Abbott Slams Artists Boycotting SXSW Festival

SXSW sign
SXSW sign | Image by Amy Price/Getty Images

Gov. Greg Abbott took to social media this week to slam artists who were boycotting the South by Southwest Festival because the U.S. Army and arms producers were sponsoring the event.

“Bands pull out of SXSW over U.S. Army sponsorship. Bye. Don’t come back,” Abbott wrote on X. “Austin remains the HQ for the Army Futures Command. San Antonio is Military City USA. We are proud of the U.S. military in Texas. If you don’t like it, don’t come here.”

Several artists and groups had pulled out of the festival in protest of sponsorships by the U.S. Army, Raytheon, Collins Aerospace, and BAE Systems. Several claimed their decision was based on the ongoing Hamas-Israeli war that was spurred by a terrorist attack against Israeli civilians last October and has consequently resulted in tens of thousands of Palestinian deaths, as reported by Fox News.

“There’s always a right thing to do, and it’s almost never as complicated as the establishment wants you to believe, and sometimes it costs you a dream, but a dream is a dream and not a life,” artist Okay Shalom said, per Fox. “Palestinians deserve to dream. They deserve to live.”

The artist known as Squirrel Flower, aka Ella Williams, also dropped out of the festival over the war.

“Genocide profiteers like Raytheon supply weapons to the IDF, paid for by our taxes. A music festival should not include war profiteers. I refuse to be complicit in this and withdrawl [sic] my art and labor in protest.”

For its part, SXSW released a statement refusing to divest its sponsorship by arms contractors and the U.S. Army.

“These institutions are often leaders in emerging technologies, and we believe it’s better to understand how their approach will impact our lives,” the statement read, per Fox. “The Army’s sponsorship is part of our commitment to bring forward ideas that shape our world. We have and will continue to support human rights for all. The situation in the Middle East is tragic, and it illuminates the heightened importance of standing together against injustice.”

Recent polling by Quinnipiac University found that younger Democrats and Democratic-leaning people were more likely to side with Palestine. At the same time, nearly three-quarters of all voters, including Democrats, Republicans, and independents, said backing Israel was in the national interest of America. The study found that almost 75% of Democrats under the age of 35 sympathize with Palestine, and 69% disagree with President Joe Biden’s handling of the conflict because of his pro-Israel stance, as reported by CNN.

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