Three Card Monte: Freikorp Version

So, McNallen has said some stuff again that people have taken issue with.

Initially, I debated saying anything about it because talking about McNallen’s verbal maelstroms is like talking about how wet the ocean is.  I know my opinions on the man, I know what his track record says about him, and I’ve put my thoughts up here on more than one occasion.  Bashing my head against their wall that is his fan base is just a waste of my time, the material that I and others have written about him hasn’t gone anywhere, and I just see address his actions as a waste of time more often than not.

Diet RacismHe’s not really going anywhere new, and he’s not doing anything worth talking about either.  He exists, occasionally saying something ridiculous that only people with bigoted baggage seem to buy or defend.  As such, I typically tune him in the same manner that I ignore “Diet Racist” family members at Thanksgiving dinner.

The situation at hand, however, is different.

I actually didn’t even hear anything about McNallen’s Freikorp nostalgia until after the he already made a stance about how he wouldn’t apologize for it.  Strange as this may sound, I don’t find the Freikorp statement all that shocking.  Considering the source, at least.  While history’s last record of the Freikorps is their connections with the Nazi party of World War II, their unabridged history is much more varied and complicated*.  So while no one could be blamed for thinking that “Freikorp” means “Nazis Who Were Worse Than Whatever The Average for Nazis Is”, invoking them doesn’t necessarily mean one is talking about the ones that willingly joined up with Adolf Hitler during the days before the Night of Long Knives.  It just usually does.

Which is exactly why I wasn’t surprised; one of McNallen’s most common rhetorical techniques is to say something controversial that directly connects to a racist ideology, a pro-bigotry organization, and/or general Nazi sympathizing…but do it via terms and ideas that have scholastic back doors from which to make an exit when things get dicey.  All of the racist street credit, without any of the main-steam accountability.

Link_to_the_daily_mail_that's_a_paddlin'

By the way, the Daily Mail isn’t exactly where you want to go for reliable news accounts.  It’s where you go if you want to blame minorities for stuff and see invasive pictures of famous people.

So yeah, this is all par for the course.  At this point, the formula is so predictable that one can track things with a checklist.  A link to an article that sensationalizes a very legitimate issue in such a way that it blames everything on the minority du jour?  Check.  Some reference to this military group or that philosophy which will almost immediately be associated with a racist opinion but has a way to make a superficial argument about how it actually isn’t a racist statement?  Check. Condensing attitudes in the response to anyone who disagrees?  Accusations of straw-men made with indignant  outrage, all while using plenty on his opponents and labeling any criticism as people obsessed with being politically correct?  Presenting his stance as one that couldn’t possibly be racist because of some time where he apparently supported some other group in a situation that doesn’t quite have a direct parallel to the situation he is talking about?  Check, check, and check.  It’s a linear process that I don’t even comment on anymore because I know that contrary statements are exactly what he is looking for…but that’s another story.

More on topic, everything was par for the course.  It wasn’t until we got to he reason for refusing to apologize that I needed to call foul.  The faux-outrage was what I came across first actually, and the problems within that handful of paragraphs pale in comparison to a faux-reference to the “I Can’t Believe They’re Not Stormtroopers”.  How he managed to write something MORE problematic than an endorsement for freelance Nazi militias,  I can’t begin to comprehend.  I’d be impressed if I wasn’t so disgusted.

SecondLet me make something clear; anyone who knows McNallen’s track record, behavior, and professed philosophies isn’t going to be expecting an apology unless they’re  stupidly optimistic, optimistically stubborn, or stubbornly stupid.  Anyone who does fall into one of those categories, however, would be demanding that apology because Stephen McNallen said something horrifyingly in favor of a famously pro-Nazi military organization.  It’s not because he said people in Germany should be able to defend themselves.  It’s not because he offended someone’s political sensibilities; it’s because he just romanticized a military organization whose last known incarnation signed up to work with the Nazi.

Seriously, let me spell this out plainly: suggesting that people taking issue with bringing up Nazi military groups must just hate people who are “too white” is a childish, pathetic, and cowardly attempt to shift blame.  It’s a straw-man, and nothing more.  No one currently taking umbrage with McNallen is seriously, genuinely suggesting that the sexual assault is something that can be circumstantially allowed because the victims were “too white” to be concerned about.

That’s before we come back around to ask what he even wanted the Freikorps to do, which is left disturbingly vague even after he defended his wistful desire to have them at hand.  Considering that, within the same breath, he labeled the Prime Minister of Germany a “traitor”, one could raise some very troubling and poignant questions.

Long Knives

Of course, that may just me being paranoid; I mean, he only referenced a collection of civilian military organizations who willingly signed up with Hitler and the Nazi party before the infamous “Night of Long Knives”.  And the reference was made before calling one of the most prominent political figures in Germany a traitor.  Sure would be silly for someone to read too much into that…**

Another troubling question I have is about why bring things up in this very problematic way.  If McNallen had stepped forward and made a statement how the German people’s agency and safety shouldn’t be comprised by  giving others political asylum?  I would have had no problem with that statement.  Hell, he could have even evoked expectation of hospitality and made it a perfectly Heathen-centric perspective.  Even if one disagreed with his conclusions, the statement would have been a far cry from provocative or problematic.  Demanding that police properly police a city where proper policing didn’t happen isn’t a controversial statement.  While I doubt the Daily Mail’s version of the story (because the Daily Mail has been caught exaggerating more than once), I think it’s obvious that something did happen and that the something was bad and that something should be done that prevents similar things from happening in the future.

