Saturday, March 18, 2017

Story-time Saturday: Fire and Lightning

     "They're all ugly, Will," Tom said in a muted voice as they pulled up to what was quickly becoming a multi-alarm fire. "But this one's got potential."
      "Zip it and move it. We've got the west side, find me a hydrant and run a line. Stephen, get a sitrep from the Chief on-scene," Will shouted over the noise of the gathering crowd and other engines.
      As they all piled out of the cab, Stephen felt his stomach sink. Tom was right, this one was bad. A nine-story apartment complex had gone up, and it was threatening two other buildings nearby. Luckily it was a narrow building, no more than one or two apartments per floor. Even yards away, the heat wash was already turning his face red.
      "What's the situation?" Stephen called over the roar of the flames as he approached a burly, gray-haired man barking orders.
      "Chief Davidson," the fireman introduced himself. "We've evac'd the other two buildings, but we're not completely sure about this one," the Chief explained, gesturing to the blaze. "We think it started on the second or third floor, and it's already spread to the third and fourth. We need to contain this before it gets worse."
      "Down!" came a call. Stephen grabbed Chief Davidson and yanked him down, instinctively protecting the older man. There was a loud WUMP as the second story windows blew out suddenly, a fresh blast of heat washing over the firemen as glass shards flew through the air.
      The other fireman looked at Stephen in shock, "How did...?" he seemed unable to finish as Stephen brushed glass shards from his jacket.
      “What?” Stephen asked, unsure what the Chief was trying to ask. He paused, but shrugged an explanation off for later, saying instead, "Keep us informed. We've got the west, right?"
      The Chief nodded numbly, then shook his head and turned to yell something to the men on the hose behind him.
      Stephen turned back to his truck when he felt a tug on his sleeve. Two other firemen were standing beside him. The first was a wiry fellow, his helmet canted at what could almost be considered a jaunty angle, if it hadn’t been completely against safety regulations. Rivulets of sweat parted around a hawk-like nose before meeting a wide mouth that had so many laugh lines etched around it, Stephen doubted the man ever stopped smiling. His eyes were almost dancing in their sockets; Stephen thought they looked red, but was sure it was just reflected firelight. 
      The other man was huge, like pro-wrestler, toss-you-like-a-ragdoll-huge. Stephen felt his neck crane back instinctively, only to find a neatly-trimmed, but no less fierce, make-a-lumberjack-jealous-beard. As the big man looked down at Stephen, he could see bright blue eyes beneath long hair tucked neatly into his helmet. “The name’s Gale. This is Rusty. We’ve got a problem, son,” he said. Stephen wasn’t even surprised when the voice that emerged was like thunder on the plains, a rolling bass that he could almost feel.
      Stephen didn’t think he looked much younger than these strangers, but was not about to argue. “What’s up?”
      “Mother just ran up, hysterical,” replied Rusty, emphasizing the word to sound like a cartoonish ‘hi-sterical’. “Seems she left her two boys on the sixth floor, and no one’s seen ‘em. We could use some…help. Feel like dancin' in the flames today?” Stephen swore he could see the excitement manifest in Rusty’s eyes.
      Stephen looked between the two men. Both were waiting expectantly. He didn’t see an obvious engine patch on their uniforms, and he was certain he’d have heard of someone as crazy as Rusty appeared to be. Word gets around about guys like him, especially since the ones like him didn’t last long. Usually because they went a little too far, waiting just a second too long to get out when the fire got hungry.
      “I’m in, let me grab my gear,” Stephen said, making a snap decision. If there’s even a chance there’s kids in there, I don’t dare leave them, he thought as he quickly outfitted himself with the necessary gear. The rest of his engine crew was busy manning the hose that Tom had managed to find a hydrant for. There’s no time to grab an extra pair of hands. The three of us will have to do.
      Stephen turned back to the building engulfed in fire, nodded to the now well-protected duo and the three of them sprinted into the inferno, ignoring the startled yells of their fellow firemen.

      Stephen focused on not hyperventilating. The last thing I need is to get dizzy. The fire hadn't quite engulfed the ground floor. The big man tapped him on the shoulder, and Stephen followed his finger to the stairwell door, and together the three of them raced to it and began their ascent. Thank you, whoever built this place to code, Stephen thought. There was smoke pouring in to the stairwell, but the concrete walls and steps had little for the flames to catch on. Quickly, the men raced up the stairs, the smoke growing thicker in the narrow stairwell until Stephen was forced to put his helmet right up against the door of the sixth floor to be able to see that they had found the right floor. 
      He felt the handle, and the door, but there was little heat yet. Plenty of smoke from the fifth floor, and he felt a vibration through the soles of his boots as another floor's windows blew out. We're running out of time. If the smoke hasn't already got to the kids, it will soon. Stephen forced himself not to dwell on failure.
      Pushing open the door, the sixth floor was eerily calm from their vantage point. The short hallway to the two apartments was free of flame, but the smoke from the stairwell and lower floors was quickly filling the air. He looked between the two apartments, both with featureless doors. The right one first, I think. He met Gale's eyes and pointed to the right doorway, and the big man nodded agreement. He reached for the door, but it was locked. Stephen found himself pushed aside as Gale reared back with what looked to be a hatchet, his massive hand almost enveloping the handle completely. Stephen blinked, looking a second time. There was no blade, just a simple hammer, and then the instrument came down with a blur, and a resounding crash echoed through the building. Please, please don't collapse, let me just get the kids out... he prayed silently.
      The three men ducked into the apartment, tripping over cheap plastic toys almost immediately. Bingo! Now, where's are they? He looked around the room, but there was no sign of the boys. Stephen and Rusty crossed to the far door while Gale took the one closest to the entrance.
      The older boy was huddled in the corner with his younger brother held tight. They were both coughing heavily, but seemed to be okay. He made 'come here' gestures and the two boys rose to their feet. He quickly wrapped the younger boy in a towel and the supplemental oxygen mask over his face. He knelt in front of the older boy, "Take this so you can breathe." Stephen reflexively held his breath as he passed the boy his own mask. The boy held the mask up to his face and looked up at Stephen, eerily quiet and waiting for instruction. Stephen looked back at Rusty at the apartment's entrance, who gestured for the three to follow him.
      "Let's go big man, time to get out. I'll keep you safe, okay?" Stephen said to the older boy.
      The boy nodded mutely as they made their way out into the main room where Gale was waiting with his not-hatchet.
      "We need to get out of this building, and quickly," Gale said. "The bottom floor is almost gone, and if it fails..." He didn't need to finish. Stephen nodded and gestured for Gale to lead the way, but the other man deferred to Rusty, who offered a quick bow before taking the lead. Stephen sighed, holding the larger boy by the hand, and trying to keep the younger from squirming free. Yep, he’s definitely out of his mind. The stairwell was almost completely black with smoke, and there was flickering light visible in the smoke below.
      Great, the fire's almost in the stairwell. This is gonna be hot, Stephen thought. The group made their way down the stairs quickly, Rusty somehow leading them safely past the burning floors. The fire had consumed the fourth and fifth floors while they were busy, and the second and third floor doors were blown open by the earlier explosions. The ground floor was a complete wall of flame. Stephen huddled back against the stair wall, trying to block the heat from the boys with his body. Rusty stood stock still, eyeing the flames like he could will them to stop. Or grow higher, Stephen thought with a shudder.
      Stephen felt the smoke clogging his lungs. I don't have long. "What now?" he yelled to Gale through a coughing fit. I think we could use a miracle right about now, he thought desperately.
      Gale turned to him, and Stephen swore he could see the big man smile behind the mask. Gale held out his hand, palm down and gestured to the corner they were huddled in. Down! Stephen could almost hear the same cry from earlier echo in his mind as he ducked his head and shielded the boys as best he could. A boom so loud that Stephen feared the building was coming down around them roared through the stairwell. Belatedly realizing he wasn’t dead, Stephan noticed the clatter of broken mortar filled his ears past the roar of flames. He turned to look, and saw the concrete wall opposite their hiding place had collapsed, leaving a large hole. Daylight showed through the smoke.
      But fresh air will feed those flames. nownowNowNOW Stephen mentally screamed as adrenaline flooded his system. He picked up the six-year-old without effort and sprinted towards daylight, a wordless yell tearing his smoke-seared throat.

