Taylor Swift should ‘speak now’ on Gaza

  • Post last modified:May 30, 2024
  • Reading time:13 mins read

Taylor Swift fans are urging the megastar to “speak now” on Israel’s genocide in Palestine. So far, across over 30 concerts she has held since Israel began its murderous assault, Taylor hasn’t uttered a word. That is, while Swift has danced around a stage, in a storm, in her red dress, Israel has been raining down bombs and turning Gaza red with blood – and she has stayed silent. Now, Swifties For Palestine are getting “tired waiting, wondering if” she’s “ever gonna come around”.

What’s more, as Swift gears up for her tour debut in Edinburgh, her concerts there are set to push homeless people out of the city.

Fans might worship her music, but it’s time to stop idolising ultra-rich celebrities for any claims to moral acuity.

Swifties For Palestine

On May 24, Swift fan Sofia Martins draped a Palestinian flag over the balcony at the music megastar’s concert in Lisbon, Portugal.

Then, on May 29, fellow fan Robin posted an open letter to the touring musician calling on her to “speak now” on Palestine:

Robin cleverly invoked the title of Swift’s third album ‘Speak Now’ to demand the singer use her enormous platform for Palestine. In fact, in the liner notes to the album, Swift had penned:

There is a time for silence. There is a time waiting your turn. But if you know how you feel, and you so clearly know what you need to say, you’ll know it.

I don’t think you should wait. I think you should speak now.

Admittedly, this prologue is a somewhat vapid, insular commentary on telling a boy she loves them. Ostensibly, it’s not intended as a radical, stirring call for solidarity in the face of social injustices. However, music and lyrics take on a meaning all of their own. Fans are now using her own words to tell Swift to do just as she herself once wrote.

From there, the letter instigated the hashtag ‘#SwiftiesForPalestine’ – which fans have pushed up the trending charts all across the world:

At the time of publication, the singer-songwriter has yet to raise her voice on Palestine. Meanwhile however, her tour support act Paramore has issued a statement. Naturally, this has had many asking why exactly the superstar hasn’t spoken out:

Why isn’t she speaking up?

Let’s get this out of the way first: I’m an unabashed Swiftie. But like others in the fan community, I am ashamed to see her perform gig after gig without the slightest mention of Gaza. So, you could say right now, “we got bad blood”.

Some fans have begun to float the feeling that it doesn’t matter if the megastar speaks now, or not. To some extent, I agree – but for wholly different reasons. For one, any statement she makes at this point, will be at best, performative. In short, speaking now would be little more than a nauseating display of grifting to her fanbase.

However, Taylor Swift actually could make a difference, if she chose to. In the past, she has made generous donations to a number of causes. Right now, she could put her money and her mouth to mutual aid. As one Swifties For Palestine pointed out, she could fund every individual Gaza crowdfunder going and barely see a dent to her fortune:

So why doesn’t she speak now, or use her vast billions to help people escaping Israel’s horrific genocide? Some have suggested that it could have something to do with her tour sponsor One Capital:

The bank holding company has previously financed notorious arms manufacturer and Israel munitions supplier Elbit Systems.

Then of course, there’s her deal with Disney. Swift has streamed her ‘Eras Tour’ on Disney+ across the globe. However, the company is a ‘pressure’ target of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel. Partly, this is owing to its upcoming ‘Captain America’ film.  In this, a character personifies – and by extension, glorifies – apartheid Israel. Palestinian cultural institutions have called for widespread boycotts of the movie.

On top of this, the company donated $2m in support to Israel after the 7 October Hamas attacks. Conversely, it too has stayed silent as the apartheid regime continues its brutal assault on Gaza.

What’s more, during Israel’s genocidal siege, cinemas in settler-colonial state were screening Swift’s movie.

Of course, Swift wouldn’t be the first mega-rich musician to loan cultural legitimacy to murderous regimes. In the 1980s, plenty of morally vacuous musicians like Elton John, Queen, Dolly Parton, and Liza Minnelli readily broke the blanket boycott of South Africa’s apartheid state.

Granted, she hasn’t performed a gig in Israel, but her silence, coupled with the screenings, is at best, a mark of indifference to Israel’s despicable violence. At worst, it’s a tacit show of support for its genocidal actions.

Swift swoops in and leaves homelessness in her wake

Many fans have also expressed their disappointment at Taylor Swift after her purported political awakening.

Specifically, in the star’s 2020 documentary film Miss Americana, Swift regaled viewers with the tale of her journey to political activism. This referred to her decision to come out in support of the Democrats in her home state of Tennessee in 2018. Following this, she then blasted Trump on X in the 2020 elections and endorsed Biden.

In the documentary, Swift revealed her unease after years of apoliticism, saying:

I need to be on the right side of history

Yet some have suggested her silence on Gaza shows her newfound politicism is selective:

Now, her upcoming concert in Edinburgh is pitching her on the wrong side once again. As the BBC reported:

A number of homeless people have been sent out of Edinburgh to make way for tourists ahead of Taylor Swift performing in the city, BBC News has learned.

Shelter Scotland said several homeless people it supports had been sent via taxi to Aberdeen and Glasgow amid a shortage in accommodation, and one person was offered temporary accommodation as far away as Newcastle.

Essentially, Swift’s concert is causing a shortage of temporary accommodation for homeless people in the city. This is because, as the BBC explained, the council currently utilises tourist accommodation due to a lack of social rented homes.

Moreover, the BBC noted that:

campaigners fear the sheer scale of Taylor Swift’s appearance has caused a surge in demand.

Ostensibly, Swift is swooping in without consideration for the impact her concerts have on marginalised people.

Swifties For Palestine: we’ve “never heard silence quite this loud”

Swifties For Palestine are lamenting that, as Swift herself says in one number, they’ve:

never heard silence quite this loud.

After eight long, hellish months of Israeli impunity and flagrant war crimes in a literal, livestreamed genocide – that silence is unconscionably deafening.

Yet while Swift herself has kept her lips zipped tight on Israel’s ongoing abhorrent genocide, her fans have have not. By contrast, they have used the Swifties For Palestine hashtag to spread awareness, amplify mutual aid requests, and point other fans towards educational resources:

At the end of the day, billionaires of all stripes are the embodiment of a capitalist, colonial status quo. Ultimately, it doesn’t pay to challenge the imperialistic hegemony. For those at the back – billionaires aren’t going to overhaul the injustices at the heart of the Western-dominated global economic system.

If anything, they only serve to entrench it. And Taylor Swift, with her silence on Palestine, and concerts pushing homeless people to the margins, is only more glaring evidence of this.

Feature image via Taylor Swift – Youtube

Source link