The people who did the bad thing should be held accountable.  None of that is even slightly controversial.  He could have made an effort to unify people to address an issue that he saw.  The sort of thing that leaders are supposed to do.  No one seems to be questioning that.  People could get behind statements like that.If anyone actually, unironically is saying that the people in question are too white to worry about?

First

But uncontroversial, unifying statements don’t get you attention.  At least, not the attention McNallen seemed to want.  That would be why  he went for a dividing, Nazi-sympathizing, click-bait riddled, pocket-endorsement for street violence.

As I implied earlier, this isn’t about taking a stand against anything or anyone; it’s about making a reputation and getting attention. This controversy, in my opinion, was cultivated specifically so McNallen could make some sort of statement for white people.  He is castigating people for an argument that no one is making in order to dodge accountability for something horrible that he said; it’s about solidarity for White people.

Just please pay no attention to the romanticizing of Nazi militias that’s behind that curtain over there.  Only people who hate white people are going to look over there.

I guess what really blows my mind here is how stupid his statement is when you really think about it.  You see, I hang out with lots of the teaming masses that live within the horrifying depths of the social justice barracks.  Among these peers of mine I hear, on a consistent and unwavering basis, that sexual harassment is bad.  All of it.  In all cultures, in all circumstances, for all reasons, without exception.  It’s bad.  Done.  Print.  We’re finished here.  No rhetorical back doors.  No situational excuses.  It’s unacceptable for any reason.  No matter to whom, or whom they may be, or what the reasons are.  It’s bad.

 

McNallen asks for the return of “Stormtroopers Lite”…and then wants to have a fit when people call him out on that.  His comeback is to say that all these liberal people came out of the wood work to criticize him for…standing up for white people who don’t want to be raped?!  To quote one Benjamin “Yhatzee” Croshaw: “There is no middle finger big enough!

Middle FingerLet’s be uncomplicated and clear: Taharrush gamea is a bad thing.  I think using a big, scary sounding, foreign word to describe behavior that a lot of Americans call “Spring Break”*** is a bit dishonest mind you, but I’m certainly not going to quibble and suggest that playing rhetoric games makes it more acceptable somehow.  It’s wrong.  It’s bad.  Period.  Anyone suggesting otherwise is a fucking idiot.

On that note, anyone suggesting that McNallen taking the stance of “German people should be defended and able to defend themselves from danger” was the problem is also a fucking idiot.  The actual problem people just might have been that part where he could have easily said “Where are some militant Nazis when you need them?” and it wouldn’t have changed his sentence in the slightest.
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*Short version is that they (the Freikorp) were a cross between a mercenary company and a national guard.  That’s a pretty slap dash description of a collection of groups that have over 200 years of history in Europe, but it’ll suffice for our purposes.

**Yeah, I know; some of the Freikorps got targeted on the Night of Long Knives, and quite successfully at that (i.e. they were killed).  I don’t think those are the Freikorps he was talking about, however, and I have no reason to suspect so.  People who hang with the Odinic Rite and the Irminfolk and complain that people don’t care about white people have lost any benefit of even the most generous doubt when it comes to Nazi sympathizing.

***Just to be clear, that’s not me being permissive of sexually predatory behavior that has an anchor in a foreign culture, because that’s shit unacceptable on every parallel no matter where one happens to be.  What it actually is, however, is me me calling out my own culture for pretending that we’re somehow above that same shit when it happens on an annual basis and we collectively turn a blind eye.

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Soft-Racism, Meta-Folkism, and Heathenry

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Grab a seat folks; this one is NOT a quick read.

Jon Stewart once quipped that “…we have made enormous progress in teaching everyone that racism is bad.  Where we seemed to have dropped the ball is in teaching people what racism is…”.  While Stewart was making light of the news of the day (and a bunch of KKK members who were trying to say they weren’t racist with a strait face), it’s my opinion that he touched on something important; many in society seem to be unable to see what racism actually is, even as they’ll state that they want nothing to do with it.

Which doesn’t work because you can’t denounce that which you cannot identify.  For all of our collective distaste for Klansmen, Neo-Nazis, and vocal bigotry, we seem to have missed the fact that racism is more than such idiocy.    Oh, that idiocy is part of the problem…but they’re only the smallest part.  Vocal, abrasive, and violent, but still relatively few in number.  Today, I’m going to be talking about some of the subtler influences, and why some people object to them as loudly as they do.

If we are going to meaningfully talk about how this problem manifests with the Heathen religion, however, we first need to identify what it is, where it comes from, and how those beliefs are codified.  For the most part, I see the majority of soft-racist ideology being born from a fusion of Folkish philosophy and the theories purposed by Metagenetics as written by Stephen McNallen.*

I am going to state this now so there is no confusion or misunderstanding; I am in no way saying or implying that  everyone who identifies themselves as a “Folkish Heathen” is a racist.  Certainly there are some who fit that description, but words like “Folkish”, “Universalist”, “Tribalist”, and “Lokean” have no firm definition.  When it comes to “Folkish” there is a huge degree of variance; in one conversation it’s used to talk about White supremacy organizations…the next it’ll be used to talk about ancestor worship, regardless of culture.  Now, I will say that the vast majority of people who utilize racist practices also describe themselves as Folkish, which definitely contributes to the confusion here.  So we need to split those who are Folkish and reject a racist interpretation from those who are advocating one if we wish to talk about the issue with clarity.

