Wittenberg made the right decision to break the contract with B.o.B and to look elsewhere for the headliner at Wittfest.
I know, this is a highly debated topic and we have already heard a ton about it. The thoroughly reported struggle of announcing B.o.B as the headliner, releasing news – less than a week later – that because of his outspoken beliefs, we would not have B.o.B as the big act, having a petition started to bring him back as the star and finally the recent announcement that the headliner for the 2018 Wittfest would be Far East Movement.
The beliefs B.o.B is known for have also been published in great detail. B.o.B is a conspiracy theorist, believing the earth is flat, the 1969 moon landing was a hoax, 9/11 was a set up by the government, the government clones celebrities and, the most controversial opinion, he shows support to David Irving, a known Holocaust denier. These things obviously look really bad, especially if you are Jewish or have an ancestry that leads back to a country affected by the Holocaust.
I understand why there is some exasperation about moving on from B.o.B; he would have been the highest profile artist coming to Wittfest in some time. He has been nominated for awards, released a bevy of popular songs and has collaborated with some great artists like Hayley Williams, 2 Chainz and Bruno Mars. On top of that, many of his songs are popular with students; it is a common occurrence to be at a party and hear his song, “Headlines,” blasting over speakers. So, when he was announced as the headliner, there was a great deal of excitement for the newest headliner. This was a major upgrade over the washed out 3OH!3 that performed last year.
However, that will not be the case. Instead, we will listen to someone without beliefs that alienate part of our campus. Yes, this cannot be said without noting that Union Board made a mistake, however they have gone back and corrected it with this action.
I am proud to be part of a great university that is willing to stand for what they believe is right. B.o.B pushes against a couple of Wittenberg’s values: Global Citizenship, Integrity, Wholeness of Person and Community of Learners. If you are keeping track, that is four out of our 11 main values as a university. These values all have to deal with allowing a diverse community to help campus foster growth amongst everyone and to deal with what we know to be right and wrong. Through his beliefs, B.o.B is alienating our Jewish students and is breaking what this esteemed University believes in.
If we did not follow these beliefs, what would the purpose of having them be? Every institution and organization needs ideals that can help keep them focused and grounded. By letting B.o.B perform, we would be shattering these. We would be proving our values mean nothing to us and we can choose when or when not to follow them. What message would that be sending students? It is okay to break the rules sometimes if you get what you really want? It is fine to be racist, anti-Semitic or any other inappropriate view if you are good at something?
By not allowing B.o.B to perform, we have essentially showed the artist, and those that the news reaches, that we will stand behind our Jewish population and not allow someone who has degenerative views of them to have a voice on this campus.
There has been a huge argument made that B.o.B won’t be spreading his ideas on campus if he just performs, but his ideas—like most artists—are in his music. Through this platform, he is spreading what he believes. Plus, Wittfest performers always play their newest music. B.o.B’s newest music contains the most radical of his ideas, including the support of David Irving.
Instead, Far East Movement will be playing. This, of course, is not what many students want and they are upset. So, no matter how good the performance is, students will not be happy with it. Even if their performance is terrible—I, for one, hope it is not—Wittenberg has stood by their values and supported students, which is something I think is way more important than a single performer will ever be.