Last week. this blog ran a five-part series of posts all about the MDL Beast Soundstorm festival being held in the Saudi Arabian capital of Riyadh in a few weeks time. As anyone who read it might possibly have noticed, I’m not best pleased with the business techno line-up deciding they’re happy to attend a propaganda event for a regime which abuses human rights daily.
The postbag received since then has been broadly very supportive of my stance. Indeed, a few thought I should have gone even further in my criticism. But the inevitable claims of whataboutery soon made an appearance, so I thought I’d respond to this claim here, just in case anyone else is thinking of complaining about it.
The hard of thinking appeared to think that I was saying Carl Cox, Jeff Mills, deadmau5 and so on were complicit in human rights abuses by doing gigs in Saudi Arabia. Clearly not. No one is saying for one moment that these DJs are somehow guilty by association. My problem is very simple – they are being paid a lot of money to be propaganda pawns for the hereditary dictatorship which runs the country.
It also speaks volumes that, of all the DJs on the Soundstorm bill, only Jeff Mills has publicly defended himself against the various allegations made against the lineup. And whilst I would like to praise him for having the guts to speak up for himself, his defence is an absolute mess of contradictions and moronic suggestions people’s real problem with DJs earning large amounts of money is jealousy.
Another equally baffling claim is that I don’t insist DJs should boycott other countries. For example, I live in the UK. I’m well aware of my country’s own very mixed history regarding the British Empire. And I also live in Northern Ireland, where the constitutional question is never far away – so I’m no stranger to seeing hard questions being asked.
But there is a difference between countries like the UK, the USA, France, Germany and so on. These countries are all democracies. Yes, they sometimes elect leaders whom you don’t like – and words can’t express how much this blog detests Boris Johnson – but at least we get to elect our political representatives. And whilst human rights abuses do happen in Britain, they aren’t on the same sort of scale as in the Saudi Arabia hereditary dictatorship.
In any case, the naysayers should aim their fire elsewhere. If they read this blog regularly – they should, they might learn something new – I published an article a while ago questioning DJs who were going to play in Texas at a time when women’s abortion rights were being heavily curtailed by the state. And believe me, there will be more posts on subjects like this in the future.
I stand by every word of what I’ve said on the subject. Frankly, there are DJs on the Soundstorm lineup who would be content to play a concert in Pyongyang for North Korea and Kim Jong-un – whose regime of concentration camps and human experimentation make Saudi Arabia look gentle in comparison.
This blog will have no hesitation calling out DJs when I believe they’re putting money above everything else. As you saw last week, I’ve done it before and I’ll do it again…