Sound Strike: The Worst Way to Show Opposition to SB 1070

Categories: Rebuttal
zach de la rocha_sized.jpg
Wikimedia Commons
Sound Strike founder Zack de la Rocha
Sound Strike, the movement in which musicians boycott Arizona as a statement of opposition to the state's anti-illegal immigrant law, SB 1070, is still going strong. As we reported in recent months, acts like Maroon 5 and My Chemical Romance, who had concerts booked in the Valley, canceled them as part of the ongoing strike. 

But other acts, like Latin rock band Los Lobos, decided to play here anyway. The band initially supported Sound Strike, but their decision to play at Talking Stick Resort on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian reservation on Cinco de Mayo and also at the Rialto Theatre in Tucson upset a lot of folks. As our colleague Stephen Lemons reported, pro-immigrant human rights organization Coalicion de Derechos Humanos declined the band's offer to have a table set up at the band's Tucson show.

Sound Strike's organizers and supporters seem adamant that the best way to make a difference in Arizona is for artists to skip the state on their tours and release statements about how shitty Arizona's politics are. I think the only way is for them to show some real brass and come here, just like Lady Gaga, Margaret Cho, Los Lobos, and countless other acts have done in spite of the strike. For an organization like Coalicion de Derechos Humanos to decline an invitation to a Los Lobos show in Arizona -- where they could have advocated for immigrant rights, educated people about the evils of SB 1070, and grown their numbers -- shows how divisive and counterproductive Sound Strike can be.

Like many music fans in Arizona, I totally disagree with SB 1070. It's oppressive and tyrannical. It is also not a voter-approved bill. It was pushed and enacted solely by state legislators. If the load of crap that is SB 1070 had been affirmed by we, the people (not wholly represented here by they, the lawmakers), I might think Sound Strike makes a real statement against racism and intolerance here. But as it is, Sound Strike does nothing but punish like-minded music fans, choke off local non-profit venues, and make artists look self-righteous. And while Sound Strike has made some strides (particularly by booking shows to raise money for awareness), it seems like there's been more finger wagging than high-fives going around lately. I think Sound Strike's approach is all wrong, and the strike is becoming a source of contention among people who mostly, when it comes down to it, share the same opposition to oppression. 

Those involved with Sound Strike seem to think it's going to have such an impact on our economy that state legislators will take notice and dump 1070. I've got news for them: that's not going to happen. Governor Jan Brewer could probably give two shits about whether or not Maroon 5 will be playing one of our arenas. Half the time, she's working too hard on things like trying to form a coherent sentence.

To the music artists who have joined Sound Strike: There's a better way for you to show your opposition to SB 1070 and raise awareness for immigrant rights. Come here and get on your platform. Stop punting from press releases and make it real.

Take a cue from Lady Gaga and comedian Margaret Cho, both of whom performed in Phoenix last year, despite continually being urged to boycott the state. During her sold-out show at US Airways Center last July, Lady Gaga told the audience, "You really think us dumb fucking pop stars are going to collapse the state economy? I'll tell you what we have to do about SB 1070: We have to be active. I will not cancel my show. I will scream and I will yell."

Margaret_Cho_2009_sized.jpg
Wikimedia Commons
Comedian Margaret Cho: "I still wanted to come, and I decided it could benefit a good cause."
​Cho did one better, donating all the proceeds from her September performance at Comerica Theatre (then Dodge Theatre) to Puente and Tonatierra, two local immigration rights groups. "A lot of people are saying 'Boycott Phoenix,'" Cho said from the stage. "I still wanted to come, and I decided it could benefit a good cause. This country was built by immigrants, for immigrants, and everybody is welcome."