Where I believe the racist side of Heathenry starts, and perhaps even ends, is with the aforementioned Metagenetics.  The stances that the document contains often form up the back bone of many racialist and segregated stances.  So, for all intents and purposes we have a combination of a fixation upon ancestry, such that it trumps many other spiritual considerations, and the philosophical/theological mandates put forth in Metagenetics.  For simplicity’s sake, I have taken to calling this ideology “Meta-Folkism”.  When I use this term, I am only describing those who both embrace the descriptor of “Folkish” and combine it with the segregated stances which Metagenetics advocates.

So now that we have explained what we are and are not talking about, lets address the potential and obvious elephants in the rooms.  In the process, we’ll uncover a lot of the problems at hand.

How is Meta-Folkism/Metagenetics inherently racist?  Metagenetics says that ethnic religions should only be practiced by people of that ethnicity…so isn’t that just religious equality and cultural awareness?  Wouldn’t the opposite be cultural appropriation, which is bad?

Metagenetics  states “that there are spiritual and metaphysical implications to heredity, and that we [Asatruar] are thus a religion not for all of humanity, but rather one that calls only its own.” and that “[Asatruar] are intimately tied up with the fate of our whole people, for Asatru is an expression of the soul of our race.”  This is the engine of the philosophy, and the entire document is written with the aim of proving these central conceits.  Metagenetics wants very desperately to present itself as a scientific document, and even calls itself out as a type of science.  The problem is that what is expressed within that text doesn’t actually do anything of the sort.

It tries to use  the work three psychologists (Carl Jung, Timothy Leary, and Daniel Freedman), a Danish scientist studying reincarnation (Dr. Ian Stevenson), a Botanist/Parapsychologist (Dr. Joseph Banks Rhine), and a brain specialist (Dr. Jule-Nielson) in order to give the reader proof of it’s validity.  Putting to the side that some of the experts the author references are extremely questionable or represent the fringe of their accepted fields**, we also have a theory concerning genetics that doesn’t contain any reference to the findings of an actual geneticist.  The lack of such a reference or resource is crippling to the legitimacy of a theory which expresses opinions on how genetics and religion interact.; tangentially connected concepts and ideas from disparate fields can not fill in that sort of gap.  This weakness is compounded when you realize that the number of references that remain are few small in number.  You can’t make am compelling case for something like this with five pages, six sources, and a reference to a single myth from one tribe of Aboriginal Americans.

As such, Metagenetics being labeled as a scientific theory is inaccurate.  To be plain about it, it’s nothing more or less than a form of Unverified Personal Gnosis or UPG.  It represents nothing but the writer’s personal theories on the way that genetics and spirituality interact.  It is supported by sources that the writer agrees with, but is not contrasted against any research or studies that threatens its platform.  The document was not subjected to peer review, and doesn’t use research from the realm of study within which it is based to help prove it’s suppositions.  It’s just a spiritual informed philosophy, and nothing but.

Once we take it from science to philosophy, we can dig deeper into Metagenetics (and the Meta-Folkism it inspires) and start really looking at it’s fundamental problems.  It posits that meaningful religious practice is not only improved by genetic similarity, but that it is outright required.  If we look in the World English Dictionary, we see that one of the definitions of racism is “the belief that races have distinctive cultural characteristics determined by hereditary factors and that this endows some races with an intrinsic superiority over others “.  Intrinsic superiority can be situational, and such superiority is a core element within Meta-Folkish thought; those with certain genetic profiles have a right to Asatru, and those without them do not.

When some of us call Meta-Folkism and Metagenetics racist, the literal definition of racism is on our side.  The moment you declare that you have the right to something and another person does not, and you claim that form of superiority based on your racial background, you’ve fallen into racism by definition.  I know that many Meta-Folkists say that it goes both ways; that those of predominantly European backgrounds have no business practicing spiritual traditions that are not the domain of their ancestors.  This would seem to level the playing field at first glance, but it fails on a very basic level.

It doesn’t matter if you bestow the same inequality to another ethnicity; separate but equal failed to be a good thing when it was applied to schools, bus seats, and restrooms in the segregated South.   In the history of the world, I doubt that anyone can come up with an example of when a contentious and problematic social model was improved by bringing a religious mandate into the picture.  Many try to defend this platform by bringing up the blood and heritage standards of the various Aboriginal American tribes…..forgetting that those standards were not established by the tribes themselves.  Contrary to popular understanding, they were imposed upon them by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.  These standards are, to the best of my knowledge, not something that was requested by the Aboriginal Americans themselves.

Well, isn’t a racialist stance harmless as long as it is utilized without hatred?  Is it truly a problem as long as everyone has something for themselves?  I’m not going out and burning crosses or lynching people; those are the actions of “real” hate!

On the surface, racialist stances like Meta-Folkism can seem relatively benign; no one is advocating violence against anyone else. People say that, while the definition of racism is met, the spirit of hatred and spite is not.  Proclaiming a superior position within a given religion indicates no hate or antipathy when a similarly equal position is granted to another, and no one is trying to subjugate anyone to another person’s will.  Advocates of Meta-Folkism will say that this is the reason that claims of racism are completely blown out of proportion.

