Pink Floyd Frontman's Nazi Uniform Was No Big Deal, Penn's Anti-Semitic Cartoonist Says

‘They call Waters an antisemite for dressing up in a leather jacket,’ lecturer Dwayne Booth said in interview with socialist site

L: Roger Waters tour (ocad123, Wikimedia Commons) R: Dwayne Booth (
February 21, 2024

The University of Pennsylvania communications lecturer who published a slew of anti-Semitic cartoons is defending Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters from charges of anti-Semitism, describing the Nazi regalia Waters wore on stage as a "leather jacket."

In an interview with the World Socialist Web Site, Dwayne Booth, a lecturer at Penn's Annenberg School of Communication, dismissed criticism of Waters for dressing as a Nazi during concerts in Germany. "They call Waters an antisemite for dressing up in a leather jacket," Booth said. Waters's costume included an SS-style trench coat complete with red armbands.

Booth himself is no stranger to anti-Semitic imagery. In the months following Hamas's Oct. 7 attack on Israel, the Penn lecturer published a slew of cartoons depicting Zionists sipping Gazan blood from wine glasses, Jews in a Nazi concentration camp protesting Israel's "Holocaust in Gaza," and a Nazi flag with a Star of David drawn in place of a swastika. The Washington Free Beacon unearthed those cartoons in a Feb. 1 report.

While Penn has thus far declined to discipline Booth for the images—interim president Larry Jameson called the cartoons "reprehensible" but suggested Booth was protected by the school's "bedrock commitment to open expression"—the lecturer's defense of Waters could put additional pressure on Penn leaders to take action.

In addition to his Nazi costume, which prompted an investigation from German police and a rebuke from the Biden State Department, Waters has a long history of advancing anti-Semitic tropes.

In 2013, a Waters concert featured an inflatable pig emblazoned with Jewish stars. Waters proposed adding other slogans and symbols to the pig, including "dirty kike," "follow the money," and "scum," according to a 2023 documentary.

Waters has also compared Israel to Nazi Germany, and he blamed the Jewish state for George Floyd's death during a 2020 interview. Waters downplayed Hamas's Oct. 7 attack in a November interview, accusing Israel of "making up stories."

"We don't yet know what happened," Waters said. "Maybe there were some individual cases of civilians getting killed."

"Was it justified for [Hamas] to resist the occupation? Yeah," Waters added. "They are absolutely legally and morally bound to resist the occupation since 1967." Penn invited Waters to campus last year to participate in the "Palestine Writes Literature Festival," which several university departments sponsored.

While then-president Liz Magill condemned Waters in a public letter, she also issued a private memo to faculty members saying they were free to invite speakers with "hateful views" to campus. Magill resigned in December over criticism of Penn's response to campus anti-Semitism.

Penn did not immediately return a request for comment.

Beyond his comments on Waters, Booth in his World Socialist Web Site interview defended his anti-Semitic cartoons, particularly the sketch that showed Zionists drinking Gazan blood. That image invoked a version of the ancient blood libel employed in anti-Semitic propaganda, which accused Jews of using the blood of Christian children for baking matzah and other rituals.

Booth disagrees, telling the World Socialist Web Site that blood "has long been used not only in visual commentary, but in writing."

"If you want to show somebody who is being careless about the pain and suffering they are causing, you have them drinking the blood of the people they don't give a shit about," he said. "So the whole attachment to the 'blood libel' trope never even crossed my mind. You can't use that to say I'm an antisemite and I want to advance this trope."

Booth in his interview touted "answering every single email since this came up." He did not return a request for comment.

Penn administrators and faculty members have rallied around Booth since his cartoons surfaced.

Former Annenberg School of Communication dean and current public policy center director, Kathleen Hall Jamieson, suggested last week that Booth should not be disciplined given Penn’s commitment to "the values of academic freedom and open expression." Annenberg professor Victor Pickard said the "targeted harassment of Dwayne Booth should be seen as an attack on academic freedom, and we should all rise to defend such inviolable principles."

The school's faculty union also leapt to Booth's defense, publishing a letter last week that threatened to investigate Penn if Booth is disciplined.

"We write to express our concern about the targeted harassment of Annenberg faculty member Dwayne Booth, as well as Interim President Jameson’s dangerous and unwarranted response to it," the union wrote. "Jameson’s public rebuke of a faculty member for protected extramural speech imperils the academic freedom of every faculty member at Penn, and it adds fuel to the fire started by those who are actively campaigning to damage our university’s reputation and to destabilize its basic academic functioning."