White Nationalist Sympathizers Have No Place in Music

Illustration for article titled White Nationalist Sympathizers Have No Place in Music
Photo: Peter Beste (Takke Facebook)

Norwegian black metal band Taake were blasted last week for their use of Nazi imagery and anti-Muslim lyrics—venues and artists backed away from their upcoming North American tour amidst pressure from Antifa groups. On Wednesday, the band shared a lengthy Facebook post announcing they were canceling the entire tour, blaming the “illegal activities” of Antifa and the pressure activist groups placed on venues.


White nationalists shouldn’t be given a platform to do anything, anywhere, but are Taake truly white nationalists, let alone white nationalist sympathizers? They say they aren’t. Here’s how they open the post:

“It is with great regret that we have to inform you that Taake’s US Tour has been cancelled. Despite all those incredible people who stepped up and tried to help us save the tour, and to whom we are more grateful than we can express, time and logistics are just not on our side. It was not our wish to cancel, but the decision was forced on us by the illegal activities of Antifa and its supporters who applied pressure on venues and promoters to cancel shows.”


Taake rebukes the “dissemination of lies, misinformation and unfounded accusations” from “a small minority of left wing agitators” for taking income from peripheral workers involved with the tour and depriving fans of their chance to see them. In the post, Taake maintains that they aren’t, and never were, a Nazi band, despite the band’s frontman Hoest performing with a swastika drawn on his chest in 2007:

“We have explained on many, many occasions, the history behind what caused the problems, and there are plenty of articles in the unbiased press and on social media where you can read the truth of it, but just for the sake of clarity Taake is not now, has never been, and never will be a Nazi band.”


I’m kind of wary when it comes to this particular issue with Taake. On the one hand, it’s fucked up to align yourself with fascist imagery, whether you espouse those values or not. It’s worse, too, that they still, after a decade, attempt to cast the burden of responsibility elsewhere, onto groups that rightly think they should be held accountable for these mistakes. On the other hand, if we’re to judge based on old wardrobe choices, lyrics, or blog posts, then few acts in extreme metal or punk scenes would be let off scot-free—yes, including our favorite Danish punks Iceage, who battled off similar accusations of fascist sympathizing in 2013—and maybe they should all be taken to task for it.

Again, white nationalist sympathizers have no place in music—or anywhere, for that matter—but if Taake swears they aren’t, they should be allowed an opportunity to put their money where their mouth is—by donating to charities that combat hate, consistently assuming responsibility for their past mistakes, and working to reassure that their concerts are safe places for all fans. They’re not off to a great start, but when you’re an international touring artist that’s endured for more than 20 years, there’s always more time.


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