If You Tolerate This…
Nazis are not cool. Even Brian Ferry has realised this. We hope that David Bowie has outgrown his fascination with Hitler, while Sid Vicious and his swastika are mouldering in his grave. Rock and roll is by nature a libertarian form – it aims for freedom and co-existence rather than prejudice and final solutions. The same goes for jazz, which is why Adolf Hitler tried to ban it. He was a marching band kind of a guy.
Back in the mid Seventies, an organisation called Rock Against Racism arrived. It was supported by The Clash and the Tom Robinson Band. It involved Steel Pulse and Elvis Costello and it tried to give music a sharp agenda. In part, it was a reaction against Enoch Powell and his “rivers of blood” speech about the apparent perils of immigration. It was spurred on by an Eric Clapton remark that seemed to support this little Englander view. Whatever, RAR was a crucial element in my youth – fostering the idea that music can involve politics, protest and social responsibility.
And while the Nazi supporters are still lurking out there, Rock Against Racism is still alive. It now organises gigs under the banner of Love Music Hate Racism. And given the appalling prejudice in Northern Ireland just now, it’s important to make a noise here.
Tonight, Love Music Hate Racism will stage an event at the Speakeasy Bar in Queen’s University Belfast. Bands such as the Olympic Lifts, The Ultra Montanes, Spree DJs, and a series of MCs and turntablists. It will be preceded at 7pm by a debate in the nearby Beech Room, with input from student leaders, unions and politicians. The collective message is simple: Nazis and Fascists are no fun.