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Posts Tagged ‘Racism’

Here We Have Stood, Here We Stand

August 20, 2017 3 comments

When people ask where the Heathens and  Northern Tradition Pagans are denouncing racism, I will remind folks there’s plenty of us that have been here, for years, doing just that.

Let me be clear: The Valknut is not theirs.  Mjölnir is not theirs.  The Runes are not theirs.  The Valknut is Odin’s.  Mjölnir is Thor’s.  The Runes are Their own, symbols of the very vaettir (spirits) of Creation who were in the Ginnungagap (Yawning Mouth, Primal Void) until Odin died, sacrifice of Himself to Himself, took Them up and brought Them forth.  These are sacred.  When white nationalists take up these symbols, use them to further their ideology, to further their brand of hate, they appropriate them and denigrate them.  

Fuck the racists, the Nazis, and the white nationalists who take up symbols of the Gods, the Ancestors, the Runevaettir, the vaettir, and the ways within the Northern Tradition and Heathenry.  Fuck the racist, Nazi, and white nationalist scum.

Wherever and whenever you can, deny the racists, the white supremacists, and the white nationalists these symbols as theirs.  Do not let the only time someone sees the symbols of our religions be on their flags, or in their rallies.  Do not let the only time someone hears of Heathenry or the Northern Tradition be at their rallies, riots, or press releases.  

Wear your symbols proudly whether on your neck, your arm, or your flesh.  Speak out and loud where you may.  Do what you can where you can. Be a living example of the good of our religions, our ways.  Be a living example, and let our Gods, Ancestors, and vaettir be well-represented and well-known.  

For blog posts I have made relevant to these issues, look here:

Why Racism Harms Heathenry

White Guilt is an Indulgence

The Northern Gods Are Not White

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The Northern Gods Are Not White

December 13, 2014 61 comments

The Gods of Heathenry and Northern Tradition Paganism are not white. They are Gods who were historically worshiped by continental or non-continental Northern Europeans. White, as a descriptor to describe people of a certain skin color, and generally speaking certain ethnic backgrounds, is relatively recent in modern description. It is completely socially constructed, and its use has been, throughout history, to marginalize other people and to place ‘whiteness’ as superior. It has no place in Heathenry or the Northern Tradition.

I absolutely reject the idea, finding it repugnant and blasphemous, to place our Gods in the context of ‘whiteness’. There is no such thing as ancient ‘white history’; there is ancient Germanic history, ancient Icelandic history, and so on. ‘White history’, as such, is a relatively new construction. It, and whiteness in general, was initially put forth by the British to make colonization and the other imperialistic ambitions of the Crown more palatable to its citizens. After all, if those one is subjugating are not white, and therefore, ‘lesser’, what need does one have to fight for them, or what cause has one to identify with the oppressed? In such a system, anything not-white is ‘less’, less cultured, less good, less human.

Calls to being proud of ‘whiteness’ are engaging in racism. It does not matter whether one believes their pride to be racist, it simply is. It is taking pride not in one’s heritage, but in one’s place and privilege in society. To be ‘proud of whiteness’ is dogwhistle language for enjoying privilege and prestige because of one’s skin color to the detriment of other people. Phrases such as ‘Native pride’ and ‘black pride’ cannot carry the connotations that ‘white pride’ does because neither Natives nor blacks have, in America’s history, had the power of law to oppress people of other colors, had the ability to destroy white lives with impunity, take white lands without due process, or kill white people without deep repercussions.

It is a wholly different matter to be proud of one’s heritage. In my case, I take pride in my Dutch great-grandfather for braving the seas and arriving in America, but that is far different than my pride being bound up in the pigmentation of my skin.

Irminfolk bylaws are racist on their face. According to them, a person is supposed to be 7/8 ethnic European or identifies as ‘white’ or ‘Aryan’, both terms which are used in a racialist context rather than an ethnic one. How is one to determine if one is 7/8 European? I asked earlier, and will ask again: “Are my eyes German? Are my legs Dutch? Is my left ring finger French? Are my teeth American?” What of the history of ancient peoples who worshiped the Northern Gods? They were traders, farmers, and fighters. They colonized as well as assimilated into the cultures they traded and fought with. They also assimilated others into their culture. ‘Purity’ standards are racist, and are an insult to Heathenry and the Northern Tradition. They are a modern invention to discriminate and divide, and nothing more.

Interesting, then, that the blood quantum required to be part of Irminfolk is an inversion of most blood quantum rules and laws. Racist government policies often made one-drop blood quantum laws their rule for inclusion in a tribal racial, or ethnic group. Fundamental rights and privileges were denied to people who fell into these categories, whether that was freedom, property, religion, or self-determination. It was only in 1978 that the Native American Religious Freedom Act was passed in the United States, securing the rights of Native American people in the United States to teach practice their ways. Blood quantum laws are racist. The ones that were instituted by the US government against Native American tribes were used as a check on Native American tribes’ ability to accept new members. It was instituted as a measure to control Native American population, and thus, Native American tribes’ sovereignty in general.

