A Letter to Mr. Bloch

MissiveDear Mr. Bloch,

I’ve spent the better part of a month working on a response to your post, “Folkish” Does Not Mean “Racist”.  The material behind the response has not been hard to write, though I find myself increasing conflicted in how I’m writing it.  Hence the delay.  It strikes me that perhaps the easiest and most effective way to talk about things is not to talk about your article, but to talk to you.  The person.

Mr. Bloch, I disagree with you,  This is not because I have need of an enemy to project various evils upon. I just think that you’re wrong.  It has nothing to do with you calling yourself Folkish, being a part of the AFA, or being politically conservative.  I think you’re wrong because I’ve read your arguments, considered them, reread them, researched them, and found them flawed.  I respect both you and our faith enough to say so.

It’s not hard it to point out why I don’t care about the demonstrably racial stances within Shintao, Yoruba, or the various tribal practices that comprise the religious beliefs of the Aboriginal Americans; I’m not trying to be any of those things, and none of these faiths are trying to hurt me or my family.  As such, it’s not my business how those organizations conduct themselves.  To act otherwise would be, to my mind, imposing my will upon another faith.  I am, by contrast, very much a Heathen.  These things do effect me, so they are my business.  It’s really just that simple.

If we dig a little further, all of those traditions have something which offers context to a racial mandate within their belief structure.  Contrast this with Asatru and Heathenry, wgere we cannot find such a vehicle within the Icelandic, Scandinavian, Germanic, or Anglo-Saxon cultures that originally created the faith.  It would be impossible for them to make the same racial distinctions that many modern groups utilize, as most of the methods by which we separate and quantify race today did not exist in the time of our ancestors.  Lastly, even if these other faiths were identical in their culpability, pointing that out doesn’t magically make any other group more or less prejudicial.

That is just my answer to a small portions of the arguments you’ve put forth.  The rest of your stances have, to my mind, similar flaws within them.  Whether it’s presenting prevailing opinions on racism as the machinations of the far left , projecting white guilt onto others without having anything that actually informs such a view, or putting forth a political cartoon that implies much but actually says nothing, very little of what I saw was difficult to answer or refute.

I took issue with these sentiments, and began work on a retort.  I didn’t want to make a criticism of that political cartoon without putting forth a disclaimer about the sight gags that I use, so I ended up writing a little bit about memes.  A few days later, I looked down at my phone to see that I had a response to that post,  and that the response was from you.  “Oh great!” I thought, “Here comes a knock down, drag out argument”.  That wasn’t what happened, however.

Instead you corrected me on your name, congratulated me on the birth of my daughter, shared an anecdote about your own children, and went on your way.  I have to assume you read the article in question, which was laying the groundwork to make a more invasive and direct critique of your platform.  Regardless, you were polite and frithful.  That took me by surprise, and I have found myself considering it ever since.

When someone extends diplomacy and etiquette despite criticism, I can’t help but find myself respecting that person regardless of their views.  I always try to do the same thing, and it is almost always difficult.  At the same time, you have represented the vast majority of the criticism directed at the “Folkish” perspective and the AFA as “false equivalencies and shrill hyperbole”.   I find myself struggling to understand how someone who showed me such respect could say something so one-sided.

When I look to research that very subject, I find no shortage of information and opinions that are neither anecdotal nor speculative.  I mean, the AFA has written work for sale on it’s website…and that work represents collaborations between the founder of the AFA and outspoken, vocal, white supremacists.  Refute the implications that makes if you’d like.  Contextualize it if you can.  Ignore it if you want.  Please don’t act as if such a thing is slander for it’s own sake, because it’s not.

I've used this one before, but it's never been quite as appropriate.

I’ve used this one before, but it’s never been quite as appropriate.

I don’t call someone racist because I need someone to be the catspaw for the ethnic, cultural, or racial guilt I supposedly feel.  I don’t criticize Metagentics and Wotan vs. Tezcatlipoca because that’s the cool thing to do and gets me brownie points with all of my “lefty” buddies; I criticize it because that work represents the Unverified Personal Gnosis of a single man, not the spiritual and racial mandate others have turned it into.  I reject racial stances because there is nothing that comes close to an anthropological, historical, or cultural reason to establish their relevance.  It has nothing to do with toeing a line in the sand put forth by the demands of the liberal masses.  I am not alone in this; there are others who say much the same things, for many of the same reasons.

Reading your articles, I see a theme…and I wonder if part of the problem is some of the people you’ve encountered.  Maybe you’ve been getting into the right sort of arguments, but with the wrong sorts of people.  Maybe it has taken a toll on you.  Maybe you’ve been dealing with so many of the psychotically liberal, that it’s hard to see any sanity within the spiritual side of the anymore.  I know the feeling; I spend a lot of time trying to argue with the psychotically, spiritually conservative.  I’ll see your “Vegetarian pacifist that worships death and war deities”, and raise you a “Thorsman who acts like their patron is a Klingon, and that every single Germanic man and woman in history was a viking.”.

In short, I don’t want to debate with your assholes anymore than you probably want to debate with mine.

Which, at the last, brings us to the “why”.  Why would I bother to shake things up in the first place?  Why would I go out of my way to say that I feel something is wrong,  especially when it only seems to generate responses from the worst possible sorts?  The answer is that this is what I can do.  This is what I can do to make the faiths the worship and celebrate the Norse deities a little better than I found them.  So I do it.

220px-Snorre_Sturluson-Christian_KrohgI criticize because I expect better from all of us.  Myself included.  If I ever step over the line with my statements and conjectures, it is my sincere hope that someone on the other side of the philosophical field calls me on it.  If my statements ever extend past the boundaries of constructive criticism and become attacks or ad hominem, I implore you or someone else to throw down the flag and call bullshit.  I write what I write because I want Norse Polytheism to be the absolute best it can be, and I’m willing to shake a few trees and ruffle a few feathers to get to that place.

When I read what you write, disagree though I may, I get the feeling that much of what you do is motivated by a similar desire.  I can respect that, even if your conclusions may be vastly different than the ones I reach.  Hopefully, you can say the same about me and those like me.

Sincerely,
Harrison K. Hall

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2 thoughts on “A Letter to Mr. Bloch

  1. Joseph Bloch says:

    Hi Harrison. Apologies for not finding this sooner – I confess I’m not a regular reader of your blog, and didn’t stumble across this until a couple of days ago. I did come up with a sort of indirect reply on my own blog (to you, and a commenter on my own blog with similar thoughts, plus it’s something I’ve been meaning to write about in any case), which I happily invite you to read, and if the spirit moves you, comment upon.

    http://jonupsalsgarden.blogspot.com/2013/11/the-folkish-spectrum.html

    How’s the peanut doing? 🙂

    • Let’s get the family talk out of the way first; Peanut is well, though dealing with a little stomach bug and some diaper rash. She is a bit cranky as a result, but still cute as a button. Her first smile came from the sound of milk sloshing in her bottle. It was adorable!

      Next, I want to thank you for your reply…even if it’s nature as a reply was more incidental, rather then directed. A response will be forth coming, as soon as I properly arrange my thoughts.

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