Texas Gov Lashes Out at Bands Decrying U.S. Army Sponsoring SXSW

Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a member of the Republican Party, issued a resolute response on Tuesday, March 12, to musical groups pulling out of the SXSW festival in Austin. Around 60 bands have opted out of performing due to the festival’s association with sponsors such as the U.S. Army and defense companies.

Abbott utilized X (previously known as Twitter) to convey his position, declaring, “Bye. Don’t come back,” emphasizing that Austin hosts the Army Futures Command and San Antonio carries the moniker of Military City USA. He staunchly affirmed Texas’s backing of the U.S. military and asserted that those who dissent are not obligated to visit the state.

The festival’s website designates the U.S. Army as a “Super Sponsor,” alongside entities like Volkswagen, The Austin Chronicle, Porsche, C4 Energy, and Delta. In response to Abbott’s comments, SXSW reiterated their commitment to embracing diverse perspectives. They stressed the centrality of music to the festival and reaffirmed their respect for artists’ freedom of expression.

Moreover, they recognized the significance of collaborative efforts in tackling worldwide challenges, which encompass the role of the defense sector in driving technological progress.

Certain organizations, such as the Austin for Palestine Coalition, called on SXSW to rescind invitations to contractors backing the Israel Defense Forces. They urged the festival to spotlight the humanitarian plight in Gaza and advocate for peace and justice. Various artists, including hit songwriter Eliza Lamb, declared their decision to withdraw from the festival. Lamb cited her objection to performing at an event aligned with the U.S. military apparatus, particularly amid ongoing violence against Palestinians.

SXSW justified its inclusion of the defense sector, underscoring its contribution to technological advancement. They emphasized Collins Aerospace’s sponsorship of SXSW Pitch categories as a means of aiding entrepreneurs with inventive concepts.

Nevertheless, certain supporters expressed disapproval of SXSW’s position, raising doubts about whether the festival had refunded the Army’s sponsorship funds. They also highlighted the irony of bands boycotting a festival that champions the liberties they cherish. Notably, the festival significantly bolsters Austin’s economy, contributing over $350 million through its television, technology, film, and music festivities.




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