Inquisition and black metal’s fascism problem: clarification and follow-up

UPDATE 05/05/2014- added link to Daniel Gallant’s interview in Decibel to footnotes

Since the piece I published on Monday, in which I supported claims that the band Inquisition are neo-Nazis, has received the most response out of any of article I’ve written on this blog*, I figured it deserved a follow-up. I’d like to discuss some of the fallout, and clarify some things I feel I didn’t articulate well enough in the original post.

First, readers who’ve not already seen it will probably be interested in Inquisition singer/guitarist Dagon (aka Jason Weirbach)’s response to the claims in this piece by Decibel. I have to wonder if Decibel seriously thought Dagon would answer the question “are you a Nazi?” by saying “yes, yes I am. Buy all of our albums and merchandise!”, but either way it gives you a chance to hear the accused’s side of events. It probably goes without saying that I treat his explanation with extreme scepticism. In a statement on the band’s Facebook page prior to this article’s release, Dagon tried to claim that his ethnic heritage means he can’t be a white supremacist (“I have half latin roots so use common sense”), and in the Decibel piece claims that Antichrist Kramer, the head of the Satanic Skinhead Propaganda label that is infamous for releasing music by openly anti-Semitic or white supremacist bands, can’t be a white supremacist himself because he has worked with a Mexican band. This argument, a close cousin of the “but I have black friends!” defence against racism, was also proposed in the comments to my initial blog, and I’ve already responded to it there, but felt I should do so again here.

I think it is dangerously limited to conceive of white supremacists as Dagon does in the Decibel piece, as “a person who views their race—white—as supreme, and will not associate, absolutely, with no other race of any kind, other than his own race, which in this case would be white.” This is an historically inaccurate view that allows existing racists off the hook. As Daniel Gallant, the former white supremacist who I quoted in the previous piece, puts it: “Right wing extremists who are neo-Nazi do often have non-white alliances with others who share anti-Semitic beliefs and views. This was also true for the German WWII regime, who had non-Aryan alliances. There is a public misconception about what right wing extremist and or terrorists are, and what they are not.”** It would be extremely difficult for a bigot to avoid any dealings with people they consider inferior to them; there are many cases where bigots have friendships with members of the groups they generally despise, either for show to “prove” their lack of bigotry, or if they feel that person is “one of the good ones”. Tactical alliances with those who share their views are also not uncommon: I doubt the Third Reich thought much of the non-Aryan government of Imperial Japan, but it did not stop them allying together in World War II. It is all too common for members of marginalised groups to buy into prejudice against other groups, or to accept the white supremacist views that still linger in the unconscious as a result of colonialism. Anti-semitism among South American black metal bands, for instance, is not unheard of. White supremacists such as Kramer may well be willing to ally with people they consider inferior to them, if they share ideological similarities.

I’d also like to address the various responses to my original article that accused me of being self-righteous, a member of the PC leftist social justice thought police, or even a bigger fascist than the neo-Nazis and white supremacists I discussed, because I suggested people avoid listening to a band if they are suspected of ascribing to dangerous, hate-fuelled ideologies. (It’s odd that so many responders seemed so confused on what a fascist actually is when I provided a link to Umberto Eco’s concise set of defining characteristics.) I already explained in the original piece why I consider fascism and white supremacist ideology especially dangerous, so I’m not going to repeat myself here. I do think I could have articulated my position on this better though, so I’ll attempt to do so.

I personally chose to stop listening to Inquisition’s music when I came to the conclusion they were likely neo-Nazis. Because I consider it a bad idea to give financial support to fascists, white supremacists etc, I advised readers of the previous blog on this subject to stop paying for the band’s albums, T-shirts and other merchandise. However, I realise that even people who hate fascism will not all want to stop listening to a band they enjoy if the musicians responsible might be involved with fascism. I cannot police what people listen to, and despite what several commenters asserted, I don’t wish to. So if people continue to listen to Inquisition via downloads or streaming services, I’m not going to tell them not to do this, or give them shit for it. Looking back at the original blog post, I realise I may not have articulated this clearly enough, and given the impression that I expected everyone to make the same choice about Inquisition’s music that I did.