This can seem quite sensible, until you realize something very basic: these apologists are not the ones being denied anything.  It is very easy to rationalize  and pretend that a policy of soft-racism is somehow morally superior to one crafted from more bitter and aggressive emotions.  That blamelessness has a hard time standing tall, however, when you realize that you are passing judgement on people who are “different” and no one else.  You’re establishing equality almost as an afterthought; declaring something you didn’t want in the first place as something reserved for someone else.  Parallels to reservations for Aboriginal Americans should not go missed; it’s the same sort of thinking, simply keyed on a spiritual scale.

Equality means equal; it requires no counter balance to be achieved.  Human beings are not math equations, and putting an equal modifier on both sides doesn’t necessarily mean things become fair.  Religion, ethnicity, and ancestry are not zero sum games, and it’s somewhat insulting to see them displayed as such.

To bring the point home, I’ve seen people get irritated when European people suggest that American traditions are incorrect.  When people from Norway, Sweden, or Germany criticize American Heathens and their methods of practice, many take offense.  Well, with very little manipulation, we could use the standards of Metagenetics and Meta-Folkism to declare that they are not only right but they have the authority to supersede American Heathen ideals.  After all, their connection to the native folkway and culture of their spiritual ancestors is closer and more defined, thus making their interpretations more meaningful by the standards that Metagenetics sets forth.

Imagine that the superiority of their European perspective was codified into the Meta-Folkist perspective in the same way that heritage is right now,  That the options of American Heathens mattered less because they were not natively European.  Our spirituality judged by a matter of where we were born.  Now realize that this is what Meta-Folkism does to other people; it passes judgement on their spirituality of others based on the circumstances of a person’s birth.  If our Heathen cousins over in Europe demanded that American Heathens follow their example based on a philosophy similar to Metagenetics, I seriously doubt the reaction would be very different from the reaction of American Heathens who have been hurt by the Meta-Folkish narrative.

The American Meta-Folkish position would be no different in scale or scope than a European version of the same.  Again, we have a version of separate but equal and again it leaves us with a bad taste in our mouths.

If Metagenetics is UPG, and everyone has the right to their own UPG, isn’t it hypocritical to call Metagenetics bad?  It feels like Metagenetics/Meta-Folkism is getting judged here more than other philosophies; there are people who won’t bat at an eye at Godspouses***, but will rip Meta-Folkists a new one at the drop of a hat!  Why does this philosophy receive so much bile when all we are doing is worshiping in the way that feels right to us?

Everyone is entitled to their own spiritual viewpoint.  This is where it gets sticky because Meta-Folkism, if followed, gives people a platform to deny people the spiritual paths of their choice.  When used extremely harshly or conservatively, it can become the patriot missile of UPGs, one which exists more as a means to deny another than to achieve a goal for one’s own self.  Again, we have to bring up the parallel of native Europeans being able to dictate the terms of our own religion to us; I wouldn’t feel comfortable with others trying to force an unwanted authority figure on my faith, and I feel not better about doing the same to others.

UPGs become problematic when they attempt to extend, even in theory, beyond the boundaries of one’s own religious practice.  Say what ever you like about Godspouses; none of them have come up to me and told me who should and shouldn’t be at a Heathen gathering.  There has been no attempt to force me into a spiritual marriage of any kind.  Their UPG is their own…and all of the ones I have encountered have given the same respect to mine that they wish for theirs.  The reason I, personally, don’t have an issue with Godspouses is pretty much the same reason I do have one with Meta-Folkism; the Godspouses make no rules for other Heathens, whereas many Meta-Folkists try to establish a standard by which someone may or may not be barred from Heathen spiritual practices.

vanessa-williams-2-pngThis judgmental, canonizing approach to the segregation of religion gets more troublesome when one realizes that Meta-Folkism doesn’t obey it’s own rules. Many of these Meta-Folkish judgements are not based on blood; in every case I’ve heard of or seen, they’ve been based on skin tone and/or apparent racial background.  People are rejected based on what ethnicity they appear to be, and not by the ethnic background they are.  If you are asking why this matters, consider the following example.

This woman is the famous actress, Vanessa Williams….who is 40% European.  Meanwhile, this man is a hardcore white supremacist who recently found out he has a non-zero amount of Sub-Saharan African heritage.  Craig Cobb, the man in question, doesn’t look like he has enough Africian heritage to suggest a non-Caucasian great-grandparent.Craig-Cobb-2783840  Yet science says he does…and it helps us to illustrate a very important point.

While I don’t think Vanessa Williams will be beating a path down to a Meta-Folkish kindred’s door anytime soon, her heritage ensures her a place at any Sumble that is held with those conceits in mind.  Craig Cobb shows us that a lack of apparent melanin doesn’t indicate a lack of non-Caucasian influence.  How many great-Grandparents, grandparents, uncles, and aunts would it take until his skin tone changed?  I don’t know…and neither does any one else.

And once you realize that, it makes it impossible to look at Metagenetics without suspicion; to meaningfully use it as a philosophy is impossible without a blood test.  Period.  Yet when someone is rejected as a “Legitimate Heathen” on the grounds of their heritage, there is no such test that explains that opinion.  Any rejection is being done based on appearance, which we’ve just shown can have absolutely nothing to do with anything.  If this is a spiritual mandate which calls to people so strongly, how can they denigrate that mandate by playing so fast and loose with the rules that would shape it?

