US State Department condemns Roger Waters' "long track record of using antisemitic tropes"

Roger Waters onstage in 2012
Roger Waters onstage in 2012 (Image credit: Jason Kempin)

The US State Department has joined the long list of those criticising Roger Waters for the Nazi-style uniform he's regularly worn onstage since the release of The Wall in 1980, and the alleged use of antisemitic tropes in his show. 

The State Department's condemnation of the former Pink Floyd man came in a written response to a question posed at a State Department press briefing earlier this week, when a reporter asked if the administration agreed with criticism of Rogers from Deborah Lipstadt, the United States Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating Anti-Semitism.

Lipstadt had quote-tweeted a post denouncing Waters from EU antisemitism envoy Katharina von Schnurbein after two Berlin shows last month. Von Schnurbein wrote, "I am sick and disgusted by Roger Waters’ obsession to belittle and trivialise the Shoah and the sarcastic way in which he delights in trampling on the victims, systematically murdered by the Nazis. In Germany. Enough is enough."

In response, Lipstadt tweeted that she agreed with von Schnurbein's "condemnation of Roger Waters and his despicable Holocaust distortion."

Now the State Department has backed Lipstadt's post, saying, "The concert in question, which took place in Berlin, contained imagery that is deeply offensive to Jewish people and minimised the Holocaust. The artist in question has a long track record of using antisemitic tropes to denigrate Jewish people."

In the aftermath of the initial criticism, Waters released a statement, which said, "My recent performance in Berlin has attracted bad faith attacks from those who want to smear and silence me because they disagree with my political views and moral principles.

"The elements of my performance that have been questioned are quite clearly a statement in opposition to fascism, injustice, and bigotry in all its forms. Attempts to portray those elements as something else are disingenuous and politically motivated.

"The depiction of an unhinged fascist demagogue has been a feature of my shows since Pink Floyd's The Wall in 1980.

"I have spent my entire life speaking out against authoritarianism and oppression wherever I see it. Regardless of the consequences of the attacks against me, I will continue to condemn injustice and all those who perpetrate it."

Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 38 years in music industry, online for 25. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.