Complete Story


Spring 2021, 51.2, pages: 135-151

Music against Fascism: DIY Versus the Right Wing Safety Squad


Five days after the Ghost Ship fire killed 36 people in Oakland, CA, a group of 4-Chan users calling themselves the Right Wing Safety Squad began a campaign to shut down similar do-it-yourself venues that they saw as “hotbeds of liberal radicalism and degeneracy.” This essay argues that these venues were targeted not simply because of their politics but because the embodied practices of music-making that occur there—performing, dancing, singing along, applauding, and having fun—have the potential to create community across perceived differences. These kinds of communal connections are a threat to alt-right ideologies that leverage difference to keep people frightened of one another. Taking cues from cultural rhetorics, I embrace my identity as an old scene kid in order to share my relationship with underground music scenes, tell the story of the alt-right’s campaign, and discuss the significant role music-making practices play in creating underground communities. 


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