Public Service Announcement: Hate actually does have a home here. Several, in fact. I’ve recently learned about the one in Bloomington, MN, where I’ve lived for 20 years. An organized white supremacist Aryan hate group, Northern Blood Kindred, an affiliate of the Asatru Folk Assembly, are proud and public on their web and Facebook pages. Not far from the Minnesota Valley UU Church. Meanwhile, the UU Church of Willmar is right down the road from the new home of an Asatru church in Murdock, MN.
They’re protected by the First Amendment, of course. In America, they have a right to exist. My goal in posting about them here is to help us combat the naïveté and denial that says we don’t live in a racist society. My aim is to remind us that personal racism is still very much alive, active, and it is intentionally recruiting new adherents. This is not about the Minneapolis Police Department, it’s about our own backyard. Our personal antiracism needs to be equally intentional and active, to resist what’s happening and what’s coming. Listen again to Rev. Karen Hutt: Hope is not your friend.
Imagine your kid, or your grandchild, on the playground with a child of Asatru neighbors… Can yours be the family who expose that child to antiracist beliefs and ways of life; the ones who can help that child begin to question his indoctrination? that we need to educate our children and grandchildren to be critically aware of groups like this. Their hate work is cloaked in a kind of mystic warrior rhetoric that’s attractive to some and interfaces with video games and popular TV shows like “Game of Thrones”. So, people can get sucked into it without realizing what it really is.
They deny being white supremacists but take a look at the Southern poverty Law Center hate watch page about Asatru Folkways… And read their public posts on the website or Facebook pages, if you doubt the SPLC assessment. There’s nothing subtle.
This “Volkish” movement also is a travesty of earth-centered religious beliefs and practices, such as UU Pagans (CUUPS). In fact, there’s a page called TACwatch dedicated to resist being co-opted by white supremacists, at https://www.realheathenry.com/tacwatch/
Here are just a couple of quotes from their website, runestone.org, and Facebook page:
“We in Asatru support strong, healthy white family relationships. We want our children to grow up to be mothers and fathers to white children of their own. We believe that those activities and behaviors supportive of the white family should be encouraged while those activities and behaviors destructive of the white family are to be discouraged.” (This is labeled as part of the “Code of Ethics.”)
“AFA’s Vision Imagine a world where the names of our holy Gods and Goddesses are instantly recognized in ordinary households across the country…where our places of worship are dotted across the land, regularly packed with scores – or hundreds! – of eager men and women who have come home to their spiritual birthright…where the writers of textbooks, the shapers of legislation, and the molders of public opinion will have to take into consideration those of us who follow the Germanic Folkway – in short, a world where our cultural voice is loudly heard.”
Here are my Bloomington neighbors, in a photo from their public Facebook page:
How do we resist the resurgence of white supremacist/white nationalist hate groups?
We are rightly focused nowadays on systemic and institutional racism, on the need to abolish systems of state sanctioned violence such as racist policing, ICE detention, mass incarceration, and criminalizing our right to dissent and resist. Amen to that work.
We can resist by educating ourselves to be able to educate others. We can resist by organizing forums, films, readings, LTE, media, etc. that name Asatru, and others like it, as examples of a rising, organized white supremacist/nationalist bigotry that has grown enormously since the inauguration of President Obama in 2008 and is very likely to grow again in 2021 regardless of the outcome of this election. Erin Maye Quade did this terrific TED talk for example… I think it would be amazing if every congregation and forum across Minnesota shared and discussed it.
Talking with friends, and sharing on our own (private) social media may be more effective than public social media posts. Before reposting in public spaces about Hate groups, consider your goals and how you’re planning to share the information. Commenting “This is outrageous” isn’t much help unless it guides people towards some kind of action, as well as greater awareness. Will your post advertise the Asatru group and boost its membership? or will it help raise awareness, reduce denial, and organize resistance? Teaching Tolerance, from SPLC, has a great resource on resisting Hate in our communities.
And make no mistake, when the current President says he wants to ban federal agencies from speaking about white supremacy, these Asatru white supremacist messages are precisely what he is boosting. Today — on Yom Kippur, the highest of holy days, a day when we all can think about how we practice atonement and renewal — When this President says he might not leave office regardless of the outcome of a democratic election, how is it that I cannot forget the sight and sound of torch-lit marchers in Charlottesville, those “very fine people” chanting “Jews will not replace us”? When rhetoric spills over into violence, as white supremacist/white nationalist rhetoric has done increasingly, we need resistance and resilience.
Resilient people face the truth of present realities, have the imagination to anticipate possible futures, and the determination to respond to them with integrity. Resilient people are people like you.
In faith and solidarity,