Honestly, I don’t think there is a right answer to such a question.

The watch words of so many who believe in Meta-Folkism is that “I have the right to worship with whomever I choose.”  That’s completely true, but when there is a visible pattern of who is and is not acceptable to worship with there is no amount of philosophy, spirituality, or gnosis that’s going to magically make it something other than what it is.  It’s still bigotry.  It’s still racism.

It’s really that simple.


*A discussion on racism in Heathenry is somewhat difficult (bordering on impossible) without talking about the AFA.  I am not going to even imply that it’s entire membership is racist, or that it is a hate group in the pattern of the aforementioned Nazis and Klansmen.  Regardless, the AFA has written and promoted a lot of the material that makes up the bulk of the “soft-racist” narrative.  No document more so than Metagenetics, in my opinion.  That document was written by Stephen McNallen and it’s posted on the AFA website.  I do not make a habit of attacking people because I think it’s not constructive; those few times where I have has been because it’s been something I have been unable to ignore due to the actions in question.  So let me make this clear: this is not an attack on the AFA in general or Stephen McNallen in particular.   It is a dissent against the philosophies he has espoused, written, and defended, not a statement in condemnation of his humanity or his soul.  I’ve never met nor spoken with the man, so I can’t say what I feel about him as a person.  I know what I feel about some of his ideas, and that is what I’m addressing.  Period.  If anyone within the AFA leadership would like to sit down and have a chat, via phone, internet, or in person, I am more than willing to “talk across the isle” if you are.  You can message me here or on my Facebook.

**It would be far beyond the scope of this article to weigh each of the individual sources Metagenetics utilizes, and to judge the applicability of their use.  However, some of them are open to some very simple examination.  Dr. Ian Stevenson’s reincarnation research is still highly contested, and had accusations of confirmation bias and similar mistakes in scholarly rigor; the accusations persist into the present day.  Dr. Rhine’s PhD was not in any actual form of science which studied human anatomy or psychology, and his Botany degree could be considered completely separate from his theories and ideas…all of which fell outside the realm of peer reviewed science.  Timothy Leary’s influence on various elements of counter culture was vast, but the scope of his theories were more metaphysical and philosophical than scientific.  Perhaps in the future, should there be interest, we will look at them all in detail.  For the moment, this quick analysis of sources should give the reader a sense of how ill suited some of the material is for a scientific theory.

***To be clear, I’m not passing judgement on Godspousery or on those who practice it; I’ve seen this parallel cited before in arguments, and I suspect many others have as well.  I bring it up not to malign anyone, but rather just to inform the discussion; many seem to see ancestry as something they can touch, where as the Gods aren’t…and that disconnect leaves some baffled at how people will accept one idea but refuse the other. 

Regarding Loki, Part 7: More Uncomfortable Truths

On Feburary 13th,  Stephen McNallen made a statement in regards to the AFA’s stance on  the worship and veneration of Loki within their own organization and events.  Let me be clear that I, for one, don’t really care about the stance of the AFA in regards to the hailing of the trickster of Asgard.  I think their stance is closed minded and short sighted to be sure, but I’m not the Asa-Pope the last time I checked so they are free to establish their stances and procedures as they see fit.

What I did take umbrage at was how Mr. McNallen’s words also made subtle, but broad, pejorative assessments about those worship Loki in general.  A true statement of policy has no need to weigh in on the spiritual practices of another, and I found the remarks more than a little bit out of line.  While I might have been inclined to let some of that go, and mark it up to another area where the AFA and I just will never see eye to eye, a look at the comments that followed Mr. McNallen’s thoughts was eye opening.  While some of the comments were reasonably benign, and a handful managed to even be positive, some of what was so was so hateful, miserable, and disgusting that it demand a measured response.

So let us take a look at some of those arguments, and see how what is believed compares against logical consideration.


tumblr_m58bdm9xLH1rrtg4ko1_500What Seems to be Agreed Upon: “Our experience over the decades has been that toasting Loki or in other ways calling him to our side brings – not creative chaos, not constructive change – but ill luck. This is a matter of observation, not theory.” -Stephen McNallen
The Uncomfortable Truth: There are lots of people whose experiences have been that the AFA is an organization where bigotry and racism are acceptable.  For such people, they have a great deal of collected observation…but when they pronounce their feelings as fact?  Your words, Mr. McNallen, are seldom kind.

This is the only comment truly directed at the AFA in general, and Stephen McNallen in particular.  This isn’t a statement designed to attack the organization or it’s founder, but to politely explain where Mr. McNallen may have lost sight of how his statement compares against some of the things said about the AFA over the years.

Despite his experiences, which are no doubt vast, Mr. McNallen more than likely has not met or interacted with a vast number of Lokeans or has meaningfully partaken of a great number of rituals than include Loki.  As such, all of Mr. McNallen’s assurances fall into the realm of the anecdotal account; they represent an interpretation of the events in his own life, in a general sort of way.  Those are fine for him and his organization, if he wishes to use them, but the statement he made pushed outside of those boundaries the moment he made the above implication.  As written, it is at least a bit careless and disrespectful for those whose spirituality called them in that direction.  In addition, it’s a statement which displays a logical inconsistency.

