During last night’s concert (Friday, May 26) in Bulgaria, the frontman addressed someone displaying a sign that included the Confederate flag.
It is an image that Pantera have undoubtedly used in the past, but one the band are consciously making strides to step away from, with Anselmo telling the crowd:
“Sofia, I gotta say this: incredible audience. One more thing: there’s a person over here holding up this sign trying to ruin the fuckin’ show. I disavow, I disavow the fuckin’ flag. I’m sorry. It’s ridiculous, man. Keep politics out of shit. It’s boring.”
Although passed off as an innocuous sign of Southern pride for decades, the Confederate battle flag became part of the larger public discourse after pictures emerged of white supremacist mass murderer Dylann Roof embracing the image.
Anselmo has a turbulent history with racist imagery. Outside of the art on Pantera and Superjoint albums (decisions both he and bassist Rex Brown have referred to as “regrettable”), the frontman was at the center of public controversy when he made a Nazi salute while yelling “white power” on stage during the January 2016 “Dimebash” tribute event in honor of late Pantera guitarist “Dimebag” Darrell Abbott; an incident he said was rooted in an inside joke about drinking white wine backstage with other performers and guests.
The Pantera frontman addressed his past associations with the flag and his evolving point of view in a 2015 interview with Hard Rock Haven, saying:
“It’d be, like, would we be flying the Nazi flag?I don’t think so, because flags are looked at whether it be nationalism or symbols of something. Truthfully, it’s like…I wish fucking everyone would get along.
“These days, I wouldn’t want anything to fucking do with it because truthfully…I wouldn’t,” he said. “The way I feel and the group of people I’ve had to work with my whole life, you see a Confederate flag out there that says ‘Heritage, not hate.’ I’m not so sure I’m buying into that.”