Music News

Rage against Zack de la Rocha's Arizona boycott

Zack de la Rocha's never been prim about his political leanings. In fact, that's always been the whole point: Since Rage Against the Machine was named, well, Rage Against the Machine, up to the time De la Rocha left the band to devote more time to pursuing social justice in the Chiapas in Mexico, the man's always been activist first, musician second.

So it's no surprise he's spearheading a concert series to protest Arizona's notorious SB 1070 (the law that requires police to verify a person's legal status if there is "reasonable suspicion" that person is here illegally), as he told Billboard yesterday.

In fact, De la Rocha's been organizing an artists' boycott of the entire state--an effort he's calling Sound Strike--for some months now. And some of the artists involved in that effort--including De la Rocha--well, we don't get what they're trying to do.

The dude's political drive is impressive, but the effectiveness of a handful of bands boycotting a state is pretty questionable. Especially if they're bands with little history of promoting any social justice causes other than bong rips. Like Cypress Hill. Really? Sen Dog's weed plant may be "higher than the telephone pole," but we're guessing his failure to appear in the Grand Canyon State is not going to carry a whole lot of traction, even if he is Hispanic. And while Arizona Governor Jan Brewer may miss Maroon 5's rousing live renditions of "She Will Be Loved," she can probably go on maintaining a fairly high quality of life without them.

It's a well-meaning effort, sure, but it's misguided. De la Rocha told Billboard that the nature of the boycott was "its attempts to isolate the Arizona government but not isolate the people, and especially the organizations that are fighting this on the ground," but in reality the people of the state are the only ones affected. Governments just aren't going to feel the impact of not having "Fuck you Gently" performed in the state--but Tenacious D's fans will, and they will feel it until the law is repealed, according to the terms of the boycott, whether they like the law or not.

If they really want to get something done, these bands will break the boycott. They'll perform every show of this upcoming concert series in the very state they're refusing to perform in: Arizona. Because if anyone's going to do anything about Arizona SB 1070, it's Arizona voters. And if it's Arizona voters they want to reach, if it's Arizona voters they want to pump up and get passionate about rejecting this law, then Arizona is the place to reach them.