Because the Internet is often the first stop on a lot of new Heathen and Northern Tradition Pagans to understanding their Gods, the Ancestors’ place in religion, and the vaettir, I cannot be silent on these things. As I said in my last post, I almost turned aside from Heathenry and the Northern Tradition because of racists among our ranks. To paraphrase Archbishop Desmond Tutu, “If I am silent in the face of racism, I have chosen the side of the racist.” I cannot, in my silence, allow racists to turn someone from the Gods, Ancestors, and the vaettir.

Anyone requiring people to pass a blood quantum, or having an ethnic purity standard, or defending such, is a racist, and is supporting racist institutions. It is not my responsibility to be kind or to spare others’ feelings in this matter. Rather, it is my duty to call out racism, racist people and organizations, and stand against such vile things. It is not my duty to love others in this regard; it is my duty to defend my religious community from the stain of racists, and to call them out for what they are, and to state ‘Me and mine do not and will not stand for this’. If that is ostracizing and bullying so be it. Racism has no place in my religion, nor will I give it, its defenders, or its proponents peace so long as they claim it does.

Irminfolk, and countless folkish groups can feel they are not racist. Such feeling does not make them so. If you believe, as Bob Hamlin of Irminfolk does, that being of Northern European ancestry makes you, in his words, ‘more worthy’ to worship the Gods than others, you are racist. You cannot restore honor to a people while engaging in acts that defame and denigrate. You cannot restore honor to a group of religions whose name you stain by your conduct and by your words.

Mike Sagginario’s ad hominem reveals he has little to stand on, morally or rhetorically. Given the interaction from his and others in his group in my space here, I am even more firm in my stance that Irminfolk is racist. I do not care one whit who they consulted. Their words do not lend credence to the racist and racialist policies this, or any religious group puts forward. The policy of ethnic purity, as well as positive affirmation of ‘white’, and ‘Aryan’ identity in the bylaws of the Irminfolk overtly welcomes and provides cover for racists. It is racist on its face in its discrimination. Racism harms Heathenry. My strident insistence in this will not give way.

I care little to what guests and friends are held to insofar as expectations are concerned. The fact that Irminfolk holds these standards for its members and professes to be Heathen is damage enough, and reason enough, for me, HUAR, and others to stand against it. The fact that Irminfolk seeks to put itself out there as a legitimate Heathen resource and group with these policies in its place for its core, voting membership is enough for me to oppose it and any allies it makes. That this group gets along with Native Americans, which there is significant reason to doubt, means nothing to my and others’ opposition to its policies and beliefs. That this group conducted the construction of its bylaws with the aid of a lawyer that somehow approved of and helped them to formulate these policies says more to the lack of ethics of the lawyer and his character than it does the authority or correctness of their assertions. Attempting to explain how I should object to the racist policies of this organization is a derailing tactic, and one I will ignore. This group can welcome discussion on the matter, but my opinion should have been clear from the start, and barring that, what I finished the last post with should have given you a clear enough idea where I stand on things. Any who engage in the welcoming and acceptance of racist rhetoric and racists themselves are my enemy.

What I find, again and again, is a fundamental misunderstanding when I and others make our beliefs and opinions known in this regard. I am not seeking to abrogate anyone’s freedoms in association, religion, or the like in standing against groups like Irminfolk. They are fully free to believe and practice as they will within the laws of the land. In response, I am exercising my freedom of expression. If such seems censoring, the problem of that perception does not lie with me. To call the activism of HUAR, Ryan Smith, and those aligned with them a witch hunt seems foolish to me. Irminfolk put its bylaws on the Internet for all to see; Mr. Smith and HUAR, and now I, have highlighted these racist policies and have publicly denounced this group as racist after reviewing them. If the group wished to remain wholly private, or at least for its policies to not be common knowledge, it would seem prudent to not have published them to the Internet.

If there were indeed death threats made to Irminfolk, its members, or its allies, then I denounce these with all due diligence. There is no need to threaten them or theirs.

The Irminfolk and other folkish, racist groups of its ilk, do engage in practices that help to put others down. Wherever oppression is aided, whether by silence, or open arms, people contribute to the harm of others. To quote Archbishop Desmond Tutu directly: “If you are silent in the face of oppression, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” For any who engage in racist and racialist actions, put forward such policies, or accept racist members among their ranks with open arms, you are contributing to the problem of racism and the oppression of people. The actions of Irminfolk, in instituting the policies and bylaws it has, has a chilling effect on the Heathen community, and especially to prospective members to it. As I recounted in my previous post, racist and racialist Heathens are why I nearly did not come into Heathenry to begin with.

