Texas Liberal

All People Matter

Mel Gibson & Siouxsie Sioux

Mel Gibson’s anti-Semitic tirade upon being pulled over for drunk driving does not come as a big surprise. I imagine many people had already guessed Mr. Gibson was a bad guy. But his comments reminded me of a lesser known anti-Semitic remark that hit closer to home when I learned about it.  

In Rip It Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978-1984, author Simon Reynolds writes about a nasty song lyric once sung by Siouxsie Sioux of Siousxie and the Banshees.  She sang, “ Too many Jews for my liking.” I had to throw away my Banshees “best of” CD, which I enjoyed very much, after discovering this fact.     

Rip It Up and Start Again is a great book. It’s a history of bands such as Public Image Limited and Gang of Four. I’d suggest it to anyone wanting a better understanding of bands and music that for many people was the soundtrack of their younger days.   

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August 2, 2006 - Posted by | Books, Lousy People, Music

25 Comments »

  1. That totally sucks about Siouxie. I liked her too. Sounds like a good book too. Skoal.

    Comment by Shannon Slim | August 2, 2006

  2. I know many folks who’ve said some pretty bigoted things in their youth (not Mr. Gibson’s excuse) that they would be very embarrassed about today because they have learned and grown since then. Deeds not words sometimes. And forgive but don’t forget.
    I once knew a young man who could make a very reasoned argument why America should invade Canada because it would be easy and they had so many natural resources Americans could use. Was he joking? I think so because I knew him by his deeds as well. I heard he writes a blog now.
    Give Siouxie another chance unless you’ve seen reason not to in the interim.

    Comment by carsick | August 2, 2006

  3. Siouxsie Sioux is Jewish, so I don’t think the lyric can be construded as racist coming from someone of the decent. She has also wrote/sung pro-Judaism music such as her 1981 hit “Israel”.

    Comment by angelapiland | November 13, 2006

  4. I’m surprised to find these remarks. To me ‘Israel’ implies Siouxie’s personal experience of discrimination living in England as a feisty Jewish girl and becoming stronger for it, even becoming the queen of the punk scene. And here, in this song, she is acknowledging her roots. I think she is declaring that the Jewish singing tradition is what she has drawn on and that superficial people who go to church every sunday and ‘look’ happy when they sing and who attack her style of singing, her appearance and her culture (Jewish, punk, individuality…), are really just jealous of her for being so strong and free because she has used her roots as a platform to ascend like a tree as a complete individual, an expression of the Sun. On this basis, I immediately regard the other purported lyric as reflecting the prejudice she may have experienced herself, something that someone has said to her as an attack, another bout of jealousy because she has always been so strong and free, dressed the way she wanted, worn more black eye shadow than anyone else and been an artist and a rebel. So of course she has attracted nastiness from others – but she’s strong enough to deal with it. I would imagine she’s quite in her element provoking such attacks too, well, especially in her younger years! It’s the kind of bitchy comment she would have received from other women in a salvo of abuse in the 70s. I’m English and now live in London and I can tell you that even though the government here seems keen to make the country as multiracial as possible prejudice is rife here…you only have to look slightly different and live in the next village to be targeted by a gang. It’s a redundant war machine cum department store!

    Comment by Iain | January 1, 2007

  5. That was a line in a song…Siouxsie is notorious for telling stories through her music. You, my friend, have made a mistake by tossing out something for such a silly reason! It is people like you that cause such a ruckus over the most trivial small things. You lose! I’m sure she would be happy YOU nolonger own her album. You are not worthy!

    Comment by Jerry | August 3, 2007

  6. Could be true….not sure though based on the reporting in the book. Thanks for the comment.

    Comment by Neil Aquino | August 4, 2007

  7. steven severin, bassist for the banshees, wrote the line “too many jews…” and he explained that it was supposed to mean “businessmen”. sioux was silly enough to sing it at 19 years old. she’s definitely not anti-semitic, as others have pointed out.

