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The Problem with Taake Isn’t Just the Swastika Chest Paint Incident

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When the NYC show of Taake’s now-canceled North American tour was called off — the first of what would end up being an avalanche of cancelations brought on by pressure from antifa — the band’s frontman, Hoest, released a statement. In that statement he attempted to explain away the incident for which the band was receiving the most critism — his decision to take the stage with a swastika painted on his chest in 2007 — as a naive act of provocation without any ill intent, and he added that neither he nor the band harbored any racist views.

That would be a perfectly acceptable explanation… except for the fact that he’s completely full of shit.

In a new statement issued following the cancelation of the band’s entire North American tour yesterday, Taake attempt to play the victim, painting themselves as innocent targets unfairly singled out, and casting blame on “the dissemination of lies, misinformation and unfounded accusations” and “the lies spread by Antifa.”

Here’s the thing: none of it is lies. Taake’s racism and bigotry are all out in the open to see for anyone who’s willing to look. “Taake is not now, has never been, and never will be a Nazi band,” the statement reads. OK, maybe they’re not actual Nazis, but they’re still at least very Islamophobic and at worst overt racists.

While the swastika incident from 2007 has been getting the most attention, Hoest and Taake have a long, troubling history of racism and bigotry. The statement Hoest issued to explain that incident at the time did more harm than it did good: it included the phrases “go suck a Muslim” and “untermensch,” the latter a term the Nazis used to describe the “inferior races” they were “exterminating.”

Taake’s 2011 album Noregs Vaapen (“Norway’s Weapon”) is rife with nationalistic themes. There’s nothing wrong with feeling pride for one’s home country, of course, but we all know the slippery slope between pride and extreme nationalism, especially in the Norwegian black metal scene, and lyrics like this one from the track “Orkan” really drive the point home: “To Hell with Muhammad and Muhammadans.” (source: DarkLyrics.com, with help from Google Translate)

Still not convinced? “Perhaps their lyrics recount a story,” you say, “like Marduk or Slayer’s.” Nope. Check out this photo of Hoest from a 2013 show in Glasgow, Scotland, sporting a shirt with a crossed out star and crescent, a symbol of Islam, and wearing around his neck an iron cross, an insignia of Nazi Germany (via FestivalPhoto.net):

Lest we think Taake are fine gentlemen when it comes to standing up for women, you can throw that belief right out the window, too. Earlier this week when allegations of sexual assault were leveled against Young and in the Way, one of the victims contacted Taake when news of their 2015 tour with Young and in the Way surfaced to ask them to reconsider their choice of support act. Taake’s response, according to the victim: “We don’t care, keep this drama off the internet.”

All of that is why, contrary to Hoest’s claim earlier today, none of the what’s been published about Taake in the wake of this tour cancelation has been either “libelous” or “slanderous;” the assertions would need to be false for that to be the case.

Taake’s statement then turned to that tried and true tactic long utilized by the extreme right: blaming the media. That portion reads:

“We should also mention those members of the press who failed to fact check and did not bother to contact us, or anyone else for that matter, for our side of the story. They simply went right ahead and printed libellous statements. This is irresponsible journalism at its worst, and we can’t just single out inexperienced editors of webzines. Complicit in this are long-established and (once) respected publications. Their actions show the utter contempt they have for facts and the disrespect they have for their readers.”

Um, excuse me? Your “side of the story” is plainly visible in your band’s continued use of hateful imagery, lyrics and public statements. Contacting you for comment isn’t necessary; we already have all the information we need. We can only guess that the band is including MetalSucks in their list of “long-established and (once) respected publications” — we sponsored not one but TWO of Taake’s previous North American tours — but we’re fine with being lumped into that group if it means standing against hatred and bigotry, and we certainly wouldn’t have agreed to sponsor those tours if we’d known about the band’s past.

