White nationalists were planning on having a music festival meet-and-greet at the Joppatowne, Maryland Memorial VFW Post 5838 on St Patrick’s Day. The 11th annual event (yes, there are Nazi music festivals…) was announced on Stormfront.org, and coordinated by Baltimore area far-right record label Label 56, which distributes skinhead music, CDs, videos, and other white supremacy merchandise. More about the record label:
Label 56 is the music outlet for a violent neo-Nazi gang called Maryland State “Skinheads” (MDS). MDS head Jason Tankersley, while more involved with their Mixed Martial Arts arm has some organizational input over Label 56 as well. A link for Label 56 appears on the homepages of several other Northeastern racist skinhead groups, including the Keystone State Skinheads, American Thule Society, and the Vinlanders Social Club. Maryland State Skinheads, Keystone United and Supreme White Alliance members are regular attendees.
It’s Going Down ( or IGD) describes itself as
“a media platform for revolutionary anarchist, anti-fascist, and autonomous anti-capitalist and anti-colonial movements. We publish original content alongside anonymous submissions and repost articles from other websites which share our perspectives. We do not and have not called for events. Our news network is made up of friends and comrades across so-called North America whose mission is to uplift and build capacity for a wide range of social struggles by providing news and analysis of when it goes down: riots, strikes, sabotage, occupations, expropriations, rebellion, revolt, insurrection. Whether together or alone – we support liberatory revolt.”
This event is indicative of the rise of white supremacism and the growing organizational capacity of the far-Right nationally. The Ku Klux Klan, and specifically the East Coast Knights of the True Invisible Empire, have been distributing flyers locally in Ellicott City, Towson, and Bel Air, and as far away as North Carolina. It is important to oppose the increasing Neo-Nazi presence together. Time is of the essence. The Mid-Atlantic General Defense Committee (GDC) is monitoring developments in Maryland and working with at-risk communities to respond as they emerge. The GDC encourages everyone to get involved in taking an active stance now.
The complaints and threats from IGD and other allied groups were successful in getting the VFW to cancel the event.
I don’t know how to be any clearer about this: anyone who cheers this result neither understands nor supports free speech and the First Amendment. Neo-nazis, skinheads, white supremacists—you know, morons—have as much of a right to hold a music festival as anyone else. Setting out to get such an event cancelled is no more justifiable or consistent with American values than trying to get Woodstock called off because all of those dirty, godless, pot-smoking, fornicating hippies.
This was settled pretty definitively in 1977, when the Nazis marched through the streets of largely Jewish Skokie, Illinois, or so we thought. The First Amendment doesn’t exist to protect popular speech, nice speech, polite speech, or speech by saints, heroes, role models and Democrats. It exists to protect the worst speech and opinions of the most unpopular, radical, repulsive among us, because if their rights to express themselves aren’t safe, neither are ours. Nobody, especially smug ideological true-blue warriors like those who march in lockstep to the likes of ICD’s drum, has the right to declare any speech so wrong that it is right to interfere with it, because they know best.
These arrogant and censorious dolts pose a far greater threat to liberty and free thought than the pathetic groups of music-loving Nazis, skinheads and men in sheets.
It’s so obvious that it’s embarrassing to have to say it.