The Pixies are Terrorists? A Modest Proposal for “Cultural Terrorism” gets loose on the internet

Way back on 11 June 2010, the headline “BREAKING NEWS: Canadian Government to put Pixies on list of ‘terrorist’ organisations” appeared on the website Australians for Palestine.

The article that followed claimed that Canada had done exactly what the headline said – that the Pixies were now terrorists in the eyes of the government in Ottawa.* It was even supported by a quote from Canadian Immigration Minister Neal Kenny saying that “terrorism anywhere and in any form, whether it be physical, moral, verbal, mental or cultural is abhorrent to this government.”

Obviously satirical (at least hopefully lest I have to renounce my Canadian citizenship), the big question that arises from such a piece is WHY?

Satire” has been getting dangerously close to reality lately. Recently, the Onion published an article on the oil catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico that some might consider pretty darn close to factual (or did consider factual, according to their Facebook comments). Although some satirical pieces are a bit ridiculous, such as this one on how the Edmonton Oilers could start winning games, satire highlights issues of societal concern. Indeed, in the last political science class I took on American foreign policy, more students took the Daily Show more seriously than, say, FOX News.

This satirical article came out of the Pixies canceling a show in Tel Aviv, Israel. They haven’t been the only musicians to do this in the wake of the flotilla raidthe Gorillaz and the Klaxons have also pulled out. Even before this latest mess, Elvis Costello, Carlos Santana and Gil Scott-Heron backed out of gigs in Israel over the state’s treatment of the Palestinians (don’t worry though, Rod Stewart still plans on performing a scheduled show).

The Pixies had already been under pressure before the flotilla raid to cancel their performance (click here to see an open letter to the Pixies from Boycott Israel), and although they didn’t give a reason for their cancellation, the working theory is that the naval raid led them to back out.

In response, concert promoter Shuki Weiss said in a statement that the Pixies canceling their planned gig amounted to “cultural terrorism.” Weiss related that he was “full of both sorrow and pain in light of the fact that our repeated attempts to present quality acts and festivals in Israel have increasingly been falling victim to what I can only describe as a form of cultural terrorism which is targeting Israel and the arts worldwide.”

It was this statement, I suspect, that led Larry Haiven, a professor at St. Mary’s University, to post this satirical article.  It was then picked up and posted on the Australians for Palestinians site. Haiven ties in commentary on the Canadian government into his piece, especially by attributing the idea to add the Pixies to the list of terrorists to minister Kenny, who in real life has acted as spokesperson for the conservative government’s pro-Israel stand. In comments Kenny actually made after a visit to Israel, he explained that “a ‘new anti-Semitism’ that emanates from an alliance of Western leftists and Islamic extremists is more dangerous than the ‘old European’ form of Jew-hatred.”

In his article, Haiven then added support to “Kenny’s” assertion that the Pixies are terrorists in the voice of Peter Kent, by having him “say” that “if the Pixies want to boycott Israel, then Canada is at war with the Pixies.”

Haiven is connecting Weiss’ claim that the Pixies’ action amounts to cultural terrorism with the Canadian government’s pro-Israel stand – that because of Weiss’ comments, Canada charged the Pixies with being terrorists. But in what Haiven may have thought  people would instantly see as a ridiculous claim, like the Irish eating their babies, many have taken seriously.

The news that the Pixies are terrorists sprung up all over the internet, such as and here and here (the same article can also be found here). Comments on the news ranged from belief, shock, to (thankfully) skepticism – some thought it suspicious that there wasn’t a source to back up the claim other than the Australians for Palestinians site.

…And, according to a post put up on one of the pages just as I was writing this sentence, the story was, shockingly, a hoax.** The author of the post contacted Haiven to find out from him that “it was a joke, but uh, it was close enough to what’s true.”

…After reading that, I went to work and then when I came home to finish up writing this, the article had mysteriously disappeared  from the Australians for Palestine website. Which means they either took it down because at first they’d believed it was true, or second, they didn’t like the kind of attention it was getting.

Below you’ll find the transcript of the article that was originally on the Australians for Palestine website. This incident, considering the way the story can get around the internet machine before the facts can get out – raises all kinds of questions, most notably how it could be believable that the Canadian government would actually label a band as terrorists for canceling a gig?

And the wider (and actually factual) story raises another issue – what are the implications for a term like “cultural terrorism” being used by a promoter when a band backs of a show?

I’m going to muddle these issues around in my head for a while, and then write a part II exploring them more. Stay tuned.***

*Right, I guess that link won’t work anymore now that the website took it down, sorry about that.
**By shockingly, of course, I mean not shockingly at all.
**I mostly want you to stay tuned so you can think of something actually insightful and comment, making me look smart by association.