None of the points I made in regards to the practices, policies, beliefs, and so on have been taken up by Irminfolk commenters thus far. Rather, they have come into my space berating my guests, and speaking ill of me and mine. You do not come into my space and demand anything of me, especially in so rude a manner as you have. You do not come into my space and demand anything of my allies, especially in so rude a manner as you have. You do not come into my space and demand respect for policies, procedures, people, and groups that are not due respect. You do not come into my space and insult me and mine. You do not come into my space and make veiled threats, litigious or otherwise. You have tried to besmirch I and others’ characters, and you have conducted yourselves without honor. You have broken frith and hospitality. You shall receive no honor in kind for your actions and your words.

Irminfolk is a racist organization. Its membership and their allies are racists. Their apologists are racists. Any who have requirements such as they do to enter into their religion are racists. There is no compromise to be had here, no dialogue to be engaged in. I will not compromise with those who would deny my family before the Gods, Ancestors, and vaettir. I will not compromise with those who would deny others’ ability to come to know the Gods, Ancestors, and vaettir. I will not speak with them. I will raise my voice against them for as long as they cleave to racist messages, policies, procedures, and people. Likewise, I will raise my voice against any who would act in support of them. Lacking even basic respect and decorum in my own place, I have no respect for them and theirs. I will not entertain their ideas, nor will I engage in dialogue with them.

“127.
I give you rede, Loddfafnir, heed it well!
You will use it, if you learn it,
it will get you good if you understand it
If you know that someone is evil, say so.
Never give friendship to your enemies.” -The Hávamál

Why Racism Harms Heathenry

December 8, 2014 38 comments

This comment was made on The Wild Hunt recent Pagan Community Notes in response to HUAR calling out Irminfolk as a racist religious group.

“If your definition of the word “hurt” means “Anyone who holds a belief that I don’t like” then I agree, racism hurts people. But of course that’s nonsense. What hurts people are *actions* and *policies* in the public area. A private religion having it’s own bylaws, charter, and mission statement is not hurting anyone. The moment they take those beliefs and try to diminish the rights and freedoms of others (remember you don’t have a right to join any religion you want) then we can chat about hurting others. I’m not surprised at the lack of critical thinking on these posts, it’s pretty standard for the modern Pagan community. And if you read my first post, which sounds like you didn’t, I said “have a right to define who can be a member and what the criteria is. If you don’t believe that you’re trodding on the very notion of religious freedom.” Note, I said if you don’t believe the above you’re trodding on religious freedom. I did not say, as someone implied, that simply criticizing them was doing so. I never called to ignore actions. Stop reading what you want into my words. But again, having read your comments loads of times, pretty standard fair for you so I expect you won’t.” -Danielle Amourtrance Verum

This kind of rhetoric shifts the goalposts of a conversation or downplays the legitimate concerns or complaints people have in an effort to claim that the effects of a racist religious organization are not harming the larger religious community they claim to be a part of and do not actively cause harm to that larger religious community. From personal experience with racists in Heathenry, I call bullshit.

I damned near did not become a Heathen because of racists. The first person I met who was Heathen was a racist. He worshiped Odin. I initially ignored Odin’s call because I was under the assumption that the community I would be looking to for guidance in following Him was racist. How could I join a community where my own family members were hated? Racism actively harms religious communities in where it is found not the least because it pushes people to turn away from it. Racism makes enemies where we could have allies.

Racism actively harms Heathenry because it is damned hard to shake the public perception that anyone who worship the Norse, Germanic, Ænglisc, and other continental and non-continental European Gods are racists. The tattoo I bear on my chest for Odin, a valknut on my left breast, is seen by many as a symbol of hate. The valknut I wear around my neck is seen by many as a symbol of hate. Even my son’s Mjolnir necklace is seen by some a symbol of hate. The symbolic representations of my God, and the Runes He sacrificed Himself to Himself for, namely the Runes Tiewaz, Sowilo, Algiz, and Othala are seen as symbols of hate. The Rune Othala is actively banned from display in Germany due to its use by the Nazis. The Rune Sowilo similarly is problematic as the SS officers used it in their insignia. Were a Heathen to seek to use the flyfot or swastika on a banner, as a tattoo, or in art otherwise, those who use it would be seen to espouse racism, genocide, and anti-Semitism.

Racism actively harms religions. It associates the religion with atrocities such as murder, genocide, discrimination, and hate. Racism denies our common humanity, indeed, it denies the humanity of other people outright. It limits the ways in which a religion can express itself effectively, pushing us to ignore, downplay, or outright restrict the use of certain symbols, or combinations thereof. It gives more leverage to those who would deny us our rights. It gives supposedly tolerant mainstream religions another avenue to attack our religious community’s right to exist.