I can’t entirely deny that my position is a self-righteous one. I did make the choice to stop listening partly out of shame at having praised and supported a band with an ideology I consider harmful. It is on some level an attempt to absolve myself. But it’s a personal choice, and not one I expect others to make as well. There are those who I suspect realise this on some level, and have an intensely hostile reflex against anything they interpret as telling them to limit their intake of art that others consider offensive or harmful. I suspect it’s that reflex that led them to label me the thought police, a “PC SJW fascist” or whatever else. But my suggestion is only made in the context of fascist, Nazi and white supremacist artists, who I consider to be dangerous enough that I don’t want to support them in any way. If you don’t believe that Inquisition are neo-Nazis, or if you don’t believe that fascist ideologies are harmful, then I will likely not be able to convince you otherwise. If that is the case, my suggestions don’t apply to you, and you’re welcome to ignore them. Just don’t expect me to take your position seriously, or to respond to your arguments in the comments section. Since you don’t take my argument seriously, that seems entirely fair to me.

                                 

*Seriously, where were all of you when I wrote about how metal could benefit from engaging with intersectional feminism? There’s like 10,000 words on that subject, there’s bound to be something there for you to get irate about and call me a PC thought police fascist for!

** Gallant has told me that Decibel have offered to interview him about this issue as well, and that he has agreed to do so. If this interview does materialise I will edit this article to link to it. UPDATE 05/05/2014: the Decibel interview with Gallant can be read here. I think he sets out his point very well- I could quote half of what he says, but this line in particular resonates with me: The metal that I used to listen to is about challenging the system and the powers that be – not becoming more like them. We don’t want to become abusers or oppressors. I never thought that was the point of metal.” Given that we still live in a society that is institutionally racist (even if very few are outright, open white supremacists), how exactly is it rebellious or challenging the status quo to tolerate music made by white supremacists?

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27 responses to “Inquisition and black metal’s fascism problem: clarification and follow-up

  1. Reblogged this on BRAIN TRUST and commented:
    This is the follow up article to a piece written earlier in the week. I highly suggest everyone read it. Inquisition just came off the Metal Alliance Tour and surely won over some fans. That’s wholly problematic when there is much evidence to support the band has Fascist leanings, but I’ll leave that for you to decide.

    @BRAINxTRUST

  2. Full Metal Attorney

    You’ve once again stated your position clearly. But two things worth considering:

    1. To engage on your political points in a limited way, I will only say this much: Identity politics are a huge problem. You believe that if a person has “more of a personal connection to the issues at hand” they “are therefore probably more qualified to talk about it than” others. That’s bullshit. (Certainly they have a stake in it and their voices can’t be silenced, but they are not more qualified to speak on the subject.) Your touchy-feely liberal version of identity politics is only the other side of the coin from racist political views. More and more groups are congealing around this idea and clamoring for special recognition and treatment based on how they’re different. But everyone’s different, and no one is. In any case, identity politics peaked about a month ago when conservatives started using the language of liberal identity politics to whine about how they’re being persecuted for their political stances. It had a pretty good run as the dominant form of political discourse, though, so don’t be too sad.

    2. No publicity is bad publicity. You’ve certainly generated a lot of publicity for Inquisition. It’s OK, though: They’re a great band, and I think more people should hear them. And treat it as it is, which is just music. Who cares what they have to say if you can’t understand a word of it?

  3. “””””
    *Seriously, where were all of you when I wrote about how metal could benefit from engaging with intersectional feminism? There’s like 10,000 words on that subject, there’s bound to be something there for you to get irate about and call me a PC thought police fascist for!
    “””””

    In my case, I discovered your blog with the Inquisition issue.

    I was motivated to respond because I’ve had personal interaction with the band and I appreciate them.

    I had already given my opinion on the “diversity in metal” issue at other blogs so I had well formed thoughts about that topic.

    The idea of engaging with intersectional feminism is incredibly offputting to me. Few worldviews are more repulsive to me and I don’t think it’s because i hate women. I gave you a taste of what I think about it in your article on transmisogyny. I think that I have more experience with intersectional “thought” than most in the metal scene because I read blogs and forums on a bunch of topics.