That is the way to truly make a difference -- march fearlessly into a war zone, advocate, and donate to the cause. It has a lot more impact than a band simply scratching Phoenix or Tucson from its tour itinerary and releasing some statement that basically says they're too good to come play here. That's the easy way out. If bands really want to show their opposition to SB 1070, then they must come here, cross the picket line, advocate, and most importantly, put their money where their mouths are. If you don't want to help pump money into Arizona's economy, then donate all the money from your Arizona shows to the non-profit groups here that are also fighting SB 1070. Because as noble as Sound Strike may seem, I don't see it really making a difference. Arizona legislators are not taking notice, because the battle hasn't been brought here. Not enough musicians come here to raise money for pro-immigration groups and rally fans for the cause. Instead, many fans feel alienated -- a feeling that gets more pronounced as Sound Strike appears more elitist and ineffectual.

Sound Strike has received its fair share of criticism, and hasn't taken any of it very well. Salon.com recently published an article positing that the only thing Sound Strike has done is punish Arizona music fans and screw non-profit venues. They also mentioned allegations that Sound Strike founder (and former Rage Against the Machine front man) Zack de la Rocha blocked Arizona musicians and promoters from appearing on the SXSW panel on SB 1070. And former Phoenix New Times music editor Martin Cizmar, who blogged about Sound Strike many times, claims Sound Strike was blocking music journalists  -- or anyone who questioned the movement's effectiveness -- from its Facebook page.

Sound Strike project manager Javier Gonzalez vigorously defended Sound Strike in his response to the Salon.com article, mentioning that Sound Strike artists like Ozomatli and Tigres del Norte have played benefit shows to promote activism and voter registration, as well as raise aid for the victims of the Tucson shooting that seriously injured Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. Stephen Lemons wrote in New Times' Feathered Bastard blog that the arguments of those who disagreed with the Sound Strike were "pathetic, twaddling attacks."

It's a shame that somehow, it's starting to seem like anyone who disagrees with the alleged effectiveness of Sound Strike is somehow deemed the enemy, or worse, a supporter of SB 1070. That's the same kind of "You're either with us or against us" mentality George W. Bush propagated, when he was trying to justify another oppressive law, the Patriot Act.

Make no mistake: the majority of music fans in Arizona, especially those who'd buy tickets to see bands like Los Lobos or My Chemical Romance, are not supporters of SB 1070. So rather than make them feel like they're being robbed of concerts because our legislators suck, more bands need to come and mobilize fans in a real grass roots movement that could make a real difference.
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52 comments
Lily Pad2713
Lily Pad2713

This to inform you of a person living and working in the United States illegally. The names that this person assumes are as follows: Gabriela Sanchez (her niece), Karla P. Durazo (her aunt), Patty Durazo (her sister),Julieta Sanchez (her aunt), Patty Sanchez (her sister/her niece) Rocio Sanchez (her sister), Mayra Viramontes (her cousin), Karen Durazo (her cousin),Kenya Durazo (hercousin), Karina Sanchez (her cousin).All of the names assumed by her can be substantiated through her facebook account which is under the name Gabby Sanchez.Her Employer is: Dr. Larry Stark   3201 W. Peoria Ave # A-100   Phoenix, AZ 85029Her assumed Social Security # is her Aunt's Soc. Sec. # 611-32-7757 (Karla P. Durazo) who actually lives in California.She drives a pathfinder with AZ lic. # AHT4587 Her address is: 2220 W. Mission Ln. #1095 (which is in Larry Starks name /  Phoenix, AZ 85017    co-signed for)  SRP Acct # 919-863-000    (which is in Larry Starks name)Her Phone # 602-628-3116   (which is in Larry Starks name)Family Assistance Administration Case # 00564738 (Gabriela Sanchez)Dental work provided under the name Patty Sanchez. And full medical (BCBS)is paid for by Larry StarkHer sons name is Carlos Flores-Sanchez and he graduated from Cortez High School.She was raised by her Grandmother who was a whore in Mexico. This young woman makes it easier for other illegals to obtain medications includingnarcotics and evade citizenship tests through the Doctors office that she works in.Also supplying them with false identification and documentation. I am very concerned about the illegal activities (Document Fraud, Identity Theft, Conducting crimes in America) that she is involved in. Please address the above issues as soon as possible.

Concerned Citizen 

reeblite
reeblite

niki d, you're coming from the wrong angle here.  the boycotters objective is to finanacially hurt the citizens of arizona to the point where they're forced to vote brewer and republicans out.

