In the first essay in Calendar's new Popping Off series, William K. Knoedelseder Jr. defended Paul Simon's decision to record "Graceland" in South Africa, and to use South African musicians. Knoedelseder's commentary, prompted by protests against Simon by students at Howard University, drew spirited response from readers. Here is a sampling of opinion, the overwhelming majority of which supported Simon's actions. Popping Off is an occasional forum commenting on timely issues in pop music.
I suspect that the people who object to Simon's "Graceland" album because of the involvement of South African musicians are the same ones who object to "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" because of the use of the word nigger. This type of knee-jerk reaction to a certain cue in place of thoughtful examination is truly disturbing.
We must be careful not to think of black South Africans so much in terms of a cause that we forget to think of them simply and principally as human beings. By blending South African music with his own, considering their cultural values and not just their political causes, Simon has wedded the human sides of both cultures.
Nothing could be more irrational than to equate this musical collaboration with the entertainer who goes to Sun City to pocket a hefty fee while putting a good face on the South African situation.