Why I’m Boycotting The Ottobar

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.

Now there's a flag I'd like to burn

Now there’s a flag I’d like to burn


10 thoughts on “Why I’m Boycotting The Ottobar

    • I’ve read that he’s queer, gonna have to fact-check the Jewish thing. Either way, it doesn’t excuse the awful things he’s said. Those identities don’t prevent him from being fascist, they just make him look even more stupid.

  1. What I don’t get is no one boycotts a Motorhead show as Lemmy likes to wear an Iron Cross and collect Nazi memorabilia.

    Also think people need to stop reusing stuff they have read about Douglas Pearce, maybe ask for in an interview with him and talk about what he believes in etc…
    People keep saying that Death in June are openly fascists which is daft as Douglas has once said he has read more pages of Das Kapital than he has of Mein Kampf.
    People also pick on him for playing a show in Croatia during their civil war but don’t seem to mention the show he played in Israel (which I’m not saying oh he has played to jewish audiences so he cannot be a fascist) but playing in a country that pretty much looks down on the people of Palestine

    Anyway he may or may not have said some bad stuff but who the fuck admits to liking Citizen Fish!
    Shame on you!

    • Yeah, I would definitely interview Douglas if he’d agree to it. Thank you for the suggestion! I’d redact this post if he said in plain language, “I am not in any way, shape, or form a fascist,” but he hasn’t. Lemmy, Sid Vicious, and those who aren’t Nazis but collect memorabilia and use it for “shock value” are on the less harmful end of the spectrum. Not the smartest move, by any means, but not as bad as spouting racialist propaganda. Some people give them a pass, but I don’t. You don’t have to have read Mein Kampf in its entirety to be a Nazi. Rohm and Hitler were from rival wings of the NSDAP, Pearce has admitted to favoring Rohm. Having a favorite Nazi is like having a favorite serial killer. Anyone who does should be regarded with suspicion.

  2. show was sold out I hear… personally I think your searing hatred is a bit self defeating. First off its art, there aren’t thumping beats, chicks and disco lights trying to draw people in. It’s a guy impersonating Scott Walker strumming open chords and ringing bells, laying down vocally what is obviously poetry. You took the Rohm thing out of context, he often talked about how Rohm nearly defeated Hitler to establish what was called “National Bolshevism” It’s one of histories fascinating “what ifs” Actually many many people exclaim what period of history entices them most, calling them “Favorites”. Personally I’m obsessed with the Byzantine Empress Theodora, she love flaying people alive… but I don’t think for one moment that makes me less a person than you, since it’s only history that I find fascinating and inspiring. I invite you to take a closer look please and to stop trying to burn books you don’t approve of…. (oh the Irony)

    • The major difference between Byzantine Empress Theodora (who I’d love to learn more about if you’d recommend me a book or two) and Ernst Rohm is that Rohm’s “National Bolshevism” can be applied in very real and dangerous ways to today’s political climate. It is a fascinating “what if,” but I doubt that regime would have been much less bloody, anti-Semitic, and repressive than Hitler’s. I’ve read more about the formative years of the NSDAP through WWII than I have about many other periods in history. Rohm vs. Hitler intrigues me too, but it also terrifies me. I don’t want those books burned at all, I want them read and learned from. I just don’t want people who agree with those things given large platforms to speak and perform as if there were nothing wrong with it.

      • Very interesting points, I love good discussion 🙂 .

        Yes, another rohm would be terrifying, I agree, but this is art, Telling the story of the Night of Long Knives in a song isn’t going to make people rush out into the streets in brown shirts and armbands, If anything, knowing about Rohm and Hitler makes their return Less likely. So I disagree with you saying certain parts of history shouldn’t be allowed in songs.

        Ok, So to continue your argument you would need to find where Douglas Pierce blatantly states that he “agrees” with Nazism, but I’ll save you the time, you won’t. He’s very careful to let his art be interpreted on a personal level. It’s interesting that Douglas Pierce did once write songs that projected a political message in his first band “Crisis”. I’d recommend you listen to their single, “Holocaust” you might find it very enlightening. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iOPYkOlQqPI

        He also fired his bassist when said bassist joined a right wing political party, something I see no one ever give him credit for.

        Another thing to keep in mind is that accusing him of being a nazi acts as a double edge sword… First off you turn your back on what is truly special and unique music, but you also GIVE Death in June over to actual racist nazis… Let me explain.

        Some where on the net, an actual racist/skinhead is lonely and hes going to surf the web to try to find some inspiration, some confirmation that he is not alone in his beliefs… What will happen when he reads your accusation? He will be inspired to think that he is no longer alone and he has “Death in June” singing his praises. Yeah the words make no sense to him, but he saw an intelligent disabled Jewish blogger screaming in disgust about it, which is good enough for him.

        In this case, paranoid witch hunting has backfired and allowed skinheads to bend interpretive art into racist art. It’s tragic and it’s happening thanks to the stigma created by the anti-Death in June hysteria.

        Now the real, I owe this concession because I’m not trying to white wash the band. Yes, Death in June uses the SS deaths head from WW2 as a symbol, he also sometimes uses camouflage patterns that were only used by SS troops. He has a clear fascination with the imagery of WW2 and the holocaust. This has been persistent through thirty plus years of Death in June. Anyone can clearly see how use of this potent imagery can cause inspiration to modern nazis. It is playing with fire is it not? To dig up these horrible reminders of just how inhuman we have been in the past? Yes it’s volatile, passionate, dark, chilling, morbid, controversial…. but I guarantee you it’s not hateful. This is what art is supposed to be. Hence I’m a fan… a big fan.

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