In Defence Of Frank Turner
“To start with, most people don’t seem to understand what the difference between left and right is. For example, the BNP are a hard left party. I consider myself a libertarian, I consider myself to be pretty right wing and I get shit for saying that out loud. I was thinking about it the other day, I was thinking about how, quite often, I do keep myself to myself on the subject because I can’t be fucking bothered to have some guy look all shocked at me because I think socialism’s retarded.” – Frank Turner. (moonandbackmusic.com, December 2009)
It’s awful to have to flog this dead horse of an argument after so much has already been written. Yet, after a recent interview with Frank during his latest UK tour (which he also got the usual blah, blah, sell-out, bullshit), I have been hounded by a plethora of comments and quotes about how this Winchester man is a complete dick for not adhering to some imagined list of “do and dont’s” for anyone who picks up a guitar and takes to a stage. And, being the person who did the interview in 2009 that sparked that half-arsed Guardian article, I feel like I have as much right as any to throw my fifty pence worth into the arena….even if it is about two years late. …sorry.
The main point people seem to have umbrage with is the mention of the BNP has a “hard-left party”. The fact is, by striving for “large increases in state pensions; more money for the NHS; improved worker protection; state ownership of key industries” and promising “to give workers a stake in the success and prosperity of the enterprises whose profits their labour creates by encouraging worker shareholder and co-operative schemes”, whilst also promoting themselves as “the Labour Party your parents voted for”, if the BNP aren’t left-wing then they’re doing a bloody good job of looking, sounding, and acting like it (quotes taken from The Telegraph Online.)” People seem to have a huge misconception that right-wing equals racist and left-wing equals cool with everyone of all colours getting together and having a big party.
One reader of John Robb’s ‘An Open Letter To Frank Turner’ (view here) that was posted on this website commented that “Racism, Frank, is Right wing. By definition” before tripping over his own argument with contradiction and going on to call Frank a dick for not understanding the double-think bullshit he’d read on the back of a cereal box and posted online. This, however, could not be further from the truth and racism permeates throughout all aspects of the political spectrum. The Communist party in both the UK and the US was rife with racism until it became the “cool” thing to accept other ethnicities, with Union Leader Jack O’Dell once stating “I never met a black person who was in the Communist Party, [and that’s] because of the Soviet Union” during the 1940s. In fact, even Robert Kennedy, brother of Liberal icon JFK (who also cared very little about the rights of ethnic minorities unless they could further progress his political career, showing a feigned interest in civil rights protests while behind the scenes “urging King to end his nonviolent protests, according to historian Taylor Branch in his authoritative civil rights chronicle Parting the Waters” and deliberately slowing the progress of promised civil rights bills as “he needed Southern Whites for his foreign policy pursuits and their votes for his re-election. [He] needed some of those segregationists to advance his foreign policy agenda, says [Villanova University Professor, David] Barrett….He also had to think about reelection, and not alienating white Southern voters (taken from here)”), was heard to have state “I did not lie awake at night worrying about the problems of Negroes” when questioned about the slow progress of his brothers civil rights bills (Kennedy later authorized the wire-tapping of Martin Luther King Jnr.
But these are meagre examples when compared to the views of the left’s greatest hero, Che Guevara. “The black is indolent and a dreamer; spending his meager wage on frivolity or drink. The European has a tradition of work and saving, which has pursued him as far as this corner of America and drives him to advance himself, even independently of his own individual aspirations” is one of the lesser famed quotes from the Argentine revolutionary, and it doesn’t stop there. Che made many other anti-African remarks including “The blacks, those magnificent examples of the African race who have maintained their racial purity thanks to their lack of an affinity with bathing, have seen their territory invaded by a new kind of slave: the Portuguese.” These two quotes are Che in his pre-revoultionary days, however, and many state that his ideals changed when he took upon the path laid before him by Fidel Castro (yet another massive racist cock whose unappreciative attitude towards what he deemed as “lower races” can be read with far more articulation than I could muster here) and met indigenous people from other walks of life. Yet, as this article from The Commentator very cleverly states, at the time of the above statements Che “had already visited Trinidad and Brazil prior to making this statement…his travels had already encountered scores of Latin Americans of African heritage in Colombia and Bolivia”. The article also mentions that Che had made other racial remarks “in a number of post-revolutionary speeches after overthrowing Cuban leader Fulgencio Batista.”
The idea that right-wing is racist by default no doubt came about due to the awful actions of a twatty little Charlie Chaplin impersonator, but for people to still hold such a black and white (no pun intended) view of how politics works goes to show that they themselves should “do their research”, as many have claimed Frank should, before making rash statements.
Not that they’re not allowed to make them. Which really is the second point. The punk-rock community, for me, as always been about understanding, acceptance, and allowing each person to have the right to their own views, beliefs, and inclinations (as long as these don’t damage other peoples views, beliefs…you get my point) with freedom of speech being at the core of those principles. But, and in all honesty this is not the first time I’ve seen punk rock adopt the pathetic guise of high-school girls poking fun at the outcast kid who doesn’t adhere to every rule and regulation set forth by the “cool kids”, it seems that punk rock is slowly aligning more to the “with us or against us” mentality which, ironically, is the kind of authoritarian thinking that makes the BNP, as Frank rightly states, so repugnant.
The following comment comes from a 2011 interview with Frank, but the anti-establishment, anti-ID card, anti-surveillance, anti-government intervention, attitude is the exact kind of sentiment that is being espoused by the majority a UK punks: “What I think we should do instead is concentrate on ways of minimising the impact on ordinary people’s lives and allow them to get on with their lives and not be bothered by the state. Then you’ve suddenly got a range of things to talk about that are achievable. Like everything from not having ID cards and trying to dismantle the surveillance system we’ve put together in this country on the one hand, trying to remove government from peoples lives, social services. Letting people be freer, health and safety, whatever it might be.” (Every Single Revolution, June 2011)”.
This is an admittedly poor, graph I found on Google to illustrate my original point. Politics is not merely left and right, nor is it even as simple as this graph suggests, and there are many variables and alternatives. If we place Frank somewhere on this graph he would most likely be in the same spot as Ghandi on the Y axis and roughly about the same distance along on the X, though in the opposite direction. Left Wing “heroes” like Che and Fidel, however, would be tucked comfortably along with Stalin, making them have more in common with bastards like good old Uncle Joe and wank-bond-villain-looking villain, Adolf Hitler. Frank really has more in common with Ghandi then he does with someone like Thatcher, so go fuck yourself.
What I find very strange is that the Left-Wing have been so quick to demonise Frank due to his somewhat right-wing views yet I see many leftist Punk Rockers idolising that paranoid crazy twat bag Alex Jones, a man who is as right wing as they come.
Freedom of speech is really the crux of this matter. Frank should be entitled to his opinion, not feel his has to shy away from his beliefs, and not subjected to, including death threats, the sort of morally exclusive fascistic bully tactics that the left is supposed to find so abhorrent.
But hell, to rob the title of Frank’s blog in defence of himself (view here), it’s all schmolitics.
All words by Ian Critchley. You can find more writing by Ian on Louder Than War at his author’s archive here.