Fight the good Fight
Fight the good Fight

Activism is more than throwing money at a problem .SS should come here and stir this place up and unite like minded people .

lakawak
lakawak like.author.displayName 1 Like

How DARE a state wantto get people who are here ILLEGALLY out ofheir state! 

AmericaInDecline
AmericaInDecline

Just like us americans to lets a problem get worse and worse and worse and when someone tries to change it they get crucified. You don't have to be the brightest bulb to realize that Illegal-Immigration is ILLEGAL. If they gave two shits about this country and wanted to help us why no get into this country legally? Our forefathers were immigrants, i have relatives that are living in this country legally that hail from Scotland and Sweden. They became citizens and they did not even consider trying to sneak into this country and leech off of it.  I come from california and have recently moved to the midwest due to these issues. california economy is tanking faster then alot of states sure, the state is a huge bureaucracy but the illegal immigration problem cripples the state beyond belief. Especially these mexican gangs that are crossing over every day, basically if you start off by sneaking into this country and not coming in by legal means you are basically stating that you dont give a damn about how we do things here, in which case i would rather you not be here. So, lets just keep letting this happen, and let people keep flooding over our borders, its all moving towards the midwest and other parts of the U.S. people that dont care about this will start too when the trouble starts knocking at their front door.

I can see no reasoning behind people arguing that laws that crackdown on illegal immigration are cruel. Get real if they don't respect the land they are trying to get into  enough to get in legally, i will be blunt....fuck them.

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

 Weren't "our forefathers" /also/ illegal immigrants?

AmericaInDecline
AmericaInDecline

Did you even read before you posted? I mention this, and i do it very bluntly. Yes they were immigrants, no one can debate otherwise. The point of this since you dont like to read obviously is that there is a right way and a wrong way to get into this country and if you are doing it the wrong way i have no pity for you when you get picked up.

Im guessing you just posted your 1 sentence so you can hit the facebook "Like" button to glorify yourself.

undfined
undfined

Please come to AZ so we can rally the troops and keep the movement moving.  Our little left party here is under supported and overwhelmed.  For the sake of jobs, business, and reasonable politics - please don't desert us.  We need you.

Lindaray64
Lindaray64

 HERE, though, are the only two things that matter: Russel Pierce was NOT elected by ARizona voters. Russel Pierce was elected by MESA voters, only; and they're *this* close, to recalling his ass. If SS really wanted to help, they'd get all their artists to Mesa tomorrow for a fundraiser and education event to make that happen. Which brings us to the other thing that matters: SS whole premise to its followers is a ruse of sorts. There is absolutely nothing that can be done outside the courts about SB1070. "NO SB1070" fits on a bumper sticker, though, and from what I've read of SS rallying cries and their followers' responses, nobody connected with them is a fan of nuance. If SS wants to really influence the quality of life of people of color in this state, they need to learn something about how to make that happen; and they need to give their followers some credit for being able to handle complex truths.

Lindaray64
Lindaray64

 To clarify, it could be extremely damaging for the enemies of ethnic studies, for instance, to associate the rhetoric on the SS website, FB page and Twitter. There is nothing like that sort of hate speech and divisiveness in ethnic studies classes. I challenge SS to teach this to all the followers of its pre-packaged, easy-swallow BS: "“You are my other me. If I do harm to you, I do harm to myself. If I love and respect you, I love and respect myself.” Respect yourself. Use your power for good. Mobilize your artists to come here and fight with us.

Lindaray64
Lindaray64

 Just a big ole hug from your sistah down south, Niki. You are spot on. Ignore the bs and intimidation. Keep it up. And if you want more meat, talk to the immigrants rights groups down hear who agree with you--which would be all of them except Derechos. Zach is a blind elephant in a china shop, and to my mind, Sound Strike's motives are suspect until they also boycott Georgia and Texas, and the remunerative venues they represent. It's easy for people to boycott venues they don't play, or don't care to play in the summer. And signing up for a boycott is as easy and mindless as poking a facebook button. More, many more, musicians need to give up their smug righteousness and get busy--as you said, educating voters and making them fearless. And PS, Javier, it is not helpful to be investing so much energy in publicly excoriating allies to the cause, including "whiteys" who've been fighting for civil rights for half a century. Mind your followers. You created them; you are responsible for the impression they make in your name. As long as you're going to continue to delete comments from your FB and Twitter pages, delete some of the ones who actually are spouting piggish racist thuggery.