    • Full Metal Attorney

      I had to look this up. So it’s victimization-oriented identity politics squared? Horrifying. The fact that anyone eould even think to write anything applying that to metal . . . . That’s a Spinal Tap level of absurdity. If this blog is a parody, it’s brilliant. If not, it’s a very convincing exercise in pseudo-intellectualism. I think I’m done with this blog permanently.

  4. I’m curious, why do you even bother with black metal at all? The whole genre is built on evil, misanthropy, and hatred. The foundation of modern BM involved dozens of church burnings, a couple of murders, a suicide followed by desecration of the corpse. Black metal is basically the antithesis of social justice. It is anti-human. Euronymous supported communism but only because it brought misery to people living under communist rule.

    I mean, if you peel the layers back on black metal what do you expect to find? It’s a genre that attracts “immoral” and extreme people. I imagine if you analyzed the beliefs and views of every black metal musician and decided whether or not you would listen to them based on morality, you would be left with very slim pickings.

    • Good point. The burden of proof is all wrong. Black metal bands are probably best approached as guilty until proven innocent anyway ( if you care that is ).

  5. I never bothered to check out Inquisition before all this as they seemed quite popular and I assumed that they were one of those typical Black/Death/Bestial bands. Believe it or not, I only checked them out a few days ago after reading all this drama and, well, this band rules! Like a cross between Immortal and old Judas Iscariot, but tighter and somewhat having their own identity. Great fucking riffs, killer guitar tone, very expressive drumming. And after hearing those reptilian vocals, I am completely sold! Just too bad about all this drama, stuff like this should have no place in Black Metal. Now it is time to ignore this shit and start hunting some records.

  6. Dagon’s rebuttal isn’t very impressive. While I’m the first to admit that there are cases where an artist have been falsely branded as nazi/fascist/racist as a result of an overtly policically correct agenda by self-righteous groups unaware of (black) metal culture, this really seems to be something else. I wish that Decibel would have asked him about:

    – POSING WITH A F***ING A SWASTIKA on an early band photo: http://a.disquscdn.com/uploads/mediaembed/images/989/6488/original.jpg

    – Making anti-semitic comments on the omd FMP666 board:

    – Why the misunderstood 88MM project, who absolutely shouldn’t be interpreted as being the least political. appeared on a sampler called DECLARATION OF ANTI-SEMETIC (sic!) TERROR. http://www.discogs.com/Various-Satanic-Skinhead-Declaration-Of-Anti-Semetic-Terror/release/1110349

    I normally give people the benefit of the doubt, but everything about this indicates that there indeed is substance to the accusations. It’s funny how so many people on the band’s FB page react as if the nazi allegations are just completely taken out of the blue by someone wanting to attack the band for no reason when there are so many objective facts indicating otherwise. Would anyone pose in front of a swastika in official band photos without feeling at least some sort of affiliation with the NS movement?

    • “Would anyone pose in front of a swastika in official band photos without feeling at least some sort of affiliation with the NS movement?”

      It’s black metal, so yeah it’s not at all inconceivable that someone would pose in front of a swastika without actually having any affiliation with the NS movement.

      I think out of all the information available the forum post is the most damning, but it is just a screen cap, where is the actual source?

    • lots and lots of BM bands during the 90s messed around with the nazi stuff. There’s a pretty outrageous dimmu borgir interview from around that time, lol. To be honest it seems that they were antisemites at the very least.
      I guess you’d need to ask them if they still think that way. Nokturnal Mortum recently publically abandonned NS ideals (they were mega NS for years) so I guess it’s possible.

      In the end I don’t really care if they hate jews. I’m totally past the whole “omg somebody hates jews, end of the world!” stage.

