Keep racism out of music

Letter : Keep racism out of music
The Guardian
September 27, 2008

As anti-fascist musicians and campaigners, we were horrified to read (Report, September 25) of a gathering in Somerset last weekend in memory of Skrewdriver’s Ian [Stuart] Donaldson. Donaldson described himself as a neo-Nazi and Skrewdriver, which raised funds for both the National Front and British National Party, were instrumental in setting up Blood and Honour, a network of bands promoting Nazi ideology through music. The footage of the weekend’s rally on the BBC website clearly shows Nazi flags and members of the audience sieg heiling.

Despite the demise of Blood And Honour [sic — B&H actually organised the gig], the use of music by fascists to spread their ideas is not a thing of the past, with the BNP’s Great White record label being used to produce music targeted at young people. “It’s a great way of getting our message to children,” BNP leader Nick Griffin [performing live on stage in December in Australia] was quoted as saying in a TV documentary about the label shown last year, “because they will listen to songs again and again and pick the words up straight away, whereas maybe one in 100 would bother to listen to a speech.”

We believe racism has no place in music. LMHR has organised over 600 gigs, including our carnival in London’s Victoria Park and an LMHR show, headlined by the Kaiser Chiefs, in Rotherham, where two BNP councillors were elected in May. Our shows stand for unity and a celebration of our multiracial society. Rallies like the one that took place last weekend stand for the ugly politics of racial violence and have no place in Britain.

~ Jerry Dammers (The Specials/2-Tone Records), Roll Deep, Billy Bragg, Jon McLure (Reverend & The Makers), Dirty Pretty Things, Sam Duckworth, Get Cape, Wear Cape, Fly, Late Of The Pier, Akala, Drew McConnell (Babyshambles)

If you have a racist friend
Now is the time, now is the time for your friendship to end

Be it your sister
Be it your brother
Be it your cousin or your uncle or your lover

If you have a racist friend
Now is the time, now is the time, for your friendship to end

Be it your best friend
Or any other
Is it your husband or your father or your mother?

Tell them to change their views
Or change their friends
Now is the time, now is the time, for your friendship to end

So if you know a racist who thinks he is your friend
Now is the time, now is the time, for your friendship to end

Call yourself my friend?
Now is the time to make up your mind, don’t try to pretend

Be it your sister
Be it your brother
Be it your cousin or your uncle or your lover

So if you are a racist
Our friendship has got to end
And if your friends are racists don’t pretend to be my friend

So if you have a racist friend
Now is the time, now is the time for our friendship to end

GOODBYE

Note that, partly in response to the political pressures placed upon fascist bands in the UK and elsewhere, some minor transformations have taken place in the last few years. On the one hand, B&H continues its propaganda efforts: if much reduced in the UK, it flourishes in fascist hotbeds in Europe. On the other hand, in due recognition of the problems inherent in being a neo-Nazi, a plucker of strings and a thumper of tubs, others have decided to attempt to mainstream their image and their message — in much the same manner as the BNP has. Thus the neo-Nazi ‘English Rose’ is now gigging as ‘Tattooed Motherfuckers’; former members of ‘White Lightning’ (Australia) now perform as ‘T.H.U.G.’; the German label ‘Rock-O-Rama’ has re-established itself as ‘Pure Impact’; Perth band ‘The Quick & the Dead’ (which features Murray Holmes, briefly a member of Skrewdriver) has re-emerged (after a 20 year absence), and Murray himself invited on stage to perform with The Homicides. (The Homicides are also planning a split with T.H.U.G..) Beyond this, while Pure Impact distributes both neo-Nazi muzak and more general musical genres, RAC muzak is available locally through Deadset Music (Melbourne) and Snapshot Records (Sydney). A similar process is at work in heavy metal as in punk and oi!; numerous individuals, formerly sieg heiling twats, are downplaying their (former?) political commitments, and are keen to appear merely reactionary, at worst, or ‘apolitical’, at best.

It’s the same old song

About @ndy

I live in Melbourne, Australia. I like anarchy. I don't like nazis. I enjoy eating pizza and drinking beer. I barrack for the greatest football team on Earth: Collingwood Magpies. The 2021 premiership's a cakewalk for the good old Collingwood.
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8 Responses to Keep racism out of music

  1. Krilic says:

    [Lyrics to a song called ‘Human scum’ by German ska band ‘No Respect’.]

  2. Ana says:

    Loving the Special AKA song, nice one @ndy.

  3. @ndy says:

    Thanx Ana. Brilliant song eh?

  4. Reuben138 says:

    Despite the member’s former connections to RAC groups, TMF distance themselves from any political ideologies and do not sing about political things in their songs.

  5. Jacam0 says:

    Tattooed Motherfuckers are not all ex-English Rose. Though to address the more important point, it’s interesting how people’s reactions to music are informed by the musician’s political beliefs, even when they aren’t being expressed in song. Eric Clapton has expressed support for far right groups and sympathy for terrorists, does that make his music inherently bad or evil? Not many people would say so. If people have a problem with skinhead music then they should say so and be honest about the reason. But don’t pretend that you care about the views of the musician if you intend to overlook the musicians who are so popular that it’s inconvenient for you to criticise them.

    Furthermore, it’s interesting that you criticise these bands for not expressing their views. I thought you wanted to ‘keep racism out of music’. If that’s the case then can you not be content with how it is now ‘out of music’ in the cases of these bands? It seems that you seek to harass these people’s creative output regardless of the presence or non-presence of an ideology. Would you rather they sought their kicks in other ways? If so then what is a suitable outlet for these people if not a creative/musical one? Music is a means of communication. Without communication we can never hope to positively improve society. It seems that you’re interested in demonizing an already very agitated demographic of people instead of trying to understand why your views are different. It also seems that in defending the demonized you [are] quite willing to demonize yourself.

  6. Né Pas says:

    I think a reply is in order

  7. T Fries says:

    Well said Jacomo.

    It seems [A]ndy doesn[‘]t really believe in freedom. I know his kind of person in my own country. Antifa has become the new fascism. Andy[‘]s type pass commumi[s]m/socialism with a wink and a nod in spite of the fact that 200,000,000 + have been slaughtered in the name of class equality…

  8. @ndy says:

    Look, I’m just doing what my rabbi tells me.

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