      "Hey, Steve-O, you alive?"
      He felt a tap on his cheek, and a hard pressure around his mouth. Oxygen mask, the still-thinking part of his brain said. "Yeah, still here," he croaked.
      "Oh good, you're not dead. That means I can kill you for going in alone, you idiot! What the hell were you thinking?" Will growled.
      Stephen's eyes fluttered open in surprise, "A-alone?"
      Will sat next to him, the ambulance doors open at his feet. "Yes, alone! I'm gonna have you cleaning the engine with a damned toothbrush for a month for that stunt...." he trailed off, his anger fading into uncertainty. "How'd you know about the kids? They're fine thanks to you, by the way. The building's a total loss, and no one was hurt. But..." Will trailed off, then seemed to find the words," but the mom got back after you ran in. We didn't dare send anyone else in, and the ladder truck was still a couple minutes out. So how did you know?"
      "Where's Gale, and Rusty? They’re the ones who told me about the kids. We went in together."
      "Who? Stephen, I watched you run in alone. Are you okay?" concern flickered in Will's eyes.
      "Um...yeah,” Stephen replied, replaying the scene in his mind. Did I hallucinate? A thought occurred to him, “Say, how'd that wall collapse? The one I came through?" His throat closed itself off in agony despite the sweet oxygen from the mask, and he devolved into another coughing fit.
      Once Stephen's spasm had passed, Will stared at the far wall of the ambulance. His voice hushed in disbelief, he answered, "Damnedest thing. A freak storm rolled in right after you disappeared and kept the fire under control for us. Then lightning hit the building, caused a crack all the way down that outer stairwell, and for some reason the mortar just...fell apart, right where it needed to."

McNallen's Racism, Points Number Two & Three

No one has said life is easy or perfect. In fact, Heathenry is drowning in struggles and failures, and even winning can look like losing at times. If life were simple, Round One would be a TKO to the entire premise of Stephen McNallen's terrible, no-good, awful video and all the views contained therein. Remove the very basis of all his arguments about race and one should see the rest of the fragile, ego-stuffed Tower of Racism doing exactly what should've happened decades ago...

We can let him do it gracefully, but he's still going to fall.

But life isn't that simple, and I'm a glutton for punishment (and arguments!). So let's get back into it, shall we?

(Cued to line up with the topics discussed in this post)
(03:41 - 03:43)
"Point Number Two: Race is Important."
I'm going to take this opportunity to make some observations in general about racism and how it warps and twists itself to fit within the worldview that the racists and "racialists" want it to.

The driver of this worldview is one thing: fear. Gods, it's so cliche, isn't it? Oh noes, the racists are really just scared, so they can't be all that bad, right? It's worse because of that. Fear makes people stupid, and sometimes violent. Fear is not an excuse.

Someone get him off the console!

The world is shifting, on culturally tectonic levels, and for the first time in history, everyone knows it. In times past, when shifts of this nature occurred, it could take weeks or months to percolate through the populace, even in times of war. That's simply not the case any more, when YouTube can bring us schoolteachers from the middle of a war zone and social media streams live the visceral reality of an unchecked police state, whether the the people of world want to actually watch it or not, WE KNOW.

Havamal 54:
Middling-wise should each man be,
never over-wise;
for he lives the fairest life of folks
who knows not over-much.

Now we're all drowning in information and awareness of the world around us. Everyone has different coping mechanisms, and the racists see the horrors visited upon minorities of every stripe and wonder when they'll be on the chopping block (you'll see this in the oft-repeated justification of population projections - we'll see McNallen mention this in the final round of this series). It's a natural fear, really. Cowardly to act upon, but natural. So they circle the wagons. They pick winners and losers, choosing who will survive and who can be sacrificed on the modern altar of "Not my problem."

The old school racism and violence was about maintaining power and keeping those viewed as inferior "in their place." Now racism is about survival. You see it in the phrase, "Race is family writ large."

That's the core of this fight, really: Who is "family"? I'm not asking who is blood relation, or who is counted among your chosen tribe. Heathenry has no Tower of Babel or sons of Noah to explain why there are different languages and adaptive traits among geographic locales. We only have Ask and Embla, given breath, life, and thought, then sent on their way to live in Midgarð, and all people are descended from them. And that's only applicable if someone is looking for an orthodoxical (finding truth in text) reasoning for racism. Heathenry has no Holy Text. The Havamal is a rough sketch to set us on the right path, not a detailed instruction manual.

So when a racist tells you "Race is Important," what they're trying to say, in their horrible, incorrect way is: "Family is Important." It is important, they're just being assholes about how they define family. It doesn't make it okay how they act, but there is a sad logic at work.

We are all human, and we are all worthy of respect.


(03:43 - 04:07)
"If race only influenced skin color, hair type and obvious physiology, it wouldn't matter so much. But that's not the case. As noted above, it affects deep psychology, hence spirituality, values, and to an extent our worldview as a whole. Essentially, races shape our cultures."
As I pointed out in my previous post, the study he's citing here looked at instinctual reactions among infants with extremely flawed controls and subjective examiners. So from that shaky and cracked foundation of how babies act, McNallen would have us believe deep psychology, spirituality, and values are shaped by these same instincts, not by rationality, wisdom, parenting, society, environmental factors like poverty, chemical exposure, etc.

There are far more interesting examples of the "nature versus nurture" debate, but most of them focus on specific traits like addiction in individuals, not 'races' and cultures on a whole, which is what McNallen needs in order to reinforce his argument. He's not only arguing predestination on a global scale by picking winners and losers based solely on genetic lottery, he's reinforcing stereotypes, both gendered and racial. It's a rather clever direction to take the argument, if I'm being honest.


With this, he can claim not only that religion can be tied to genetics (Metagenetics again), but also heteronormativity to a degree that would make a Southern Politician happy. It's a pseudo-scientific re-packaged argument, leaping illogically from actual science into the realm of nonsense, like most of the discriminatory practices today.

It's also a very ignorant take on history and the external forces that shape cultures across the ages. To my knowledge McNallen offers no explanation for how the mass conversions done over the centuries to a monotheist bent work within his argued worldview. Unless monotheism is some kind of actual virus, rewriting the spiritual bits of DNA? That's a heck of a pseudoscientific stretch, even for him.

It's hard enough for modern Pagans to argue that the Gods "went quiet" until they could re-emerge. It's a factor more difficult to argue that a recessive genetic trait (paganism) stayed recessive in everyone for millennia before activating, but only in people so different in both reasoning and genetic history that none of them can agree on how to make use of this trait "correctly." There are Heathens within the same kindred who can't agree on whether the Gods in the Lore are "actual" Deities, or Deified Ancestors, and we're supposed to believe this is all just genetically driven?