MfB
MfB

Nikki, I have hated you since you started writing for The New Times... However, this article addresses an issue and a point of view that I have shared for a long time.

Catfishmustache
Catfishmustache

 sound strike artists are to changing laws as chewing bubblegum is to solving complicated algebra equations

Catfishmustache
Catfishmustache

Arguing with any soundstrike advocate is like yelling at a brick wall. They just don't get it. What good does it do to have a benefit show in some state like Nebraska or any other state other than Arizona? Half of those people at out-of-state shows probably don't give a shit about the laws in AZ and the other half aren't able to vote in AZ in order to change anything, so.... big whoop if you raised money for a good cause. What needs to be done is raise awareness to the people who can actually vote here and get racist lawmakers out of office. That is essentially the root of the problem. Isn't that where any kind of campaign like this should start? at the root?

Pblrdom
Pblrdom

 I hope people boycott Phoenix.... Less traffic!!!!

Connor
Connor

Great writing and thoughtful points. Fantastic work, as always, Niki! 

Hotchman
Hotchman

HERE HERE NIKI! Exactly the same thing I have been saying all along! 

Bob
Bob

Good article.  The only people being hurt by this boycott are the fans, the people who work the shows, and no one else.  Nobody outside of the non-existent Arizona music scene even knows about it or cares. 

Javgonz
Javgonz

No one has ever stopped or worked to stop a benefit or Free show. In fact, Jackson Brown did a benefit show for the victims of the victims of the horrible January shooting in Tucson. The Sound Strike has in fact supported several free shows in Arizona at rallies and community events.

It is my opinion that the critiques of the Sound Strike come from four camps: 1) supporters of SB 1070, 2) Closet supporters of SB 1070 who fear criticism from the Liberal Music industry, and 3) Arizona based music industry professionals who see no need to sacrifice the commercial element of their shows while opposing SB 1070, and 4) Music Industry Professionals who see an opportunity to advance their careers by attempting to operate within a niche of anti-sb 1070 Artists.

As we have always said, NO ONE IS OPPOSING FREE OR BENEFIT SHOWS IN ARIZONA. So do one. I think Margerette Cho donated $20,000. The Rage show in LA raised over $300,000. The Conor Oberst show raised over $50,000 in Nebraska.

Hey Arizona based music industry professionals, "What are you waiting for?"

PS How much did the Los Lobos show raise? Cacahuates!

Niki_DAndrea
Niki_DAndrea

I do not fall into any of your "four camps" of critics, Javier. But that sort of categorizing is exactly the "with us or against us" attitude I'm talking about in the second-to-last paragraph of this blog. I am with you in being against SB 1070. I simply doubt the effectiveness of Sound Strike's approach. To say that the latter negates the former is narrow, illogical, and divisive.

Javgonz
Javgonz

So your politics are not what you do, but rather what you say?

Niki_DAndrea
Niki_DAndrea

 My politics are both, but I do believe that words are moot without action -- which is precisely why I'm saying that instead of bickering about who's doing more than who, there should be a concerted effort. And Arizona is the best place to make that effort. If Sound Strike wanted to come here, or organize shows, or support shows others have organized, there might be more support for Sound Strike. Instead, everybody has taken to making would-be allies "the other."

Javgonz
Javgonz

Again, folks never talk about WHAT THEY do, they only say, "I am against SB1070." As a wise man once said, "they talk about you when your relevant"

Hotchman
Hotchman

 I am not a music industry professional and I sure as hell am not a supporter of SB1070. I love music!Why do you have to put classifications on it anyway? I have not seen a single "Music Industry Professional" that was trying to advance his or her career but I have seen a ton who have hopes of saving their career because this boycott has hurt them and not the state as intended. And isn't this a way to grab some press for SoundStrike too? Nobody is really an altruist here. By being so much in the forefront the leaders of Sound Strike get publicity themselves which they need. If you didn't care about the press you wouldn't have your name out there.

