So, You’re Accused Of Being A Nazi. Now What?
Remember the 90s pop band Ace of Base?
They’re the Swedish band that had three huge hits in the early-mid 90s, including “All That She Wants” and “Don’t Turn Around.”
If that doesn’t ring a bell, this video for their only U.S. number one hit, “The Sign,” probably will.
We haven’t heard much about Ace of Base lately. But that changed last week when The Huffington Post posted an article about the Nazi past of the group’s co-founder, Ulf Ekberg. The author writes:
“…one the band’s founding members has a disturbing secret: He was in a Nazi band and has ties to a political party that also leans uncomfortably toward the hate-group side of the spectrum.”
“It turns out that Ekberg was in a band called Commit Suicide…Among the lyrics Commit Suicide sang: “Men in white hoods march down the road, we enjoy ourselves when we’re sawing off n—–s’ heads/ Immigrant, we hate you! Out, out, out, out! Nordic people, wake up now! Shoot, shoot, shoot, shoot!”
But what struck me about the article most was Ekberg’s response. Instead of hiding from his past, he responded to the Huffington Post with this statement:
“Thank you for the opportunity to respond. During the early 1990s I did dozens of interviews, all around the world, about the people I sometimes found myself surrounded by in the 1980s and how profoundly regretful I am now about associating with such individuals. Those interviews covered every aspect of my past as I strove to be an open book to anyone who asked. It has been twenty years now since I chose to come clean about my past, a decision I made on my own at that time and a decision I do not regret. Every angle of my past was covered there in those interviews. I did have a band called Commit Suicide but we did not write or perform the songs in question on this demo, and I have never been a member of the Swedish Democrats, however the teenage mistakes I did make in terms of my chosen ideas at the time were unfortunate and if I were to live through those days again I would have done things very differently! I’m truly deeply sorry for any hurt and disappointment this has caused for our fans and I want to be very clear that Ace of Base never shared any of these opinions and strongly oppose all extremist opinions on both the right and left wing.”
I never conceived that I’d be defending someone associated with such dangerous lyrics. But I also allow for the possibility that people—even those with ugly pasts—are capable of change. And based on this statement, I believe Mr. Ekberg deserves the benefit of the doubt.
Although you’re unlikely to ever be accused of Nazi sympathies, you can learn some valuable lessons from Ekberg’s response:
- He didn’t hide. He responded quickly, giving the impression that he still wants to make this right.
- He expressed gratitude for the opportunity to discuss these accusations.
- He took responsibility for his past actions, expressing “profound” regret.
- He originally revealed his past on his own, not because he was forced to do so due to negative press.
- He put his past in context. He was in his teens when he allegedly participated in this activity—and hasn’t been associated with it since.
- He appeared human, and didn’t hide behind a wall of “lawyerly” language.
If there’s one criticism, I wish he had been a little more specific about what he did wrong. If he didn’t sing those lyrics or associate with the Swedish Democrats, what, exactly, is he apologizing for? Still, overall, I believe he deserves credit for dealing with this story head on.
What do you think? Was this a good response, or are you less forgiving of Ekberg than I am? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.
Anytime someone responds with an “actual” apology these days, I find myself at least somewhat more amenable toward.
And anyone who responds with anything less, such as the ubiquitous “if anyone was offended …” toss-away line and all its ugly cousins, dims a bit more in my eyes.
He at least fits the first category.
Great point. A genuine apology has made the commenters on this thread defend someone with an ugly past. If that doesn’t show the value of a real apology, I don’t know what does.
Thanks for commenting!
I think this was a spot on response, not in the least because the Huffington Post described it as a “disturbing secret”, and his response made it clear that it was only a secret that the Huffington Post didn’t know about. Given that media outlets love the notion of “the scoop,” Mr. Ekberg eliminated all possibility of that in his response.
And I have to disagree with you on your comment that he should have gone into more detail about what he was apologizing about. I think it’s clear that he was apologizing for his association with hate groups in the past (what the Huffington Post called him out on). By saying that he gave interviews on the topic 20 years ago that were open and transparent, I think he’s saying that it’s old news, and if you’re interested in what he was accused of, go back and look at the archives. I think he did the right thing by not rehashing it, because it would have reopened the discussion about what he did. Instead, he said, “Folks–I know you think this is news, but it’s old news. I’ve moved on, the rest of the world has moved on with me, and so should you.”
Thank you for your comment. I take your point. You may be right.
It’s always a tough balance between acknowledging an allegation (which is good) and dredging it up unnecessarily (which is not). I guess I felt that his line, “My chosen ideas at the time were unfortunate,” was a little too vague. He probably could have gone just a touch further without risking going too far — but again, I think your point is valid and may be correct.
Thanks, as always, for reading.
It would be even better still if he could point to something he has done for retribution… member of a tolerant group, contribution to a good cause, etc. Actions over words.
Thanks for adding that point. You’re right. It would have been an even stronger apology if he had been able to point to his work on tolerance, for example.
Thanks for reading,