An Irregular Column
by Mykel Board
"Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it whether it exists or not, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedy.” --Ernest Benn
It's 1977: The Sex Pistols have stolen punkrock from New York and shipped it to London. They're changing the fashion a bit. Making it more Carnaby Street... and at the same time, more offensive. That's the idea of punkrock, ya know?
“Piss on your ancestors,” said proto-punker Patti Smith.
Only the Brits can make piss into a fashion. And what could be more piss-making than THE NAZIS? Something rude for every occasion. Sid Vicious walks down the stairs, at a very polite concert... in a Swastika shirt.
Flash ahead to 1986: ARTLESS is on tour in The South. We're just leaving West Virginia. I wear a SKREWDRIVER t-shirt given to me by one of our hosts.
“Mykel,” asks Gavin, “can't you find us some more fascists to stay with? Those guys fed us well, gave us clean beds, and didn't keep us up all night playing Crass records. Those other guys, those anarchists we usually stay with... they're filthy. The food is awful... and they won't let us sleep.”
Flash ahead to 1995: The anarchist festival in Toronto. I stay at the house of MRR columnist Steve Beaumont. (A decade later he'll be a world-famous beer writer.) Also at the house are a bunch of guys I don't know from some band I don't know. They're funny and friendly. I've never seen them before.
“What's the story on those guys?” I ask Steve.
“Oh Mykel,” he says, “you're in for a surprise. That's VEGAN REICH.”
The big guy in the band wears an even bigger t-shirt with MEAT IS MURDER stenciled on the front. He's fiddling around in his backpack.
“Got it!” he says, taking out a box of something.
“What's that?” I ask.
“It's tofuburger mix,” he says.
“Yuck!” I answer. “I wouldn't eat that shit in a million years.”
“That's what you think,” he says. “Steve, get the camera.”
And he reaches for me.
I'm out the door... sprinting across the front yard... into the next yard. I can easily outrun this big guy, I think. I think wrong.
Blam! I'm on the ground. Tackled like some football player. Another guy from the band kneels over me. I can't see him clearly. Things are a blur. I'm face up. The guy clamps my head between his knees. He reaches over my face and squeezes my jaw, forcing my mouth open. He does not open his fly and lower his turgid tumor into my mouth. Instead, the big guy, who's faster than he looks, has that box of Tofu Burger Mix open in his hand. He pours it into my mouth.
It's like he's force-feeding me sand. Awful. Grains of tasteless nothing... filling my mouth... spilling over my cheeks... clustering first around then into my ears. I'm gonna suffocate. I can't talk... breathe... nothing. I try to shake my head... turn away from the granular invasion. The other guy's knees keep my head just where it is.
Then it's over.
They let go of me. And they help me stand up.
I spit out the crap. Stick my fingers into my mouth to scrape the insides of my cheek. Steve is laughing behind the camera. The Vegan Reich guys are laughing. My piss-offedness turns to laughter. It really is funny.
Flash ahead to 2003: Two years after Al Qaeda (or SOMEBODY) drove a couple planes into the World Trade Center... and one into the Pentagon.
Suddenly, all Muslims have become terrorists in the eyes of America. More than that... everyone who wears a turban... Muslim or Sikh... Christians in Ethiopia wear turbans for Allah's sake... all have become THE ENEMY.
The enemy? Hey: it could be like Sid Vicious in his swastika shirt... singing My Way. What could be punker in the 21st Century than becoming a Muslim? In my April Fool's column of 2002, I explained my conversion to that religion.
This year, Vegan Reich says:
Perhaps the outward form varied, due to time and place variations. But essentially, every message has been that of "Tawhid," or "divine Unity." Islam includes Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Christianity and accepts their Prophets as being Prophets of Islam. So that is why I came into the din or faith of Islam. To me it seemed to have the most inclusive attitude and complete understanding of spirituality that I had found in many years of searching. And on the outward level, I think it is one of the only traditions that really is inclusive of all racial backgrounds, and absolutely revolutionary in it's demand for social justice.
