Roger Waters has given an interview with Russia’s RT television after competing a sold out show in St. Petersburg. On his current tour, Waters dedicated the 1977 Pink Floyd song Pigs (Three different ones) to Trump complete with multiple quotes by the US President being projected on large screens throughout the area that are designed to demonstrate his attitude of callousness. At the end of the song, the sentence “Trump is a pig” is projected in the native language of whichever nation Waters is performing in.
While Waters is generally on the opposite end of the political spectrum to Trump, the anti-war Pink Floyd co-founder has found himself in the same position of opposing the mass censorship of non-liberal/centrist views by large tech corporations based in the United States. During his interview on RT, Waters explained,
“Now Facebook and Google and YouTube are the way that most people get their news. And they use social media in order to educate themselves or find out what’s going on. But the content is being censored by the corporations that own them. So it won’t be free – I mean, it’s not free now….I wouldn’t be surprised if disappear (from social media) because I’m anti-war”.
The fact that big tech corporations are targeting, threatening and intimidating those on the left as well as the right is indicative of the fact that no one with an independent voice is safe from the arbitrary censorship of the US tech monopolies. While Waters worries that in spite of his status as one of the top drawing rock stars of all time that he still might be censored by big-tech firms, Donald Trump has shared a video clealry showing that Google has failed to announce his State of The Union speeches in the way that they did during the administration of his predecessor Barack Obama.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 29, 2018
With Trump vowing to take action, it is necessary for those with different views to Trump or for that matter different views from Roger Waters to at least temporarily put aside their disagreements in order to address a common threat to the cultural characteristics and legal protections of individuals whose own civil rights are being violated or on the verge of being potentially violated by the tech giants who clearly act as though they are above the law. The fact that tech oligarchs act as though they are above the law has been made clear by the fact that Google CEO Sundar Pichai has arrogantly refused to testify before the US Senate while Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has likewise refused to testify before a committee of the UK Parliament.
Roger Waters while known for his left-wing anti-war views is not the typical rockstar in so far as he has no time for the “polite” virtue signalling causes of many of his peers including Bono and Sting. Instead of associating himself with causes guaranteed to cause little controversy, Waters has taken multiple independent stands on issues ranging from the plight of Palestine to the demonisation of Syria, Iran and Russia, to rejecting the liberal narrative on the White Helmets group known for their controversial activities in Syria as well as the recent saga of Sergey and Julia Skripal. Waters also recently expressed sympathy for the plight of Crimeans who in 2014 voted to reunite with the rest of Russia. Adding to the mix, Waters stated that he watches RT, the Russian television station that has been uniquely criticised by the liberal establishment in the US, UK and France.
Many of Waters’s positions are somewhat similar to those of Britain’s current opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn. Incidentally, both Waters and Corbyn have been called antisemitic due to their support of Palestine although both men are lifelong antifascists with Waters even incorporating antifascist themes into his most well known album The Wall which he composed during his time as the leader of Pink Floyd.
This further bolsters the case made in a recent Eurasia Future piece comparing the pro-free speech/anti-big tech positions of the old left and the new right throughout much of the western political world. While the likes of Waters and Corbyn seemingly have little in common with Donald Trump, all of these well known men have bucked the trends of the establishment within the music industry, the political sphere and wider civil society.
While for obvious reasons, those on the right believe they are being uniquely singled out by tech oligarchs and while those on the left feel it is they who are bearing the brunt of a barrage of censorship, in reality both are speaking honesty as there are well documented cases of online platforms from both the left and right being censored by big tech. In the last month, Facebook has either temporarily or permanently suspended the pages of left-wing outlet Telesur, right wing outlet Infowars and multiple individual accounts belonging to individuals ranging from right wing supporters of Donald Trump to Iranians who support their revolutionary Islamic government which currently has multiple disputes with the United States.
It is impossible to ignore the silencing of those who challenge the old liberal status quo from both the left and right by tech corporations who threaten the liberty of an increasingly wide group of people.
It is becoming increasingly clear that existing civil rights legislation in the United States going back to the well known 1964 Civil Rights Act which outlawed discrimination against individuals on a racial, sexual, national and religious basis both in the public sector (schools, buses etc.) and in the private sector (shops, restaurants etc.) should be expanded to include people with clearly defined political beliefs and/or party political affiliation. Far from being novel, many US states have long ago passed legislation to expand the concept of a protected class beyond the highly visible issue of race. Such classes now include those who face discrimination on a number of grounds. Even prior to the 1964 Federal Civil Rights Act, in 1959 the state of California passed the Unruh Civil Rights Act which outlawed all forms of discrimination based on race, sex/sexual orientation, religious affiliation, ethnicity/national origin, age, marital status and medical conditions. Since then, similar legislation has been enacted across much of the United States.
It has now become self-evident that political beliefs and party political affiliation should also now be included in such legislation as a matter of supreme urgency. This would prevent social media companies from discriminating against various media personalities based on their allegedly controversial politics while actually helping the business community to regain a broad range of trust by opening both physical and digital doors to all. Such measures are therefore good for business, they help to preserve and buttress the First Amendment and are clearly the ethical thing to do should America seek to avoid travelling down the long road to arbitrary justice and social tyranny.
In the fight to establish clearly defined rules that corporations must uphold in order to facilitate rather than stifle free speech, people who support the views of Roger Waters should at least on this single issue support those who support the views of Donald Trump. While they would likely never pay such a compliment to one another, both have changed millions of hearts and minds throughout the world albeit using very different methods.