Why not organize a benefit show with only Sound Strike artists playing and have it in Phoenix or Tuscon or on a Reservation? Man talk about great press you could say "See how much revenue we can bring to the state with these artists? But instead AZ, it is all going to fund soundstrike!" How great would that be? Or you could convince the voters in the middle and on the left that didn't vote in the last election to vote out the people that passed this law. Hmmm, action on the ground that does something like register voters and change votes. Radical idea man!

Lindaray64
Lindaray64

Just incidentally, the Sound Strike is requiring its artists to boycott the AVA which is owned and operated by the Yaqui nation on Yaqui land. How does that even make sense? 

StephenLemons
StephenLemons

There have been talks. That's all I can say.

Daniel Gibson
Daniel Gibson

I'm almost certain that your position on "free or benefit shows" has changed, Javier (after all, the Los Tigres show was neither free nor a benefit, right?), but I'll take you at your word.

For what it's worth, I fall into none of the four groups you mention, nor do a number of the people I know you've personally disagreed with, but you're entitled to your perception.

StephenLemons
StephenLemons

Well, I think you know my views on this, Niki. As I've said before, SB 1070 is the symptom, not the disease itself. The disease is the vicious nativism that drives politics in Arizona. A situation that pre-dates 1070.

Zack de la Rocha was in Phoenix, leading marches against Sheriff Joe's raids, giving money to activist groups, and raising awareness, a long time before 1070 became law, and before music critics were opining on immigration issues.

Couple of points: Derechos Humanos declined the offer to put up a table at the Rialto in Tucson, where Los Lobos also played recently. Not at Talking Stick, though Los Lobos played there too.

Re: your line that 1070 was "not a voter-approved bill. It was pushed and enacted solely by state legislators." Who do you think elected those state legislators, Niki? Not you and I, but the majority. Just as the majority of those who voted, voted for Brewer.

Concerning the efficacy of Sound Strike, I'll say this: Sound Strike is part of the boycott of Arizona over 1070, and that boycott has been effective. Five anti-immigrant bills were shot down in the state Senate largely because the Phoenix and Arizona chambers of commerce got off the dime and opposed the bills. Ditto scores of CEOs and business owners. On 1070, they had been neutral.

Why did they get off the dime? The impact of the boycott, pure and simple.

I anticipate that you'll say that legislators don't care about what rock stars do. Yes and no. Gaga played the US Airways Center, yes? Would there have been an economic impact if Gaga had boycotted? Absolutely.

(It's interesting to note that one of the CEOs who signed a letter against those five bills I mentioned was the CEO of US Airways. Just an aside.)

You give short shrift to Sound Strike's philanthropy. The concert you mentioned raised $300K. (That's the benefit concert RATM and Conor Oberst did last year.) That money has gone to groups such as Derechos, the Florence Project, Puente, UNIDOS, and others. And it's not just that $300K. De la Rocha and the Sound Strike have been overly generous in Arizona. This past Christmas, Sound Strike passed out tons of food and 2000 toys to deserving children and families.

Have Cho and Gaga and Los Lobos done anything close to that here in Arizona? Maybe they have. I'd be curious to find out.

Basically it comes down to this: Yes, we may be on the same side, but there is one faction that is walking the walk, and there is another faction that's pissed off it can't go see Maroon 5 or Steve Earle. Sorry, my allegiance is with the former.

(BTW, I should add that I'm not dissing Cho, just pointing out that no one can match the Sound Strike on what it's done. Sound Strike's bona fides are established, and then some.)

