We Will Not Be Censored, Silenced, or Intimidated

It is heartening to see that Pagans and Polytheists from so many traditions are taking a stand against the hateful and divisive rhetoric of the Radicals with Gods contingent.

First up is J. Agathokles who writes:

Throughout the article the author, who was apparently too cowardly to put his/her name under the article, accuses polytheism of being inherently intertwined with far right ideologies of misogyny, ableism, racism/supremacism, nationalism, etc. These things are genuine threats to us, yes, but in my experience they are mostly external ones. I have not yet met a single, genuine polytheist who holds such opinions as part of their religion.

Subsequently Rhyd has been outed as the author of the offensive article, and no doubt there’ll be a backpeddling “apology” forthcoming, but the damage is done and we’ve seen clearly what Rhyd and Co. are about.

And we aren’t having any of it, as evidenced by Keith McCormic’s damning indictment:

In short, the author seeks to build himself up by tearing down others. This is the essence of an abuser. I hate the term “bully” because it minimizes the abuse and seeks to excuse it as mere immaturity or even “natural”. This is abuse. It is the direct attempt to exert artificial hierarchy over others, as bad OR WORSE than the attempt to abuse natural hierarchy by extending it into areas where it does not pertain.

No more should paganism or polytheism regard this article or its author as relevant or important than should a wife regard her husband as wise and fair simply because of the strength of his arm. We rightly decry physical abuse, we sometimes properly address emotional and social abuse. In the face of this article, any sane person wishing to view themselves as just and considered must defy the author in his attempt to assert dominance and control over others by labeling them, falsely and without evidence.

And lest you think this was a one off passionate blunder, Ruadhán J McElroy reminds us:

Rhyd is very careful about his choices of words and phraseology. Plus there’s the fact that Rhyd is a smart man — I’ve not just observed this in his blogging, but also in real life, when I met him at the Polytheist Leadership Conference a couple years ago. He knows good intentions are no excuse for implicitly smearing others in this way (including others who have gone out of their way to support him, give him voice, and recognise the value in much of his words), regardless of the importance of the message that this smear is couched in.

Matt Whealton raises an important point that even those who share these beliefs find such demonizing and polarizing tactics objectionable:

Your brush is too wide and your vision monochromatic.

My reconstructionism is not a-political. I support financially efforts that rebuild and restore the ancient buildings, record them, and employ and train Egyptians to do those things. This is honoring the Gods and ancestors in a way that respects them and their children as well. All their children. It is a way of acting politically too. One that strengthens people who are suffering quite a lot right now. This kind of political action, embedded in a number of contexts, with multiple goals, and using the tools at hand to effect change for individuals in an economic and educational way, is the choice I have made within the ethical framework of my reconstructionist religion. It is real and it is effective.

A point reaffirmed in Tess Dawson’s critique:

A person can indeed have a religion which combines polytheism and politics, and a person can indeed call it a polytheistic religion if it involves some kind of religious regard for many deities (that’s all you need to be called “polytheist”); but a person cannot claim that such an intersection between politics and polytheism is, or should be, the whole of polytheism. A person also cannot claim that such an intersection between a specific political ideology (like socialism or libertarianism) and polytheism is the whole of polytheism. A person also cannot claim that an intersection amidst specific political ideologies and economic ideologies (like socialism and anti-capitalism, or like libertarianism and capitalism,or like socialism and capitalism) is the whole of polytheism.

Which is why what Rhyd is doing is so insidious, as Joe Bloch points out:

Now, you might not agree with me about being folkish. People of goodwill can and will disagree and still be civil. But damn, I would hope that you would agree that there are some things more important than some left-wing political agenda.

Like, you know, the Gods, the faith, and the folk.

The New Right, by his own definition, isn’t fascist. Rhyd even states explicitly that they don’t self-identify as fascist, but then goes on to say that he knows better what lies in their heart (ditto racists). He paints broad swaths of the neopagan community that doesn’t happen to be the tiny segment he’s a part of as under the insidious influence of the New Right (whose stances are only evil to a true left-wing zealot; it’s possible to disagree and not say they’re evil), and gets even his basic facts dead wrong. But worst of all, he places his own petty political axes above the Gods, above the needs of our Heathen and neopagan faiths, and above the folk. Because he thinks he knows better than everyone else, and if you don’t agree, then you’re part of the problem. And if you object, you’re just being emotional and over-reacting.

Lucius Svartwulf Helsen shares a story and some videos that will help nuance this conversation, as well as this pointed reminder:

As anyone who has read my blog for a length of time may no doubt recall, I have been dealing with this view inside paganism for a while and have repeatedly said “do not play this game, you will not like where it goes.” Because something inevitably will happen which you play the race/sex/gender/etc game. Eventually the people you call evil for being a different race/sex/gender/etc are going to get tired of being called evil and insist that no, they are good and it is you who is evil.

And that is exactly what the Radicals with Gods crowd want or why else would they be so eager to demonize even those who wish to remain staunchly apolitical as they do here. And here. And here. And here. And here. And dozens of other places on the ‘net.

These people won’t be happy until everyone is at everyone else’s throats and peaceful coexistence and constructive cooperation nothing more than an impossible dream.

Don’t let them win and twist Paganism and Polytheism to their own warped ends.

I don’t give a fuck what you believe, or where you fall on this or other issues. I just want you to be heard. I have no intention of calling the FBI on you for expressing views contrary to my own.

You have a voice. Stand up and use it, before it’s too late.