Are they serious?... or is this just an extension of the elaborate put-on that included me being force-fed tofu in Canada? I don't know. Good satire/parody should skirt the border of reality... touching the possible and the funny at the same time.... like THE ONION. If it's a satire, it's a great one. If it's sincere... it's still funny as hell.
Flash ahead to 2011: The Saudi Arabian punk band Sound of Ruby covers GG Allin's Bite It You Scum. You can see it on YouTube live in a Bahraini disco, complete with the mirror ball and Saudi punks in white robes. Real Muslims assuredly pissing off their world. I love it.
Meanwhile, in England, there's THE SLIMELLIGHT, a venue for Industrial and Goth bands... maybe neo-folk, I haven't been able to figure it out yet. Actually, I don't even know what neo-folk is. Billy Bragg? Not so neo, I'd say.
The Slimelight has been the subject of much protest, including boycott calls... and calls to shut them down.
Of course, music clubs throughout history-- from Negro Jazz through Rock'n'Roll through Punkrock to Hip Hop-- have ALWAYS been the subject of shutdown attempts. Good music is threatening. Those who feel threatened want to shut it down.
But this shutdown call is new. It's organized by Islington Alarm a buncha lefty Brits who don't like the “fascist” aspects of this music. Some Celtic Crosses, and band members in right-wing organizations... or having friends with memberships in right-wing organizations... or being EX-members of right-wing organizations. Without really defining fascism, they brand bands or members as fascist and try to ban them from playing.
In a related blog, Vegan Reich are called fascist because “they're Muslim.” WHAT???
I'll explain. In England, fascist is a common left-wing bully word, similar to the American hate-group. (The U.S. Southern Poverty Law Center brands more than 1000 American organizations as Hate Groups. This includes a number of bands like Tightrope, Fetch the Rope, and Poker Face.)
What is a fascist? For the average British crusty anarchist, it's anyone with a totalitarian attitude. Anyone who thinks “My way is the only way.” Of course, a certain fashion sense, as well as a certain degree of cleanliness, helps.
But what does fascist REALLY mean? Why not ask a fascist? This is the internet age. You can do anything.
So I go to americanfascistmovement.com to see what they say. I don't have space for the whole list, but here are some key points:
Fascism is NOT Racism or Nazism. Races, though unique, are equal. Individuals, however, are not.
Fascism is NOT Materialism: Fascism does not see history as class struggle, and denies that there is nothing to life, and power politics, except what one can put in one's mouth or pocket.
Fascism is NOT Globalism: The integrity of all cultures must be preserved.
Fascism is NOT Capitalism or Communism: Those are materialist systems that promote degeneracy and crush the human spirit.... Man cannot live on peace, land and bread alone
Fascism IS Meritocracy: The degree of which men and women manifest honor and merit in the service of their country is determinant of their place in civil society.
Fascism IS Nationalism: Everything in the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state.
Fascism IS Virtue: Above all: a Fascist believes in virtue and will thus tell you the truth and not just what you want to hear. Truth, courage, integrity!
Hmmm, I like that NOT Racism or Nazism. I like that NOT Materialism or Globalism and NOT Capitalism or Communism. I could do without the Nationalism and Meritocracy, but I like the truth-telling part, at least when it comes to things political.
I score 5 out of 7 on the fascisto-meter. Does that make me a fascist? A 5/7 fascist? Does it matter?
No it does not. We can sit and debate the fascist or not of any person or band from here to Laibach. It's likely, just as some great literature has been written by real fascists (Ezra Pound, Celine), great music has been and is probably being made by other real fascists... whatever that means.
If you don't like the politics, protest the politics. Present alternatives. Counter-demonstrate. If you don't like the music, don't listen to it.
But trying to shut down what you don't like... especially if you shut down music because you don't like the politics. Why that's... that's fascist! Just ask any British crusty street punk.
ENDNOTES: [email subscribers (firstname.lastname@example.org) or website viewers (www.mykelboard.com) will get live links and a chance to post comments on the column]
-->Thou Shalt Not Covet Thy Neighbor's Ass dept: US Congressional representatives Robert Aderhold and Nick Rahall co-sponsored a resolution which proclaims the "influence the King James Version of the bible has had on countless families, individuals and institutions." The resolution also "expresses gratitude for the influence The Bible has bestown (sic) upon the United States."
