A Heathen Shouldn’t Have To Be The One Saying This But…
Since this latest imbroglio started with Rhyd and the G&R crowd, I’ve noticed that the terms ‘racist,’ [and ‘fascist’] are being thrown around with less and less care. What started out with Rhyd’s underhanded rhetorical free-for-all is turning into (just as many of us predicted) a witch-hunt. Now, it seems one is a “racist” if one doesn’t agree with Rhyd and his supporters. That is apparently all it takes. Racial bias need play no actual part.
In addition to crying “bullshit,” I want to parse that out a little bit because it’s an incredibly damaging trend, and not particularly damaging to our traditions, mind you, but damaging to the very work of social justice that Rhyd and his buddies purport to want to do. How?
Well, to go back to an argument that we’ve had ad nauseum: words mean things. If we start accusing everyone of being racist (or fascist, or sexist, or any other –ist) every time they disagree with our positions on other matters, those words are going to lose their meaning. When that happens, we will be numb and blind to actual incidents of racism and violence that very much deserve our attention and action. Language shapes our ability to perceive our world accurately. What they’re doing with their unfounded accusations (or founded on nothing save that the person disagrees with them on some other topic) is eliding the meaning of these words and that elision has the power to damage our long term ability to participate in recognizing the types of system inequalities and institutional biases that are so at work in our country and that so make up the fabric of racism in America today.
Basically if everything is racist than nothing is.
Here’s an exemplum to help you: It’s like the incident a few weeks back when college students supposedly got “traumatized” by pro-Trump graffiti. This isn’t trauma. Trauma is having a student suddenly have an abreaction wherein they viscerally relive childhood abuse right in front of you; trauma is a veteran crippled by PTSD, trauma is a survivor of domestic abuse unable to get close to anyone romantically out of fear, trauma is a survivor of rape who wakes up every night screaming, trauma is the mother of a young black child who has to worry about whether or not her kid is going to get shot on the way to school simply because he’s black, trauma is a lot of things larger and smaller in emotional scope than this but what trauma isn’t? Seeing Trump 2016 written in chalk and having a melt down over it. Trauma does not mean seeing something you don’t like and personally disagree with and choosing not to handle it like an adult. That’s not trauma. It’s also not racism. (And before the Rhyd brigade can accuse me of it, let me be clear: I’m in no way a Trump supporter. I find the man vile).
Let me let you in on a little secret: we can have different political beliefs and still behave like decent human beings. Disagreeing does not make us racist. Disagreement in the instances with which we’ve been dealing lately in our communities means that we’ve considered the same material that another person has and we’ve come to a different opinion about the way we’re going to practice our religion and live our life.
Go here and read the comments. This is thoughtful and thought provoking discussion happening. For instance in the comments Eric S. asks a question that I think is quite salient to this current argument:
“That leaves me wondering: how safe will the coming decades be for polytheists, druids, hermeticists, etc.? Is there a possibility that, say, an act of domestic terrorism could get tied to some odinist skinhead group and lead to a crackdown on potential sites of radicalization, and that essays like the one on G&R could inform who winds up on watchlists? Or that, in the event widespread radicalization in the community, the entire occult scene, whether political or not starts looking to outsiders like a hotbed of sedition? One advantage of the pagan community since I’ve been involved has been the fact that the it’s been safe to be public and open, to hold rituals in parks, have public clergy, and so on without worrying about much more than being called silly or getting witnessed to. Do you see it as a possibility that within the next decade or so, we might have to learn to return to the same sort of cultural marginalization and tight-lipped discretion of the ‘60s and ‘70s?”
and likewise commenter “Kevin” notes:
“I’ve read Wildermuth’s article closely, and concur with your assessment. At one point he explicitly endorses the notion of guilt by association, actually using that word as he exhorts the reader to pin the tail on those secret persecutors who have ever read or discussed the works of Julius Evola. It all sounds to me like a game of Spot The Evil Space Lizard.
Even worse than the dubious slipshod logic, there’s something off about his tone, an unpleasant fusion of aggression with paranoia. I hope it doesn’t spread, but fear that your prognostication may prove well-founded.”
Now I don’t agree with everything Greer posited, not even close, (his lumping of polytheisms under the neo-pagan umbrella being first and foremost on that list) but I don’t have to in order to engage with his ideas and in order to appreciate the conversation that it has provoked. Ideas are being discussed and in some cases (thank you Eric S. whoever you are) taken to their most disturbing conclusions, a type of forethinking that seems to be perilously lacking at times in our communities (a failure of fortitude or one of imagination, I don’t know).
and yet if you go here, the second commenter, C. Thompson, says the following
“Now, they’re not even pretending that anymore and are just openly taking racist and right-wing stances along with the most dishonest forms of character assassination I’ve seen in a long time.”
Obliquely (or maybe not so obliquely) accusing Greer (and the rest of us in case you missed it) of being racists. That’s not thought provoking. That’s obscuring the discussion. Show me where that’s happening that doesn’t involve merely disagreeing with Rhyd. I’ve gone over Greer’s article closely and this is a laughable assertion.
[EDIT: C. Thompson has clarified his racist comments here.]
Rhyd and his supporters are attempting to hammer home one narrative of what it means to be a polytheist, devotionally inclined, of what it means to be anything other than aligned with his version of the radical left. They are giving us one narrative into which we must of needs be pressed ,a narrative that, when we attempt to speak for ourselves, says “toe this ideological line or you’re racist, you’re a fascist, you’re a monster.” It no longer matters if any of it is true.
So let me be quite clear: they’re using obfuscation and insinuation (without ever providing examples) to shut down discourse, distract when they’re losing an argument, and besmirch reputations. That is the very definition of a McCarthyite witch-hunt.
Enough of these foofaraws. Stop trying to colonize our religious communities with your oppressive and dictatorial politics. Stop trying to get co-religionists to be suspicious of and hateful towards one another. Stop attacking our traditions and our Gods. Stop making a power and money grab by stirring up endless controversy. Or know that we’ll be here to stop you. And we Heathens don’t back down.
Posted on April 23, 2016, in community, Polytheism, Uncategorized and tagged Asshattery, Community, Gods and Radicals, john michael greer, politics, Polytheism, Rhyd Wildermuth. Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.