When it comes to anecdotes, you have two meaningful options; you either accept all anecdotes as equally valid (thus making every single thing stated by groups like Circle Ansuz in dire need of a public, candid response) or you can treat them as little more than opinion (making your own anecdotes no better or worse than the next person’s, and thus really not worthy of intense consideration).  To do otherwise is to establish a double standard, and I don’t think such a structure should be welcome within Heathen ethics.  It is possible that this wasn’t mean, as a line like “observation, not theory” is particularly vague.  At the very least, there should have been a greater degree of care taken in the words chosen.


facepalmWhat Seems to Be Agreed Upon: Anyone who follows Loki is doing so as a fad, likely a result of the Marvel movies.
The Uncomfortable Truth: In two minutes or less, explain how that exact same statement can’t be made about the worship of Thor or Odin without equal validity.

This is what we can a logical fallacy.  Specifically, casual oversimplification with a little variation of ad hominem for good measure.  This is aside of the rather obvious issue that any single dismissal of Loki, via the Marvel movies, can likewise be used to slander the modern worship of Odin, Thor, Firgg, and Heimdallr.

Look guys, tumblr scares the hell out of me too; that doesn’t give you a permission slip to weigh in on another person’s spirituality and declare it meaningless simply because a lot of seventeen year old girls and boys are getting all hot and bothered by Tom Hiddleston.


23141-viking-scene-art-designWhat Seems to be Agreed Upon: Loki is a God of chaos, and to honor him is to honor the forces that seek to destroy civilization as we know it.
The Uncomfortable Truth: Chaos doesn’t mean what you think it means.

Look, if you choose not to venerate Loki?  That’s your choice.  If you refrain because he is a “God of Chaos”(tm), you’ve just displayed that you either don’t understand Loki, chaos, or both.

The word chaos, by definition, has very little relevance to the Loki that is depicted within the lore.  To be plain about it, Loki is no more “chaotic” than Odin, Thor, or Freya.  His actions are deliberate, methodical, and chosen for their results.  Each of these actions represents deeds performed for the interest of a long term goal.  This implies a plan, and chaos destroys plans of all sorts.  Some of these plans are ones that have catalyzed the creation of Mjonir, Gungir, Slepnir, and the Walls of Asgard.  Those are things that, by their nature, have created order in the lore.  It is thus fair to say that Loki is nothing like a God of Chaos; in truth, he is a God who frequently establishes order through unorthodox means or even forges order from chaos.

It would be fair to say that he is duplicitous in some situations. Also unquantifiable, trickster, sneaky, and a bunch of other things.   It is those exact qualities, however, that the Gods called upon in numerous myths and legends.  If they are calling upon, and even proactively utilizing, a “God of Chaos”…wouldn’t that make them chaotic by association?

And, while we are on that topic….


Pimp My RideWhat Seems to be Agreed Upon: Why would anyone allow Loki into our worship if he was responsible for kidnapping, murder, and betrayal?
The Uncomfortable Truth: Perhaps you should ask a similar question of Odin and Thor.

If we are taking the lore at literal value, and we usually seem to be when it comes to the Loki argument, we must take into account that Odin knew everything that going to go down long before it happened.  If you believe in the Poetic and Prose Edda as an accurate account of our lore, this requires that you view Odin’s actions through that context; he knew all that was to happen, long before Ragnarok came.  We could presume Thor to know the same, yet he asks for Loki’s assistance on many occasions.

If Loki’s existance is to betray the Gods, why does Thor confess to him that his hammer has gone missing?  Why would he accept Loki’s company on the mission to retrieve it, when a single trecherous word could doom their greatest defender and forever put his greatest weapon in the hands of the very enemies he is predicted to betray them to?  None of this makes any sense, and it’s not the only circumstances which reveals itself as curious and inconsistent.

If you choose to unconditionally reject Loki and those who hail him from your house, than you are stating that you know better than some of the greatest and most trusted Gods within our faith.  One is consider a being of nearly infinite wisdom and is the unquestioned ruler of the Aesir.  The other is held up as amongst the greatest warriors that the nine realms will ever know.  Both of them make up beings you shouldn’t really be questioning.


"Hey, uh...you gonna eat that?"

“Hey, uh…you gonna eat that?”

What Seems to be Agreed Upon: Those who worship Loki should go back to being Satanists
The Uncomfortable Truths: Those who say nonsense like that should seek the help of Gothi, for such people are having serious conversion problems.

I know this may seem like going after the low hanging fruit, but this statement pops up distressingly often.  It is not the most common rebuttal, but it also parallels the “Loki is the Norse equivalent of Satan, so why would you worship him” argument enough to kill two birds with one stone.

To the credit of Mr. McNallen, he openly addressed that issue and addressed it correctly.

If you have a serious issue with Satanism, as a Heathen, than you are in desperate need of some pastoral counseling.   Even if I give the benefit of the doubt and presume that all who worship Loki were previously Satanists?  Satanism is either a largely atheistic philosophy or focused on the cosmology that comes with a Judeo-Christian worldview.  In either case, you have no reason to care.  Satan isn’t your concern anymore and never will be again.  If you are still bothered/offended by the nemesis of a religion you have supposedly abandoned, that says more about you religious practices than it does about mine.*


3263343-odin+facepalm

“Oh man, if they think Loki’s bad? Wait til they start actually reading some of the stuff I did!”**

What Seems to be Agreed Upon: There are countless actions that Loki takes within the sagas that fly in the face of everything we know about Heathen ethics, both in modern times and in the times of our spiritual ancestors.
The Uncomfortable Truth: The same can be said of almost the entirety of the Aesir and Vanir.