I get it now. He is secretly Heathen Magneto. If you ignore that in the Marvel X-Men universe, where actual genetic science backs up their condition, it fits. There are people "awakening" their "genetic potential" across the world, and he wants a select group to join him in protecting themselves from the outside world, excluding those who are different or don't agree, and constantly dog-whistling for violence as the only logical end-game. All the while continuing to act like he's somehow the logical one in the argument.
The only valid response, really.

(04:08 - 04:40)
"Nicholas Wade, science writer for the New York Times, has summarized recent work of scientists who study how genes and cultures interact. He has two books: one is Before the Dawn: Recovering the Lost History of Our Ancestors, the second is A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes[sic], Race, and Human History. They are invaluable in this regard, and I give links to them in the description to this video. Race basically influences everything that we are."
Nicholas Wade, a former science writer for the New York Times, apparently tried to hijack dozens of genetic and population studies to further his own racist viewpoints. We're going to just slap this down in bullet form because it's insane how terribly these books held up to scrutiny:
  • "Wade juxtaposes an incomplete and inaccurate account of our research on human genetic differences with speculation that recent natural selection has led to worldwide differences in I.Q. test results, political institutions and economic development. We reject Wade’s implication that our findings substantiate his guesswork. They do not.
    We are in full agreement that there is no support from the field of population genetics for Wade’s conjectures." - Mutli-author letter to the NY Times by the people whose studies he used.
  • "Wade’s approach is particularly dangerous because his argument is that he is just a defender of scientific truth and that a cabal of left-leaning academics is obfuscating reality with oppressive, even fascistic, denials of the truth about race. Unfortunately, he is either ignorant of the actual data and diversity of research or he is willfully avoiding them." - Augustin Fuentes - Professor of Anthropology
  • "Wade weaves a bunch of yarns about how natural selection could have affected some phenotype using the language of modern genetics. But genetics is a science, not a series of fairy tales. Wade ignores the the fact that geneticists have developed a sophisticated set of approaches and tools designed specifically to answer the kind of questions he is raising – approaches and tools that have failed to uncover evidence for the kind of things Wade is trying to convince us must have been true. He can not have it both ways – he can not wear the mantle of a geneticist, but reject its precepts when they are inconvenient."  - Michael Eisen, Biologist at UC Berkeley
  • "The fact that some groups have found justification for their racist beliefs in Wade's book does not, of course, invalidate his thesis. Wade himself would be the first to point out that science, like journalism, requires those who are willing to risk controversy and follow the truth wherever it leads them. "Whether or not a thesis might be politically incendiary should have no bearing on the estimate of its scientific validity." That is correct. But when a thesis is known to be politically incendiary it is the responsibility of both scientists and journalists alike to ensure that the evidence is, in fact, valid before it is presented to the public. False scientific conclusions, often those that justify certain well-entrenched beliefs, can impact peoples lives for decades to come, especially when policy decisions are based on their findings." - Eric Michael Johnson - Scientific American
  • "Wade says in this book many of the things I've been saying for the last 40 years of my life. The ideas for which I've been relentlessly vilified are now becoming part of the mainstream because of the irrepressible movement of science and genetics." - David Duke, former KKK Grand Wizard
So from an out-of-date study that confirms his theories to a badly written modern book by a writer who rejects science he doesn't like in favor of a narrow view of the science that does, coupled with a ringing endorsement from the KKK, we have a perfect fit for McNallen to continue racist rhetoric with that veneer of legitimacy.

'Nuff said.
(04:41 - 04:47)
"Point Number Three: I Love My Race."
I guess "Pride" is a little too loaded even for you, huh? Still, love is a strong emotion, very closely tied with fear (as any parent can tell you). Love also makes people do irrational things, and sometimes violent things.

It's a heavy thing to admit to loving something as vague as "race," especially since he hasn't really defined it other than "white," "European," or "mine." I'm beginning to suspect that like many exclusionary practices, it really means whatever it needs to in order to keep "undesirables" at bay.
Pretty sure this is how it looks.

This concept of "loving my race" can justify almost any action, and that's really where the rubber hits the road with racism. If you love something fiercely enough, you want to protect it at all costs, up to and including violence. Can it justify domestic terrorism?
“I did what I thought would make the biggest wave,” the then 21-year-old white supremacist [Dylann Roof] wrote, “and now the fate of our race is in the hands of my brothers who continue to live freely."
Yet again it's about privilege and it's loss. Losing that privilege to many feels like an outright attack. Attacks must be defended against, and warrent retaliation. We've all seen enough Law and Order to know it's not that far from "love" to "they had it coming."
(04:48 - 05:27)
"I understand that, ultimately, all life and in particular all human life is interrelated. But my race is made up of people like me. We not only look more alike, we think more alike. We perceive the world in ways that are more alike. I am more closely tied to men and women of my race than I am to any other group on Earth. Whether you call us Europeans, White People, Aryans, Hyperboreans, or whatever is irrelevant."
Accepting the science that the variations we know of in human genetic diversity is a fraction of a percent of the whole across the entire world, but ignoring what that actually, logically concludes. Quelle suprise. His first two sentences in this statement are really saying, "I know we're all connected, but I just want to recognize my connection to who I want to."

What he's describing, the similar worldviews and mindsets and logic, is Western Culture, not race. There's a reason most of the "white people" in Northern Europe who follow Heathenry think the North American racists are despicable human beings: different cultures. Anyone who tries to tell you that someone from Boston, Massachusetts tracing their heritage back to the Revolutionary War isn't going to have a completely different worldview from someone in Trondheim Norway, even if Photoshop can't tell their skintones apart, is full of it. It doesn't help that the typical American hubris means there's a lot of "Do You Even Heathen, Bro?" coming from the west side of the Atlantic. Those in the "homelands" are also sick and tired of being held up to that or any other Romantical notions of heritage by these assholes.
You're embarrassing the rest of us.

(05:28 - 05:52)
"This is the race of my ancestors. The long line of men and women, who, despite famine and war and disease, passed the torch of life from one generation to the next down through the millennia to me. This unique genetic heritage is something I treasure above all else. My race gave me life, and I give the members of my race love in return."
Once again McNallen is twisting and warping ancestor veneration to further a racist worldview. There is nothing wrong with honoring those who gave you life. There's also zero basis for equating my great-grandparents who emigrated from Germany with the local German restaurant owner who's grandmother emigrated 15 years later from a town on the other side of the country. Ancestors are not "race," they are blood. This shit needs to stop.

Any time now.
(05:53 - 06:09)
"How can anyone think there's anything evil about this? It's a positive thing, not a negative thing. Race is just family writ large. It doesn't have anything to do with hating other races or of thinking of other races as inferiors."
Oh? Oh, really? What did you say just one week later?!
We are higher life, right there on the front of the evolutionary process. We are the race that will colonize the galaxy. We are the Ever-Becoming Ones. And as we serve our destiny, we cannot help but serve all peoples and all life on Earth.
I don't need any more rebuttal on this point. Schmuck hung himself with his own words.
(06:10 - 06:15)
"Anyone who knows my history, knows I have risked my life alongside people of other races."
Tokenism is alive and well, kids.
(06:16 - 06:22)
"I don't need to apologize for being white. Or for having a special love for my race."
Let's cap today's video breakdown of with another common racist talking point, not that there's been any shortage so far. "Apologize for being white." This is a very common theme across the AltRight and Racist corners of the web. The phrase is a reaction to the premise of "white guilt" that has grown in notoriety of in the last few decades.