A Michigan-based group called "the Bible Nation Society" lobbied for the bill during the giant budget debate. That society was founded by Pastor Douglas Levesque. In 2010, at a society conference, Levesque asserted that President Obama "might be the antichrist."
It's good to know who's making the laws in THIS country!
-->Right in there, not even an amendment dept: Article VI of the U.S. Constitution says "No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification of any office or public trust under the United States." Clearly, that's why we've had so many atheists and Muslims in public office. Right?
-->Get that handbill design... free dept: I got a jail letter from Ryan Homsley aka Waldo. He's in the clink for bank robbery and he's an artist. (Pretty damn good too... I use his portrait of me for my Facebook pic.) He said he'd be happy to exchange handbill or poster designs for a letter. It gets lonely in jail.
So write to him: Ryan Hombsley,. #74767, MCDC, 1120 SW 3rd Ave., Portland OR 97204 Tell him what you want for a record sleeve, poster, or handbill... tell him about your life... tell him I sent ya!
-->Cursing the dark dept: California became the first state to outlaw the incandescent lightbulb. Typical of the mommyism of that state (they've also outlawed the sale of violent video games to youngsters), they've decided that despite the extra cost-- and extra mercury-- of fluorescent bulbs, they're better than the old hot-wire ones. Like the Brits they say, “If you don't like it... ban it.
You used to have a choice: 25¢ for a bulb or $10 for one. Guess what happened to that choice.
-->Talk about Mommyism dept: A new Tennessee law makes it a crime to "transmit or display an image" online that is likely to "frighten, intimidate or cause emotional distress" to someone who sees it. Violations can get you almost a year in jail time or up to $2500 in fines.
The ban on “distressing images” is an update to existing laws which already make it a crime to make phone calls, send emails, or otherwise communicate directly with someone in a manner the sender "reasonably should know" would "cause emotional distress" to the recipient.
For image postings, the "emotionally distressed" individual need not be the intended recipient. Anyone who sees the image is a potential victim. If a court decides you "should have known" that an image you posted would be upsetting to someone who sees it, you could face months in prison and thousands of dollars in fines.
Now, if I lived in Tennessee, I'd protest my discomfort and “emotional distress” at every picture of Sarah Palin or Newt Gingrich.
Details at: http://tinyurl.com/comfortoverfreedom
-->The end of scalping dept: The San Francisco 49ers football team joined with Ticketmaster to adopt paperless-only tickets. They became the first NFL team to officially restrict the rights of their fans.
Now, fans have no control over what they can do with their own tickets. Instead, Ticketmaster dictates who they can give their tickets to, and how much that transfer will cost. Details at: http://tinyurl.com/endoftix
-->The beginning of the end dept: Remember how we railed against Google for caving into Chinese calls for them to censor their search engine in China? We've got a bigger problem now.
The "Combating Online Infringements and Counterfeits Act" (COICA) is an Internet censorship bill which is rapidly progressing through the Senate. Although it's supposed to focus on copyright infringement, a huge amount of other stuff, including political and other speech, could disappear off the Web if it passes.
The main mechanism of the bill is to interfere with the Internet's Domain Name System, which translates names like "www.eff.org" or "www.nytimes.com" into the numerical IP addresses that computers use to communicate with each other. The bill creates a blacklist of censored domains. The Attorney General can ask a court to place any website on the blacklist if infringement is "central" to the purpose of the site.
There are already laws in place for taking down sites that violate the law. This act would allow the Attorney General to censor sites even when no court has found they have infringed copyright or any other law.
Strange how that Wikileaks site just happens to infringe on something, isn't it? You doubt it? Why just ask the Attorney General. He'll tell ya.
Details at: http://www.eff.org/coica
-->Whoa yeah! dept: From a so-to-be interfered with website: “Jesus Diaz—Lulzsec and Anonymous declare war on all governments, banks and big corporations in the world.”
And it just gets better from there. A network of information stealers... not for money, but for MORAL GOOD. Are they fascist? I don't care. I love 'em!
http://tinyurl.com/antisec for details.