Taylor Swift’s appeal is immediate and broad-reaching, as her multi-platinum music career proves, but there’s something about her that makes some people uneasy. Well, it’s not about her per se, but about a certain subset of Swift fans: She’s apparently really popular among white supremacists. She’s been described as a “Nazi Barbie” and an “Aryan pop queen,” among other similarly spirited things, both of which are terms that most pop stars would be quick to distance themselves from.
That said, despite years of this Swift subplot bubbling not terribly deep beneath the surface, the singer has yet to denounce Nazism, white supremacy, or related ideologies with which she has been associated. PopFront editor Meghan Herning addressed this a couple months ago, ending her post with a call to action for Swift:
“And while pop musicians are not respected world leaders, they have a huge audience and their music often reflects their values. So Taylor’s silence is not innocent, it is calculated. And 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.”
Fast-forward to two weeks ago, and Herning has received a response, but probably not the one she was hoping for. She received a letter from William J. Briggs, II, an attorney representing Swift, that calls the post “provably false and defamatory” and threatens a lawsuit if the article is not removed and if a retraction isn’t published.
Herning has an ally in the ACLU of Northern California, though: They issued a statement that calls the post “a mix of political speech and critical commentary” and says that Briggs’ “meritless” claim is “a completely unsupported attempt to suppress constitutionally protected speech.” The ACLU even worked some solid Swift wordplay into its letter, writing, “Not in her wildest dreams can Ms. Swift use copyright law to suppress this exposure of a threat to constitutionally protected speech.”
Now, the ACLU has asked Swift’s attorney to write a new letter saying they will no longer pursue a lawsuit against Herning. Regardless of what Swift’s attorney’s intentions were with this letter (and regardless of how or if he responds), this type of publicity probably isn’t what Swift was hoping to face with a new album on the way.