Racism is what enabled America to be built on top of the bodies of countless Native and black indigenous peoples. Entire tribes of First Nation people wiped out and made into pariahs in their own homeland. Entire groups of black tribes and nations displaced, divided, abused, and murdered. Racism began as an idea, continued as a genocide, and has not stopped killing, maiming, displacing, and denying people their human rights.

Racism is what allows capitalism to keep on chugging as cheaply as it has. It, together with its usual cohorts of capitalism and imperialism, is what enabled United Fruit to set up shop in Guatemala under a military coup manufactured by the United States. Racism allows millions of people, children and adults, the world over to become so many numbers to those here, denied the reality of suffering under the weight of need and an exploitative global economic system set to prey on those needs.

Racism actively harms because it enables those who would use institutional, dog-whistle, and more covert forms of racist, ethnic, and other forms of discrimination to flourish. It encourages, rather than challenges and fights this filth. It engenders fear, hate, and denial of people’s needs, rights, and values. Look no further than Ferguson or Detroit to see what racism does when those in power enforce its ideas, and act on its beliefs. Look in your own town. Racist arguments are ready to hand that blames the immigrants for loss of jobs for white people, as if would-be middle-class white folks would sell fruit on the side of the road in 100ºF heat, or would work 80 hours per week to keep their HB-1 visa, only being paid for a fraction of it, in the end earning only a fraction in of what their American-born white colleagues make for a 40 hour work week.

Racism actively harms Heathenry by denying the most basic concept found in the lore regarding humanity’s origins: that we all descended from common Ancestors, brought to life and blessed by Odin, Vili, and Vé. Ask and Embla are the common Ancestors of humanity according to the Creation Story. Odin did not throw them back into the sea, but took Them up as They washed onto the shore, and breathed life into Them, and through Them, into us. He did not say “This tree is too brown” or “This tree is perfect and white”. He took our Ancestors as They were, washed up on shore; driftwood.

Racism hurts people, and harms the Heathen religions because it sets up the false premise that if one is not related ethnically or looks a certain way that they cannot be Heathen. It hurts the people who would join the various Heathen religions, and it turns people away from our Gods, Ancestors, and vaettir. It disrupts the cycles of Gebo, gift-for-a-gift, before it they can begin, by denying that anyone can reach out to the Gods.

Note: this is not saying that there should be no standards for religion. Anyone who has read this blog for any length of time should know this. There should be standards for religion. Yet that standard should not be made on the color of a person’s skin, something so foolish as blood quantum or divisions of ethnicity. Are my eyes German? Are my legs Dutch? Is my left ring finger French? Are my teeth American? Can you divide up your body so easily according to your ancestry? Then how much harder for another human being. So much for ethnicity and blood standards.

Can you practice the religion? Can you respect the strictures of the religion? Can you understand what you are doing well enough that calling yourself a Heathen means something? Ancient Heathens intermarried wherever they roamed, whether trading or settling. They brought back wives from the places they visited, and assimilated with the people where they settled.

All of this being said, if Irminfolk wishes to continue imposing their ridiculous ethnicity and blood requirements, so far as I know they are free to do so. However, as they are not being censored and as I and others see they are actively harming our religious communities, we too shall use our right to speak against them and their racist, ethnocentrist policies. We shall continue to speak against them, and people like them. Their policies are insulting to Heathenry, and are harmful to the Heathen religious communities who believe that everyone, regardless of ethnicity, origin, blood ,etc. has a right to be in our communities.

When a group out in public to declare their policies and claim they are Heathen, you are no longer operating privately. When these policies are laid out for the world to see, this group opened itself up to criticism, rightly deserved. Irminfolk absolutely has a right to make these policies, and make these policies known as far and wide or as quietly as they wish. They are not immune to criticism, nor should they be.

For those who claim to follow the religion of the Heathen Gods, Ancestors, and vaettir who are racist, their words are nothing more than speaking out both sides of one’s mouth. They are lying to themselves, to the Ancestors, and to the Gods they claim to worship. They are lying to the public when they proclaim “This is Heathenry!” They are liars in denying our common humanity in Ask and Embla, in denying that all people are blessed with life by the Gods.

I ask all Heathens who believe in equality, the rights of others, and in our common humanity to stand up to the racists in our midst. Deny them platforms from which to speak. Denounce their lies when they are spoken. Speak out and speak strongly. Give them no comfort, and allow them no place in your halls or worship.

“127.

I give you rede, Loddfafnir, heed it well!

You will use it, if you learn it,

it will get you good if you understand it

If you know that someone is evil, say so.

Never give friendship to your enemies.” -The Hávamál

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