As more and more "whites" are becoming aware of systemic problems and racism, there have been many attempts to verbalize the realization that one has not only been blind to the privilege inherent in the system, but to express a sympathy and the desire for better understanding with those oppressed. Some of this goes a bit extreme, like people chaining themselves up to apologize for slavery, and the racists quickly saw this as a direct attack not on the systemic oppression being protested, but against the very concept of "whiteness."

"I don't need to apologize for being white" is another example of masterwork messaging. It appeals to a "white" person's pride in Self. This plays rather well into the American "by my own bootstraps" and "I earned it, I didn't need handouts" mentality. There's a deeply ingrained belief in the American psyche that help, even help never asked for (like getting a leg up due to winning the genetic lottery in an oppressive system) implies weakness. This is especially offensive to American Heathens, who have embraced this narrative wholeheartedly, tying it not only to Pride and the Self, but dunking it in religious overtones with the "Self-Sufficiency" bit from the Nine Noble Virtues (early Heathenism's attempt at a 10 Commandments equivalent).  We can't have weakness.

No siree. No weakness here.

By shielding systemic oppression in the Self, anyone who argues otherwise now must argue against the very Identity of the speaker. Now any counter-argument is on the back foot, already conceding ground, "I'm not saying you're a bad person just because you have white skin, but..." If there's a more sure-fire way to make things get heated and devolve into a complete lack of real discussion quickly, I can't think of it off the top of my head. It's a rhetorical land mine with a hair trigger.

I won't fight on their battlefield. They can have that racist bog. You are correct, Stephen. You don't need to apologize for being white. You need to apologize for thinking there's a "white" at all.
No scope pwnage.

Time for another comments screenshot!
Today's screenshot has Cecil Henry laying out the newest and most moronic "battle cry" of the racists: "white genocide." This, as you can plainly see, is responded to with enthusiastic endorsement by McNallen. If you think back to my Point Two above, you now see the naked fear of the racists in this term. The original comment not only demands the recognition of "white," but that the culture of destruction and exploitation that has dominated said culture for centuries somehow has the "right" to exist. What none of these people want to admit is that "white" for centuries has basically meant: "Might means right." Admitting that would be admitting their fear. We see this as it trampled over anything that got in its way, from First Nations demanding land as "Manifest Destiny" rolled over the West all the way to toppling governments in the modern era (Iran in 53, Iraq and Libya today). That's what they're so afraid of. All these cries of "white genocide" and "white is a right" are the Bully recognizing that the Victims are getting stronger, and he might not be the baddest dude on the playground much longer...

Thank you for sticking with me thus far. 
There's just one more post about this joke of an authority after this, 
then we can get back to talking about actual Heathen things. 

(Part One Here)

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

McNallen's Racism, Intro & Point Number One

After my counter-argument to his latest video, a few commenters suggested I do a similar breakdown for the other video McNallen posted a week prior. This video is jam packed with some fascinating statements and some utterly ridiculous ones, so unlike the lengthy rant of my previous work, this one will be broken up into multiple posts, because, quite frankly...

But we're gonna wade through it anyway.

Firstly, The Video In Question:

(00:00 - 00:26)
"Tonight I want to talk to you about race. Now, this is not meant to be "race" discussion, this is meant to be a race discussion. I owe it to you, my subscribers and my friends to give you a succinct, all-in-one place statement about what I believe about the emotionally laden concept of "race."
I admit, having all of it together in one place does make it easier, but as was pointed out to me, McNallen hasn't been nearly as subtle as I presumed in my previous takedown, and has been less "tip-toeing through the racialist tulips" and more "stomping around like a gut-shot rancor through a racist glass factory."

In 1996, as documented in the book Gods of the Blood by Mattias Gardell, McNallen was appalled by finding paganism populated with "liberals, affirmative-action Asatrúars, black goðar, and New Agers." This was ostensibly his motivation for founding the AFA in the first place. Think about that. Twenty years ago the idea that black people led worship of the Æsir made him so upset he went and founded his own group.

In his essay "The Browning of America," McNallen eagerly uses rhetoric that is now intimately familiar to anyone following American politics for the last year:
The transformation of America is being carried out by identifiable people and parties. It could be stopped and even reversed almost at once. Polls consistently show that the American people favor much tighter restrictions on immigration - but no one is going to ask them for their opinion. Unfortunately, the many citizens who want the doors closed are too cowed, too resigned, or too apathetic to force the issue.
And I'm not even going to dig into his 2010 manifesto, "Wotan vs. Tezcatlipoca," except to say it's more of the same race-baiting, immigrant fear-mongering we've seen grow steadily over the years. There's wrapping up Mexicans into a monolithic threat and ignoring the heavy Christian nature that dominates their culture to shoehorn in what looks like the beginnings of justification for a Holy War. (If there's enough interest in this, I can try and tackle it. Let me know in the comments!)

(00:27 - 01:00)
"Paradoxically, as my message spreads and reaches a larger and larger audience, you are likely to hear people say the most outrageous things about what I believe. So I am going to tell you, in the following paragraphs, just exactly what I think about this hot-button topic. This is the straight skinny, directly from me to you, and I invite you to revisit this video when the mobs are breaking down the door and clamoring for my head. What follows is, for me at least, definitive."
It's not a paradox if you know what you're saying is going to piss people off, you say it any way, and then they get pissed off. What you mean to say is a "self-fulfilling prophecy" that lets you play victim when called on your nonsense. I'm not putting any words in your mouth, Stephen. I've sourced everything you say, linked, stamped, and verified. It is outrageous, and you're still saying it, so reinforce that proverbial door, because
Your arguments look tasty.
(01:02 -  01:05)
"Point Number One: Race is Real"
Problem Number One: How are we defining Race? One of the trademark characteristics of arguments like this is that people end up arguing past each other because there is a failure to define terms. I'm going to have to use some assumptions and conjectures for establishing what I believe is McNallen's definition of "Race," then we'll compare that with some scientific definitions before moving on. This is necessary because he seems to be assuming we know exactly what he means. That's not how you play the game, sir!

Having listened to both videos numerous times in order to transcribe them, I feel safe in saying that McNallen appears to be defining race based on the predominance of genetic markers commonly associated with the settlement and peoples in large geographic areas, somewhat oriented along continental divisions. "White" appears to be Europe stretching from the UK in the West to maybe parts of Russia, and from the southern French border upwards. Nothing too Mediterranean, nor too Asian? The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy states in it's explanation of when people used outdated racial labels that "Other thinkers classified humans into many more racial categories, for instance arguing that those humans “indigenous” to Europe could be distinguished into discrete Nordic, Alpine, and Mediterranean races." Likely, McNallen is talking about the Nordic and Alpine "races."

The current Oxford definition of race reads:
1. Each of the major divisions of humankind, having distinct physical characteristics.
‘people of all races, colours, and creeds’

1.1 [mass noun] The fact or condition of belonging to a racial division or group; the qualities or characteristics associated with this.

1.2 A group of people sharing the same culture, history, language, etc.; an ethnic group.
‘we Scots were a bloodthirsty race then’

[Biology] A population within a species that is distinct in some way, especially a subspecies.
‘people have killed so many tigers that two races are probably extinct’ 
So McNallen appears to be working from maybe a mixing of 1.2 and 1.4? His original fervent push for Asatrú as the correct way for Europeans to express spirituality strongly suggests a historical/ethnic bent, but both this and the other video imply he strongly believes in the biological bent of actual subspecies within humanity. He's wrong, of course, and we'll address the specifics of that as we come to each point in his statements.

