As I absorbed articles and scrolled past images of the Charlottesville Racists this week, I was more than disturbed. I was one angry Heathen. Three people were killed last weekend, by fear and terrorism. Ignorance and toxic rage marched in the streets carrying burning torches. Fools shouted words they could neither respect nor understand the true meanings of. Impotent children hoisted up flags emblazoned with hate speech and stolen symbols. In the center of some of those flags, I saw the Elder Futhark rune Othala.
The second harvest has come and gone, but Heathens in America can’t relax just yet. Once again, white supremacists and neo-Nazis have seized our spiritual identity and twisted our hearth culture for their nefarious purposes. The National Socialist Movement (founded by former members of the American Nazi Party) changed their symbol from the Swastika in November of 2016. The replacement they chose was Odal; also known as Othala.
Symbols like Othala, which has been a powerful force in my life these last few years, are toys to them. They have misappropriated this rune in an attempt to soften the image of Nazis, as ridiculous as that sounds. The Swastika is too powerful a symbol of genocide, and the “Odal” is less widely known.
Their reasoning for re-branding? They want the “Alt Right” to be mainstream so that they can eventually function in the United States as a political party. The election of a President who accepts their support and refuses to condemn racism with his own words makes this no laughing matter.
In today’s political atmosphere, there can be no quarter for those who would defile the runes. I always approached this symbol of ancestral heritage from a place of love. The message and the power of Othala have nothing to do with the color of my skin. My ancestors come from across the seas, from several different lands. I honor them by recognizing that the fabric of our democracy, the Wyrd of the United States of America, is woven from threads of every color. My personal practice, the way I live my Heathenry, is firmly opposed to racism.
There’s No Room for Racists in Heathenry
We are duty-bound to call out injustice when we see it and give racists no frið. As Heathens or even just descendants of the peoples of Northern Europe, we must reject these attempts to claim our heritage for fascist propaganda. Tiresome as it may be, we cannot allow racist rhetoric to become mainstream or acceptable. Not if we truly declare ourselves to be honorable folk. Since November, I have dreaded the reality of “Alt-Right” becoming the politically correct way to avoid calling out racism. In this time, sadly, I have also witnessed the culture of white nationalism pulling itself up by the bootstraps. Fortunately, they still lack the numbers to do much more than crow and point their fingers to the sky.
National Socialist Movement (ie Nazis) in Charlottesville this afternoon pic.twitter.com/0aES6DhRmf
— Sarah Posner (@sarahposner) August 12, 2017
There are no shortage of photos and news sources available on the web, for those who wish to know what took place on August 12th. A crowd of neo-Nazi, KKK, National Socialist Movement, and several other white Christian terror organizations marched with flaming torches around the University of Virginia. An even larger crowd of counter-protesters gathered to oppose them. These events culminated in a vehicular attack on a crowd of counter-protesters by a self-proclaimed “Alt Right” rally attendee. One woman died, as many as 35 were injured, and two Virginia State Police were killed in an as-yet-unexplained helicopter crash on the same day.
Already, some online sources are reporting that the driver of this vehicle was “frightened” of the crowd, and was “not malicious”. Only four (including him) were arrested during the two days of clashing in the street. Even the initial purpose of the event has been lost in the churning cycle of news and outrage by internet commentators. The “Unite the Right” event was billed as a protest, but the removal of Confederate memorials from the town was protested when it was announced back in May. Why would these groups convene on the site again now, nearly three months after the fact?
The answer, of course, is that this “rally” had nothing to do with a statue of Robert E. Lee. This wasn’t about honoring our ancestors or saving the “purity” of white nationalist culture either. This rally was intended to get headlines. That’s what the National Socialist Movement is known for, and that’s the only way they can grow their ranks and continue to wear down the American citizenry. Everyone in America right now is tired of controversy, of violence in the news, of disappointing failures from our political leadership. But this is why it is more important than ever to stay vigilant against hate, fascism, and racists integrating with American/Heathen culture.
We must keep in mind that for most of us, battles are rarely fought on the field with the “blood and soil” these hate-mongers chanted about last weekend. Unless you are enlisted or serving the public in an official capacity, the fight to defend our way of life must be fought with words and perpetuated through awareness. The battles we must be strong for in this life, right now, are those that take place in the headlines and voting booths – but they are no less important for the lack of bloodshed.
As Americans, as Heathens, and as followers of the old Gods, we must maintain the bond of democracy that has given us the lives we lead today. The blood of these covenants is thicker than the water of the womb, and no amount of ancestral pride can replace the diverse contributions of our various ethnic backgrounds. This homeland belongs to all of us now, and no group can claim sovereignty over it based on the color of their skin.
Racists are going to race bait. That’s what they do, and they need us to get tired of responding to them. Don’t let them wear you down.
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