Throw out the term “white supremacist” and what springs to mind? Nazi salutes, the Confederate flag, swastikas, and KKK symbolism are often the first images that present themselves, and with good reason. Most if not all of these icons align themselves within a Christian-centric viewpoint. Take, for example, the Ku-Klux-Klan’s use of the burning cross. You can’t think KKK and not see a burning cross and some rather fetching linens. So many acts of hatred and segregation have been performed in the name of Jesus, it’s hard to separate the white supremacists from at least their screwed up notion of Christianity. Now, before I get the reactionary fingers of fire from those who refuse to read beyond the last sentence, NO I don’t equate Christianity with the hateful rhetoric of white nationalism. I’m simply pointing out that most groups like this choose to hide behind their twisted veneer of Christianity, so you can cool your digits.
Over the past few decades, though a new breed of white supremacist has evolved, one that discards Christianity for a new “purer” religion called Odinism, also known as Asatru. Norse paganism, once the creed of the Vikings is experiencing a resurgence among the youth of Iceland, where it is recognized as a state religion. However, a pernicious global splinter group has sought to abuse Odinism for its own means. Gee, a splinter group usurping a religion for its own violent means, where have I heard that before?
The white supremacist Odinite’s see Jesus and his Christian teachings as polluted, due to Jesus’ own Judaism, and view Christianity in general as weak and docile. So, of course, their attraction toward a pre-Christian religion, one that stems from the whitest place on Earth, Northern Europe, makes sense. They claim that Odinism is the only pure religion for white people, one that’s not “mongrelized” by the Jewish prophet Jesus. Since 2001 at least 6 known cases of convicted violence have been carried out by avowed Odinists in the US. Perhaps the most notorious global Odinite being Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian mass murderer who slaughtered 77 at a summer camp in 2011. Breivik is quoted as saying:
There are few things in the world more pathetic than the Jesus figure and his message, and I have always despised the weakness and the internationalism that the church represents.
Odinist typically wear pendants of Thor’s hammer. The extremists are drawn to the premise of vengeance and action, two qualities notably missing from traditional Christianity. According to Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center:
From white supremacist point of view, they embrace these neopagan religions because they see them as antithetical to Christianity and Judaism. They say, ‘What did the Jews and Christians do? They made these religions about turning the other cheek and caring for the poor.’ They see Christianity as a feminized, weak, self-destructive theology created by Jews and forced on white people who were by nature supposedly very different.
Not surprisingly Odinism is developing popularity within the confines of US prison culture, with many inmates sporting tattoos of Norse imagery, alongside graying depictions of swastikas and Confederate flags. However, only a small amount of practicing Odinists, about 15%, identify with the overt racism of white supremacist culture, but as we all know all it takes is a small subgroup to create havoc in society. It’s not as hidden as you may think. Remember Frazier Glen Cross? He was the Kansas man who drove to two Jewish Centers, where he shot and killed three people, all of them Christians. An adherent to Odinism, he told the court that sentenced him to death that he had mistaken his victims for Jews:
I wanted to kill Jews, not people,” Miller told the court
It’s a jihadist view’, says Daryl Johnson, former senior domestic terrorism analyst at the Department of Homeland Security. ‘Extremists tend to hijack these religions and these beliefs and adopt them into their worldview and use them for justification for carrying out violent attacks.
The threat of homegrown white supremacist terrorism is far more insidious than anything ISIS can throw at us, and it sports Thor’s hammer. Unless, of course, Marvel casts Idris Elba as a Norse god, forcing the fragile little tulips to boycott. No really, they boycotted Thor. Christ on a unicycle, no one tell them Natalie Portman is Jewish.