Former Pantera frontman Phil Anselmo has dug himself into a hole from which no apology video can save him. But following a firestorm of criticism after footage surfaced of the singer making a Nazi salute and shouting ‘White Power!’ at a recent performance, the revered metal veteran has done just that – despite insisting he wouldn’t.
Anselmo was caught on film making the Nazi gesture at the end of his performance at Dimebash 2016, a festival held in Hollywood in tribute to the late Pantera guitarist Dimebag Darrell featuring Dave Grohl and Zakk Wylde as well as members of Slayer, Metallica, Pantera and others.
Unsurprisingly, Anselmo’s actions have drawn connections to white power groups, who have sharply intensified recruitment and rhetoric in recent years. Despite Anselmo initially dismissing the incident as a joke, viewers of the video haven’t let the brash vocalist off the hook – nor have his fellow rock stars. And rightfully so, given the clear gusto with which Phil roared “White power!” while making the Nazi salute.
Following its publication, Anselmo wrote of the video: “Ok folks, I’ll own this one, but dammit, I was joking, and the ‘inside joke of the night’ was because we were drinking fucking white wine. Some of y’all need to thicken up your skin. There’s plenty of fuckers to pick on with a more realistic agenda. I fucking love everyone, I fucking loathe everyone, and that’s that. No apologies from me.”
That version of events didn’t sound like truth to Machine Head frontman Rob Flynn, who addressed the incident in a video, calling Anselmo a “bully” and saying, “I was there, and I could tell you for a fact that there wasn’t a chardonnay or a Pinot Grigio in sight backstage. In fact, the only thing you were drinking, Phil Anselmo, was Becks German beer. Maybe that’s where the joke came from, huh?” He also pointed out that there was another Anselmo Nazi salute earlier in the night, as well as references to the “nigger era of Machine Head” to which Phil unflatteringly referred.
Flynn openly addressed the cultivated fear of speaking up against racist mindsets and actions in metal, expressing his own fear of publishing the video because Anselmo, despite long being known and discussed as an openly racist figure onstage and off, is “a big bully. A big scary guy. Enough’s enough. Enough’s enough.”
Keith Buckley of Every Time I Die chimed in with his support for Flynn’s version of events:
lost a lot of childhood heroes in the music world lately, Phil Anselmo being the most recent
— keith buckley (@deathoftheparty) January 30, 2016
As does Jesse Leach of Killswitch Engage:
— Jesse Leach (@EyeAgainstI) January 30, 2016
Clearly feeling the heat and foreseeing a future where he’s roaring menacingly onstage at empty 150-capacity clubs, Anselmo dropped the “joke” defense and uploaded a new video on Saturday(January 30), reversing his position on “no apologies from me.” Watch the video apology:
“Philip H Anselmo here, and I’m here to basically respond to all the heat I’ve been getting that I deserve completely. I was at the Dimebash and it was extremely late at night, there was heavy-duty talk between myself and those who love Dime. Heavy emotions were flowing, jokes were made backstage, that transpired upon the stage, and it was ugly, it was uncalled for, and anyone who knows me and my true nature knows that I don’t believe in any of that.
“I don’t want to be part of any group,” he continued, “I’m an individual and I am a thousand percent apologetic to anyone that took offence to what I said, because you should have taken offence to what I said. And I am so sorry. I hope you give me another chance… I love all of you. Anyone who knows me knows that I love all of you. Bless you.”
A seemingly sincere apology from an icon of metal. That is, until you apply some historical context, including the rising chorus of those who’ve shared a stage with him and the fact that Anselmo has had a great many run-ins with racial tension before, including a notoriously racist white pride speech he gave in March of 1995:
“Hey you White kids out there, let me tell you something that no other motherfucking band – White band – in the world has any guts to say. Lemme say it right now. When you wake up in the fucking morning, and you look at yourself in the goddamn mirror – look, hey – have all the fucking pride in your heart, man. All the fucking pride in the world, man, because we are a great people. Hey, and you know what – maybe, just maybe, tonight is a White thing, and the Black man can’t understand what the fuck I’m talking about … Open your eyes. Open your eyes. It’s fucking reverse discrimination is what it is … are you proud of who you are? You think about that. You sleep and think about it. Because it’s your world, motherfucker. It’s your world. It’s your world.”
As Robb Flynn said in the video, “if you aren’t offended by that, fuck you. Fuck you.”
There is no place for Phil Anselmo as a hero in the world of 2016. He can still climb atop that scowling, growling throne in tiny clubs for hate-thug troglodytes deep in the heart of nowhere until his body won’t let him anymore, but those of us with any sense of integrity won’t open their wallets for his vitriol any longer. He is an expired relic of a time when proud assholes could wave their
Confederate flags without consequence, when “might is right” was the law of the land and shitkicking tough guys who came up in the still-vibrant echoes of the Civil Rights movement believed they were the final resistance to the degradation of society, calling for a return to a time when everyone who wasn’t a White Male American “knew their place”.
A great many of these societal cancers still exist. We cannot eradicate them all, but we can certainly stop giving them reverence, excuses, support, headlines or money. Let’s start with this asshole.