What’s more confusing here than anything is why Taake are going to such lengths to prove their “innocence.” Why not just say they’re anti-Islam? Why go through this charade? Is the symbolism on Hoest’s body in the above photo also an act of provocation, having not learned his lesson after the swastika incident? We hardly think that’s the case, but that would make him quite stupid and incredibly insensitive if so. Hoest has gone on record as saying he’s against all organized religion — he has singled out Christianity as well — but his wardrobe choice is a bizarre and overly specific way of expressing that viewpoint.

In short: don’t let anyone cast doubt that Taake have been unfairly maligned by antifa, the press or any metal fans quick to pass judgment without knowing all the facts. We know the facts. We know who Taake are as people and what they represent.

Here’s Taake official tour cancelation statement in full, if you’re so inclined:

“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. Pressure, it has to be said, that has frequently been accompanied with threats of violence both towards those involved in the organisation and towards any fans attending (not to mention the bands who would be playing). Why these threats are not reported to the police, we don’t know.

“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. What we want to address here is the cancellation of the tour itself.

“This cancellation is unfortunate in many ways, not just for the bands who were going to take part. Not just for the ordinary working Americans with families to support and bills to pay who have lost much needed income because of it. Not just for the fans who wanted to see the bands. Not just for music fans in general. But, also, and more importantly, for America as a whole.

“Why? Because it is the ultimate demonstration of how, through the dissemination of lies, misinformation and unfounded accusations, along with credible threats of violence, a small minority of left wing agitators are able to force their agenda on the majority, and deprive music fans of their freedom to attend concerts and go about their day to day activities without the fear of reprisals and retaliation.

“And these agitators won’t stop once they have destroyed the soft targets from Europe and other parts of the world. Their next targets will be American music, American art, American literature, American theatre, American cinema. Anything, in fact, that does not adhere strictly to their views. And if this reminds you of the McCarthy witch hunts, it is because that is EXACTLY what it is like.

“Whilst none of us blame venues for cancelling because they are afraid of violence, we do deplore the excuses presented by some of them. The desire to ‘protect’ their audience and staff, to create ‘safe spaces’ is not a need brought about by the bands involved, nor their fans. It is the masked thugs hiding behind the banner of Antifa and other organisations like them, who are doing all the threatening. And maybe we should also remind these venues that so many of the musical genres today exist due to those other small venues back in the day who dared stand up to threats and gave a voice to those musicians who brought us Blues and Jazz – the basis of so much of today’s music.

“We would also like to speak out about celebrities like Talib Kweli, who was unfortunate enough to have allowed himself to be played by the lies spread by Antifa and who, as a result, issued statements that are libellous and slanderous. His heart may have misguidedly been in the right place, but his brain, and his legal advisors, were not. Had he bothered to check the facts he would have realised that he had put himself in a position of looking like someone who doesn’t know, or understand, or even care about, all the facts, and who is easily manipulated by others to dance to their tune.

“We should also mention those members of the press who failed to fact check and did not bother to contact us, or anyone else for that matter, for our side of the story. They simply went right ahead and printed libellous statements. This is irresponsible journalism at its worst, and we can’t just single out inexperienced editors of webzines. Complicit in this are long-established and (once) respected publications. Their actions show the utter contempt they have for facts and the disrespect they have for their readers.

“Ending on a positive note, we really do need thank those who stood by us, and especially the venues who refused to be cowed, and those that stepped in offering us alternatives for cancelled shows. We have had messages from all over the world, and from people of all political and religious persuasions, offering not just their support, but also offering their help. And these are not just our fans. We have been contacted by people who admit that they had never heard of us, or that they hate black metal, or that they hate Taake, but have nevertheless felt compelled to let us know of the disgust they feel at the way Antifa, and their like, demand slavish adherence to their agenda, and punish anyone who defies them, riding roughshod over the freedoms of the American people to decide for themselves.

“You, my friends, do not need to apologise for the lies and actions of a fringe group. You are the majority, you are the ones who refuse to bow your heads to those who would dictate how you live your lives, and who attempt to restrict your freedoms – you are the ones who can do something about it.”

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