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A few months back I noted here that Sting has traveled to Uzbekistan and played a concert at the invitation of Gulnara Karimova, the daughter of dictator Islam Karimov. Now the British press has asked Sting to explain why he accepted the invitation from Karimova, whom he escorted to a fashion show while in Uzbekistan.
According to Sting:
The concert was organized by the president’s daughter and I believe sponsored by Unicef. I supported wholeheartedly the cultural boycott of South Africa under the apartheid regime because it was a special case and specifically targeted the younger demographic of the ruling white middle class.
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.
A few comments here. First, Sting himself appears to have greatly benefited from open commerce. According to the Daily Mail story, he “accepted up to £2million to sing for Gulnara Karimova, the despot’s glamorous daughter and anointed heir…Tickets went for £1,400 – 45 times the average local monthly salary.”
Second, UNICEF claims to be “quite surprised” to hear about the concert and denies sponsoring it.
“It appears Sting is a hypocrite,” said Britain’s ex-ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray. “His human rights and environmental activism seem to have flown out the window.”
More from Ken Silverstein:
Perspective — October 23, 2013, 8:00 am
How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy
Postcard — October 16, 2013, 8:00 am
A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”