|Completely ahistorical. Everyone knows |
Vikings didn't have horns on their helmets.
As an aside, I think this might be the first time I've ever had an open letter addressed to me on the Internet specifically to argue against something I've said (or, that the author thinks I said, which as we will see isn't quite the same thing), which I suppose raises me from the realm of “just a blogger” to “noted blogger”. Woo hoo, big time, baby! :-)
One of the most important things that must be remembered about Folkish Ásatrú is that the only thing that can be said to define it is that “ancestry is relevant to religion.”
Outside of that one simple sentiment, which is deliberately broad, one must toss aside any assumptions when one attempts to speak of “Folkish Ásatrú” as if it were some monolithic thing with a common definition that was agreed to by all its adherents and proponents, or imposed upon them by Steve McNallen or anyone else. Folkish Ásatrú is a collection of individuals, and as such, there is an enormous spectrum that constitutes what it means to be Folkish.
On one end of the spectrum, it is perfectly consistent to call oneself Folkish and adhere to the “one drop is enough” ideal. That is, as long as one has a single ancestor who themselves honored the Germanic Gods and Goddesses, that single drop of blood in an otherwise wild mixture of ancestries and ethnic backgrounds. This camp would certainly embrace most African-Americans, who, without comment on the circumstances by which it was obtained, almost universally have at least some northern European ancestry in their family tree.
If we define Folkish to mean “ancestry is relevant to religion”, then it must perforce include “one drop is enough.” There is no inconsistency here. This represents the most inclusive end of the Folkish spectrum. Is it the largest? I daresay not. But it is there nonetheless.
Unkulunkulu rather than Odin, so be it.
If we define Folkish to mean “ancestry is relevant to religion”, then it must perforce include “go with the majority first, and if you still feel the call, try Ásatrú.” There is no inconsistency here. Indeed, I would posit that most Folkish Ásatrúar fall somewhere in this category, with the relevant percentage varying from individual to individual. This is the vast middle of the Folkish spectrum.
As we keep moving along the spectrum, we could run into those that are, in essence, the mirror image of the first category. That one drop of non-northern European blood renders one ineligible to honor the Gods of the vast majority of one’s ancestors. Personally, I don’t see too much sense in this position, as one will almost invariably find an admixture of ethnic backgrounds if one goes back far enough in one’s ancestry. But, if one picks an arbitrary standard (a date, perhaps, or a number of generations), it would certainly be possible to establish and apply such a standard consistently. No genetic tests necessary, although it would, I think be necessary to at the very least acknowledge that the standard is arbitrary (not that setting arbitrary boundaries is a bad thing in and of itself – we do it all the time as humans in all sorts of contexts).
If we define Folkish to mean “ancestry is relevant to religion”, then it must perforce include “one drop of alien blood makes you no good.” There is no inconsistency here, although the practical application does require a certain setting of boundaries.
And who is the arbiter of what is the “correct” position along this spectrum? Each and every individual or kindred, for themselves. Period. I don't get to say you're "wrong", and you don't get to say I'm "wrong". As it should be.
I should point out that both Messrs. Sartin and Hall seem to be focusing their arguments to that third point along the spectrum, which in practical application seems to be occupied by a minuscule minority of those who call themselves Folkish. While that is certainly the easiest target to aim at, and it is certainly the one that the non-Folkish paint as the singular definition of Folkishness (for the very reason that it's an easy target), it is now hopefully clear that the “purity camp” is not only not the defining position within Folkish Ásatrú, but with so many other options, it is also not the majority view and is thus not worthy of bearing the brunt of anti-Folkish arguments.
Indeed, given the enormous scope that the Folkish philosophy encompasses, it could legitimately be said that those who limit their critiques to variations on “there’s no such thing as race”, or “there’s no such thing as ethnic purity” are being disingenuous. Folkish Ásatrú is based on ancestry, not pseudo-scientific 19th century notions of race (or even 21st century scientific notions of race). To insist or imply otherwise is simply intellectually lazy, and ultimately neither helpful in advancing the conversation nor in dealing with real issues of actual racism.
|Why yes, I am a Doctor Who fan. Why do you ask?|
In closing, Mr. Hall also noted that my pointing out of the ancestral components and requirements of Shinto, Yoruba, and Amerindian religion do not excuse it in Ásatrú. As Mr. Hall puts it:
“…even if these other faiths were identical in their culpability, pointing that out doesn't magically make any other group more or less prejudicial.”Indeed, I would agree with that statement, but it misses the point. My point in including those comparisons was not intended to excuse Folkish Ásatrú (not that I think such an excuse is necessary). It was to point out the hypocrisy of many critics of Folkish Ásatrú who are quick to label it as “racist” (despite the evidence to the contrary) while at the same time not only excusing, but in many cases embracing, the very same attitudes when expressed by non-northern Europeans. It’s somewhat unfair to say that a statement doesn't accomplish something that it was never intended to accomplish.
I hope this clarifies some things, and serves as an answer to both Messrs. Sartin and Hall. Or, if not an answer exactly, then at the very least an advancement of the conversation.