  7. Disappointed

    So a band gets popular enough doing what they love, without compromising their music in anyway mind you, to travel the world and share their music with countless people from a great multitude of backgrounds, and you would have that taken away from them because the members may have shown an interest in Nazism? For one, you cheapen the term Nazi by applying it to someone who allegedly showed interest in a swastika tattoo and worked with an alleged white supremacist; this goes for the term fascist as well. I’ve got news for you, that’s horribly offensive to the people whose families actually suffered at the hands of the Nazis. At best, you’ve attempted to show that the members of Inquisition tolerate racist ideology in their midst which you then immediately equate with them being Nazis. However, at no point do you attempt to show, nor could you show, that Inquisition does or ever has advocated for any form of Nazism. Yet somehow you use this as the jumping off point to a ridiculous rant asking for inclusivity and openness…in the extreme metal underground (which, by the way, you would know has perhaps the least judgmental fan base of any music scene if you were actually a part of it). The least this shows is your complete unfamiliarity and painful lack of understanding of this music and those who enjoy it. It’s disappointing that someone who wishes to stand up to fascism is so ready to equate the members of Inquisition with those who rounded up and slaughtered hundreds of thousands of innocent people. Lastly, the only people who think of supporting Inquisition as supporting fascism are the people who think they’re standing up against fascism by calling a black metal band Nazis.

  8. Do INQUISITION have Nazi themes in their songs, lyrics or artwork? I’ve heard no evidence of that, so maybe perhaps you should fuck off with your “but he’s a racist!” boogeyman bullshit. Any band in the underground is gonna have to associate/work with all kinds of extreme personalities with extreme ideologies, and your ‘guilt by association’ silliness isn’t welcome in the metal world. A band should be judged only by the what the band creates and presents. Go be a punk rocker where they excel at this sort of witch hunting…and I’m sure the band will really miss the massive support you gave them by downloading/streaming their music.

    • I think that’s a very important point.
      BM is about music, feelings, artistic expressions, not vulgar political activism. I guess meta political expression could be ok but in general in this genre of music we prefer to leave politics off the stage. It allows people who dont care about some political point of view to enjoy the music. Those who share the artist’s politics can go further into that offstage.

  9. @full metal attorney
    let N = number of micro-identities
    then intersectionality = (victimization-oriented identity politics)^N

    Take feminism. Remove whatever is reasonable, leave the unreasonable and crank it up to 11.
    Take antiracism. Remove whatever is reasonable, leave the unreasonable and crank it up to 11.
    Exposure to “intersectionality” in university helped me realize that I was a right winger 🙂

    That Suey Park girl of the recent #cancelcolbert brouhaha is a very, very good example of an intersectional feminist. Look her up. She sounds and acts like a caricature but in her case it’s not an act.

    • Full Metal Attorney

      Sometimes I think I live under a rock. I don’t pay any attention to celebrity news. That’s really all that is.

      If you Google Suey Park, and go to image search, it suggests a related search: Suey Park is hot. I havent’t typed this in years, but LOL.

  10. Also you argue that somebody interacting with other races doesn’t not make them Nazi’s. But you could make the same argument the other way around, does associating with someone who may be a Nazi supporter make someone a Nazi? No.

    I would hardly call the evidence that ‘Inquisition are neo-Nazi’s’ very strong. The ‘crush the Jewish prophet’ song title is irrelevant. The Meads of Asphodel have song titles like ‘Jew killer’ on their album ‘Murder of Jesus the Jew’ and they aren’t neo-Nazis or racist at all. the no colors record label had plenty of non NSBM acts too. The events associated with Gallant are unclear, there are two differing accounts of what happened, neither of which prove they are neo-Nazis. The 88MM project and pic in front of the swastika aren’t proof that they are Nazi’s, a lot of BM artists appropriate Nazi imagery.The forum post is possibly the most damning but we’ve only seen a screencap, is there proof that it was actually a member of Inquisition? Also what is the context and how do we know it was serious? None of this is proof. there is no evidence they are involved in neo-Nazi groups or proof they hold white supremacist views.

  11. For fuck’s sake – Dagon marketed his music with not one, but TWO openly racist labels, seriously inquires as to whether or not Jews are “white” or what kind of “shit” they are, makes music celebrating the holocaust, and their relationship with Kramer shows that they’re happy to work with active, violent neo-nazis. Do you need a fucking road map?

  12. While I might understand not wanting to engage in listening to music by bands that have clear nazi imagery or lyrics (despite the fact that I think is quite a shame), boycotting bands that are suspected to be nazi IN THEIR HEADS that have kept their beliefs for themselves for as long as one can remember is, I think, downright stupid.

