Screenshot of Death in June performing in Paris in 2015 courtesy of YouTube
Oregon-based record label and mail order service, Soileilmoon Recordings, has been deemed a hate group promoting racist music by the prominent civil rights advocacy group Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). The announcement was made last week, on February 15, as part of SPLC's annual report on active hate groups in the United States, reports Portland weekly news publication Willamette Week.Soleilmoon was founded as a cassette label in 1987, and has released music by well-known experimental acts including Merzbow, Nocturnal Emissions, The Legendary Pink Dots, and Muslimgauze. The label says alleged neo-Nazi band Death in June is its top-selling artist, a group that has regularly used fascist and Nazi imagery in its work. The band's leader Douglas Pearce has also made statements that have been criticized for being racist, Eurocentric, and pro-fascist.
In a 1998 interview, Pearce said that "nine times out of ten" he felt "very comfortable" having "Eurocentric/Racialist" fans, "Depending upon their ' version ' of Eurocentric Racialism." He said "race is very important" to his sexual preferences in an archival interview, and also called Adolf Hitler "the most influential man of [the 20th] century," according to Robert Forbes' book Misery and Purity: A History and Personal Interpretation of Death In June.THUMP spoke to SPLC spokesperson Ryan Lenz over the phone about their decision to designate Soleilmoon as a hate group. "We list them for a couple of reasons," he said. "The first reason is that they are the lone distributor of the work of Pearce. His solo project uses a whole lot of repackaging of basic and recognizable symbols and phrases from World War Two-era fascism. The name of the band Death in June itself is a reference to the [pro-Hitler 1934 purge] Night of the Long Knives, and the merchandise that they sell has this whole embodiment of fascist wear and Nazi symbology.""The second reason we list Soleilmoon is that they also market this band called NON, which is Boyd Rice's band. Rice is a former [white supremacist organization] American Front member who sometimes uses the wolfsangel or the wolf's hook, this sort of rune symbology that was popularized by the Nazi party. And It's not just the fact that they represent those two bands. Whenever you buy anything from Soleilmoon, you get advertisements for Death in June, so they're really pushing this hardcore racist thing."
"Every year, we try to look a little deeper into the movement, look into music and into other places. As hate has moved into different spheres in the world, it's moved out of organized group structures and onto the web, we're trying to represent all the places that hate exists in the world. Record companies are one of them."Soleilmoon's owner and operator, Charles Powne, told Willamette Week that he was "mystified" by SPLC's hate-group listing. "The solution to bad speech is not to shut it down, but to overcome it with more speech," he said.In an article about hate and extremism in the last year in the SPLC's journal the Intelligence Report, senior editor Mark Potok described 2016 as "a banner year for hate." The SPLC has also documented a dramatic rise in hate groups since the turn of the millennium, reporting that the hate group count has been rising again in recent years, from 784 to 914 since 2014, because of "a presidential campaign [Donald Trump's] that flirted heavily with extremist ideas."Powne said that he "endorses" the SPLC. "I don't want to feel like I'm a victim of the SPLC," he said. "I'm not happy about [the listing], but it's what they do, and it's their right."Soleilmoon and the SPLC did not return THUMP's requests for comment by the time of publication.Follow Alexander on Twitter.