Mariah, Beyoncé, Usher and Gaddafi Money

Muammar Gadaffi's family hired big name entertainers for parties. What with the ongoing mayhem in Libya, that's coming under scrutiny.

So, apparently, Muammar Gadaffi’s family likes to hire big name entertainers for their parties. What with the ongoing mayhem in Libya, that’s coming under scrutiny.

Rolling Stone (“Mariah, Beyoncé, Usher Face Calls to Donate Qaddafi Money to Charity”):

Beyoncé, Mariah Carey, Usher and 50 Cent are facing industry calls to give back the money they earned performing at lavish parties thrown by family members of Libyan dictator Muammar el-Qaddafi. “If it were me, it would go to charity,” says Buck Williams, agent for R.E.M. and Widespread Panic. Adds David T. Viecelli, agent for Arcade Fire, “Hopefully donate it to a charity that somehow assists some of the people who have suffered at the hands of that regime.”

Carey accepted $1 million to perform for Qaddafi’s son, Muatassim, Libya’s national-security adviser, at a lavish New Year’s Eve party on the Caribbean island of St. Barts in 2008; Beyoncé and Usher performed for an undisclosed sum on the island the following year. 50 Cent gave a performance before Muatassim at a 2005 film festival in Venice. Managers for Usher, 50 Cent and Carey declined comment, and Beyoncé’s management, run by her father, Mathew Knowles, did not return phone calls. “They’ve done it for tons of artists,” says a music-business source, referring to Muatassim’s parties, which are often jammed with supermodels. “Those guys are all over the world.”

Qaddafi’s record of brutality and terrorism during his 40-year reign is well-documented – his regime was linked to a 1986 Berlin disco bombing, causing the deaths of two American soldiers, and the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, which killed 270. Late last month, Libya’s former justice minister told a Swedish newspaper that Qaddafi himself ordered the Pan Am bombing. Muatassim’s brother Seif al-Islam el-Qaddafi recently warned Libyan protesters on state television to abandon the streets or face “rivers of blood.”

Back when I was an undergraduate, Gaddafi was Public Enemy Number One. He ordered several acts of terrorism and we launched military action against him on more than one occasion.

After the most notable of these, Operation El Dorado Canyon, Gaddafi seemed to fall off the map. (We learned much later that he had ordered the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 later that year but we presumed until 2004 that the Iranians were to blame.) Eventually, Saddam Hussein became our bogey man in the region.

As recently as 2008, Gaddafi was completely rehabilitated, pursuant to reparations for the Flight 103 victims and cessation of his nuclear program.

All of which is a longwinded way of saying: To anyone under 40, Gaddafi is just another Middle East dictator. We wouldn’t bat an eye if Usher performed for one of the Saudi princes or the potentates of Jordan. The fact that he’s now reminded us of what a horrible bastard he is doesn’t obligate these people to divest themselves of money they earned beforehand.

Now, if they want to donate that money to a good cause, particularly one aiding the people of Libya, it would be commendable. But keeping the money wouldn’t make them bad people.

via Paul McLeary

FILED UNDER: Entertainment, Middle East, Popular Culture, World Politics, , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Franklin says:

    Were the entertainers specifically promoting Libya and their brutal practices? Seems doubtful, so it seems like they should be free to earn a living.

    /oh, and I’m a couple years shy of 40 and still remember those days fairly well …

  2. R_Dave says:

    James Joyner wrote: To anyone under 40, Gaddafi is just another Middle East dictator. We wouldn’t bat an eye if Usher performed for one of the Saudi princes or the potentates of Jordan….Now, if they want to donate that money to a good cause, particularly one aiding the people of Libya, it would be commendable. But keeping the money wouldn’t make them bad people.

    I disagree with basically every premise in that post! I’m under 40, and I was well aware of Qaddafi’s history long before the recent revolution. Even if I wasn’t aware of his particular awfulness, I would (and do) disapprove of celebrities performing for random dictators, including the Saudi princes. And I definitely do think keeping that money, or more precisely having signed up to receive it in the first place, reflects very poorly on their character.

  3. R_Dave says:

    James Joyner wrote: To anyone under 40, Gaddafi is just another Middle East dictator. We wouldn’t bat an eye if Usher performed for one of the Saudi princes or the potentates of Jordan….Now, if they want to donate that money to a good cause, particularly one aiding the people of Libya, it would be commendable. But keeping the money wouldn’t make them bad people.