(01:06 - 01:32)
"It is not a social construct. There are quantifiable differences between the races that go far beyond skin color, and affect temperament, subtle behaviors and much more. The founder of analytical psychology, Carl Jung, believed that there were inborn differences in the deep psychology of the various races. He makes this statement in his essay, 'Wotan' and elsewhere."
Now, Jung was a genius and his influence should not be discounted or discredited in science and modern analysis of the human psyche. By the same token, Charles Darwin was also a genius and his influence should not be discounted or discredited. However, let's look at something Darwin wrote:
…At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilized races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace throughout the world the savage races. At the same time the anthropomorphous apes, as Prof. Schaaffhause has remarked, will no doubt be exterminated. The break will then be rendered wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilized state, as we may hope, than the Caucasian and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as at present between the negro or Australian and the gorilla. - The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex, Vol. 1
Jung and Darwin are both products of their time. Times ripe for scientific advancement, but times also utterly entrenched in Imperialist Worldviews. Couple that with the fact that Jung appeared to not only have been a monist at best (his theory on the Universal Subconscious), and an Atheist at worst, in the essay McNallen references, Jung directly conflates Wotan with both Christ and Dionysus, a curious syncretism that I have a hard time believing a staunch polytheist like McNallen would agree with. Also, race gets barely more than a passing mention in "Wotan," where it's used as a flimsy excuse to synchronetically match whatever Classical deities Jung wants into his Wotan archetype in order to bolster his arguments about the possession of the populace in 1930's Germany. It's an interesting concept, but it's not about race.

(01:33 - 02:05)
"On a less esoteric level, when the instinctive responses of newborn babies around the world are tested, they differ by...race. I'm talking about babies less than 30 hours old, so we can forget about socially acquired characteristics. Those instinctive reactions vary in ways that match the stereotypes of the races in question. To take just one example. Navajo and Chinese babies are more passive, less excitable than are newborns from Europe or Africa."
We're talking about babies less than 30 hours old, which means they are still swimming with hormones and chemicals from the mother's system (which have been proven to have strong affects on infants for months, not just hours, after birth). The study in question (more details below the next quote) apparently tried to account for this by verifying a standard of economic class in addition to the number of prenatal visits attended by the mother. It's not like mothers of any group can experience stressors and hardships other than economic ones, but whatever.

Some more than others.
(02:06 - 02:39)
"On a mass scale, these are the individual tendencies that shape entire cultures and civilizations. If you've got a bunch of people that, on the average, tend to behave a certain way, that's what their culture is going to look like. You could truthfully say, then, that race is not a social construct. Races construct societies. You can refer to the book Human Sociobiology by Dr Daniel Freedman of the University of Chicago for the study in question, and I will give a link to that in the description of this video."
So the study he's talking about here is in the book mentioned, Human Sociobiology: A Holistic Approach, by Daniel Freedman, found on page 114 of the original edition: "Group Differences in Newborn Behavior." What McNallen fails to tell you is that this study was done in 1974, and shows (at least in this instance), a significant confirmation bias, as the author states a propensity to view different cultural groups and skin tones as "breeds," as well as repeatedly referring to "stereotypical behavior" for these subgroups throughout his work. He even admits this bias: "My position on this issue is simple: We are totally biological, totally environmental; the two are as inseparable as are an object and its shadow." (pg 224 of a revised 2004 edition of the book, but not the study) With this kind of worldview, is there any wonder that someone who wants to tie religion to genetics so harshly would cite this study? It doesn't help that Freedman repeatedly exhibits views in his work that glamorize 'non-white'/'non-Western' cultures. For example: "I could not resist the thought that only grown-up versions of our Chinese babies could have produced art like this!" (p 153)

Many of the behaviors Freedman observes like irritability, adaptability to environmental change, etc., are exceedingly subjective, and as near as I can tell, no one has repeated his study after 1980. It's a flimsy excuse to introduce a near-Calvinistic genetic certitude into a group's future and culture, based solely on the behavior of newborns in a subjective test. Tying that premise to something as inane as Metagenetics is just sloppy.

(02:40 - 03:13)
"Along the same lines, and contrary to the nice, safe and comfortable cliche that 'No one is born racist,' studies do indicate that babies are aware of racial differences from a very early age, and that they prefer people who look like them. And that this preference is genetically hard-wired rather than taught. See the video description for a link to the relevant article."
The relevant article is here. Again, McNallen is trying to tie hard-wired genetic impulses in infants (in this case, 15-month-olds) to adult behavior. The fact that visual tribalism (preference toward adults of similar skin tone) is behaviorally present in infants should surprise no one. We're supposed to argue that a survival trait in infancy from a bygone era somehow has power over us as adults? Again, this represents a dangerous level of predestination at work within his argument.
Let's assume McNallen is right about these genetic predispositions towards tribalism and infant behavior. Not that that they indicate a "race" or "breed", but that adaptive differentiations can lead to behavioral differentiations and predispositions in social interactions well into adulthood. I disagree, and most scientists do as well, but just assume that for a moment:
What benefit does that grant us? By that I mean are we to now just give in to stereotypes that have been perpetuated not by knowledge of genetics (historically an often corrupted science) but by Capitalism and Historical Imperialism to advance their own agendas?
The question at the heart of this matter is not, "Are we different, and should we remain so because our genes and DNA tell us to?" but "Do we choose to rise above animistic impulse, or are we slaves to it?"
(03:14 - 03:40)
"A third false statement, is that when presented with a fleshless skeleton, scientists cannot determine to what race it belonged. One of the much-touted, 'Founders of Modern Anthropology', and I don't remember if it was Franz Boas or Ashley Montagu, made this assertion. But it is just. Plain. False. The truth is that forensic anthropologists correctly identify skeletons by race about 85% of the time.
The problem with this assertion is that McNallen is both right, and wrong. He is right, in that using skeletal structure scientists can identify adaptive traits that have come to dominate certain groups. He is wrong in that adaptive traits, like skin tone or skeletal structure, do not define races in humans. They reflect underlying environmental factors, not overall genetic differentiation, since adaptive traits have no real objective criteria for choosing one over the other.

Just observe the evidence for how swift (evolutionarily speaking) change can occur even within even a single group. Approximately 4000 years ago, there is evidence that almost all Scandinavians were lactose intolerant, yet that trait is a very tiny minority today. Given that most of McNallen's arguments in this subject of racial/ancestral genetics operate on a "tens of thousands of years" scale, would he argue that those currently of Scandinavian descent are no longer "pure," just because they can drink milk? What about those who show evidence of Neanderthal DNA? I doubt that even McNallen would go that far, but it's a good reminder of just how fuzzy the lines get when basing entire arguments off of a mutating, shifting structure like DNA.

I'll end my counter to Point Number One with this quote from the American Association of Physical Anthropologists:

There is great genetic diversity within all human populations. Pure races, in the sense of genetically homogeneous populations, do not exist in the human species today, nor is there any evidence that they have ever existed in the past.
When you get Pwned by actual scientists.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Story-time Saturday: Vølurheim : Professor Hulda Kvænangsdottir

Context: Artist Even Amundsen felt that it wasn't entirely fair that the Scandinavian countries missed out on a magical school in the Harry Potter Universe, so he crafted some amazing art for the staff of this school, called Vølurheim. I've taken it a few steps further and whipped up some quick fiction based solely on my own impressions from his amazing, amazing art. The story is mine, the art and characters are his.