    Comment by lori | September 10, 2007

  8. lori–I can’t say that what you’ve written inspires my confidence on the matter. Thanks for the comment.

    Comment by Neil Aquino | September 11, 2007

  9. steve severin wrote that lyric and siouxsie is most definitely not racist or anti-semetic, i mean she is of jewish heritage after all. she obviously did many things with the group which caused controversy (swastika, star of david etc)but it was all to cause an effect. they wanted to cause a stir among the older generation in the ’70s. even malcolm mclaren who was jewish made the swastika t-shirts.

    don’t stop listening to the banshees, they’re an amazing group.

    Comment by rachel | October 18, 2007

  10. Oh No!
    Throwing out Siouxsie? I don’t think she is Jewish as someone wrote, none of her biographies claims so. I thought she was myself since she would often wear T-shirts with huge Stars of David on them late 70’s.

    “Too many Jews for my liking” is something I could say myself. In a sarcastic tone. To ridicule antisemites.

    I don’t know how she put it, but I would assume that this was the way she meant it. She wore the Swastika as well – (“in order to shock the old generation”). This is what she said in an interview in 1999 about wearing the Swastika:

    “Wearing that armband was much more in the spirit of The Producers – you know, Springtime for Hitler – an amazing movie. That was camp, rather than death-camp. I was appalled that anyone would take it [seriously]…”

    Danny
    Tel Aviv

    Comment by Dan Weinberg | September 18, 2008

  11. “I had to throw away my Banshees “best of” CD, which I enjoyed very much, after discovering this fact.”

    How PC of you. Good god, lighten up.

    Comment by Steve | December 19, 2008

  12. Guns ‘N’ Roses had a song called “One In A Million” which included every derogatory slur for every race and group you can imagine, but I don’t decide to stop listening to ALL of their music, only the particular song that offends me. Please, get off your high horse and get a life.

    Comment by Mary | January 14, 2009

  13. Siouxsie is, in all actuality, Catholic. But my no means were any of her antics anti-semitic.
    I suppose you had to ‘be there’ to get the irony.
    R

    Comment by Rick | October 4, 2010

  14. My impression has always been that Siouxsie was clearly pro-Israel via the song “Israel” (of course), but also quite anti-arabic, through “Arabian Knights”, in which she sings some nasty things about arabic people (“Arabian knights at your primitive best (…) / Veiled behind screens, kept as your baby machines, Whilst you conquer more orifices, Of boys, goats and things”)… Not exactly PC oriented, mind you… But I don’t get to read any infos regarding her stand; anyone knows more about this?

    Comment by Boomtuber | October 29, 2010

  15. She is…a singer/writer and very good at it,with the backing of also great musicians has created some nice pieces,dont accuse the woman of anything,especially being of any dodgy faith!!!

    Comment by Bernard Watt | January 4, 2011

  16. I like the the music of Banshees, but I’d like to point out that Siouxsie is definitely not Jewish and that the original lyric was clearly anti-Semitic.

    I’d like to think that they were too stupid to understand that it was offensive, rather than that they were too racist to understand.

    If Siouxsie was Jewish, she would have said so when the matter first came up in the late 70s.

    She sometimes wore a Star of David t-shirt in gigs to distance herself from this debacle.

    Comment by Jon The Man | November 17, 2011

  17. it’s funny and ironic that the self proclaimed “chosen people” can sling mud and feces at other people and cultures all day long without reproach. Religion and hypocrisy are like toast and jam………Go Siouxsie!