    Wow, I disagree with basically every premise in that post! I’m under 40, and I was well aware of Qaddafi’s history long before the recent revolution. Even if I wasn’t aware of his particular awfulness, I would (and do) disapprove of celebrities performing for random dictators, including the Saudi princes. And I definitely do think keeping that money, or more precisely having signed up to receive it in the first place, reflects very poorly on their character.

  4. michael reynolds says:

    I write for Rupert Murdoch, so I guess I can’t condemn . . . Kidding. Just kidding. Rupert is not a mad dictator.

    On the other hand I also write for a Danish company belonging to a Danish foundation that I gather supports the poor Danish orphan. (That’s right, singular. It’s Denmark, after all.) So that balances things.

    But I have in the past written for the people who inflict on parents those damned book club things with the tiny boxes you have to fill in.

    And I’ll be doing a book for a publisher whose corporate overlords are headquartered in Stuttgart, home of Mercedes Benz but also home of Porsche, the official car of d-bags.

    On balance it’s tough to keep ones moral skirts entirely clean of mud.

    But to be serious, the whole thing makes me a bit squeamish. I think there are lines, and I kind of think singing for terrorist murderers is over that line.

  5. jwest says:

    I started doing business with the Libyan government the minute the sanctions were lifted. So early, in fact, that we couldn’t find any airfreight company that would do the deliveries. Equipment needed to be flown into Algeria and trucked in.

    Trade encourages openness and better relations on top of bringing petro-dollars back to the U.S. Entertainers are selling their product just like anyone else, so the idea that they should be donating their fee to some charity is just ridiculous.

  6. Dave Schuler says:

    I think there’s a middle ground, Michael. Not everybody has it in them to be a hero and they’re not required to be heroes.

    Marlene Dietrich, who not only spurned Hitler’s offers but threw them back in his face by becoming a naturalized American citizen and going to considerable lengths to discredit his regime and support Allied troops, was a hero. Not everybody’s got that kind of sand.

  7. PD Shaw says:

    This reminds me of one of the raging disputes when I was in college, whether it was ethical to buy or like Paul Simon’s Graceland, given the artist boycott. I liked it, and similar to jwest, believe openness has it’s own virtues.

    But closed parties for the regime elite aren’t about openness.

    I don’t get michael’s analogy, I assume that he writes for the reader; if he can trick Murdoch into funding his, no doubt subversive efforts, it’s all gravy.

  8. michael reynolds says:

    The reader. Ah hah hah hah.

    I mean, yes: it’s about the reader. Certainly not about money. Filthy, filthy money, I despise it so.

  9. cris says:

    Good luck on them ghetto artist giving the money back!!!!

  10. cris says:

    And as for 50 you know damn well he dont give a sh.. where the money came from,and as for charities it will go to the rappers from g unit that didnt make it foundation!!!!!

  11. ponce says:

    One group of artists who probably wouldn’t take Libyan money to perform:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OjWENNe29qc

  12. Wiley Stoner says:

    I though you were referring to a party at the White House with all those names. Gaddafi was a friend of Obama. Recall what he said about when Wright and Farakhan visited Libya? I think I have some happy photos of Obama with Gaddafi. James, can you explain why Obama condems friend of the United States yet does very little about those who hate us? Maybe likes attract?

  13. Spark says:

    It’s too late for damage control. If Mariah, Beyonce et al. are trying to feign ignorance, their lies wear thin. Gaddafi’s brutality and his involvement in the Lockerbie bombings too are well-known. Their belated pangs of conscience seem insincere at best.

  14. Spark says:

    @ Franklin
    “it seems like they should be free to earn a living.”

    Yeah, but it’s not like they needed the money.

  15. Tommy says:

    Not to seem like a prick, but If Moriah Carey performed for Qaddafi’s son (who, from the information posted on this same article would hardly qualify as an uninformed party) on New year’s Eve, 2008, would the News of (according to the article) a client-requested disco bombing not two months prior make the following statement irrelevant?:

    “All of which is a longwinded way of saying: To anyone under 40, Gaddafi is just another Middle East dictator.”

    Seems like a conflict of interest.