     “It's tradition, Professor Hulda!” Sven protested shrilly as he levered himself up on the stretcher.

     Hulda Kvænangsdottir looked up from her patient, Albin. The large boy was in his final year of schooling. Nearly a man. Nearly dead. Her fierce blue eyes glared back angrily at the Quidditch Captain as her hands continued to apply salamander oil to Albin's exposed, frostbitten skin. “Tradition!” she spat back. “Like the Healer having to save one of you foolish boys every year from certain death.”

     Sven blinked nervously. No one doubted that the current Head of the Healing Hearth was the best the school had seen in almost a century. Neither did anyone doubt that she had a temper as fierce as her looks. Though she would heal any wounded brought to her, the healing process itself could become a most painful lesson. “Well, no one's died in...years...” he trailed off, his voice fading as quickly as his confidence under her withering stare.

     “In the years since I came to this school to discover the most dangerous thing here isn't the dragons, or the magic, but your own foolish traditions!” she shot back, her jaw clenching in rage.

     Sven shivered despite himself. The Yule Quidditch Match was one of the school's longest-standing traditions, and like the Berserkers of old, the Beaters traditionally went bare skinned for the game. Normally this just led to an excess of broken and fractured bones from the lack of padding, coupled with a mild frostbite. All of them easily cured. This year there had been an unexpected storm from the east, and nearly a meter of snow fell before the game itself.

     Not that anyone would call off the game on account of weather. Hulda's protesting yell when it was announced the game would continue as planned was nearly louder than the rest of the crowd combined. Albin had been not only hit square in the chest by a bludger, but it catapulted him out of the stadium and into a snow drift. He had been barely breathing by the time he was brought to the Hearth.

     Wiping the excess oil from her hands on the dull red apron she wore everywhere, Professor Hulda slipped her wand from it's leather case across her waist. Fifteen inches, elm, with a dragon sinew core, the large wand never looked out of place in her hand. Muttering a spell quietly as her wand twisted and arced in deft movements, her features relaxed as the boy's breathing evened out and the blue tint began to fade from his lips.

    Sven wisely decided not to notice the tear of relief that trailed down her cheek as she met his eyes once more.

    “So,” she said with a smile more suitable to the wolf whose fur shifted over her broad shoulders. “You have injuries, too?”

    Sven swallowed audibly. “Yes, Professor.”

    Professor Hulda chuckled ominously as she slipped her wand back into its case. “Then let us begin by setting those broken bones. Traditionally.”

Friday, March 10, 2017

Racist Spiritual Warfare: Heathen Edition

Havamal 127:
When you recognize ill will, speak out against ill will,
and grant no peace to your foes.

It's come to my attention only recently that Stephen McNallen not only has a Youtube Channel, but he's become relatively prolific again, posting a new piece yesterday.
Do not mistake my memes and attempts at levity as insincerity.

Granted, I could barely finish the latest video due to all of the dog-whistling and outright racism. If you're not familiar with dog-whistling, its a technique wherein a person uses coded language to 'signal' their agreement with certain (mostly unpopular) viewpoints. The AltRight is very, very good at it, as are members of the Conservative Talk Radio network. 

So here's my breakdown of McNallen's latest video - time-tagged appropriately.

(0:00 - 0:10)
"The message I bring to the world is for any man or woman of European descent."
This is classic dog-whistling, right here. "European descent" has become the "nice" way to say "white." Nevermind that Europe has enjoyed little more than tearing itself apart for millennia along cultural lines. Two World Wars in the last century alone prove that, let alone the fucking Middle Ages where they tore each other to bits over which flavor of Christianity was "better."

For many closeted (and some not-so-closeted) racists, "Europe" (the eastern border of which is vague - most don't consider anything past Italy) is some kind of pan-cultural homeland. The joke on them is that they seem to be trying to mirror the modern African-American idea of "African" heritage, but their twist has a giant blind spot that they refuse to acknowledge: Europeans the world over were not forcibly divested from their country of origin's culture by violence or force of law. Kind of a big difference, but a classic Western Christian persecution complex creates a lot of blind spots, as we'll see.
(0:10 - 0:15)
"Whether Christian or Atheist, or Agnostic, or Asatru like me."
No Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Wiccans, etc? I wonder if McNallen is aware that there have been Muslims and Jews in Europe for longer than the United States has existed. I can't imagine why he would exclude someone who can trace lineage in Europe back at least six or seven generations just because they face East a couple times a day. I mean, Wiccans and other Pagans will never get a shout-out because McNallen has a history of decrying any racially and culturally inclusive religion. Almost like "European descent" doesn't actually mean "your family is from Europe."
Dog-whistling is a bitch.
(0:42 - 0:49)
"Vikings carried Asatru into Russia, and into Byzantium, where Norse warriors formed the backbone of the Emperor's elite body guard."
Someone is showing his Imperialist Christian roots. The Varangian Guard, as these elite warriors were known, were mercenaries, not missionaries. They did not go to convert, or to preach. By all accounts they didn't do much more than make a ton of money, buy a slave or two, and try to get back home in one piece to spend all that sweet, sweet loot. The only enclaves of Heathen worship in Byzantium were those that came with the troops, no one converted willingly. Couple that with the fact that many of the Varangians converted to Christianity as well (they were blood-sworn to protect a Holy Christian Emperor, after all), this rosy view of history is yet another blind spot.
(0:50 - 1:37)
"I have followed that religion for more than 40 years. More than that, I have been one of the main people responsible for restoring it in the modern world. Now, here's the thing about Asatru, it requires the continued existence of the European-descended peoples, because no indigenous religion survives the extinction from whose racial soul it manifests. If all whites of Germanic heritage died out, Asatru would also be dead. Other races could not carry it on, because they are not us. Likewise, we could not carry on the Yoruba faith, or that of the Aztecs. We are not them."
Quick background on McNallen to put this quote in context: 
Stephen McNallen believes in a term known as "Metagenetics." Yes, that's a link to his piece on an openly NeoNazi blog with a swastika on the top. Nuff said there. The TL;DR version is this: Religion and it's attendant Deities are tied, genetically, to a specific people, and those people should only worship the religion of their genetic ancestors. 

It's bunk, obviously. Not only because it's a very handy way of tying pseudoscientific shit like race to spirituality, but because it completely robs the Gods of agency. Think about it. Either the various monotheistic Gods don't play by those rules (converting anyone they could for millennia, by hook or by crook and damn the genetics) while indigenous Gods can't fight back for some reason, or indigenous Gods are less powerful than the monotheistic Gods. Either way, he's implying that the Gods he worships are less (either in spiritual conflict or in power) than the dominant monotheistic Gods. I doubt he believes that, but it's the logical conclusion to Metagentics.

