In a world where pop stars and politics are constantly intertwined, Taylor Swift's silence has been deafening. The performer didn't officially endorse a single candidate in the 2016 American election, and many believe she might be a secret Trump supporter or, worse, a secret white supremacist.
Two months ago, PopFront editor Meghan Herning dug into these strange allegations with a blog post entitled "Swiftly to the alt-right: Taylor subtly gets the lower case kkk in formation."
In the piece, Herning observed that Swift has received a great deal of support from the alt-right, including sites like Breitbart and the neo-Nazi site The Daily Stormer.
Speaking on "Look What You Made Me Do," Herning wrote that Swift "dog whistles to white supremacy in the lyrics of her latest single," adding that, "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."
She concluded that Swift must explicitly denounce white supremacy to put an end to the rumours that she's alt-right. "Taylor's silence is not innocent, it is calculated," Herning wrote. "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."
Last month, Herning received a letter from Swift's lawyer William J. Briggs, II, which claimed that the piece was "provably false and defamatory" and demanded that Herning retract the blog post with an apology.
As Stereogum reports, the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California has come to Herning's defence. It has issued a press release explaining that Herning's blog post was well within her right to free speech.
The organization also made a Taylor Swift reference in the process: "Intimidation tactics like these are unacceptable," ACLU lawyer Matt Cagle said. "Not in her wildest dreams can Ms. Swift use copyright law to suppress this exposure of a threat to constitutionally protected speech."
The ACLU has requested a response from Swift and her lawyer, promising that they won't pursue a lawsuit with Herning.
Swift's new album Reputation arrives on November 10.