A Darker Figure #78: I've Decided To Cover Up My Burzum Tattoo
I have decided to cover up my Burzum tattoo. This decision has been a long time coming, but has been solidified by a number of recent events. While the events in Charlottesville, VA have been a big part of the immediacy of the decision, a difficult set of conversations are the real driving force.
Recently, I learned that a long time band member was wearing a patch on his vest (and had the same sticker on his car) identifying with the 3%ers group, which is an American “patriot” group that pledges resistance against the US government regarding infringement of the US Constitution. Basically they are an anti-government, pro-gun group that believes that the constitution should go back to its original status. Which also happens to mean they are often anti-gay, racist, and misogynistic - because the constitution was a terrible document and is constantly being improved upon. The founder of the 3%ers movement, who also founded the Oathkeepers (which is a collection of current and former police and military officers with a similar goal - to refuse to uphold laws they see as unconstitutional), is a racist and an all around piece of shit politically. 3%ers movement sounds alright on paper - wants to stand up for something they believe in, wants to protect people’s rights - but it isn't. It is a hate group. No question about it. It’s members want to pretend that it isn't, but their actions don't reflect what they say. Defending and supporting white supremacists and nazis in rallies, making communes on national reserves and claiming that your privileges are being infringed upon as a white farmer, or rushing to literally defend with weapons Kim Davis (who was being arrested for violating probation after being held in contempt of court for refusing (after a court order) to issue same-sex marriage licenses (this was the Oathkeepers, and Davis’ lawyers said no thank you to the armed security detail.) This is a hate group, not a human rights group.
So when I learned that my long time bandmate (who I had replaced recently for other reasons) was wearing the symbol of this group I was pretty concerned. Wes managed to talk to him about it in person this weekend and the first thing he said was “i’m not about the racist stuff.” This is troubling for a lot of reason - 1. He knows there are racist aspects of the group, 2. He choses to be a part of it anyway, and 3. He thinks that the public will separate the two and not just see him as part of a hate group. You can't ignore the racist part and just pick up what you want from a hate group. That isn't how it works. People aren't going to take the time to get to know which part of the racist, misogynistic, homophobic group you take part in.
But! This isn't just a shit-on-him parade. This made me think a lot about my own connections to groups that I thought it might be okay to explain my way through. Which brings me to the Burzum tattoo.
Burzum is an extreme black metal band (made up of one member) that I was really into as a teenager. Church burnings, pagan ideals, spooky sad music. It’s all there. There was a shirt from Burzum that I had for a long time - which was the “Hvis Lyset Tar Oss” album shirt - and I really loved the image. It was black shirt with a grey picture of a forest. On the side of the forest road there was a body that was decomposing. It was great. The song is about a return to nature and death, and I really identified with it. So when I was 20 or so I got the tattoo of the words, “Hvis Lyset Tar Oss” (If the Light Takes Us). The problem is the sole member of this band is a crazy white supremacist who is still alive and is still spreading his hate-filled, ignorant beliefs. And for a long time I thought that I could just say that that wasn't what it meant to me - that I had another meaning for it, or that I just liked the sentiment of the line “If the Light Takes Us.” But how is that any different than wearing a patch from a hate group and saying “oh, I don't do the racist stuff”? It isn't.
I don't know what i’m going to cover it up with yet, I need to do some more research into how to go about a cover up. But it will happen soon.
Now is not the time to make excuses for hate, even if you don't think it represents you in a larger group that you identify with. Hate groups and activist groups are not the same thing.