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Anthony "Tony" Arndt [userpic]

Re: Survey Results, and Commentary @ The Political Pagan

October 25th, 2010 (08:42 pm)

Here's my response to The Political Pagan's Survey Results, and Commentary

I posted it there (I think) but a) blogspot has a 4000 character post limit for comments and b) it kept giving me an error "414 Request-URI Too Large"

So here it is, all in one:


My responses to the questions and suggestions on how to improve them.

Q1

Instead of the choices given, it might have been more useful to break it into four questions:
Your perception of dominant political perspectives:
1a) Economically... very conservative/somewhat conservative/moderate/somewhat liberal/very liberal.
1b) Socially... v.c./s.c./m/s.l./v.l.
Your personal political perspectives
1c) Economically... v.c./s.c./m/s.l./v.l.
1d) Socially... v.c./s.c./m/s.l./v.l.

Q2

I feel this question should also have been broken up into separate questions:
2a) The government is... much too big/too big/just right/too small/much too small
2b) The government should try to solve social problems...
strongly agree/agree/neutral/disagree/strongly disagree

Q3

Again, this question is better as separate questions.
3a) I love the military and trust it completely...
strongly agree/agree/neutral/disagree/strongly disagree
3b) Military spending should be...
greatly increased/increased/kept as it/decreased/greatly decreased

Note that in the survey, half of all Ásatrú, the largest single segment, feel the US spends too much on the military. Even though the first two options you give are not mutually exclusive. I know many veterans and active military personnel who both love and trust the military but also feel we spend too much on it.

Q4 No issues..

Q5

This question has the trouble that Ásatrú is, from its beginning in all the countries it's found in, the attempt to reconstruct the native religious traditions of a particular cultural and ethnic group which the majority of the the members of have had some ancestral tie to.

In contrast, Paganism is such an overly broad category of (predominantly Indo-European) religious and mystical practices that it is not likely to have any more ethnic identity than chemistry or mathematics. In terms of ethnicity, “Paganism” could be considered void for vagueness. Given that, of course Ásatrú is more likely to be more exclusive.

However, treating Paganism as an umbrella term like Abrahamic, you would would find similar attitudes regarding the importance of ethnic identity in other varieties of Indo-European Pagan traditions whether Celtic Reconstructionist, Hellenic Reconstructionists, Slavic Reconstructionists, Hindus, etc. As you would also in non-Indo-European traditions like those still practiced (whether continuous or reconstructed) by various North American native tribes.

Q6 No comments.

Q7

This question would also be better served as three separate questions:
7a) Ásatrú/Paganism should strongly/clearly denounce racism:
strongly agree/agree/neutral/disagree/strongly disagree
7b) Ásatrú/Paganism should leave the issue of racism to individual choice:
s.a/a/n/d/s.d.
7c) This issue of racism is not a real concern for Ásatrú/Paganism:
s.a/a/n/d/s.d.

Q8

This question would also be better served as three separate questions:
8a) Ásatrú/Paganism should strongly/clearly denounce (Neo)Nazism:
s.a/a/n/d/s.d.
8b) Ásatrú/Paganism should leave the issue of (Neo)Nazism to individual choice:
s.a/a/n/d/s.d.
8c) This issue of (Neo)Nazism is not a real concern for Ásatrú/Paganism:
s.a/a/n/d/s.d.

Q9 No issues.

Q10 No issues.

“Ásatrú Pagans tend to trend more … with less support for government programs, interracial relations, and helping the disadvantaged...”

It is worth noting that the largest single segment of Ásatrú respondents were supportive of interracial relations and government programs to help the disadvantaged. Not as large a majority as in the Pagan respondents but still the most common response.

“The most striking differences are in regards to questions of ethnicity and race.”

This is the expected result as I commented on above.

“A consistently lower proportion of Ásatrú Pagans endorse their religion taking a clear stand against racism, Nazism and neo-Nazism than among non-Ásatrú Pagans.”

In my experience in Ásatrú on the level of national organizer, the converse, “an Ásatrú group that publicly supports racism or Nazism” will find themselves shunned and ostracized by both their local community and the larger national community. Most Ásatrú also don't endorse their religion taking a clear stand against Christianity. Most Ásatrú seem to prefer that their religion takes “pro” stances rather than “anti-” stances. I find this is in line with the Heathen tradition of promoting virtue rather than the monotheist tradition of prohibiting vice.

Now for a bit of my own thoughts on why you might feel you're running into a bit of a wall.

