Roger Waters defends using anti-Jewish slur after film exposes antisemitic comments

Former Pink Floyd frontman confirms he suggested using racist term in 2010 email, says it was part of message about ‘evils and horrors of fascism’

Roger Waters performs at Barclays Arena in Hamburg, Germany, on Sunday, May 7, 2023, to kick off his "This Is Not A Drill" tour of Germany. (Daniel Bockwoldt/dpa via AP)
Roger Waters performs at Barclays Arena in Hamburg, Germany, on Sunday, May 7, 2023, to kick off his "This Is Not A Drill" tour of Germany. (Daniel Bockwoldt/dpa via AP)

Former Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters on Friday defended his use of an anti-Jewish slur, after a documentary film said he had proposed writing the racist term on an inflatable pig used as a concert prop.

The 37-minute film, titled “The Dark Side of Roger Waters,” was released by the UK-based advocacy group Campaign Against Antisemitism on Wednesday.

The filmmakers interviewed Waters’ former bandmates and staffers, who recounted anti-Jewish rhetoric from the rock star.

The documentary also revealed a 2010 email in which Waters asked his crew if they could add antisemitic tropes to a stage prop for his concert tour.

“Hey Guys, Who’s going to make pig?” Rogers wrote in the email, referring to a large inflatable pig that drifts over the audience at his concerts. Waters said he “imagined” the pig plastered with slogans including “dirty kyke,” a deeply offensive, racist term for Jewish people.

He also suggested writing dollar signs, “follow the money,” “scum,” a “crescent and star,” and Stars of David on the pig, among other slogans and symbols, according to the film.

In a Friday statement posted to his website and shared on X, Waters appeared to confirm that the email was genuine, and did not apologize for using the term.

“The offensive words I referenced in quotes in an email 13 years ago, were my brainstorming ideas on how to make the evils and horrors of fascism and extremism apparent and shocking to a generation that may not fully appreciate the ever-present threat,” Waters said. “They are not the manifestation of any underlying bigotry as the film suggests. Quite the opposite.”

Several years after the email, in 2013, Waters came under fire when he floated a pig emblazoned with a Star of David and symbols of dictatorial regimes over the audience during a concert in Belgium.

The filmmakers interviewed Norbert Stachel, Waters’ former saxophonist, and Bob Ezrin, a renowned music producer who worked with Pink Floyd on its landmark 1979 album, The Wall.

Stachel said Waters had mocked his grandmother who died in the Holocaust as a “Polish peasant,” and rejected vegetarian dishes in a restaurant as “Jew food.”

Ezrin claimed that Waters once sang him an improvised tune about Waters’ then-agent Bryan Morrison, which concluded with the line, “Morri is a fucking Jew.”

Waters has been repeatedly accused of antisemitism by Jewish groups and authorities in the US, Europe and Israel.

He has berated performers who included the Jewish state in their tours, accused the “Jewish lobby” of holding sway over the music industry, compared Israel to Nazi Germany, and appeared onstage in a costume resembling Nazi attire.

The US State Department in June accused Waters of “Holocaust distortion” and having “a long track record of using antisemitic tropes.”

He is set to perform at the London Palladium, a major venue, on October 8 and 9.

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