    Comment by reno martini | September 28, 2012

  18. siouxsie is definitely not jewish… her bio is on wikipedia

    Comment by sinisterduck | April 10, 2013

  19. I think Siouxsie as young “innocent” punk artist wanted to provoke to the point of a real ambiguity, and then had to deal with it ironically with a big David star in concerts to show to fascist skinheads she wasn’t on their side. Neverthless I think she’s never stopped cultivating kind of ambiguity (the played-player…victim of her own game and in some way being obliged to play her buddy…), telling in a quite recent interview that at the time she didn’t realize that nazis had gone to the point of…burning books (provocative or just clumsy ? A little stupid at least…) ! So a pure antisemite ? Certainly not (Mr “19” you’re not on her side and don’t seem to realize it, in what being told “chosen people” in a religious book would be more guilty than being born with blue eyes ? Stupidity…especially when you know how some christians can be outrageous and “superior” towards the “others”, often. Colonialism, that tells you something ? And you shouldn’t forget that there were a lot of more or less jews who contributed to the punk movement creation). Siouxsie cultivating some ambiguity and becoming the puppet of her own game ? Certainly yes… Apart from that Siouxsie declared in the 80’s she was half jewish, so she realy seems to have jew origins, yes. The fact she would be christian is not contradictory with this as everybody knows it depends on which side…

    Comment by Thomas Soulez | November 3, 2013

  20. Why did they (Journalists) pick on or attack Siouxsie when many of the other punks in the 70’s wore Swastika’s as well, to name a few… Dee Dee Ramone (R.I.P.), The Dead Boys, Johnny Thunders (R.I.P.) Captain Sensible and Sid Vicious (R.I.P.) and many more… Can anyone please answer me that? Is it one set of rules for one person and another set of rules for the other. I’m assuming it was mostly Left-wingers or Jews that attacked her. But that goes against everything being a left-wing is about doesn’t it attacking a woman! That’s sexist! So what’s the deal? Why did it happen?!? When many men wore swatika’s as well and did not get attacked like Siouxsie did!!! What because of the lyrics?!? She erased them they never made it to the record! But songs like Belsen Was a Gas did! Twice!!! So whats’ the deal?!? Please reply, thank-you. 🙂

    Comment by silk | April 19, 2014


  21. Look at Siouxsie/Banshees other some Israel, which is pro-Israel.
    Sometimes it’s irony, sometimes it’s artistic license, sarcasm, wry or black humor. In addition to the punk artists and examples silk spoke of there is X’s Los Angeles.

    Comment by eB | July 2, 2014

  22. SS sorry for the pun ,is a masionic Jew herself, and she’s Matiricalilicical and she’s chiseled and classical and unbelivably goddieesie untouchable so back off PUNKS

    Comment by Joe Lee | September 6, 2014

  23. How people have such difficulty distinguishing anti semitism from anti zionism is beyond me. The song is clearly critical of israels policies, but that is far from being racist or in any way anti Jewish. It’s ideas like these that mucks everything up.

    Comment by Blessthismess | March 17, 2015

  24. I love Siouxsie And The Banshees and as a not english native speaker I used to not really understand the texts. Now that I understand this song, Arabian Knight, which I really love, I’m a bit pissed off : I realize that she was a poor stupid white girl in a way, like many other artists : first Jewish-hater and after that, realizing the destiny of her band could suffer of this reputation, wrote this bigot, ignorant, insane racist Arab-hater text. Even she is speaking in this song about women being oppressed, how does she dare accusing a whole people/nation/culture for that, and using this kind of miserable, offensive, moron argument (“goats”, etc.) ??!! I know that a lot of people agree with the text : Random white superiority complex within a racist system, what else …Never heard her singing about the machistic violence and all kinds of inegualities made to women in the white British/European society or whatever. I wish I would never have tried to understand the text, cause I still love the music of the song, as plenty of other songs of this one of my favorite bands ever.

    Comment by Sof | May 5, 2016

  25. I like Siouxsie even more now. It is always the genius who see the truth, and when they try to share their insites with the masses, the tribe attack and destroy them. Orson Welles, Thomas Jefferson, John F Kennedy…

    Comment by Tim Murphy | May 17, 2016


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