Archives For Gods&Radicals
Yesterday, I posted an editorial on Gods&Radicals, entitled, “The Witch Hunt That Wasn’t“
It is not–and never has been–the leaderless, the self-ruled, and the self-possessed who hunted down innocents because they disagreed with their opinions. There is a reason history is not full of stories of racists or white nationalists finding burning crosses in their yards or being lynched. Likewise, we do not hear of homophobes dragged behind trucks for miles, or burned alive, or slaughtered en-masse at a night club.
There has been no great ‘witch-hunt’ against fascist and authoritarian Polytheists by leftist neopagans. No leaders were strung up by the readers of Gods&Radicals, violently purged and shoved into ghettos or camps.
But some leaders have been challenged, and that’s what they fear most.
I discuss the Asatru Fellowship Assembly’s recent statement regarding ‘white children’ and gender being a ‘gift from the holy powers,’ as well as the many charges that, by writing Confronting the New Right, I was initiating a witch hunt.
Of course, the witch hunt never materialized.
A few things worry me regarding the reactions to the AFA’s statement. While I’m utterly happy to see so many condemnations and many leaders, groups, and internet sites formulating statements distancing themselves from the AFA’s statement, very little attention is being given to the larger ideology of which AFA’s screed is merely a symptom.
It’s incredibly easy to hate AFA; no one likes an obvious white nationalist, right? But if we focus on AFA as evil, we give a pass to the core ideology they share with many others. For instance, there’s little difference from the gender essentialism in their statement and the gender essentialism that Cherry Hill Seminary protected in regards to Ruth Barret, or other writers defended in regards to Luisha Tesh. Likewise, reconstructionists and some devotional polytheists subscribe to the same European Identity myth that AFA espouses–why do they get a pass and AFA doesn’t?
The answer is, of course, that they’re in ‘our community,’ while AFA isn’t. We protect our elders and leaders from criticism while being happy to heap it upon an easily-othered group. If the criticism stays centered on AFA and doesn’t cause us to address the very same ideology in our communities, then we’ll not only have learned nothing, but will become guilty of some really awful tribalism.
In fact, it’s that hypocrisy that gives leverage to white nationalists in the first place. If I were their PR person, I’d collect every instance where Pagans rallied around beloved elders who have made ridiculous comments about race (see the wild defenses of Dorothy Morrison’s welfare queen comments not just from Christian Day, but many more respected elders). I’d then sift through all the defenses of elders who have stated the same thing about gender.
From all that, I could easily craft a defense of AFA’s statement that not only quieted much of the criticism, but actually won them many more supporters. It’d be shockingly easy, and very difficult to mount a defense against it, especially when so many cling tightly to the idea that they themselves are apolitical and moderate, while groups actually open about their political opinions (be that Gods&Radicals or the AFA) are extremists.
Fortunately, I’m not looking for work.
Across an Ocean
I’m currently in the United States for a bit. I have a lot to tell you, and three long pieces I’m currently finishing. Those will be posted here soon.
As a reminder to new readers, my longer essays and poetic pieces are now available primarily to subscribers. For information on how to read them, see this post.
I’m currently in Bretagne again, after a week in Strasbourg. I’ll have a pilgrimage journal on that soon.
In the meantime, here’s a piece just published at Gods&Radicals, entitled “The Death of Liberal Democracy?” It’s the beginning of a series on the subject, and this first essay addresses the relationship of Capital and the State through the Brexit vote, the French general strikes, and the massacre in Oaxaca:
All of these cases are symptoms of the impending death of Liberal Democracy, and a crisis of Capital. For Pagans, queers, transfolk, disabled folk, people of color, immigrants, and every other minority who relies upon the State for their protection, this should be very worrying—and also a wake-up call to build something more resilient, and soon.
Quite a few of my friends in the United Kingdom are panicked over the recent vote. I think they should be, just as Americans should be terrified of the rise of Fascism in the United States through the campaign of Donald Trump. I’m actually forbidden by law to write about the election on Gods&Radicals, as non-profits are forbidden from influencing elections. Churches and religious institutions are under the same interdiction.
Of course, I can write about it here, and I may, but more interesting to me currently is what can come after, rather than what probably will. To get there, though, much of the isolationism of Americans would need to end, and quickly. Conservatives and particularly many reactionaries are quite isolated on purpose, which only tends to make them more xenophobic and jingoistic. For them, I doubt there’s any hope, but the isolationism of leftists is fatal.
In Paganism, there haven’t been many internationalist connections until Gods&Radicals, which is one of my favorite accomplishments, That internationalism provides an incredible corrective to a lot of the foolishness borne from American exceptionalism. It’s easy to tell another US Pagan that you have an exclusive right to the name of a god from Europe, or are living out your Germanic/Celtic/Whatever ancestral heritage, or that you think we should return to a conservative monarchy, or that you alone know the secrets of standing stones; as long as no one living in lands of which you speak reads your writing, you’re safe.
Worse, that isolationism is precisely why New Right writers are able to claim apoliticism. As long as no-one looks too deeply into the source of their theories on race, or hierarchy, of the gods themselves, they remain unchallenged. Like cult-leaders who forbid their followers from reading outside media or having contact with people outside their cults, isolationism–particularly within American Polytheism–can create nothing but fanaticism.