Bright Eyes frontman Conor Oberst has written an open letter to a concert promoter in Arizona defending his decision to support a boycott of the state in protest of its controversial immigration laws. The singer is backing Rage Against the Machine rocker Zack De La Rocha's Sound Strike campaign, aimed at prompting touring acts to boycott Arizona until state officials agree to repeal the new law, which requires local authorities to determine a person's immigration status if he or she is suspected of being undocumented.
Local independent gig promoter Charlie Levy recently aired his concerns about the economic affects of the ban on businesses in the state in an article for The Arizona Republic, insisting the concert boycott is "harming the very people and places that foster free speech". He went on to say, "While I respect the intentions of the artists protesting what they find to be an unjust law, the practical effect of the boycott is resulting in exactly the opposite of their good-willed intentions..."
"The people who will feel the negative effects of the boycott the deepest are local concert venues, including non-profit art-house theaters, independent promoters, fans and the people employed in the local music business. If the boycott continues, it is all but guaranteed that some of these venues will be forced to close their doors."
Oberst has taken Levy's concerns to heart and responded in a note explaining that the artists had little choice but to enforce the boycott to show legislators they are serious, reports Billboard.com. He writes, "Dear Charlie, I read your letter and I do understand where you are coming from. You bring up valid points. I personally regret any of the collateral damage the boycott is causing you, other like-minded arts promoters and the fans in Arizona. A boycott is, inherently, a blunt instrument. It is an imperfect weapon, a carpet bomb, when all involved would prefer a surgical strike..."
"The only thing, clearly, that these people (lawmakers) care about is Money and Power, that and the creation and preservation of an Anglo-Centric Police State where every Immigrant and Non-White citizen is considered subhuman. They want them stripped of their basic human rights and reduced to slaves for Corporate America and the White Race. They are engaged in blatant class warfare. It is evil, pure and simple..."
He adds, "Much of the Artist end of the boycott is symbolic, I acknowledge, and no real threat to the economics of the State. But it is an important part none-the-less for awareness and messaging. The Boycott has to be so widespread and devastating that the Arizona State Legislature and Governor have no choice but to repeal their unconstitutional, immoral and hateful law. It has to hurt them in the only place they feel any pain, their pocketbooks."