There’s a spot on N. Howard Street in Baltimore where I’ve seen some of the greatest shows in my life. Sadly, I don’t think I’ll be going back there any time soon. An openly fascist neofolk band called Death In June is playing there tonight, and as a queer Jew with a disability, I refuse to pay any venue that gives a platform to the kind of hate that wiped so many people off of the planet. It’s a Sunday show, so it’s unlikely that the turnout will be high, but that doesn’t mean we can afford to sit this one out. Death In June playing to a room of six people could mean another six million dead. Think I’m exaggerating? Think again. In the 1920’s, fascists paraded around Western Europe without much of a response. Mussolini’s March on Rome in 1922 and Hitler’s Beer Hall Putsch in 1923 are the two most menacing examples of fascism taking root a decade before it engulfed the world into a period of war and genocide. Hitler and Mussolini’s speeches started attracting small groups of people, but the socio-economic hardships of the time seemed to amplify their oratory skill. They were addressing issues like the near-implosion of finance capitalism and the fear that a “superior” white race could be overtaken by hordes of immigrants. Right now, there are people reacting to bank bailouts, immigration, and Islamic extremism in much the same way.
Doug Pearce of Death In June’s idol, Ernst Rohm, once said, “Brutality is respected, the people need wholesome fear.” Pearce taps into this fear with his music and attracts an audience by spouting racist, xenophobic rhetoric. The fact that the Ottobar, which has played host to so many notable anti-fascist bands, is willing to give a man who said, “those who shouldn’t be able to breed are doing so with frequency,” a place to play is deplorable. Before you ask, “Isn’t it just about t-shirts, tickets, and beer?” I can pretty much guarantee that Sidebar, Club K, Bell Foundry, Charm City Artspace, Liam Flynn’s Alehouse, 2640 Space, and many others would chase neofascists out of town instead of begging them for beer money. If this is about the money, shame on the Ottobar. I’d rather they close than give a stage that changed my life to a bunch of Neo-Nazis. Without Ottobar, I wouldn’t have met Ginger Coyote and been a part of Punk Globe, seen Citizen Fish play one of the most amazing sets of a lifetime, snuck backstage to meet Jello Biafra, or hung out with John Waters and Katrina from Celebration at the bar. I will dedicate my life to fighting against fascism and addressing issues which fascists address in constructive ways. We can never give fascism room to spread, not in Baltimore, not in Athens, not in Berlin, not in Rome, not anywhere. Please tell all touring musicians and performers with an ounce of common sense not to play Ottobar.