Freyr gives up a weapon that would have defended him and his kin at Ragnarok in the hopes of winning a Jotun bride.  Tyr’s sacrifice was unneeded, for he could have simply killed Fenrir as a pup and saved Odin at Ragnarok in a single stroke.   Than there is Njord, who abandons the Aesir at the twilight of the Gods so he can return to Vanaheim.  Freya prostitutes herself for a necklace, even agreeing to cause strife in the world of men in order to secure it.  Nanna commits suicide, unable to face a world without her husband.  Rather than meet the giantess Skadi in honorable  combat over the death of her father, the Gods avoid the fight and marry her into their ranks instead.  Than there is just about every myth connected to Odin, wherein he does at least one thing that modern Heathenism find absolutely unacceptable.

If we’re going to play this idiotic game, than we can render just about every God in the pantheon as unworthy of worship and there is no philosophy that makes this foolishness make sense.  Somehow, no Heathens seems to have trouble recognizing all of these other deities as being more than just the scarce collection of myths we have retained of them.  We seem them as forces greater than the sum of their parts, and recognize these tales as complex and three dimensional.

Just not Loki.


If these arguments seemed weak or redundant, that is because they are and they’ve been this way for quite some time.  These, however, are the arguments that are put up on a consistent basis.  What’s even more baffling is you don’t even need any deep understanding of the lore to find where these talking points completely fall apart.  No heavy, eldrtich texts need to be translated from a dead language to understand how these things don’t work.  You seem need to be able to read, hear, and think.  Yet, this is the eternally present “Loki Debate”; a collection of barely salient points, almost all of them made by people that would seem to know better in any other situation.  Which says something very disturbing to me.  Perhaps the most uncomfortable truth of them all.

It says that the decision about another person’s UPG was made before the facts were considered.  That no knowledge was truly weighed and measured.  It all suggests that a choice was made to suit someone’s preexisting conceits, and that was that.  No questions asked and no objections entertained.  Loki is Norse Satan; perhaps not in name, but certainly in function.  That says volumes about people who parrot these arguments and raise such loud objections to a spiritual path that doesn’t effect them in the slightest.  What can we say about such a person, who would willing mock what another finds sacred while lack both motivation and understand?

What does it suggest about any other thing they say, for example; are they truly giving their hard wrought knowledge when they speak, or are they simply telling you what takes away from their comfort the least?

This is not about the AFA’s policy, a bunch of it’s members being ignorant on Facebook,  or even  Stephen McNallen having to say something that I didn’t like; at the end of the day, McNallen’s statement is just a more polite, less insulting version of a bigger issue.  If you don’t have the courage and strength to allow others the freedom to experience the joy of our  Gods in their own way?  If you lack the honor to allow another Heathen the freedom to call themselves Heathen, and would alienate them simply because their methods of respecting their spiritual ancestry do not  mirror your own?  If you are so lifeless and dogmatic that you need to toe your own party line before you offer hospitality to the spiritual beliefs of another person?  Well, I got to tell you friend…those aren’t virtues that I would be proud of.**

Bolverk’s Word Brother!  Jotun Bane’s Shadow!  Knotted Goat Dancer!
Hail the Hammer Fly!  Hail the Stallion-Bride!  Hail Asa Loki!


*I suppose there could be some Christo-Heathens out there, who have taken a synchretic approach to both the Christian and Heathen faiths.  If this describes you, I could understand you still having an issue with Satan in that case and only that case…so don’t think that I’m trying to malign you or suggest that something is wrong with you;  I’m not.  It still makes for a horrifically bad anti-Loki argument, but that isn’t a conversion problem is you’ve met it with a real sense of purpose and agency.

**Yes, that was on purpose.

Applications

Poingant or Jerk

Welcome to the dilemma I have every time I talk about anything I consider important.

Over the last month or so, I’ve considered applying to join the AFA. I’ve been quite critical of them in the past, so it’s not like I can anticipate automatic acceptance. That’s fair, but I’ve begun to believe there are somethings I need to see for myself, and this is potentially my only method of resolving such a thing.

Hold any rotten tomatoes that you may be tempted to throw, and allow me to explain. I have reasons for my curiosity, and I think it’s important to talk about them for a moment.

The first is that there is one counter-criticism that has been directed at me that I have not answered to my own satisfaction; that my issues aren’t based exclusively on first hand accounts of AFA events and circumstances. Oh, I’ve seen a few things for my own eyes, and many of these things I didn’t like. At the same time, it would be a mistake to call a majority off my experiences anything other than anecdotal. While I’m not about to pretend that I don’t get to have an opinion on the things I have heard and seen just because I haven’t been apart of the organization, it would also be an error to ignore that the vast majority of criticism I have heard is second hand recounts at best.

Yes, Metagenetics and Wotan versus Tezcatlipoca are still baffling documents that give me greater pause for concern than any rumor I’ve heard associated with Cauldron Farms. Yes, anytime they’re brought up it seems that most members of the AFA would rather pretend that both of these documents were never written, an action that raises some very poignant questions. These documents are needlessly focused on racialist talking points, making their existence look like a dark stain made from racialist apologetics.

