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Analysis: Inquisition’s Weak Denial and You

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inquisition band pic 2013

The NBA world received a jolt last week when a recording was made public of a big team’s owner talking racist bullshit to his girlfriend. Slapped with a lifetime ban, the 81-year old thrusted all NBA people from fans to players, from alumni to administrators into panic mode and into the accompanying scramble to oppose racism. Meanwhile, apologists and “hey, let’s not get carried away here”-types opined that it’s un-American to strip a businessman of his right to behave like a fuckhead — even at an advanced age.

The former is natural, but the latter ignores the massive damage done to a global industry that depends totally on public relations. In other words, don’t get mired in a discussion of the weapon when the point is the wound: Any organization would fire an exec for costing them a bajillion dollars in lost revenues and disaster PR — regardless of what precise horrible thing he did or said.

Plus, we can’t overlook the Kramer Defense: To say racist shit is to perpetuate hurtful and harmful bullshit, duh, but logic doesn’t allow us to conclude that the speaker is a racist. That is, their purpose for saying racist horseshit may only be to anger someone (to be hurtful and harmful) or to be rebellious or something. That’s dumb as fuck, yet not an action exclusive to people who are racist in deed or in language. They could merely be talking out of their stupid ass to piss you off, not furthering a platform of racist hate.

All of this was fresh in the minds of NBA/metal people when a story broke Tuesday about Inquisition, authors of one of last year’s best metal albums: In a post on social media, a former white supremacist detailed an encounter six years ago with the Seattle-via-Colombia duo in which they spotted his hate-group-themed tattoos and launched a rave session about the awesomeness of Nazism.

Mind-boggling as it is to be racist in 2014, a time in which there is nearly zero angle in discrimination, the reformed Hitler bro’s story could be believed for Inquisition is to neo-facism as Motley Crue was to devil worship: coy, employing plausibly-denied innuendos infrequently but flagrantly. There’s their song title that reduces a religious figure to his ethnic identity: “Crush The Jewish Prophet.” There’s their decision to assign “multiple album covers and shirt designs” to an artist that’s overtly linked to white power music. There’s their response to these very allegations, which came Thursday. It’s problematic.

It came via Decibel, who, after a scolding of those who rushed to call Inquisition likely neo-Nazis, opened the floor to an ambiguously articulated, unnavigable retort from guitarist/vocalist Jason “Dagon” Weirbach. In it, Weirbach explains that he merely discussed National Socialism in a non-judgemental way with ex-mega-racist guy and his employers (Inquistion tourmates Gyibaaw) and implies an ambush by the discussion’s other participants. They prodded him to explore these topics openly and now color his views as supportive of extreme racism.

Muddling through Weirbach’s double-talk, you feel like it’s kinda possible that Weirbach is caught in an innocent, Larry David-esque situation, in which all indicators incorrectly point to his being a super-asshole. Maybe he’s just a mellow guy, one who doesn’t crush people for their views — no matter how wackily fuckheaded those views may be. After all, he’s in black metal, a genre that likes to espouse freedom of the individual above the good of society; that’s not exactly compatible with uniting as the white race to annihilate the impure. That’s one of the reasons that NSBM is hilarious: You can’t be pro-freedom and wrapped up in oppression, too.

Or maybe he’s like Nikki Sixx, playing it both ways for some reason. He dances on the edge of taboo, then when we have occasion to frown at him with our arms crossed, he shows us his palms like, “What, me? Come on, you’re not understanding me. Jesus was Jewish, so the song title is true.” Like a four-year-old.

Or the opposite: Suppose Weirbach and his lifebro Thomas “Incubus” Stevens used to be sympathetic to neo-Nazism at the time of that 2008 tour — and they’re smart enough to downplay it in 2014. Six years is a long time; people change. They once were trying to express their anger, they brushed up against some hateful shit years ago. Other things fill Weirbach’s life now, like his successful band and the laws of quantum mechanics (ie. semi-tangible things rooted in reality). The problem is that he sucks ass at downplaying stuff. He vibes evasion, or jittery guilt in the hot seat, or failure to commit to condemning those who devote tons of energy to hating the shit out of innocent people. He goes on and on but says very little. He bores you into letting him off the hook.

But that his band is getting bigger might as well suggest not that Weirbach is veiling a shameful past, but rather that he was caught off-guard at the sudden exposure of his evil present. Perhaps he is enjoying rogue status — the ultimate dissent, a giga-contrarianism — even as Inquisition’s profile rises. We all know that feeling: the Testament t-shirt underneath our suit at the wedding; the dazzling smile at the father as we subtly fingerbang the daughter; public drug consumption. We all have our little empowering secrets, our ways of fucking with people in the most psychotic way: in private and in plain sight. We might never know, never be convinced one way or another, due to Weirbach’s resistance to unequivocal statements. He says he is “not a Nazi” and “not out to persecute any particular race,” but even that seems like guarded language which doesn’t exactly rule out that Weirbach is into heinous, pointless shit. Let’s hope he’s not. For now, that’s all we can logically do.

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