Sound Strike Responds To One-Sided Salon.com Article (w/Update)

When I read the recent Salon.com article "How a boycott meant to save Arizona is hurting it," I wondered to myself how its author, a woman by the name of Drew Grant, ended up writing such an insipid, one-sided piece about the Sound Strike, a piece that's essentially a Q & A with Rialto-general manager Curtis McCrary of Tucson.

Then I read Grant's bio on Salon:

"Drew Grant is a pop culture consumer and producer with a specialty in fan fiction. She majored in comic books at Oberlin College, where she once taught a class on `Twin Peaks' a decade after the show ended....She lives in Brooklyn and hopes to one day buy her own TV."

Say no more. 

Music fans are suffering according to Grant and McCrary. Well, bestill my aching liver. The pair should explain their alt-music angst to the Hispanic families that have fled Arizona because of Senate Bill 1070, or the kids whose parents don't come home at night because they were caught up in Sheriff Joe Arpaio's anti-immigrant raids and sweeps. And then there are those who've suffered severe injury at the hands of the U.S. Border Patrol.

Surely those who die of thirst crossing the Sonoran Desert will feel the agony of all those iPod-bearers who won't be able to see their fave indie acts while sipping on a delicious micro-brew. 

Maybe the immigrant woman whose arm was broken while in MCSO custody will shed a tear for them. The undocumented lady who got her jaw busted during one of Arpaio's operations? Perhaps she could do a fundraiser for these lame-sters.

Sorry, I have little patience with all this petulant kvetching coming from folks whose main dilemma in life is figuring out which to do first: download a Kings of Leon album, or catch the latest gossip on the FB.

A couple of days ago, I wrote a blog post, pointing out why the boycott (including Sound Strike) has worked, detailing the good deeds Zack de la Rocha and Sound Strike have done here in Sand Land, both before and after 1070 became law.

So I'm not going to rehash all that here.

Rather, I'm going to direct you to Sound Strike's project manager Javier Gonzalez's rebuttal in Salon to the Grant piece. Gonzalez points out, much as I did in my recent post, that Sound Strike has been an important part of the boycott, which has enjoyed some recent victories. He also mentions the positive things the Sound Strike has done for immigrants and poor families here in Sand Land.

Gonzalez writes:

In December of last year Zack de la Rocha and Girl in a Coma participated in a toy and food drive across the state. Over 40 tons of food and 2,000 toys were donated, and Girl in a Coma performed a free show in Phoenix. Just recently, Sound Strike artists Ozomatli performed at a benefit show organized by Jackson Browne for the victims of the January shooting in Tucson where six people were killed and Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was almost killed. Tigres del Norte are playing a free show at the Pima County Fair this Saturday to promote activism and voter registration. Conor Oberst did a benefit show in Nebraska to fight a similar hate bill.

In July of last year Conor Oberst and Rage Against the Machine did a benefit show in Los Angeles in which over $300,000 was raised and donated. Since then many artists have donated time, money and lent their voice to the cause of immigrant justice. Since the Sound Strike launch, close to four million people have visited our website and over 4,000 articles regarding the stance artists were taking have been published in print or online.

In fact, Gonzalez tells me that the more the haters whine and blog and Tweet, the more support rolls in for the Sound Strike. I can believe it, as these pathetic, twaddling attacks on the boycott have an emetic effect.

Gonzalez also makes an important point about those wishing to hold benefit concerts in Arizona while honoring the spirit of the boycott.

"Anyone is welcome to promote benefit shows or free shows to raise awareness and needed funds for local groups," writes Gonzalez. "To their credit, many have. We hope to engage in sincere offers. If not, we are in discussions with several acts for a fall show. In the meantime, on behalf of the Sounds Strike we repeat a line that our critics conveniently leave out: This is a boycott of COMMERCIAL shows in Arizona."

A boycott is a time-honored tactic in the history of social-justice movements. There were the boycotts during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. The Cesar Chavez-led boycott against California grapes. The divestment movement against the apartheid regime in South Africa in the 1980s. And the successful boycott of Arizona in the early 1990s over no-holiday for Martin Luther King, Jr.

A "strike," a "boycott" of an employer or employers by workers, is older still.

When the history of this time is recalled, Sound Strike will be written about as part of a larger movement that was ultimately triumphant.

The complainers, the fault-finders, the quibblers? They will be noted as being on the wrong side of history. Apparently, it really burns them up.

One last comment, McCrary's contention that the Sound Strike is responsible for the ascension of Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne to power reveals the well of ignorance we're dealing with here. Why not blame Zack de la Rocha for Arizona's arid climate, or the fact it's a red state and the sun came up this morning?

The more McCrary pouts, throws stones, bemoans his fate and blames Sound Strike for everything but his failure to hit Lotto, the less sympathy I have for the struggles of the Rialto, which are nothing by comparison to struggles of the undocumented in this state.

Postscript: Had a frank discussion with Mr. McCrary after I got off deadline for the day. We disagree on several points, but, if he's sincere, there may be grounds for some sort of an agreement between him and Sound Strike. McCrary and Gonzalez will have to hammer it out. Or not, as the case may be.

I'd hate to see a place like the Rialto go under. That would be a shame. However, as I've stated before, and I'll state it here again, 1070 was the symptom, not the disease. The war on ethnic studies, Russell Pearce, the feds' Operation Streamline, etc., are all part and parcel of the sickness of nativism that has laid waste to Arizona.

Playing doctor, there have been encouraging signs in the patient of late. But the cancer is not in remission, and I'd like to see the chemo continue full blast until it is.

Here's hoping McCrary and Gonzalez can smoke the peace pipe. But if they do not, I will continue to support the people who are speaking out against injustice and helping Arizona's immigrants, whoever they may be.

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