In what may be a devastating blow to the throngs of Morrissey maniaticos across the hemisphere, the U.K. Guardian and other British news organizations are reporting that the former Smiths singer expressed anti-immigrant sentiments during a recent interview. Today’s Guardian reports on the controversy stirred up by alleged remarks the aging crooner made when asked about immigration in the U.K.. “The gates of England are flooded. The country’s been thrown away”he responded, according NEM, a Brit music magazine.
The row raging on the other side of the pond has many Latinos and Latin Americans on this side wondering whether their idol harbors sentiments antithetical to migrants. For reasons beyond my limited comprehension of Morrisseyiana, the former Smiths singer has a and massive, cultish fan base in the Américas. His alleged recent statements must come as something of a sad song to thousands of pompadoured, tee-shirt-sporting devotees in L.A., Mexico and elsewhere. Morrissey has denied the allegations and is suing NME for libel.
Of course, these aren’t the first such allegations aimed at him. This 2006 article in the Believer describes some Morrissey performances that make it easier to believe the NME’s report. Consider this description about a concert in Yuma, Arizona,
“When the crowd chanted “Mexico! Mexico!” at an off-the-beaten-track Morrissey concert in the desert town of Yuma, Arizona a few years ago, trying to get Morrissey to acknowledge that the majority of the audience was Latino, the singer responded by saying: “I’m going to sing a couple more songs then all of you can go back to Mexicali.””
or this one about a concert in England,
Draped in the Union Jack flag, a symbol of arch nationalism, and singing songs with such perturbing titles as “Bengali in Platforms” and “National Front Disco”, Morrissey’s acerbic references to “England for the English!” at Madstock failed to appeal to the media’s underdeveloped sense of irony. The performance was taken at face value, and Morrissey was branded a racist.
Whatever the outcome, there’s a lot of gut-wrenching and soul-searching in the land where “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out.”