RIP Beastie Boy

by joe courter

Artists in our corporate media culture usually keep in their place and don’t step out of line at award shows. There have been notable exceptions such as Barbara Trent and Michael Moore at the Oscars.

Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys was another, and thanks to Democracy Now! on May 7, on the occasion of his death at 47 from cancer, his 1998 statement at the Video Music Awards was reprised.

Here’s the transcript from the VMAs; rather prophetic stuff criticizing the climate of racism toward Muslims and Arabs, and the Clinton administration’s then-recent bombings of Sudan and Afghanistan.

Adam Yauch: “It’s kind of a rare opportunity that one gets to speak to this many people at once, so if you guys will forgive me, I just wanted to speak my mind on a couple things. And I think it was a real mistake that the U.S. chose to fire missiles into the Middle East. I think that was a huge mistake, and I think that it’s very important that the United States start to look towards nonviolent means of resolving conflicts, because if we [applause] — hold on, hold on, give me one second here — because if we — those bombings that took place in the Middle East were thought of as a retaliation by the terrorists. And if we thought of what we did as retaliation, certainly we’re going to find more retaliation from people in the Middle East, from terrorists specifically, I should say, because most Middle Eastern people are not terrorists. And I think that’s another thing that America really needs to think about, is our racism, racism that comes from the United States towards Muslim people and towards Arabic people. And that’s something that has to stop, and the United States has to start respecting people from the Middle East in order to find a solution to the problem that’s been building up over many years. So, I thank everyone for your patience and letting me speak my mind on that.”

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