Arizona's Politics
Arizona's Politics

VERY timely discussion, Niki, Stephen, and all.  Carlos Santana's remarks Saturday and Sunday at MLB's Civil Rights are going to kick it to a new level.  I've aggregated all of the video and comments that I could, transcribed some of the the soft-spoken legend's comments, and made my own commentary, here (http://bit.ly/k94zpU) and here (http://bit.ly/jBjzDf), respectively.

NOTE that Santana is scheduled to play both Phoenix and Tucson in September!

Niki_DAndrea
Niki_DAndrea

Thanks for the clarification on the Los Lobos shows, Stephen. I did change the blog to reflect that Dereches Humanos refused the table at the Tucson show, not Talking Stick.

As to your other points, I still maintain the boycott has not been as effective as it could be. Hats off to de la Rocha and Conor Oberst for raising $300K for the cause -- but this is a prime example of precisely the kind of direct action that we need. We need more shows like that here to raise money and awareness, not less.

I haven't seen any proof that Sound Strike directly impacted the five anti-illegal immigration bills that were shot down. But it's great the bills didn't fly, regardless of what the stopper was.

I'll agree that "the majority" elected Russell Pearce and the rest of the crap pack we currently have in office. But I'd also argue that that "majority" is more likely to go see acts that have not joined the boycott (Ted Nugent, Toby Keith, etc.), rather than those who have. Somebody who's a fan of Pearce or Brewer is probably not a fan of Maroon 5 or Los Lobos. So again, it comes back to who is really suffering from this boycott. 

StephenLemons
StephenLemons

 "So again, it comes back to who is really suffering from this boycott." I wouldn't equate not being able to see Maroon 5 as "suffering," Niki. If you want some real suffering, talk to the mothers who've been imprisoned because of the sweeps or the children of the deported. I have.

The kvetches of the music critics don't hold a dime to that, I'm afraid.

"We need more shows like that here to raise money and awareness, not less."

Good idea! Get to organizing.

Lindaray64
Lindaray64

oh please. nobody is suffering for not seeing maroon 5 or anybody else. the very least suffering people are any people at all who could do anything about the political situation with the legislature. The problem is not that anybody cares. . . .and *that's* the problem. That's exactly why we need politically active and, preferably, politically astute artists to be acting like something other than blunt instruments at a whack-a-mole to get their buts and their gear over here to raise awareness and activate their fans. Have you SS people gotten all your followers on the streets of Mesa yet getting signatures for that Pearce recall??

guitarduane
guitarduane

 I don't understand this mentality of the Sound Strike; Get to organizing, but everyone should be boycotting AZ.  If bands don't come play AZ, what is there to organize?

I'd also be curious to learn how much MORE Sound Strike artist could have raised for the cause by actually playing in AZ.  Not only in dollars, but in awareness where it is needed, in the state of AZ.

Niki Dandrea
Niki Dandrea

I meant music fans, the music scene, and the music community were "suffering," not that people are suffering specifically for the lack of a Maroon 5 show. But I chuckled at the notion. And I haven't made any comparisons as far as music fans suffering more than immigrants, or anybody else for that matter. I fail to see how not supporting Sound Strike can be equated with supporting the suffering of immigrants. I maintain it's possible to oppose BOTH SB 1070 and the Sound Strike.

trevorthelionhearted
trevorthelionhearted

I am against the Sound Strike because I'm pissed I couldn't see Maroon 5!!! Adam Levine is clearly a specimen of a human being, and the fact that the Sound Strike is keeping such a beautiful, talented, smart, and vivacious person out of our state just because some civil rights are being threatened is a damn shame.

Daniel Gibson
Daniel Gibson

"Basically it comes down to this: Yes, we may be on the same side, but there is one faction that is walking the walk, and there is another faction that's pissed off it can't go see Maroon 5 or Steve Earle. Sorry, my allegiance is with the former."

You keep saying this, but it's factually untrue. Sure, there are people upset about the boycott who haven't done anything, but people like Charlie Levy and the management of the Rialto have done quite a bit to fight faulty immigration policy and the people who promote it. On the other hand, there are many people affiliated with the Sound Strike who haven't done anything to fight injustice other than just not play Arizona. I don't remember Adam Levine speaking out other than quickly dropping a show on their lineup, I don't remember him registering voters, I don't see him in Mesa attempting to recall Russell Pearce, but I know plenty of people who oppose the Sound Strike who are doing just that.

