Over the past two weeks, noted radical leftist organization Antifa decided (rather arbitrarily) to impose its own interpretation and enforcement on what should and should not be consumed by American music fans. Norwegian black metal band, Taake, was set to perform a number of shows on its upcoming North American tour but ran into trouble as Antifa members reportedly threatened venues where Taake was performing. Antifa members also appear to have threatened concertgoers and individuals involved in the production of Taake’s shows.
Utilizing Twitter and Facebook (apparently NOT violating either’s terms of service), Antifa communicated its marching orders and public threats.
Antifa, which propagates the narrative that it’s not an “organization” in order to publicly seed a grassroots identity, is indeed very organized and it acts, in many cases, as a militia armed with baseball bats, pepper spray, tear gas and other instruments of violence.
The chief argument Antifa and its sympathizers make is that Taake is a “Nazi” band because frontman, Hoest, once donned a painted swastika on his chest at one performance in Germany in 2007 with rather negative fallout. Hoest, a black metal musician for the past 25 years, has been a well-respected artist in the Norwegian metal scene and is known for his strong disdain of Abrahamic religions, which is not unusual in black metal music. It’s important, however, to note that being against a belief system is much different than a disregard for the followers of a belief system — and Hoest has never shown a propensity to hold religious individuals in contempt. He is certainly not a member of any far-right or neo-Nazi organization. In fact, Taake is one of many recent artists to perform in Tel Aviv, Israel.
While the allure of particularly heavy bands like Taake escape many, it’s clear that there are tens of thousands of metal fans who find value in the band’s art and music. As someone who has studied both controversial black metal music and horror films extensively as an academic, it’s important to note that symbols of evil have been used many times to denote a particular disposition, create a certain setting and make a specific statement about the nature of humanity and transgression. Hoest is profoundly influenced by German horror filmmaker, Jorg Buttgereit, who found himself a target of German authorities upon the release of the film Der Todesking. (See my analysis of the film here.)
Of course, the goal of Antifa and its violent supporters is not to protect Jewish individuals — like myself — from the rise of neo-Nazis Rather, the goal of Antifa is to dictate what can and cannot be allowed in American music clubs. While Antifa has every right to protest Taake for whatever reason it may wish to, it crosses the line when it engages in violent threats and actions. And before every armchair First Amendment scholar on Facebook types in all caps “but the First Amendment doesn’t protect people from consequences, so Taake has to deal with the consequences of once donning a swastika!” let’s not forget that criminal code in every one of the 50 states does, indeed, protect performers, fans and music venue employees from the threat of violence and the imposition of terrorism.
Of course, the real goal of Antifa is not to elucidate truth or engage in discourse surrounding Taake’s art. Rather, like many modern Marxist organizations, the goal is victory over free speech, free expression and the right of citizens to engage in discussion. This real goal, as we know, is part of a greater scheme to dismantle the republican system of governance and impose a more repressive form of rule focused on wealth redistribution and, maybe the not-so-figurative re-introduction of the guillotine.
As ACLU past president and current Heterodox Academy member Nadine Strossen informs us with her scholarship, censoring what is perceived as “hate speech,” (not to imply that Taake engages in hate speech because they really don’t) is based on the premise that the act of censorship prevents discrimination and psychological injuries. As Strossen notes in her upcoming text “Hate,” there is scant evidence that this censorship does anything to actually protect anyone from harm. For years, Strossen has promoted rigorous counter-speech to troubling ideas. However, it appears that, for today’s young Marxist activists, counter-speech is not nearly enough and clearly does not assist in moving closer their ultimate goal of violent revolution.
In 2016 I wrote a piece in Decibel magazine about Taake and the terroristic tear gassing of music fans in a Northern California music club. These fans are mothers, fathers and people from all walks of life — black, brown, Jewish and Buddhist. Back then I feared a domestic art and music scene that would be stunted and censored by those waving the flag of — their own interpretation of — social justice. Now, two years later, it is beyond unfortunate that many who claim to support social justice seem unconcerned about actual social discourse and the right to engage in challenging art.
Rather, Antifa and its largely unchallenged terroristic threats and actions have taken us one step closer to totalitarianism and a giant leap away from the freedoms we cherish in America.
Jeffrey S. Podoshen, Ph.D., is a member of Heterodox Academy and an expert on propaganda.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.