So lately, there’s been so hub-bub over between a few groups –
The AFA – Asatru Folk Assembly. The largest Asatru association in the US with groups in Europe, Central & South America and other places. Run by Stephen McNallen – a Folkish Aastruar. He claims to have stood with the people of Tibet, saved elephants in Africa and fought in Burma. He also claims White Privledge doesnt exist, is a member of a few white power groups on social media and that racialism is not racism. McNallen has in the past denounced racism, but has stated (in more than one forum) he will not tell another group of people(s) what to do. Some see this as accepting racism in his org. Some see it as “Not my monkeys, not my circus”. The AFA has a very large membership and Im lucky enough to know a few, whom I respect very deeply. And none are racist and have openly denounced it.
The Troth – A group with little social media presence, but a huge membership that is more apt to be present at Cons and gatherings. The Troth has been around almost as long as the AFA and are open to anyone/everyone and stand firmly against racism in Germanic Heathenry. Many will say they are anti-Loki, yet half their leadership is Loki friendly and they do dedicate an area for Loki and those who venerate him at gatherings. Some see this as exclusion by segregation. The Troth has since it’s beginning denounced racism. One of the admins at AAA is a member of The Troth and has been for quite awhile. He is EXTREMELY anti-racist, very knowledgeable and respected by many in the heathen community, including his own Kindred.
and HUAR – Heathens United Against Racism. A group run by Ryan Smith, for Ryan Smith and basically… Ryan Smith. Because last year Ryan systematically elminated the entire staff at HUAR and retooled it. The message(s) of HUAR was to denounce and stamp out racism in Heathenry, which everyone I know of can get behind. Theyve published statements against it, statements to stand with those who are victims of it and other hatreds, against racist/hate crimes and are active on The Wild Hunt and cons. One of HUARs first acts was a Nithing pole against racism.
The AFA …
The AFA has a reputation of being racist. Which is incredibly false. Yes, there are a shit ton of members and kindreds who are stone cold racist. Why?! Why doesnt McNallen denounce racism? Because has and does – though his definition of it is obsolete. McNallen and many who love the man seem to think racist means love of ones race. Some use the term racialist to mean the same. The problem being – race meant nothing to our ancestors except as a different color of skin. Slaves were of any color, anyone could be freed of this caste system of slavery or buy themselves free and our ancestors married anyone those chose, no matter their color. The confusion is people think skin color is something to be proud of and the default way of taking pride in Germanic heathenry. McNallen has stated Germanic heathenry is open to anyone and how they practice is their own business, no matter who they are. McNallen DOESNT do is tell other heathens how to conduct their kindreds/groups. Im going to agree with McNallen here (GASP!) and say I will not tell any kindred how to run themselves, nor am I going to deny a racist Heathen the fact that they are indeed Heathen. This doesnt excuse racism, and to think it does is utter nonsense. Racism is wrong and should be denounced, and when a racist tries to stand up and deny others rights based on skin color, everyone (EVERYONE) should stand up and say NO. I write this as an American, and so is McNallen. We both reside here and take advantage of a rights backed by our country’s forming document(s) – Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Religion, Freedom of Press and “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness”. An we as Americans can take issue with his words, and many of us do on varying degrees of verbal protest, or physical protest.
My opinon of McNallen? Do I think he’s a racist? I cannot say yes or no. I think he has different opinions on issues, many of which I strongly disagree with. I think he doesnt have an inner voice telling him NOT to post what he’s thinking and it backfires. His “White priviledge doesnt exist” post and this Freikorps post scream of someone needing to be checked because he isnt fully grasping what these things really ARE. Ive heard from MANY people who have been told by Steve and Sheila to look to their native religions when inquiring about AFA membership because they arent German or white. German cannot be seen or measured on the skin, and genetic tests werent ordered, so the suggestions by the McNallen’s were based on skin color or by the person stating their families were from Not-Germany-Country. Again, Im going to agree with McNallen here and say if you’re, by example, Japanese, you should look into your homeland’s religious and cultural beliefs. Not first, not after, but just look when you like. You dont need to adopt them, but if you do – I support you. If you decide that Asatru, Odinism, Forn Seid, etc is for you, I will support you as well. Asatru is a religion of our ancestors, family line and the results of this. So why wouldnt you want to know of your familys cultural heritage? But your skin color doesnt exclude you from following the Aesir, Vanir and Jotuns.
