinion.
However, Abraham’s argument that you can “[use] the shows as an opportunity to engage the people there to get involved” seems far more effective and impactful. Concerts staged for causes are a great opportunity to raise awareness and money. In June 1996, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Rage Against the Machine and many other musicians came together for a Tibetan Freedom Concert in San Fransisco. The event drew 100,000 people and raised over $800,000 for Tibetan and social justice causes. If Stars cares deeply about this issue, I believe that the cause would be better served if they try to band together with musicans for social change.