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FROM: Stephen A. McNallen
Thomas Fleming's scalding attack on people who "build little shrines to Odin" ("The Thirty Year War for Immigration Reform - Thomas Fleming replies to Peter Brimelow") was simply...puzzling. I found myself wondering why this foam-flecked rant against polytheists found its way into an otherwise reasonable letter on immigration.
Surely Mr. Fleming does not think that the future of the West hinges on forcing a few thousand followers of Odin to obey his demand that they "keep silent about their little fantasies." The idea that Odinists are a threat to Western civilization, and ought to therefore be squelched, is only one of several things that Fleming does not understand about the revival of native European religions in the twenty-first century.
I think I can speak with some authority on the subject, as I was arguably the person most responsible for reviving Odinism (or Asatru, as many of us prefer to call it) in North America (http://www.runestone.org/).
Here are some things that Mr. Fleming gets wrong, and which really need to be set straight:
1. He states that we "would like to tear [the West] up from its roots and wipe out the last 1500 years." I know no Asatruar who would agree with that. If he has encountered low-brow Odinists who gave him that impression, I apologize for their ignorance and beg him to not consider them typical.
Far from wanting to destroy the West, we consider ourselves intimately connected to it. Western culture is largely an elaboration on themes introduced by the pre-Christian tribes of Europe. (See The Germanization of Early Mediaeval Christianity by Dr. James Russell [Oxford] for more on this.) Representative government, limits on the powers of rulers, the right to bear arms, rights of women, trial by jury, Anglo-Saxon Common Law (Hengist, Horsa and and Thomas Jefferson)—all these were features of our ancestral society long before Christianity was known in the Northlands. The idea that we want to ban Bach or build thatched huts where Notre Dame now stands is absurd.
2. Mr. Fleming has a very simplistic view of how Odinists or Asatruar view race. It is true that we tend to strongly identify with our biological and cultural heritage, and to see our religious attitudes as something inseparable from our existence as a people. Most of us might well agree with Mr. Fleming's opinion that the answer is not as simple as making this "a white man's country again." As someone once observed, we have white power, and it has led us to the brink of destruction.
White people in general are in denial. This denial takes two forms: The first is the illusion that there is no problem, that everything is all right. When we work through that form of denial, we all too often slip into the second kind - which is to blame someone else (Jews, African-Americans, anyone but ourselves) for our problems. Maturity and justice demand that we assume responsibility for the crisis that has led us to this point. Other races are not the problem; only we can fix our soul.
3. Fleming's view of our religious practices as some sort of backyard barbecue is, as he must know, a crude caricature. This is not necessarily his fault, as we do not advertise what we do, but in the absence of any real knowledge he might have refrained from making sarcastic and misleading comments.
Few if any Asatruar expect our religious views to replace Christianity. We are not a threat. Our historical role, as I see it, is analogous to that of American Indians who follow their traditional religion. Most Indians may be Baptists or Catholics or whatever, but they are secure in the knowledge that there are those who are a special link with the ancestors, and with the soul of the tribe. Asatru can do that for men and women of European descent, who are today largely atomized and rootless - cut off not only from our history, but from our forebears, from the natural world, and from an awareness of ourselves as a people. If we can help heal these rifts, if we can remind our Baptist and Catholic friends that we have an ancient and honorable past, if we can be a link with those innumerable generations who have gone before us, then we will have done well.
"Only when we realize that we are a river will we stop drowning in puddles."
December 11, 2001