I suspect that this the picture is a depiction of what being a hatemonger must feel like.

By the same token, these talking points seem to be largely absent from present day AFA rhetoric. While assertions that there is a horrific racist agenda under the surface are plenty, there are extremely few smoking guns. Yes, it could all be word games and semantics. The thing is that dedicated, professional bigots don’t really seem able to do that for years at a time. A real bigot is someone who has a huge chunk of the brain

dedicated to an engine of hate, scorn, and malice. Those things can be subtle depending on circumstances, but they’re not good at maintaining that subtlety 24/7. Look at the headlines in North Dekota for an example of what I’m talking about; professional bigots who seek to create organizations for their hate to live within tend to be mentally unstable.

Yes, I’ve read Circle Ansuz. I think what they wrote about McNallen was worth reading, no matter what your personal beliefs are.  By the same token, it would be unethical to call that writing evidence. It’s largely educated guesses, tangential connections, and anecdotes that suggest things but can’t quite prove them. Horrifying and concerning material to be sure, but nothing other than theories at this point*. I’ve also heard from at least one person that some of the problems that Circle Ansuz presented weren’t portrayed honestly.  If they got that wrong, it begs that we askquestions about what else they got wrong.

Than there is another thing.

I have been good friends with Rebecca Radcliff for a long time. When I started on my investigations of Heathenry, it was her husband (whose a blogger in his own right) and her that I approached. She also happens to be the director of the AFA’s clergy program, a position she’s held for over a year a now. When I say that I am conflicted on the universal, across the board condemnation that the AFA receives, these two are amongst the biggest reasons why. I know their philosophies and opinions very well, as we have talked and discussed them dozens of times over the years. They do not utilize the pro-racialist, bigoted mindset that many suggest are mandatory conceits within the house that McNallen built. It casts shadows, deep shadows, on the assertion that the AFA is a racist organization when I personally know someone in their leadership who is anything but.

I am a vocal Loki worshiper, I have a step-daughter whose genetic background isn’t bleach white, I’m politically leaning towards liberal, and I find nothing wrong with synchretic religious praxis and concepts. Conventional wisdom states that any member of the AFA worth their salt should castigate me, renounce our friendship, and cast me into whatever bog or mire is at hand. Well they haven’t done that; instead they held my wife a baby shower.

They know my criticisms of the AFA, it’s stances, and it’s public face. I know that can’t always be easy on them, even those my commentary is intended as constructive rather than abrasive. Still, my family has been invited over to their home again and again. Frith has been created, grith has been maintained, and we generally have a good time.

I’ve met people who are not all funshine and rainbow unicorns mind you; there are people out there who fit the boorish stereotype that many associate with the AFA. These people are problems that cause community rifts, but they are not born from a singularity. A conversation that I recently had with Rebecca was especially eye opening on this subject.

We talked about her family’s experiences at AFA’s Winternights this year and, at one point, the conversation moved to the tensions between various factions within Heathenry. At one point, she said the following:

“The majority of those I have gotten close to in the Folkish community over the years, they have not been on a witch hunt for anyone not of the same mind as them…..and just as importantly, I don’t get criticized for continuing to spend time with the friends I’ve had for years in the Universalist community by them, either.”

I got to tell you that I’m not always happy with the way that some people choose to addresses things that are said by pro-folkish/pro-AFA people. No small number of the responses have been the verbal equivalent of shooting first and asking questions later, and have used ad hominems, straw men, and just being a downright asshole to make their point. Yes, I know that some of those people are horrifying jerks. No, I don’t think that matters. I see no reason to drop down to make ourselves lesser, simply to prove some point to someone who isn’t worth our time any way.

Which brings us to the last reason I’m considering applying for membership to the AFA; simply put, I want to look for reasons for us to get along. This doesn’t mean I’m looking to “drink the kool-aid”, or whatever trite expression is used to make condescending implications about someone’s desires or opinions; it means that I’m looking to see if there are actually reasons that people don’t get along. To see if this is merely the fault aside of a vocal minority possessed of huge egos, loud voices, and deaf ears. Because if that’s the reason we don’t get along, than those people are easier to ignore than to communicate with.

If that’s overly optimistic of me, so be it; I’m tired of seeing pointless arguments and stupid fights drag out. If I can do something, anything, to reduce the tension? Than I’ll do that. No questions asked. If that means asking to be allowed to join a potential crucible to see things for myself? Than that’s what it means.


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This* Don’t misunderstand me; Circle Ansuz still did work that I felt was valid and needed to be said. Yes, pointing out that McNallen worked in apartheid era South Africa and then, later, produced Metagenetics is a special kind of horrifying. It remains anecdotal however, because we don’t know what his experiences within that regieme were, nor if he had ulterior motivation for being there. Honestly, I can barely find evidence that he had been there at all; I found references to a single article that he supposedly wrote but I couldn’t find the article itself, so I could only take Circle Ansuz’s word for it. I think our condemnations and accusations, when we choose to give them, need to come from a place of absolute certainty. To do otherwise completely ruins our credibility, and runs the risk of turning our ideals into witch hunts.

**I heard that the “Stella Natura” situation, in particular, was grossly misrepresented. This came from someone who is a member of a kindred with a strong reputation for a pro-syncretic approach to Asatru.  She also follows a number of (non-facist) bands that are going to the venue. I respect her immensely, and I regard her opinion as free from bias on this matter.