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Posted on March 27, 2016, in community, Polytheism, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.

  1. THANK YOU. For one thing, you’ve gotten me to be back and involved Online in the Polytheistic Pagan realms. (Via that original skeevy article, alas.) Mea culpa on that, but a kick in the backside is worth a lot.

    But the basic point stands: don’t let them twist and redefine polytheism to their own warped ends. How does this author know what any practitioner has in his or her own heart? Sanctimonious, anyone? Duhhhh.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Virginia Carper

    Rhyd doesn’t understand the Roman mindset when he discusses sacer. Romans did divide things into sacred and human. However, they didn’t make the sacred into something political. Sacer was a thing given to the Gods. A Roman was concerned with the Pax Deorum, the peace of the Gods. The politicians did divination to discover the will of the Gods. If the Gods didn’t answer, it meant they could do whatever.

    I have no idea where he got that business about the sacred and political being the same. Unless I am reading that wrong.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Because he thinks he knows better than everyone else, and if you don’t agree, then you’re part of the problem. And if you object, you’re just being emotional and over-reacting.

      In calling us “Fascist”, he is coming off as “Fascist” himself.

      Liked by 2 people

    • I would argue that the sacred and political are often intertwined, but not exactly the same, but the argument that “there was never this division in ancient times!” is a misconception I’ve been hearing and reading in Recon and other polytheist circles for almost fifteen years, now. Even in Hellas, where people tended to be *very* religious, to the point that, unlike in Rome, there was no word for “religion”, by itself (the closest would be “ta hiera”, meaning “the sacred” or “sacred rites” — I’ve seen both translations), there were matters where it was acknowledge that the gods didn’t seem to have a particular opinion on this matter. Yes, divinations were consulted for every important State matter, sometimes multiple divinations to see if there was a consistency, but sometimes the answer was pretty much along the lines of “Busy right now, go figure it out for yourself.”

      Like

  3. I’ve done some writing in the past for G&R.

    This post by Rhyd is fucking Nuts, and really sits waaay over the borderline between where I align with G&R and where I don’t.

    There is a lot of whiffiness of hypocrisy in there too. I am kinda curious to see how he follows this up.

    Liked by 2 people

    • On Facebook, settings, public:
      Rhyd Wildermuth 3 hrs
      “It’s amazing to see members of otherwise well-respected polytheist groups be in full agreement with people who are not only known New Right ideologues, but all out racists.
      And I can handle personal attacks quite well, but that some are joining in on Alley Valkyrie and other friends of mine is appalling–but unsurprising.
      Tell me again how your gods are the most important thing to you, how your political motives and personal ethics don’t affect the way you do your religion, and how I am an enemy of your polytheism?
      Because from here, it looks like you’re doing a bang up job of destroying your traditions yourself.”
      Link: https://www.facebook.com/rhydd.arch.7/posts/973210456128339?pnref=story

      Like

      • thetinfoilhatsociety

        Ooh, looks like someone is kicking sand in the faces of the other kids because they don’t want to play his game…I bet he tries to take all the toys away from the other kids too before it’s all over 🙂

        Like

      • It’s amazing to see members of otherwise well-respected polytheist groups be in full agreement with people who are not only known New Right ideologues, but all out racists.

        I’m really trying to figure out what the hell he’s talking about with this claim? I’ve seen no such thing.

        Like

  4. So, here is the source of the unattributed quote from a New Right thinker that Rhyd drops in to his piece: http://www.counter-currents.com/2012/05/new-right-vs-old-right

    Worth seeing just what exactly Rhyd is drawing from. It’s pretty damn grotesque, and the idea that he would try to draw a line between this hateful rhetoric and ADF, for example, is shameful.

    Liked by 2 people

    • @ Julian I think I’m gonna puke

      Like

    • Well, that was its own brand of special.

      Again, while I see the point in maybe highlighting some of the vulnerabilities in pagan and polytheist communities to New Right ideologies and thus potential infiltration, naming and all-but-naming specific groups of well-established sects, factions, and specific groups of pagans and polytheists is highly problematic (at best), because it subconsciously associates those broadly-defined (and specifically named) groups with the New Right and other forms of Fascism with the reader.

      Rhyd’s piece is not completely devoid of value, but his willingness to make an implicit association of pagan groups like Trad Wicca, ADF, Northern Tradition, and more loosely-defined movements like reconstructionism (of which there are formally-associated groups, like Hellenion in the US, YSEE in Greece [which, yeah, a lot of Americans feel have some problematic political tendencies, but they’ve also made statements against conscious white supremacists], and several Celtic groups i know of, but am brain-farting on the names of) and devotional polytheism — that speaks volumes to the notion that he’d constructed this article with a personal agenda in mind.

      As i said the other day: He’s smart, and he’s always very careful of the words and phrases he chooses, I have no reason to think that he didn’t know exactly what he was doing with this — especially considering that he made it clear that he was excluding OBOD (a group he’s publicly associated with), Feri, and Reclaiming (groups others in the core G&R team are associated with) from this vague non-association via vulnerable traits. I took note the other day that John Beckett, also associated with OBOD, seems unable to figure out how Rhyd is reasoning that OBOD is somehow “egalitarian” in its set-up, but more like a benevolent “dictatorship” — which is kind of the exact opposite of an egalitarian group.

      He’s taking digs at great swaths of people for what I can only guess are personal reasons, and he’s couching it in a necessary article. That’s just not cool on so many levels.

      Like

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