The best way to explain the twisted logic behind this mind-numbingly stupid premise is the old adage: Cui bono? Racial separatists and racists who also happen to be Pagan, that's who. You can take my word for it or you can see it loud and clear in his statement above. He's not even sugar-coating it: "all whites of Germanic heritage. [...] We are not them." This is the public face of "nice" racism today, kids. They'll argue until they're blue in the face that they don't hate anyone, or that they're "not better, just different" so they can't really be racist, and you're just a SJW who needs to STFU.
Why all the hate for Smooth Jazz Waluigis, I'll never know.
(1:38 - 2:03)
"I'm not telling you all of this to convert you to Asatru, but because I want you to understand where I'm coming from. Additionally, I want to make the point that the fight to save our people is a profoundly spiritual one. If you're not Asatru, I invite you to find ways within the framework of whatever faith you follow, to spiritualize the great task before us."
Now this is fascinating. McNallen wasn't kidding in the previous quote where he bragged about being part of the reason Heathenry in general has seen a resurgence. He ran what is now known as the Asatru Folk Assembly for several decades before recently stepping down, so it's safe to say he and the org run along the same lines. With that said, one of the AFA's stated declarations of purpose (located in their "About" section, #3), states: 
"Asafolk are not always eager to proselytize; however, we know that our brothers and sisters will all be healthier and happier once they have returned to the religion that expresses their unique cultural and genetic heritage, a heritage that is a part of them as surely as blood and bone. The restoration of our ancient ways, and the building of a secure future for our religion and our people, is our call and our destiny." [emphasis mine]
So what we're seeing here is McNallen arguably abandoning the premise that everyone should join Asatru, and really, it is just about preserving the white race, not about everyone getting back to worshipping the Gods of "Germanic Europe." Let's not neglect to mention the fact that the last sentence in that AFA quote is basically a sloppy crib from the outright racist screed known colloquially as the Fourteen Words. I'm going to be quoting enough racist tripe on this post, follow the link if you need a refresher on what they are. 

With all of that subtle and not so subtle set-up, it's not like it's going to get any worse, right?
(2:03 - 2:15)
"Whether you are Christian, Asatru, or none of the above, let me give you two ways in which almost anyone, regardless of religion, can hang a spiritual interpretation on our battle..."
Buckle up.

(2:15 - 3:00)
"First: The Ancestors. All the ancient white cultures I've studied had a consistent attitude toward the ancestors. They gave us the gift of life. Their influence can still be felt, even though they are no longer among us. Did you know that the majority of people who have a loved one or family member die, have some sense of contact with that person in the days following their death? Death is not a brick wall. It is a flimsy curtain through which love and blessings flow to us from beyond the grave. In return, I believe, the ancestors expect something from us."
I'm surprised. Not much to argue with here, other than the continued racist division ("white cultures"), as if ancestor veneration isn't something that's existed in every religion to one degree or another. Christians gave us Ancestor Veneration Lite (TM) with the "watching from heaven" and "guardian angel" and "saints" concepts. Ancient Romans would have picnics on ancestors graves to share food, drink, and time with them, and Rome encompassed most of the Mediterranean (quick refresher - that was white "Europeans," darker-skinned people from the Middle East, and black people from northern Africa, oh noes!). And I'm pretty sure Eastern religions and cultures have continued ancestor veneration in unbroken traditions for longer than Western Civilization has existed, while that pan-European blob that constitutes the target audience for this video had to give up direct ancestor veneration for nearly the last thousand years.
(3:01 - 3:25)
"First: They want the family line to be continued. To repay the ancestors for the gift of life which you received from them, you need to pass that torch on to another generation. In short, you need to have children if possible, and those children need to be healthy, well cared for, and integrated into the family and society."
Here's another classic racist talking point dog-whistled quite eloquently. An argument against non-whites commonly found in the more angry sections of the racist discourse is that "they're out-breeding us." It's not about miscegenation (which obviously is also a bad thing to them, given the direction of these arguments), but a simple numbers game. It's almost like white people are afraid of becoming a minority. Almost like there's something wrong with the way minorities are treated in society...
"He turns."
(3:25 - 3:52)
"The second thing the ancestors want is to be remembered. In the old days, we left offerings of food and drink at their tombs. Today, you can still pour a libation on the graves of family members, even in a modern cemetery. I've done so. But beyond that, you need to tell their stories to your children, to remember them on their birthdays, to have their pictures above the fireplace, and to visit their graves."
There's nothing wrong with this. At all. This is classic ancestor veneration. He never addresses the troublesome nuance that any ancestor grave you're likely to venerate as a "white Germanic European" (or whatever other labels he wants to tack on) were Christian. I do have an ancestor shrine in my home, with photos of as many ancestors on both sides of my family as I could get my hands on.  I can tell you that my dead Christian family members are not huge fans of the Pagan veneration they get. 

Now let's see how this perfectly acceptable ancestor practice gets twisted...
(3:53 - 4:39)
"This is the modern way of carrying out the traditional duties to the ancestors as practiced by our race for thousands of years. This attitude towards the ancestors imparts a sense of continuity across the generations and the centuries, and also a sense of duty. We have a duty to the ancestors, and our race, to add to the glory and the repute of the family. And correspondingly, to keep it's honor intact. Where the family reputation or honor has been damaged, it must be remedied by right works, or the repayment of a debt. Not just a financial one. Or occasionally, by revenge."
The concept of family honor passed through generations is very much a Heathen thing, as is the concept of weregild, or "man price." If a wrong was committed against a family (the theft from, or injury to, a member), that family would seek recompense at the Althing (the gathering of families for settling of disputes and creating law). 

This is the gray, murky area where racist dog-whistling gets particularly insidious. How, really, does one "keep [family] honor intact"? I'm sure we're all aware of how some religious fundamentalists keep family honor intact. I'm sure McNallen wouldn't really advocate that level of violence in maintaining honor, right? It's not like that little bit at the end mentioning revenge is a subtle call to violence...
(4:40 - 5:44)
"A second attitude or principle that can be practiced by anyone regardless of faith is to serve Life. All the cliches come to mind: "Walk gently on the Earth", "Save the Planet", whatever. But just because something is a cliche doesn't mean it's not true! The basic principle is this: Stay close to nature. Protect nature. Get out of the house! Immerse yourself in the wonders that surround you, and do what you can to promote the wildness that you find in nature. When the wildness disappears from the world around us, it will also disappear from our hearts, and we will be tame, inter-changeable economic units designed to produce, consume, and obey. Serve Life, and you serve yourself, and your race in the process."
Once again, a good idea choked and surrounded by the tentacles and claws of bad ones. There's absolutely nothing wrong with serving Life, promoting nature, and protecting the world and the environment. He's not wrong that if we allow Nature to be wholly consumed by the modern world's voracious neoliberal economic machine, a part of humanity's soul will die.

I have a really, really hard time believing that last bit, though. The very Capitalist machine he rails against was created, fed, and perpetuated for centuries by Western (re: white) Societies (re: race). Let's ponder the premise that if perpetuating the path our ancestors began is what we're supposed to do, then why stop exploiting anything and everything for profit?

The truth is, for all of the love and energy our ancestors can offer us, they were human, and they made mistakes, including perpetuating the idea that race even exists (hint: it doesn't, except as a means of division, control, and exploitation of the populace), and that Capitalism somehow willingly helps the most vulnerable of society (hint: it doesn't). The ancestors created where our path began, but no one says we have to follow it.
(5:45 - 6:10)
"The struggle for our race is directly in service to Life. We are higher life, right there on the front of the evolutionary process. We are the race that will colonize the galaxy. We are the Ever-Becoming Ones. And as we serve our destiny, we cannot help but serve all peoples and all life on Earth."
Oh, Sweet Christmas, he actually went and said it. I want every single one of you "McNallen's not really racist" apologists to tell me just how that crow tastes. He's spelling it out, plain as day: Whites are superior and everyone else will be lucky to ride our coattails into the future. There's really nothing to say to this other than:
"Evolved" my lily-white ass.
(6:11 - 6:43)
"It is here that the inherently spiritual nature of our struggle becomes obvious. We are no small-minded movement, no party absorbed in parliamentary minuta, no materialistic or economic program masquerading as something greater than it is. Our view is idealistic, transcendental, rising above all that is base and dross, and as such it becomes high adventure."
Oh come on. McNallen is employing classic religious rhetoric, very much in the "Spiritual Warfare" vein of modern Christian extremists. I expected better, but I guess that was my fault.