BREAKING NEWS: Canadian Government to put Pixies on list of “terrorist” organisations

June 11, 2010

EDITOR’S NOTE: The absurdity of it all!

Ottawa – The Canadian government announced that it is putting the alternative rock band The Pixies on its list of “terrorist organizations” after the group cancelled its upcoming trip to Israel in the wake of the Gaza Flotilla affair.

It was a comment by the Pixies’ Israeli promoter that launched the Canadian move.  “I am full of both sorrow and pain,” wrote Shuki Weiss, “in light in light of the fact that our repeated attempts to present quality acts and festivals in Israel have increasingly been falling victim to what I can only describe as a form of cultural terrorism which is targeting Israel and the arts worldwide.”

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney told reporters today, “Terrorism anywhere and in any form, whether it be physical, moral, verbal, mental or cultural is abhorrent to this government.”

Another supporter of the move was Peter Kent, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs (Americas), who said in an interview, “If the Pixies want to boycott Israel, then Canada is at war with the Pixies.”

Asked if he was familiar with the Pixies’ music, Kent replied that this was not germane to his decision.  “I’m not familiar with [Hizbollah leader] Nasrallah’s sermons but I know a terrorist when I see one.”



Advertisements
Explore posts in the same categories: Punk and Politics

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

You can comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.

11 Comments on “The Pixies are Terrorists? A Modest Proposal for “Cultural Terrorism” gets loose on the internet”


  1. If this article seems a little disjointed, it may be because I was writing it as I was drifting around the internet looking for information on the story as it appeared. It may also be because I have no idea how to organize my thoughts.

  2. Lime Says:

    So you run across anything implying that the Pixies’ cancellation was politically motivated? Seems like the ambiguity of their explanation (“reasons beyond our control”) strongly implies that it wasn’t. Or if it did have something to do with the flotilla raid, it would just be a desire not to be seen as taking a pro-Israeli government stance. Either way, it implies they have no desire to express any strong convictions for either side of the argument and are trying their hardest not to alienate anyone, which seems to me like disappointingly good business sense.

  3. xolager Says:

    Multiple choice:

    The Pixies cancelled their show in Tel Aviv due to:
    a) Stormy Weather
    b) Broken Face
    c) Caribou
    d) The Sad Punk


  4. Xolager – e) all of the above.

    Lime – No, I haven’t ran across anything that has the members of the Pixies step out of the ambiguity of their explanation. I think you’re right – Not trying to alienate anyone could certainly be considered good business sense…

    or…The band that decided not to back out of the gig, the Editors, have certainly taken a side, probably considering IT to be good business sense. They had the crowd chanting “fuck the Pixies” during their show in Tel Aviv, and have called the performance “the most memorable of [their] career.”

    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3903536,00.html

    • Lime Says:

      What’s your source on the “fuck the Pixies” chanting? I don’t see that in the article.


  5. I’m pretty sure I’ve read on various blog posts and in a few articles that there was some “fuck the Pixies” type shenanigans at the show…just off the top of my head here’s a comment from someone saying that the singer from the Editors saying “The Pixies can go F$#@ themselves.”

    http://www.crawdaddy.com/index.php/2010/06/08/pixies-klaxons-gorillaz-join-growing-boycott-of-israel/

    Granted, I wasn’t there, and I haven’t seen any video clips of the aforementioned comments regarding what the Pixes can go do, but that’s the general impression from what I’ve read. I hope I’m proven wrong though, before this the Editors were apparently quite enamored with the Pixies, and the possibility of playing with them.


  6. […] Pixies are Terrorists? Part II In the earlier post that I wrote on the Pixies’ career as terrorists, I ended by pointing out a couple questions […]


  7. […] I’m going to try and tackle the other question I raised at the end of part I, “what are the implications for a term like “cultural terrorism” being used by a promoter […]

  8. Thomas Says:

    Y’all are just a bunch of Canadian queers overanalyzing the cancellation. It doesn’t mean anything – the Pixies are not terrorists. They are musicians who for whatever reason chose to cancel a date in Israel. What about all the other bands that also cancelled Israel dates? I suppose they’re patriots unlike the hateful and racist Pixies


    • Thomas, I’m much obliged for the comment, but I reckon you’ve missed the point of this post completely. Of course the Pixies aren’t terrorists, hateful, or racist. That’s ridiculous.

      The Pixies cancelling the show didn’t mean anything to you or me, but it did to a lot of other people, and it was their reactions that I was interested in. If you’d like, check out the subsequent posts I wrote on the subject (links are just above your comment)and that might make what I was trying to say a bit more clear.

      And by the way, y’all down there in the U.S. of A did just as much overanalyzing of the cancellation as we did up here, queer or not.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: