Real Paganism is so rarely covered in the mainstream press, and sadly, when it is, it is usually because someone who has been identified as Pagan has done something controversial or unpleasant. So it begins again. Frazier Glenn Cross, the alleged shooter in this week’s Kansas City murders, has been identified by CNN as an advocate of Odinism, a form of reconstructionist Heathenry which is sometimes associated with white supremacist ideology. I wrote previously about my view on Racial and Ethnic openness in modern paganism and rejecting the racism and ethnic exclusion in some of the corners of our community.
The shooting was apparently targeting Jewish identified institutions, although the 3 people killed were actually not Jewish. Cross reportedly said (yelled, even) such things as “Heil Hitler” upon his arrest, and he seems to have a long history of anti-Semitic and white supremacist activity.
A CNN religion blog quotes from an autobiography written by Cross in 1999 in which he advocates Odinism. It’s unclear to me if Cross still has these beliefs. Other internet sources have called him Christian and Atheist. Whether or not Cross is currently an adherent of Odinism, it is clear that many white supremacists, including white nationalist gangs in prisons and various other racist groups, have adopted a kind of Heathenry or Odinism.
The Wild Hunt blog has some good coverage here of the initial reactions from some members of the Heathen community.
There’s a very informative panel on Thorn Coyle’s podcast about the tactics and psychological tricks sometimes used by these groups to bring Pagan-curious people into their fold. Chose Podcast #67 here.
I am not an adherent of any Norse practices, although I enjoy Norse mythology and learning about the pre-Christian religious traditions of Scandinavia, Germany and the Anglo-Saxons. I have friends who venerate Norse gods and goddess in their religious practice.
I don’t believe in or experience the idea that deities discriminate based on race or ethnicity. I am primarily influenced by the multi-cultural Religio Romana (which Cross specifically condemns as decadent).
I have a hard time putting myself into the mindset of someone like Cross, but his targeting of Jewish institutions is particularly nonsensical is for the racialist Heathenry agenda. In a twist of reasoning that tries to answer accusations of racism, racialist Heathens often say that the old religion of Northern Europe is for those of Northern European descent and that others should follow the religion of their own ancestors. By this logic, they claim to be preserving cultural diversity and preserving the unique cultural flavor of each tradition. It is a “separate, but equal” argument, which is deeply problematic in our eclectic and dynamic society.
But what’s interesting is that Judaism, particularly in its Orthodox forms, follows a similar thought pattern in a way. Judaism is primarily aimed at the descendents of adherents to Judaism. Converts are rare and not sought within most Jewish communities. Unlike Christianity and Islam, there is no push to proselytize or spread their religion. Jews quite specifically do what the racialist Heathens claim that they want non-Heathens to do – they follow their own path without trying to impose it on others. They “stick to their own kind”. So what could the logic possibly be for an Odinist to target Jewish institutions with violence?
But why do I even try to apply reason to the thinking of someone whose actions show that they are beyond reason? Why try to find a justification for actions which seem borne out of irrational hatred? I think we can all agree that this is a tragic incident for both the actual and intended targets. Only an unbalanced and disconnected mind could come to the conclusions and take the actions of a man like Cross.