In my experience, much of the perception of Ásatrú “harboring” those with sympathies for Neonazism and the “White Power” cretins is due to two things, neither of which are related to politically conservative Ásatrú. Racist non-Ásatrú gangs have in the past used Ásatrú as a cover to form and expand gangs in prisons. This leads to the first problem, fear-funded “watch groups” and government agencies regularly misrepresenting and mischaracterizing Ásatrú using cherry picked statistics only of Ásatrú in the US Federal Prison system (the SPLC is one of the most notorious repeat offenders). The second is the prejudice against prison outreach which in my experience is much more common (and extreme) among Leftist Ásatrú than it is among conservative Ásatrú. When truly non-racist Ásatrú have worked to promote accurate Ásatrú study in prisons we are often ostracized and belittled by the “anti-” crowd. I'm pretty much a Scandinavian Socialist (with Monarchist sympathies) but living in the US and Europe (both EU and Eastern Europe) I've seen more damage to Ásatrú from the prejudices and “with us or against us” attitude of groups like the US's Anti-Fascist-Action (AFA), Europe's Anti-FA, and the group “Heathens Against Hate”. I don't know if it's gotten any better but prior to 2005 any list I'd ever been on that was run by a HAH supporter banned me as soon as I was outed as being a supporter of prison outreach. Which wasn't too hard since I was publicly supportive of it any time it came up.

All that being said, having your top link be HAH might be causing people to be initially biased against you. It would be like a conservative Ásatrú saying they are not prejudiced and not racist and then having their first link being to 14 Words Press or some similarly trashy group. And yes, even among the liberal Ásatrú I have known, HAH's reputation is just as bad as 14 Words Press. At least when they were younger their members publicly proclaimed at every opportunity that you were either part of HAH or you weren't Heathen. Perhaps they've changed but I and the Heathens I know haven't seen much evidence of it.

“If the US military can take a clear stand against racism and open its doors to all races and ethnic identities, why can’t American Ásatrú?”

Apples and tofu here. The US military is a job. Nothing more, nothing less. Nothing matters but “can you do your job, if not, can you be trained to do your job?” Ásatrú, like all religions, is personal. Not all religions are equal. If they were, we wouldn't have different religions. Different religions are right for different people. Had my socio-economic status been different, I could have entered the military and, like my brother, done quite well.

Regarding Ásatrú, the doors are already wide open to all “races and ethnic identities.” There's just not a lot of people showing interest or paying attention, let alone walking through. From my own experience, this does not surprise me. No amount of wishful thinking would have allowed me to fit in so well in any Native American tribal religion, or even other European tribes, I've studied the traditions and lived in the lands of Celtic, Slavic, and Hellenic tribes. I've made offerings at their temples and holy sites. I've never felt as “at home” with them (no matter how much I tried) as I do with Ásatrú. Here now in Stockholm, we went to the fall blot after living in Sweden for barely three weeks and having never been here before. We fit in as if we'd known these people for years. And they weren't politically homogenous. There were three or four elected officials at the blot and they were each from different parties. We have never experienced something like that in other lands no matter how long we lived there.

And to me, “race” is problematic as well. I see culture and ethnicity are separate issues from “race.” Both I and an Italian Catholic may be considered “white” but to say we are the same race while I am somehow different from a Dakota, an Egyptian polytheist, a Japanese Shinto, a Chinese Taoist, an Indian Hindu, etc is ridiculous. Historically, the Slavs, Celts, Asians, Indians, Persians, Arabs, and North Africans, have been predominantly good trading partners with Nordic/Germanic tribes. Interaction with them strengthened the culture of my ancestors. Conversely, the greatest threats that my cultural traditions have faced throughout history have been from other “members” of the “white” race, from the Italic culture. First through its military expansion, then through its adoption and forced promotion of monotheism. Anyone who talks about the “White Race” as if it were something homogenous and good/bad is an idiot regardless of whether they consider themselves politically “left” or “right.”

But I've gone on long enough. It's my wife's birthday today and it's time I made her dinner.

Comments

Posted by: Janitor of Lunacy (wodurid)
Posted at: October 25th, 2010 09:26 pm (UTC)

The SPLC is a trip. They worry too much about what they know too little of. And unfortunately, others uncritically believe them. The deal with Asatru is but one example.

They also wring their hands *way* too much about "right-wing militias." Sheesh, most of those groups couldn't mount a decent attack on the neighborhood "government" mailman, much less anything serious. Threats? I'd frankly worry more about a leftist university student with access to a chemical lab than I would about some right-wing cammo-wearin back-woods bubba with a rifle.


a "Scandinavian Socialist (with Monarchist sympathies?" He-he-he, you don't come across one of those every day.

And yes, "culture and ethnicity are separate issues from 'race'."

Posted by: snowcalla (snowcalla)
Posted at: October 27th, 2010 09:47 am (UTC)

Yeah...I took that survey and thought it was hosed up. Pretty much for all the reasons you mentioned.

"the Heathen tradition of promoting virtue rather than the monotheist tradition of prohibiting vice."

That's pretty much how many Hellenists look at it too.

Posted by: Hildiwulf (hildiwulf)
Posted at: October 29th, 2010 10:50 pm (UTC)

That's a very good critique.

The author of the survey, Mike Strmiska, strikes me as having an agenda.

Posted by: Marion (weofodthignen)
Posted at: November 8th, 2010 06:36 pm (UTC)

Good to hear from you again! Stockholm, now? Wow :-)

Hadn't heard about the survey - wish I had. But yes, the person above is correct, Michael Strmiska has blinkers on. Less than many, but still, he needs a cluebat.

M

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