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Album of the day (#3123): Graceland by Paul Simon

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baystateoftheart
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Age: 24
Location: Massachusetts
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#21 | Posted: 07/09/2019 06:02 | Post subject: Reply with quote
I probably don't understand the history and strategy of the boycotts enough, so if someone could help me understand, that would be great. If a) the boycott was intended to make Apartheid economically untenable for white South Africans to continue and b) Paul Simon's actions resulted in black South Africans making money but not white South Africans, what is the mechanism by which Paul Simon caused harm to the anti-Apartheid movement?

Surely it's not about the ripple effects of those black artists' increased buying power. That would be a grotesque argument.

Is it the fact that he was not respectful enough to those organizing the boycott in South Africa and around the world? Is it about a precedent or a moral hazard? Is there a less abstracted reason I'm missing?

P.S. Putting Ronstadt on the album was a very bad move and he deserves every bit of criticism for that.
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Skinny
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#22 | Posted: 07/09/2019 15:51 | Post subject: Reply with quote
baystateoftheart wrote:
I probably don't understand the history and strategy of the boycotts enough, so if someone could help me understand, that would be great. If a) the boycott was intended to make Apartheid economically untenable for white South Africans to continue and b) Paul Simon's actions resulted in black South Africans making money but not white South Africans, what is the mechanism by which Paul Simon caused harm to the anti-Apartheid movement?

Surely it's not about the ripple effects of those black artists' increased buying power. That would be a grotesque argument.

Is it the fact that he was not respectful enough to those organizing the boycott in South Africa and around the world? Is it about a precedent or a moral hazard? Is there a less abstracted reason I'm missing?

P.S. Putting Ronstadt on the album was a very bad move and he deserves every bit of criticism for that.


Good questions. This post is a placeholder for a (hopefully) thoughtful answer that I don't have time to provide right now.
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RoundTheBend
Thesis, Antithesis, Synthesis



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#23 | Posted: 07/10/2019 02:35 | Post subject: Reply with quote
Skinny wrote:
Seth, nobody is suggesting either you or Paul Simon is racist. The "I've got a black friend" analogy refers to the misguided logic which suggests a person's offences towards a community or common cause can be written off because they have the support of one person, or a small number of people, within that community. Ergo, Hugh Masakela arguing in support of Paul Simon doesn't make his decision any less naïve, patronising, or pigheaded, just as Elton John performing with Eminem doesn't absolve the latter of his overt, targeted homophobia.

As I've said previously, I think Paul Simon was well-intentioned. But I think it takes a special kind of arrogance to believe that your good intentions outweigh carefully planned, internationally agreed protocol aimed at damaging an oppressive regime. You're right in saying that there's no evidence that Paul Simon's work in South Africa did anything to extend Apartheid, though the opposite is also true - such is the case with hypotheticals. But Paul Simon knowingly threatened to undermine the protest movement in order to record an album, because he thought he knew better than thousands, if not millions, of academics, performers, politicians, and activists. Just because some good came of it for some people doesn't make it the right decision.


Thank you for this clarification. Somehow I got a different vibe from your previous posts. All is well.

I think in the end you gotta decide whether you hate scabs or realize they are just trying to feed their family too. I realize that's a poor analogy to this issue, but it kind of feels like that's the essence of the conversation. Sometimes it's the single act and not the context that's considered and I just wanted to discuss the context a little more. If that single fact is a deal break or not I suppose is clearly still a "debated"/often written about topic on the internet. In the end I can see where you are coming from and while I wouldn't necessarily 100% agree with it (if indeed I'm reading it right that it's dude disobeyed the resolution and for that sing reason, dude's a douche). Your arguments totally have merit though - I suppose depending on the situation I don't know Paul personally, so maybe his heart wasn't in the right place. I just imagine an African guitarist wouldn't work with him for 30 years if that's the case. Maybe I'm wrong.

I'm also intrigued to be enlightened a little more of your point of view from BayState's questions.

Also my mom had a black friend once, so she witnessed in person the I Have A Dream speech by Dr. King. ( Laughing I'm half kidding... but not about the part that she was there and took part with the civil rights movement throughout her 20s). She ended up getting a masters in multi-culturalism.
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Last edited by RoundTheBend on 07/10/2019 03:29; edited 4 times in total
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StreetSpirit



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#24 | Posted: 07/10/2019 03:01 | Post subject: Reply with quote
I'm curious about that as well. Where is there hard evidence Paul Simon undermined the movement and prolonged Apartheid? Granted, at the time, it was controversial, and potentially damaging, but has history proved it so? Either way, it was over 30 years ago, and Apartheid is long over now.
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RoundTheBend
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#25 | Posted: 07/10/2019 03:21 | Post subject: Reply with quote
I think Skinny answered that already?

Quote:
You're right in saying that there's no evidence that Paul Simon's work in South Africa did anything to extend Apartheid, though the opposite is also true - such is the case with hypotheticals.


It's the whole evidence of God argument. Well you can't prove "he" is or isn't there.

I think the point is Simon knowingly (although to what extent I'm not clear) went against the UN resolution. And that alone has consequences.

The counterpoint I was making is does that really make him a douche? Sometimes "good ideas" have good/bad consequences... sometimes "breaking the law" is the right thing to do... it's not so black and white. But maybe I don't know what I'm talking about.
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StreetSpirit



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#26 | Posted: 07/11/2019 17:34 | Post subject: Reply with quote
If you're gonna hold a grudge against a man (Simon), for something he did 1/3 of a century ago (broke UN sanctions against South Africa), that could have been damaging at the time, but there doesn't seem to be evidence that it was damaging, and then it became a moot point (fall of Apartheid)...just seems like an unnecessary grudge at this point. I would like to hear more from that perspective.
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rkm





#27 | Posted: 07/14/2019 11:48 | Post subject: Reply with quote
Skinny wrote:
Seth, nobody is suggesting either you or Paul Simon is racist. The "I've got a black friend" analogy refers to the misguided logic which suggests a person's offences towards a community or common cause can be written off because they have the support of one person, or a small number of people, within that community. Ergo, Hugh Masakela arguing in support of Paul Simon doesn't make his decision any less naïve, patronising, or pigheaded, just as Elton John performing with Eminem doesn't absolve the latter of his overt, targeted homophobia.

As I've said previously, I think Paul Simon was well-intentioned. But I think it takes a special kind of arrogance to believe that your good intentions outweigh carefully planned, internationally agreed protocol aimed at damaging an oppressive regime. You're right in saying that there's no evidence that Paul Simon's work in South Africa did anything to extend Apartheid, though the opposite is also true - such is the case with hypotheticals. But Paul Simon knowingly threatened to undermine the protest movement in order to record an album, because he thought he knew better than thousands, if not millions, of academics, performers, politicians, and activists. Just because some good came of it for some people doesn't make it the right decision.


He wouldn’t be the first artist to have that level of arrogance, or a perverse sense of reality. You could even argue that this level of arrogance is a necessary precursor to making great art. Artists of all kinds need this kind of sense of grandiosity, or at least a sense of individualism that causes them to see themselves outside of the accepted norm (perhaps even a U.N. boycott), in order to create something new that hasn’t previously existed.

I have greater trouble with artists who have shown themselves to be assholes in their personal relationships, who are misogynistic and/or violent towards women, than I do with someone who “breaks the law but operates within the spirit of it”.
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