Oppose the State Department’s slanders against Roger Waters!

David Walsh 08/06/2023 – https://www.wsws.org/

The slanders against Roger Waters are pouring down like Niagara. The musician-activist has come under attack because of his opposition to the US-led war in Ukraine, his criticism of the Israeli government’s treatment of the Palestinians and his staunchly anti-establishment political views as a whole. The ruling elites through their corrupt media outlets are attempting to destroy Waters and intimidate other artists, performers and intellectuals from speaking out. This is a desperate and systematic attack on freedom of speech and artistic expression.

The Biden administration weighed in on Tuesday. The US State Department asserted in an unsigned email that Waters had “a long track record of using antisemitic tropes” and that a recent concert in Germany “contained imagery that is deeply offensive to Jewish people and minimized the Holocaust.”

Standing ovation for Waters in Frankfurt, Germany

The email was a written follow-up to pointed questions posed Monday at a State Department briefing. A journalist asked a befuddled and unprepared State Department spokesman whether the Biden administration concurred with the “incredible distortion” involved in comments made about Waters by Deborah Lipstadt, the US Special Envoy to Combat Antisemitism.

Lipstadt, for her part, had expressed agreement with the remark of the European Commission’s Katharina von Schnurbein, who claimed there was nothing “more antisemitic than using Anne Frank as a prop on a German stage while prancing around in a Nazi uniform attacking Jews.” Lipstadt ignorantly condemned Waters “and his despicable Holocaust distortion.”

Of course, as any honest person—or anyone who cares to find out—knows, Waters has been performing a version of his anti-authoritarian The Wall for 40 years, including a portion where he impersonates a fascistic type who attacks “queers” and “reds” and “Jews” and threatens to kill them all. The theatrical work is a ferocious, satirical attack on bigotry, racism, antisemitism and anticommunism.

In the effort to destroy Waters, however, no distortion or lie is too base or absurd.

The mud-slinging performs an important political function and needs to be examined and countered.

The US State Department, with all its vast resources and deadly power, has now given its official seal of approval to the claims of antisemitism against Waters. This a most serious warning. The example of Julian Assange should not be lost on anyone.

The hypocrisy stinks to high heaven. It is impossible here to go through the history of this executive agency and its friendly relations with military dictatorships, fascist and semi-fascist regimes, many of them officially associated with antisemitism or racism, including that of Franco in Spain and Salazar in Portugal, apartheid South Africa, “white terror” governments in Taiwan and South Korea, innumerable homicidal regimes in South and Central America—the list is too extensive.

Simply focusing on the present, the Biden administration is financing and directing a war against Russia in alliance with the fascist-infested Ukrainian state and military. It is not even entirely appropriate to speak of “neo-Nazis”—in many cases, these are people who see an unbroken line of continuity between themselves and the Nazi accomplices of Stepan Bandera’s Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) and its ilk.

Lipstadt earned respect and fame by opposing Holocaust deniers such as David Irving, defeating his libel suit in an English court in 2000. Moreover, Lipstadt condemned German historian and Hitler apologist Ernst Nolte, who first attempted to rehabilitate Nazism during the 1980s, claiming that its historic crimes were an understandable response to the barbarism of Bolshevism in the USSR.

But today Lipstadt is a wholehearted supporter of the US-NATO war against Russia.

Her evolution exemplifies the foul betrayal by an entire social layer of their previous scholarship and principles. They are all engaged in the trivialization and legitimization of the fascists who perpetrated the Holocaust.

Lipstadt finds herself in alliance with figures defending the Ukraine war, which Waters opposes, who use Nolte’s arguments, couched a little more carefully. For example, Paul Krugman of the New York Times, who, as the WSWS put it yesterday, now argues that “anything that the OUN did in World War II was the entirely understandable response of Ukrainian freedom fighters to Soviet oppression.” Krugman “resurrects the historical falsifications of the right-wing apologists of German Nazism.”

Logic flies out the window, because as Leon Trotsky argued, “when people seek long, especially if they are armed with power, they find something in the end. … When it comes to a threat against their material interests, the educated classes set in motion all the prejudices and confusion which humanity is dragging in its wagon-train behind it.”

Roger Waters has become the victim of a media lynching because his hostility to the powers that be resonates with millions of people, especially young people. He is one of the few of his generation who has not betrayed, in the words of American Trotskyist leader James P. Cannon, “the artist’s sacred duty to hold the mirror up to life and reflect it truly.”

Waters refers in a recent video statement to the “scum” who are trying to get his upcoming concerts in Britain banned. “It’s insane,” Waters explains. “If we shout the lie loud enough, ‘Roger Waters is an antisemite,’ we’ll be all right. We’ll get people to believe it.’ Vilify him destroy him. … Repeat your lie, it remains a vicious lie.” The musician acknowledges, however, that “I’m really upset … beyond all measure” by the smears, which are “deeply, deeply insulting.”