You have all the right in the world to support what Javier, Zach and the Sound Strike are doing, just as people have a right to oppose both 1070 and boycott tactics that are doing more harm than good. Frankly, I don't think the Sound Strike has done itself any favor by resorting to name calling or trying to shut down disagreement with their cause, and you aren't really helping by resorting to falsely broad characterizations.

Lindaray64
Lindaray64

Just FYI: I'm not pissed off that I can't go see Steve Earle. I have seen Steve Earle plenty enough for one lifetime, which is a good thing because I sure have no intention of ever seeing him again.  I'm pissed off at Steve Earle for not taking the lead in the fight against the attack on Mexicans. He's from *Texas* for crying out loud. He knows the score. Instead, he does this ill-considered "sure, I'll boycott. Why not" thing and effectively takes himself out of the game. I've always given him some credit for street wisdom. Fail.

StephenLemons
StephenLemons

 I haven't seen you down in Mesa, yet, Dan. But maybe I missed you.

"...but people like Charlie Levy and the management of the Rialto have done quite a bit to fight faulty immigration policy and the people who promote it. "

Evidence? And more than words, Dan. If they've come close to 10% of what Sound Strike's done in this state, I'll be surprised.

So, surprise me...

Benjo Widwitz
Benjo Widwitz

i don't think there's a "competition," but you can definitely quantify some things.  and trying to hold arizona's artistic community accountable to its rhetoric isn't the same as a "lazy generalization."  i am having a hard time thinking of any major contributions to the immigrant rights movement made by commercially successful artists in arizona outside of calexico.  there have been plenty of smaller shows and benefits, but nothing internally organized has come close to giving arizona organizations the resources that the soundstrike has.

i feel like there is a double standard arising here out of defensiveness.  supporters of the boycott are expected to accept the fact that people who don't support the boycott don't necessarily support SB 1070 (and everyone important does realize this).

meanwhile, people who oppose the boycott seem unable to admit the fact that the boycott has had some positive byproducts (many of which are indisputable, and mentioned by Lemons above).  they complain about being lumped into one category while radically simplifying the goal of the soundstrike, assuming that the organizers are naive enough to think that the soundstrike alone will end the racist policies of arizona's legislature.

boycott-detractors then bristle when asked to cite real results from "awareness-raising" efforts even as they denigrate the tangible benefits of Sound Strike's out-of-state benefit shows - the money for which will go to awareness-raising, legal aid, and voter registration anyway!

i don't even know where i stand on the issue.  i don't care, really.  if somebody is using their time to do something positive for the suffering undocumented workers of arizona, that's all that really matters. clearly, the organizers and participants of the soundstrike are reacting to a fucked up climate in a way that they think is morally appropriate, and opponents of the boycott think there is a better way to address that climate. excluding the cynical attention grabbers on the fringes of both sides, i think there's room in the pro-migrant movement for both.

Daniel Gibson
Daniel Gibson

Is there a competition? I understand your case for the Sound Strike and I think you've made a better case for their work than they have themselves, but you're clearly not going to back down on the rhetoric of stating that anyone who isn't support an artist boycott must be doing nothing. That's a lazy generalization and I assume you're smarter than having to resort to it.

The essence of my point is and has been this: if Rage Against the Machine played a show in Arizona (on a reservation, if they chose to) in which they raised money for the recall and for GOTV efforts in the next election cycle while registering voters that would be far more effective than a boycott in which most of the artists who signed up aren't even actively touring.

Just look at the numbers: if Latinos in Pearce's district and others were registered and voting, the Legislature and the Governor's Office would look far different. Instead, maybe the tide will turn and moderate Arizonans will pick a few slightly less radically conservative officeholders and things will sway slightly in the other direction, but the population that is under-served and under-represented now will stay that way. I understand the sentiment of the Sound Strike, I just don't see the long term gains from their strategy.

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