The Troth has a reputation of being more fair, open, anti-racist and accepting. Theyre almost silent in social media but so many claim membership. I am friends with a few on Facebook and find them living “Tru” to be more refreshing than seeing McNallen’s fluff posts offering nothing about Asatru or the influx of undigestable anti-racist hate posts. There’s an issue brought up and being discussed online about how the founder – Steven Abell – apparently attacked People of Color at the Pantheacon 2015. Though after an extensive web search I cannot find anything to back this up except HUAR saying he did and them producing a 54 page document which I cannot find as well. Speaking to a few members of The Troth, the org tries to balance everyone’s view points, and compromising. This bothers some people, others find it working out just fine. I personally see it as a baby step in the right direction (RE: Loki’s Ve at gatherings). Recently The Troth has issued an article denouncing McNallen’s call for the reinstitution of the Freikorps in regards to the Islamic migration to Central/North Europe.
*** I want to say here that McNallen DID NOT call for the reformation of the Freikorps. He said, and quote directly from the post this is all based on – “Germany – that is the German people, not sellout traitors like Merkel – deserve our full support…Where are the Freikorps when we need them?” This was totally stupid to even post and honestly, his responsibility as a leader of the AFA should indeed hold him accountable, not as punishment, but to explain what he meant. To date, he has not. Cant force him to, and history will judge his words. ***
I am not an official member and if joining the group made me one, I joined and quit 3x. HUAR started shortly after AAA and did nothing for years. Sure, theyre doing more NOW but when they started the group was basically doing two things – posting all members who want to join on the group for pre-approval and hating on the AFA. I left when I asked Ryan Smith what HUAR was doing to battle racism and was basically told they shouldnt have to do anything, I should be doing something. I figured openly denouncing racism on AAA (a page that reaches 15-250k people a week) was a pretty good start. So I left. I joined again much later and saw no change, and left again. Then the final time I saw Ryan breaking his own rule – letting people in without a group vote because the person he admitted was popular. This member was a part of Do You Even Heathen, bro? A group of cyber bullies who almost every group had kicked from their own groups and the DYEHB member would create (and deny they created) fake accounts to get back in to do screenshots and mock other Heathens. Needless to say, more than 1 person left HUAR after that and it backfired and the DYEHB people started their shit (DYEHB members now openly mock HUAR). HUAR banned the DYEHB people after. Many past admins at HUAR have written and done some amazing work to stand against racism. And ex-admin at AAA and HUAR wrote a great 10 page piece on McNallen and Circle Anuz, taking it deeper. Another ex-admin is extremely vocal and prominent in Central American Asatru and fighting racial there. An ex-admin is a very vocal feminist and LGBT activist. These people were all fired from HUAR.
AAA’s experience with HUAR. Last year, through a glitch in Facebook (because admins on their own pages had mysterious “Likes” appear they didnt actually “Like”) a “Like” appeared on a followers comment about “bluemen” and “kikes”. Both derogatory racist terms. When we at AAA discovered it, we deleted the comment, removing the like. We had heard that HUAR had jumped on it and was discussing us in their group. At the time, I had 4 people as friends on Facebook as admins in HUAR and messaged two people about it. Rudy said he’d check on it and let me know (and he never did). Another admin at AAA was asked about it because they shared dual admin at HUAR and again, nothing came of it. AAA stood with HUAR up til that time and has since distanced itself from HUAR – not the message. HUAR in social media Heathen circles is rabidly defended by some and criticized by others as a far left liberal shame group of narcissists. Then HUAR imploded when Ryan fired his entire staff besides himself and a couple others – depending on who you talk to it’s because either Ryan 1.) Only wanted his brand of white people denouncing racism, 2.) Is racist himself, 3.) Disagreed with other admins at HUAR wanting to expand into transphobia, homophobia and LGBT rights/lack of, 4.) Ryan didnt want PoC (people of color) as admins and 5.) The admins fired changed the bylaws and got canned because they broke the rule(s). I have no idea which, though I do know it was based on his ego.. And now they continue theyre unabated hatred of Steve McNallen and the AFA. After this Ryan messaged myself about a comment I made 3 years ago on AFA and when I couldnt give it concrete physical proof, he acted like a smug FBI agent on a Communist hunt, so I just ended it.