    You say it all, it’s all about “Absolution”, wanting to be “clean” from the “evil” and I guess it’s a pretty nice way to pretend being morally righteous one.

    While it indeed might be a bit disconcerting (or even disheartening) to find out that an artist you liked doesn’t live up to your expectations as a human being, this has nothing to do with his art. Should everyone who loves a band support everything they ever did 100 per cent? Do you listen to Guns and Roses, or do you boycott them because of Axl Roses’ anti Gay/Black rants? Do all artists you listen to have to have the same political views than you? Do you need or want to know for which parties they vote? If they are misogynistic? Conservatives? Oppose an issue you support?

    Get real, it’s impossible either to know or to actually be in line with every band you listen. I mean, do you politically check every band before (illegally) downloading their music? What’s your tolerance level? Is it okay if the bass player of the band votes republican? or if the singer posts patriotic memes on his Facebook wall? Is it okay to support a political movement that have murdered tens of thousands of innocent civilians and even go as far as featuring their name on an album cover ?

    (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandinista!)

    (http://www.nytimes.com/1987/06/28/world/peasants-tell-of-rights-abuses-by-sandinistas.html)

    (That’s just an example of course, but I chose because I so fucking love the Clash)

  13. This is a perfect example of the kind of shoot first ask questions later idiocy that people like the author of this blog hope to get away with with the excuse that they belong to or are speaking on behalf of a group of people who are marginalized.

    What I find really funny about this is that any sort of rebuttal or defense from the people who are being attacked is dismissed as nonsense.
    In this case it’s Inqusition being accused of Nazis, and before them it was Jef Whitehead being accused of being a rapist, and who knows who’s next. People like the author of this article are pathetic nitwits who are going to believe whatever they want to believe, regardless of what the truth actually is… shit, it doesn’t even matter what the truth is as long as enough people see them wearing the Good Guy Badge.

    On a personal note, I highly doubt Behemoth would associate with, let alone take on tour, any band who espouses idiologies that lead to the widespread destruction of their homeland during WWII, especially with Nergal publicly condemning national socialism on numerous occasions in the past both on stage and in print.

    By the way, in case you could not glean this from this post alone, the woman who writes this blog frequently resorts to patriarchy/privilege of some sort/etc etc as an excuse to completely disregard anything anyone has to say in response that doesn’t validate her opinions.
    She is absolutely not interested in any sort of debate, she just wants her voice to be heard. The only thing she has accomplished by drawing attention to Inquisition is exactly that: she drew attention to Inquisition. If anything happened as a result of this manufactured “controversy” it is that people who agree with the Nazi ideology who have not checked out Inquisition/Antichrist Kramer/Satanic Skinhead Productions/Nyogtheablisz yet will begin supporting those bands for idiological reasons.

  14. Dantes, you seriously compared voting republican to violent white supremacy. God damn, that’s stupid.

    • Sorry dude, but as long as it’s in their head, there is no more harm coming from a guy worshiping Nazism and Sarah Palhin’s fanboy. Had those guys been involved in anything at all (which is not the case, their only “sin” being to “think” wrong) I would have answered differently. There’s a huge difference between Inquisition (if they are “nazis” at all) and bands like Der sturmer who are actually involved in violent white organisations.

      I just wanted to draw the attention on those extremists who equate everything, from Death in June to Screwdriver, which is very much what I feel like analgender is doing.

  15. Pingback: Daniel Gallant and the Inquisition | #SFTU: Scholar(s) from the Underground

  16. Pingback: A Public Reference: Links to media interviews with Daniel Gallant | #SFTU: Scholar(s) from the Underground

  17. There are, I think, two types of people who will like Inquisition: those that are racist and wouldn’t care if there was a government-led holocaust of jews and minorities tomorrow, and those torn between the music they like and all those nasty ideologies that are perhaps a little bit of a turn-on, but also an inconvenience when they go back to polite society.

    For the former the fact that Inquisition may be nazis is a non-issue. It’s the latter that are have the hardest time admitting what’s right before their eyes.

  18. Pingback: Soldiers of Odin: Exhibiting covert hatred | #SFTU: Scholar(s) from the Underground

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