After circling the point like a vulture, he lands, makes his meal of the rotting flesh of Racism, and now tries to sell it to us like a cooked prime steak. Giving in to the forces of the world that would continue to see us violently divided due simply to the fault of birth and genetics is a cowardly act. He is wallowing in filth masquerading as flight, and there are far too many who will join him.
(6:45 - 7:08)
"I invite you to find the spiritual impulse, the soul impulse, in this great endeavor, and to continue our race's journey into the infinite. Do right and fear no one. Thank you." 
I found an impulse, all right. It's why I wrote this blog post, pointing out your misinformation, your dog-whistling, and your racism. I won't say you're not a Heathen, because I know better than to trip face-first into a fallacy.

I will say you're a terrible, racist Heathen, and you don't deserve to utter the names of the Gods.

You know, he didn't even deliver on the base premise of the video. He did not elucidate on why racism is a "spiritual struggle," only that individuals who want to can make it a spiritual struggle. He even says as much at 2:03. Unless you want to count that tripe at 6:11 about how it's "high adventure" just because he says so, he offers no other reasoning that it's a spiritual struggle. All he's done is point out how two very good, very Heathen/Pagan practices (Ancestor Worship & Serve Life) can be shoe-horned into Racist Spiritual Warfare.

I need a fucking shower.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Havamal 57 : Be Wary of The Flames You Carry

It's no secret these days that Nazis are everywhere. The themes of nationalism and racism are rising to the surface once more. Now, more than ever, we must be wary of what and who we endorse, even tangentially. We can no longer afford to "explain away" questionable viewpoints from celebrities, no matter how large or small their reach.

The majority of Pagans will agree with the phrase, "Words have power." We're not just talking about spell-casting, ritual, prayer, or anything specific to religion. Every spoken word has the power to bind, to heal, to divide, to wound, to do any number of things in the right hands in the opportune moment.

Like how a single word can make an entire generation cry.

Which brings me to today's Havamal verse:
57: One brand takes fire from another, 
until it is consumed,
a flame's kindled by flame;
one man becomes clever by talking with another,
but foolish through being reserved.

The surface meaning of this verse is a great piece of advice (like most of the Havamal, really). Basically, "If you don't talk to anyone, you'll never learn." However like everything else related to Old One Eye, there are layers at work here. Thoughts and ideas are spread through sharing, and what is the Internet if not the largest intangible "share" the world has ever conceived of? Just as the spark of new memes spread like wildfire when they take off, so too can fake news reports burn innocents. The Internet shows us in rapid-fire demonstrations every day just how apt the conflation of conversation and conflagration can be. So to be clever in this age means not only sharing and listening with others, but to be careful about which flames one allows to enkindle within them.
This One still believes the ending was shit.

Music has been a binding and collective force for every people, and every religion, from Gregorian Chanting in a soaring cathedral to mantras in a remote monastery. Music surrounds us, penetrates us, and binds us together. The songs we listen to can and will shape our worldview, whether we intend them to or not. This can be a serious problem if you're a metal fan. Especially a Heathen metal fan.

It's no secret Heathenry lends itself well to a isolationist, warrior mentality. Digging into the depths of that is another post for another day, but nationalistic undertones can often creep insidiously into songs of the Gods and Heroes of old. It's not just those trying to "take back" the sunwheel (swastika) or the "black sun" symbols.

Týr, a heavy metal band replete with Mjolnirs and runic symbolism in their art and band merch, discovered the hard way that even with millions of fans, some symbols are lost to the "good guys" forever. In 2011, tucked away in the "Lay of Thrym" album, was the song "Shadow of the Swastika." While billed as a musical middle finger to both NeoNazis and historical ones, the band was roundly accused of actually supporting racism and negative nationalistic messages.
You who think the hue of your hide means you are to blame
And your father's misdeeds are his son's to carry in shame
Not mine I'll take no part
You can shove the sins of the your father where no light may pass
And kiss my Scandinavian ass
Pages of the past
How long will they last?
A lie lost in the legacy of fools left us this parody unsurpassed
Pages of the past
How long will they last?
The shadow of the Swastika by fools' fears now for far too long has been cast
You who think the hue of your hide means you get to blame
The black for your own faults and so bring humanity shame
Make sure you count me out of the ranks of your inbred morons
With your sewer gas and kiss my Scandinavian ass
Týr - Shadow of the Swastika Source

There's a couple more verses, but you get the gist. While I applaud the premise of telling Nazi's where to put all of the Norse symbolism they plundered, the fact of the matter is, we're not taking it back, and we never will.
No, you're really not.
Týr meant well, I suppose, but some things have become so broken and corrupted that while they can be honored for what they originally were (and the Swastika/Sunwheel iconography really was sacred and Pagan) in a private context, they are forever tainted in the public sphere. Even out-loud-n-proud racists from that cesspit known as Stormfront think the effort was weak:
I love this band. However they've had to do a lot of bullcrap in order to cover their asses. For instance, they claim to be an anti-racist band (yeah right who the hell are they follin'). But every time a black tries to join (and they have), they turn them down. Also they never have any anti-racist themes in any of their music. The only song that comes close is Shadow of the Swastika. And that song is against racism perpetuated against whites. They just like to say that they're against racism because if they don't then bye-bye music carrier. (Source - Don't go here. Seriously.)
Do I agree that they're racist? No. Do I think they have some issues falling along the thin line between racism and nationalism that is a common issue in Folk/Viking Metal? Yeah, they do.

Just to pick on Týr a bit more, because they were one of the first Folk/Viking Metal bands I listened to on a regular basis, they're not even Pagan. They have the trappings and the accoutrements, the honest fans, and the message. I mean, I still get pumped listening to "Hold the Heathen Hammer High."

However, in a wonderful interview series with Dr. Karl Seigfried of the Norse Mythology Blog (KS below), the lead singer and songwriter of the group, Heri Joensen (HJ below), said the following:
KS – “Sand in the Wind” really seems like an atheist anthem, and some of the mythic songs like “The Ride to Hel” may use the mythology, but there’s an atheistic worldview behind them.
HJ – Yeah.
KS – Would you describe yourself as an atheist?
HJ – Definitely. It’s very difficult to sell atheism through mythology, but… Ha! It’s confusing, but there you go.
I’m definitely an atheist. I used to be Christian, just because that was the way I was raised. As soon as I thought twice about it, I realized that I didn’t believe in it. Then I got into the mythology.
You know, once you have one reason to scrap one mythology, it’s very hard not to use the same reason to scrap the other one. How do you go from Christianity to pagan? I think it’s impossible, at least while being honest – intellectually honest. 
While [KS] was interviewing Heri backstage at Paganfest, 
this Týr t-shirt was being sold in the concert venue

I can't fault Heri for believing what he does or even for merchandising/branding how he's done. It's obviously been wildly successful for the band to date. By the same token, my fervor for their music diminished significantly after this interview. Also, I get the Converse play in the shirt above, but given the long, long history of "convert the pagans" being a Christian battle-cry, they could've thought that merch through a little better.

I do love Viking Metal and there's some fantastic music being made right now, as well as some very questionable decisions by bands and labels. So I keep my ear to the ground, because it doesn't take divination to see that more problematic music will continue to creep into the public (and Pagan) eye.
Don't get burned.