Now, racism is detested and denounced by every single group I belong to. Many Ive seen in HUAR speak of and many now supporting Ryan say Folkish is a nice name for racist. Folkish is the belief in family lines/blood and the tribe sharing these. And yes, adoption of those not of the blood. The folk are tribe/family to Folkish and that’s their religious belief. To think blood linked tribal groups didnt exist in the past is foolish. It has happened and does happen. And it’s valid! If you believe we are descendants of the gods (the latest link in the blood ties from Germanic families, or even from Heimdallr) then the family line and your clan being made up ONLY of those of your family is valid, and just as true as one open to anyone. AAA has denounced racism & the admins past and present denounce it (loudly and often). But apparently someone taking a stance against racism isnt enough for HUAR because at the end of the day, if youre not screaming RACIST as loud as they, you are the enemy. Squarely regarding Steven T. Abell’s article basically calling Ryan out on being an agent of shaming. Many are defending Ryan, which is fine. Defend him but also be aware of what he’s doing. Which is shaming people who dont agree with him – not about racism and ending it, but because Abell recognizes McNallen as the most recognizable face in Asatru and Abell has known McNallen longer then probably many heathens have been on Midgard. Ryan deals in what he can touch and what he hears. What /he/ hears. If you have experience (like I have) with Folkish heathens who are not racist in the least, that’s not enough for HUAR.
Abell decided to announce he is civil with McNallen, doesnt agree with everything he says, denounces racism and puts up McNallen as honest in dealings between himself and McNallen, so according to many – Abell is now a racist apologist. Looking for some expansion on this, I was referred to Abell’s blog, which reads almost the same as his recent 2016 article. If this is a racist apologist, than no one is using the term correctly and they need to stop. It’s gone so far as people who agree with HUAR are saying Abell should be banned from publishing at Patheos in the future. So because he disagrees with the way Ryan is coducting his shame tactics and witch hunts, he should be denied writing an article expressing his opinon(s) which are perfectly valid in the grand scheme of racism in Heathenry? If Abell was stating ONLY white people should be Asatru or follow Germanic Heathenry, Id raise my hand and cast my vote as well. But he didnt, nor has he ever. But that doesnt matter. He didnt openly condemn McNallen as a racist “stain” on Heathenry that needs to be removed from it because he’s hurting it.
This has gone too far. HUAR wants McNallen kicked out of Heathenry – essentially “excommunicating” him. HUAR wants Abell kicked off of Patheos – essentially censoring him because he dosnt agree with them. Does anyone see the problem here? I do, it’s HUAR. The message has been lost in ego and politics. It needs to STOP. HUAR isnt the Asa-Police. Many have compared it to McCarthy-era Communist hunt tactics. And I for one am sick of it. Abell is not an apologist, if you think he is, good luck to you. We dont agree and probably wont. Is McNallen a racist? Im torn. I do not like the man from what he’s said, but I do not KNOW him. People who do, for DECADES, have given me their opinions of him and I respect them far more than Ryan Smith and HUAR.
Racism is an issue, the LARGEST, in modern heathenry. It needs to be removed – BY EDUCATION. Not by force, not by shame, not my witch hunts.
EDIT: Steven McNallen messaged AAA about an error we made in this article. He does NOT make his living off AFA registrations and donations, so the article has been amended.