The Asatru Folk Assembly (Or AFA) has once again placed itself at the center of a controversy with a statement made via Facebook on August 21st. [pictured left]
Earlier this year the former head of the AFA, Steven Mcnallen, stepped down from his position as Alsherjargothi. McNallen had faced accusations of racism for decades, denying them with a consistent “separate but equal” style of rhetoric. While many within the Heathen community were quick to point out the issues with that philosophy, McNallen still made a show of declaring that he opposed racism. He applied the same logic to sexuality in a number of cases as well, endorsing a kind of “keep it in the closet” mentality that many of his more conservative followers viewed as an acceptable ‘middle ground’.
Even in the wake of one of his own personal media SNAFUs, calling for the reformation of the Freikorps, McNallen maintained that he was simply defending the rights or the German people as he would any other and refused to apologize. This was the kind of rhetoric the former Alsherjargothi was known for, and it gave the AFA a way to present itself as opposed to racism; at least on a superficial level.
However, in May of this year the organization came under new management, selecting Matt Flavel as the new Alsherjargothi, Pat Hall as Gythja, and Allen Turnage as Lawspeaker. While McNallen may have worked to keep up appearances, it would seem that Flavel isn’t interested; and in fact has ‘upped the ante’ by adding homophobic/transphobic rhetoric to the mix. He does seem to share one trait in common with his predecessor however; when questioned on his statement, Flavel doubled down.
Regardless of the historical facts, the new head of the AFA has made their stance quite clear. If any questions about their stance were left unanswered by their initial statement, their followup certainly cleared the waters. LGBT Heathens and Non-whites need not apply. While the vast majority of Heathen organizations remain thoroughly un-surprised by this stance, the more blatant discrimination being shown by the new leadership is still worth examining.
It’s no secret that the current political climate in the United States has brought the topics of gender identity and racism front and center. Through the 80’s and 90’s (during McNallen’s time) racism still held enough of a stigma that, for the most part, it would negatively impact the PR of any politicians or organizations that wanted to appear professional and legitimate. The current election cycle has changed that. With candidates for various offices speaking more openly about their disdain for people of other ethnicities or nationalities, people who were formerly more covert about their beliefs are able to follow in their wakes. Meanwhile, discrimination over issues like marriage equality and gender identity have been ‘fair game’ for some time. (Now more than ever)
A prime example of this is Tennessee Congressional Candidate, Rick Tyler. Tyler, who put up the billboard bearing the slogan “Make America White Again” back in June, also has a header on his campaign website in which the words “I have a dream” hover above an image of the White House decorated with confederate flags. Twenty years ago, maybe even ten years ago, this campaign would never have gotten off the ground. With multiple candidates from major political parties endorsing this kind of behavior, people like Tyler can present a blatantly racist billboard without fearing that it will be the death of his political career; as we can see by his statement on the matter:
“Be assured, the response that has been engendered by the billboard is precisely what was expected and hoped for. You see… this is not a mere publicity stunt, but rather a calculated maneuver to dispense hardcore truth while simultaneously doing an end run around the iron curtain of censorship. As Orwell stated, “In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” Unfortunately, a globalist cartel has long held power in our nation, and in effect, there has already been a soft revolution wherein lawful constitutional government has been supplanted by a rogue band of oligarchic criminals. Those who seek to set things aright are actually counter-revolutionaries, endeavoring to facilitate the restoration of lawful, constitutional government.” -Rick Tyler
It would seem the AFA is also planning to take advantage of this, appealing to a more extreme demographic by playing to feelings of ostracization in a segment of the population that hasn’t had political favor since the Brown v. Board of Education ruling in 1954. It doesn’t matter that the hetero-normative ‘traditional family’ model they’re promoting is the Christian model, or that (historically) the Norse peoples they’re claiming to represent had no concept of a ‘white race’ and regularly interbred with people from around the world. Emotional appeals don’t require logical backing, and with the nation becoming more comfortable with extremist views on race and religion, this is a stance that the AFA knows it can use to attract and maintain its membership numbers.
So for those who may be looking into the AFA, wondering if it’s a good group for you, just remember:
LGBT Heathens and Non-whites need not apply.