Taylor Swift allegedly threatened to sue a blog that compared her to Hitler and drew connections between the singer’s music and the alt-right.
Culture and politics blog PopFront published a post titled ‘Swiftly to the alt-right: Taylor subtly gets the lower case kkk in formation’ in September. The blog post dissected the lyrics of Swift’s recent single ‘Look What You Made Me Do’ and its music video, suggesting that they were “a defence of white privilege and white anger”.
“Taylor’s lyrics in ‘Look What You Made Me Do’ seem to play to the same subtle, quiet white support of a racial hierarchy,” editor Meghan Herning wrote. “Many on the alt-right see the song as part of a ‘re-awakening’, in line with Trump’s rise. At one point in the accompanying music video, Taylor lords over an army of models from a podium, akin to what Hitler had in Nazis Germany. The similarities are uncanny and unsettling.”
Herning added: “Her lyrics are like an affirmation for everything the alt-right has been feeling for years: oppressed, afraid to come out, and made to look like a fool. And now that they feel empowered, it befits the movement to have a white, blonde, conservative pop star that has no doubt been ‘bullied’ by people of colour in the media, singing their feelings out loud.”
“‘We will not be replaced’ and ‘I don’t like your kingdom keys’ are not different in tone or message,” Herning continues. “Both are saying that whites feel threatened and don’t want to share their privilege. And there is no way to know for sure if Taylor is a Trump supporter or identifies with the white nationalism.”
Following the blog post, Herning says she received a letter from Swift’s legal team, demanding that PopFront “immediately issue a retraction of a provably false and defamatory story about Ms Swift, as well as remove the story from all sources and cease and desist from publishing or disseminating it”.
“The story is replete with demonstrable and offensive falsehoods which bear no relation to reality or the truth about Ms Swift,” the letter adds. “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 singer’s legal team goes on to say that PopFront is “substantially liable to Ms Swift for defamation”.
The Northern California wing of non-profit organisation the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) has now sent a letter to Swift and her attorney, stating that Herning and PopFront “will not in any way accede to your attempt to suppress their constitutionally protected speech”.
The ACLU argue: “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 apparently embraced Ms Swift, along with a critical interpretation of some of Ms Swift’s music, lyrics, and videos. ”
“This is a completely unsupported attempt to suppress constitutionally protected speech,” said ACLU of Northern California attorney Michael Risher.
“Intimidation tactics like these are unacceptable,” added ACLU attorney Matt Cagle. “Not in her wildest dreams can Ms Swift use copyright law to suppress this exposure of a threat to constitutionally protected speech.”
Herning, meanwhile, has said: “The press should not be bullied by high-paid lawyers or frightened into submission by legal jargon. These scare tactics may have worked for Taylor in the past, but I am not backing down.”
NME has approached Swift’s press representative for further comment.