Comfortably Dumb: Roger Waters And The BDS
October 24, 2013
By Dr. David Lazerson
Someone once described that initial entry into the harsh realities of adulthood as the time one first realizes that our childhood heroes are, in fact, fallible. Like a zillion other adolescents, I was star-struck by the great Mickey Mantle. Knowing that he kept playing ball (and hitting those monster homeruns) with so much pain in his body only added to the MM mystique. It was mighty tough for me to acknowledge that the Mick had a serious problem with alcoholism. I desperately clung to the notion that my heroes were supposed to above these lowly human weaknesses.
Today's culture is one of media created superstars, from athletes to actors & actresses to rock stars. In the ever constant and growing world of social media, we're bombarded with their images, movements, songs, thoughts, and actions both on and off the playing field. We shouldn't be fooled into thinking that idol worship bit the dust when a young Abraham smashed his father's stone deities in those primitive Biblical times. It's alive and well in today's "enlightened" culture of the Twitter twilight zone. We even have a blockbuster show that unashamedly calls itself American Idol. We invest lots of emotional energy and lots of money into our superstars of today. Unfortunately, like my childhood hero The Mick, all too often these idols screw up royally. Sometimes when facing these incredibly difficult situations, the real hero emerges. It probably took more effort than playing ball with all that pain, but Mantle did overcome his alcoholism and eventually made peace with his family and fans.
But when a superstar abuses his or her position of power to espouse ignorance and hatred, it's high time to knock this star out of the sky. There's an old saying that goes something like "when you point a finger at someone, you're actually pointing three at yourself." Roger Waters, former guitarist for the super group Pink Floyd, seems to be using both hands in his recent call for a boycott, divestment, & sanctions (BDS) from Israel – which makes six fingers staring himself in the face.
Perhaps he's taken Floyd's hit song Comfortably Numb too literally and with his ever-dulled cerebral cortex might now be referred to as Comfortably Dumb. The ever-present vibe within the rock and roll world is often categorized as peace, love & happiness. So let's give Waters the benefit of the doubt and state from the get-go that he means well. He's a victim of the same media negative bombardment of Israel as the rest of the planet. But Waters put the proverbial foot in his mouth when he reached out to his fellow rockers describing Israel as an "apartheid" country that practices ethnic cleansing of the unfortunate, so-called Palestinians.
My guess is that he's never stepped foot in the holy land and observed things with his own perspective. C'mon folks. Rock stars are supposed to be living the individualistic lifestyle and advocating anything but, as Einstein put it, the "herd mentality." Seeing is believing and well, he'd be in for some huge eye-awakening experiences. For a trip to the Middle East would reveal that it is not Israel that practices ethnic cleansing but rather the Palestinians and other Muslim groups that not only refuse to live with Jews, Christians, and other "infidels," but even more revealing, can't even peacefully co-exist with other Arab & Muslim factions. Shiites bomb Sunni homes, mosques, markets, and murder innocent civilians. Sunnis do the same to Shiites. Wahhabis try to get rid of both Shiites and Sunnis. Al-Qaeda seems not to really care who they go after with violence and terror. And the list goes on and on.
Meanwhile in Israel, the Floyd guitarist would find things much differently. Pardon the expression, but he'd find clearer waters. There he'd see and experience a lot that would dispel his clouded, misguided perceptions. He'd find that Arabs can live, work, and play where they want to in Israel. If he visits the Knesset, the Israeli version of the US Congress, he'd see that Arabs serve in the government and are free to challenge Israeli law – which, by the way, they often do. He'd see neighborhoods that, despite the negative portrayals in mainstream media, consist of both Arabs & Israelis. If Waters went to an Israeli professional basketball, soccer, or baseball game, he'd see that there are a variety of ethnic groups, including Arabs, represented on the teams. If he attended a concert in Israel, chances are quite good that he'd hear sweet sounds being made by a diverse group of musicians.
Waters would do a whole lot better if he put his star power to protesting the mass killings in Syria (over 100,000) in the past year. That war is ongoing and is not between Jews & Muslims, or Israelis & Arabs. No, there it's – as in many other Arabic countries, it's between one sect of Muslims versus another sect of Muslims. At least in these circumstances Waters wouldn't seem like a hater who espouses lies or, at best, comfortably dumb.
Either way, it's time for all intelligent and open-minded folks to give "muddy Waters" a taste of his own medicine. Rip those Floyd posters off your walls. Turn to a different channel when his music comes on. Until Waters changes his tune, we should all give the former (& fallen) superstar the cold shoulder and yeah, a bitter taste of some Waters/Floyd BDS.