- By Joshua Keating
Joshua Keating is associate editor at Foreign Policy and the editor of the Passport blog. He has worked as a researcher, editorial assistant, and deputy Web editor since joining the FP staff in 2007. In addition to being featured in Foreign Policy, his writing has been published by the Washington Post, Newsweek International, Radio Prague, the Center for Defense Information, and Romania's Adevarul newspaper. He has appeared as a commentator on CNN International, C-Span, ABC News, Al Jazeera, NPR, BBC radio, and others. A native of Brooklyn, New York, he studied comparative politics at Oberlin College.
Guardian blogger Marina Hyde thoroughly eviscerates British rocker Sting for playing a concert in Uzbekistan at the invitation of Gulnara Karimova, daughter of Uzbek dictator Islam Karimov, and then making excuses for it. The whole thing is worth reading but here’s an exceprt:
Unfortunately, people have now found out about the jaunt, and so many of them have misunderstood the reasoning behind it as financially motivated that Sting has been forced to issue a statement.
“I played in Uzbekistan a few months ago,” he begins. “The concert was organized by the president’s daughter and I believe sponsored by Unicef.”
You can believe it all you like, Sting, but it’s absolute cobblers — Lost in Showbiz has checked it out with Unicef, who tactfully describe themselves as “quite surprised” by your claim. [..]
“I am well aware of the Uzbek president’s appalling reputation in the field of human rights as well as the environment. I made the decision to play there in spite of that. I have come to believe that cultural boycotts are not only pointless gestures, they are counter-productive, where proscribed states are further robbed of the open commerce of ideas and art and as a result become even more closed, paranoid and insular.”
Mm. Even if you accept Sting’s live performances as “ideas and art”, you can’t really help but question this notion of “open commerce”, considering the tickets for his concert cost more than 45 times the average monthly salary in Uzbekistan. 45 times![…]
“I seriously doubt whether the President of Uzbekistan cares in the slightest whether artists like myself come to play in his country,” concludes Sting. “He is hermetically sealed in his own medieval, tyrannical mindset.”
You will note that Sting conspicuously declines to deflect the heat by stating that he donated all or indeed any of his monstrous fee to charity.