I just got off of a rather tense phone call with a representative of the Southern Poverty Law Center. I should note that I have a huge amount of respect for the work that this organization does. For any who don’t know, the SPL Center is a non-profit that tracks hate groups in the United States.
The reason for my tense phone call was that I was on their website and came across this page: http://www.splcenter.org/intel/intelreport/article.jsp?pid=1185 It is a listing of neo-Nazi and other hate group symbols and tattoos. On the first page is a tattoo of Norse runes on a scroll. Later pages include images of Thor’s hammer and Fenrir.
Let’s be honest a moment. These images came off of racist and neo-Nazi folk. The SPL can tell you where each picture came from. Modern Heathenry has a large contingent of supremacists. Racism is a part of modern Heathen traditions. Look at traditions of only allowing people with connections to the right bloodlines hold leadership roles in some communities. The gentleman I spoke to had had a similar conversation with a woman who sent him a book on Asatru, which ended up having an entire chapter on preserving the purity of the Tribe.
I don’t agree with his assertion that the majority of Heathens are racist or white supremacists. But it is fair to say that a very large number of neo-Nazis are in some way Heathens. More importantly, this gentleman did not really understand the distinction between Heathenry and the rest of modern paganism. It is his honest belief, backed up by research, that greater than half of modern pagans are racist or white supremacists.
The phenomena of non-racists or even worse, non-Heathens getting runic tattoos had never been brought to his attention. When he tried to explain that someone could have neo-Nazi sentiments but not share them with others I had to bring up my queer and trans friends (not by any names) who it is safe to say aren’t neo-Nazis but have runes marked on their bodies.
As things in the world continue to grow more and more concerning, it is shocking and horrifying to me to find that even an organization devoted to protecting minorities would be against us. It never once crossed my mind that to some my shaman marks would mean that I was a neo-Nazi. I believe more and more that as things break down in our world, we cannot assume even for a moment that someone or group will support us. When even the Southern Poverty Law Center believes us to be evil, we can take nothing for granted.
I have never heard the issue of how to separate ourselves in the minds of others from the neo-Nazis discussed in my community. Personally I think this stems from the fact that most of us would never imagine being associated with such filth. This is a conversation that needs to be had across the board in the pagan and Heathen worlds. It blows my mind to think that the SPL Center could look at a group like Asphodel for example, and declare it to be a white-supremacist organization. If they looked at the leaders in the community though, they would almost certainly identify at least Raven and myself as neo-Nazis if they were basing their judgments on our body modifications.
7 thoughts on “Apparently I’m a Neo-Nazi Racist Skin Head”
>Actually, most white supremicists seem to think Heathens are nutballs who make the (otherwise so respectable?) white supremicist movement look bad.The white supremicist Heathens are willfully ignorant of this.– Joshua
>*sigh* Yeah, it royally sucks, this association between neo-Nazi white supremacy and heathenry, but you know what? The extremists aren’t the real problem. As long as so many heathens themselves continue to be racist *cough*…I mean, folkish, or tolerate folkish belief and let the argument stand that only people of 100% Northern European extraction should be “allowed” to worship the Norse deities, that association isn’t going to go away. How can attitudes like the SPLC’s be successfully fought against if heathens themselves are helping to perpetuate the stereotypes?Me, I’m all for non-folkish heathens banding together to say firmly that no, folkishness is NOT a valid viewpoint of our religion, and fuck that neo-tribalist xenophobic shit, but most of the universalist crowd are too fucking spineless to say anything. Since as you know, I’m definitely not of 100% Northern European extraction, thisis is a big part of why I don’t associate with mainstream heathens — not only have I faced hostility from folkish people, but I’ve had a near total lack of support from nonfolkish heathens who’re too chickenshit to actually stand up for people like me, despite all their nattering about being “tolerant.”
>Modern heathenry does not have a large contingent of neo nazis or racists. It is a very small and very much fringe part of Heathenry, easily less than 10%. This bullshit from the Southern Poverty law center sickens me. Do they realize they are perpetrating a hate crime by willfully casting aspersions on an entire faith? I really wish I had the funds to consider suing for libel.
>This is a response to E. Vongvisith:Folkish does NOT necessarily equate with racist. This is also a misnomer. Sadly, that 10% I talked about in my initial post…they fall into the folkish category so it can be said that some folkatru are racists. It doesn’t follow that all of them are. I believe Asatru and Heathenry to be an indigenous religion. That *could* be enough for me to be considered folkish in some circles.
>I know, G, but none of the folkish heathens I’ve encountered has been willing to stop merely with calling heathenry an indigenous religion, nor have they been able to rationalize where multiracial people like me fit into their neat little metagenetics-oriented worldviews, so they usually just get hostile and accuse me of cultural misappropriation.On the other hand, I’m well aware that I’ve become less able to view folkishness with any objectivity at all as time goes on, partly because every folkish person I’ve ever met has also been very anti-Loki, and you know how well that sits with me.I’m seriously considering dropping the term “heathen” for myself again. I’m getting tired of fighting for the right to use a label that seems to have less and less to do with who I am as time goes on.
>You may be interested in the fact that the ADL has now listed Thor’s Hammer along with the Valkutr in it’s repertoire of hate symbols. You may also be interested in the fine fine nuances of this interview from the SPLC http://www.splcenter.org/intel/intelreport/article.jsp?aid=236
>This is a common misconception. I have a bind rune tattoo on my arm and I have to cover it up at the gym, because I get some pretty hostile looks from the uninformed. The irony is the fact that I am married to a black woman; so I feel it's best to keep it covered rather than attempt to educate people. On the same note, the blue tooth headset logo is a bind rune; which doesn't seem to cause them any problems.