The ACLU weighs in on Taylor Swift's battle with the alt-right

By BILL KEVENEY / USA TODAY (TNS)
November 8, 2017 14:31

Taylor Swift rejects the claims of an alt-right blog that she is an icon of White Supremacists.

2 minute read.



Taylor Swift.

Taylor Swift.. (photo credit:REUTERS)

(Tribune News Service) - Taylor Swift is encountering some turbulence in trying to protect her reputation.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Northern California wrote to the music superstar's lawyer on Monday, objecting to her demand that a blogger remove and retract a September 5 post headlined "Swiftly to the alt-right: Taylor subtly gets the lower case kkk in formation."

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The civil liberties organization was responding to an October 25 letter from the pop star's lawyer threatening a lawsuit against the blog, PopFront, whose mission is "re-centering the national political conversation and bringing together the left," and the writer, Meghan Herning. It also rejects the lawyer's claim that the letter itself is confidential.

In the post, Herning writes, "The idea that Taylor Swift is an icon of white supremacist, nationalists, and other fringe groups, seems to finally be getting mainstream attention. But the dog whistles to white supremacy in the lyrics of her latest single (Look What You Made Me Do) are not the first time that some have connected the (subtle) dots."

Herning writes that Swift "is giving support to the white nationalist movements through lyrics that speak to their anger, entitlement, and selfishness."

She says Swift's silence on the matter of white supremacist support seems calculated and closes with this challenge: "If that is not true, she needs to state her beliefs out loud for the world -- no matter what fan base she might lose, because in America 2017, silence in the face of injustice means support for the oppressor."

In the letter to PopFront's Herning, Swift's lawyer, William J. Briggs II, writes: "The story is replete with demonstrable and offensive falsehoods which bear no relation to reality or the truth about Ms. Swift. It appears to be a malicious attack against Ms. Swift that goes to great lengths to portray Ms. Swift as some sort of white supremacist figurehead, which is a baseless fiction masquerading as fact and completely misrepresents Ms. Swift."

The letter says Swift has no obligation to state her political views, but proceeds to convey her condemnation of white supremacy:  "Let this letter stand as a yet another unequivocal denouncement by Ms. Swift of white supremacy and the alt-right."

Speaking on behalf of Herning and PopFront, whose slogan is "Culture + Politics from the Left Coast," ACLU attorney Michael Risher writes, "Mrs. Herning and PopFront will not in any way accede to your attempt to suppress their constitutionally protected speech. The blog post is a mix of core political speech and critical commentary; it discusses current politics in this country, the recent rise of white supremacy, and the fact that some white supremacists have embraced Ms. Swift."

Joseph Kahn, the director of a half-dozen music videos by Swift, including the one for Look What You Made Me Do, weighed in on the flap on Twitter.

"Let's remember there's one major recording artist who has publicly endorsed a white supremacist," he tweeted -- with a photo of Kanye West and Donald Trump.

(c)2017 USA Today. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


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