Village Voice Posts Anti-Pagan Hit Piece about Republican Dan Halloran

Worse, they mangle some quotes they got from me until my original point was lost. Steven Thrasher’s piece on Theodish candidate for City Council Dan Halloran was well researched, but as Jason Pitzl-Waters says on his Wild Hunt blog, Thrasher’s piece was designed to create the impression that Halloran was at best standing with one foot in Neo-Nazism:

All-in-all it’s a well-executed and well-researched story (he even links to my blog), but there is one troubling element, which is Thrasher’s decision to interweave controversies about racist/racialist forms of Heathen religion into the narrative. The article at several points discusses the problem of racist Heathens/Odinists in prisons, mentions a violent racist killer, and describes the “trepidation” that non-Heathen Pagans have concerning “white nationalist elements” inside Asatru/Odinism/Heathenry. What he doesn’t do is convincingly justify examining this racist minority within the context of a story about Halloran’s faith and beliefs, especially when, at almost every turn, it is pointed out that you shouldn’t automatically connect Heathen symbols and religion with the racist elements who utilize the same symbols/beliefs.

Indeed, Thrasher goes back to the sensational flame of White Supremacism like a leftist moth looking for fodder for a hit piece on a Republican candidate. With the help of the sanctimonious frauds who make up modern Wicca and the shoddy and biased research of former anarchist, now “libertarian socialist” Mattias Gardell (spread via the Southern Poverty law Center) Thrasher is able to give the impression that the “racist minority” of a spectrum of non-Wiccan paganism is a large, sinister, and powerful force connected to Halloran in some mysterious way.

Gardell’s misleading and biased book, Gods of the Blood, is in essence the wellspring from which Thrasher’s view of Halloran flows, quaffed down by the somewhat gullible reporter in huge draughts given to him by the S.P.L.C. whose agenda is to cover for their own hackery on the subject of neo-pagan reconstructions of Northern European religions. Gardell’s main informants for his book were known criminal David Lane and his degenerate wife. Both were Christian Identity members before forming their “neo-pagan” church and their “Wotanist” organization was widely rejected by Heathens in general and Odinists in particular.

In a similar intellectual sleight of hand, the S.P.L.C. uses the term Odinist to signify White prison gangs that may use Northern European symbols in their tattooing, and conflates the two groups for political purposes. Thus, the Aryan Brotherhood is implied to be a hotbed of Odinism when in fact they are simply the de facto gang White inmates must go to for protection. There is also no mention that these supposed racialists are known allies of the Mexican Mafia, and that the Hell’s Angels/Mongols war was in part driven by Aryan Brotherhood loyalty to Eme (as the M.M. is sometimes known.)

Both these misunderstandings enter Thrasher’s piece several times, even though they are in direct opposition to the facts. Every page of the four page article has some reference or allusion to White Supremacism even though Halloran’s kindred is multi-ethnic:

Sancio dismissed white supremacists who follow the same Germanic deities. “It doesn’t affect what we do,” he says. “Our group, every Theodist group, has no prohibition [on race]…we have had members who are fully or partially African-American, Asian folks. Me, I’m Italian. Most white supremacists wouldn’t even consider me white!”

A photograph at the New Normandy website of a recent event shows several non-white members of the tribe.

The Sancio above is Lou Sancio who just started a new kindred in Eastern Pennsylvania. He has been friends with Halloran for 20 years and a practicing heathen for just as long. His views on race likely reflect the group in general and probably his long time friend Dan Halloran in particular. That doesn’t stop Thrasher, who before this quote made several references to Hitler and Nazi Germany, from throwing out a little good old fashioned guilt by association in the very next sentence:

In American prisons, however, heathenism is becoming an especially effective recruiting tool.

Here Thrasher may be confusing Heathenism with Wahabbism. I have heard few convincing stories on pagans converted in prison and Thasher gives no example. Well, he gives one of a pagan joining a racist group in prison, but that’s “Libertarian” drug peddler Donald Meinshausen. Meinshausen and Halloran are light years apart so bringing him into a discussion is just another way to smear a decent and good man like Dan Halloran. What Thrasher has instead of examples of this Heathen recruiting problem is a bunch of attention seekers with axes to grind and books to sell:

In the 1990s, Neopaganism replaced Christian Identity as the prevailing religion among white supremacists, according to University of Stockholm religion scholar Mattias Gardell. In an interview with the Southern Poverty Law Center, Gardell describes how white supremacists had a break “with Christianity — which they see as unnatural, a religion that hails defeat and weakness and is symbolized by a crucified loser.” Increasingly, white nationalism in the country’s prisons is formed around heathen groups that tattoo themselves heavily with symbols of Norse and Germanic worship.

Actually what happened in the 1990s was that several “academic” books were rushed to print when the Militia Movement made the news that had never been peer reviewed and their wild claims were never verified. Like the Satanic Panic of the same era, a cottage industry of slanderers and conspiracy mongers sprung up to tell anti-pagan bigots and self-righteous Wiccans exactly what they wanted to hear, which is rarely the truth. Thrasher goes on:

Frank Wilson, a retired Deputy of Intelligence for the Federal Bureau of Prisons, says that he watched out for new Odinist groups at institutions because most people trying to start them “were white supremacists, and were willing to use it for nefarious reasons.” Still, he cautions that Odinism does not necessarily denote white nationalist fervor. “You can’t point to a tattoo and say ‘you’re a white supremacist,’ or point to it and say ‘you’re an Odinist,'” he says.

So then why bring this up, Mr. Thrasher? Halloran’s group is clearly not a White Supremacist group, yet half your article deals with White Supremacism. This is, as Pietzl-Waters points out, as if you interviewed a Christian and spent half the interview talking about Christian Identity.

And of course no hatchet job on a pagan is complete without some quotes by Wiccans claiming that all other pagans are heretics straying from the one true pseudo-faith:

But even some pagan advocates express trepidation about white nationalist elements in neo-heathenism. Selena Fox is the founder of Circle Sanctuary, a major theological institution of neo-paganism in America. She successfully led a multi-year effort to force the Pentagon to allow a pentagram to be placed on the headstone of a Wiccan solider killed in Iraq as a matter of religious freedom. She is multi-racial herself, and hates to fuel suspicion of heathen white supremacy. Still, she acknowledges the difficulties facing a religion that some practitioners define, quite literally, as drawing its power from race. “There are some paths of Asatru that focus on ethnic heritage,” says Fox. “When does that focus on ethnic heritage become part of celebrating roots, and when does it become racist?”

A) Selena Fox is no more multi-racial than Ward Churchill, and is simply another hausfrau who uses the term “multicultural” so often and in so many different ways that one thinks she actually doesn’t know what the word means. She practices “multicultural shamanism,” for example, which of course is a term that means absolutely nothing to anyone who with a basic grasp of English or shamanism. B) Selena Fox is a known fraud who has pocketed hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations for her Circle Sanctuary and given the donors squat in return. In other words, she’s a role player with a vested interest in keeping the “right people” (marks)  in the neo-pagan movement.

Then Thrasher uses a quote from “Wiccan” *cough* Unitarian Christian *cough* Margot Adler:

Margot Adler, NPR New York bureau chief and author of Drawing Down the Moon, a popular pagan guide, notes that there’s a generational shift happening in paganism. “Politically, pagans are all over the map,” she says. But she points out that there’s a big difference between pagans who came to the religion through the pacifist and feminist movements of the 1970s, and newer people honoring the gods of war and fire and who are into, as Adler puts it, “making their own chain mail, jousting, and a whole warrior culture.”

“Many heathens,” she says, “don’t even consider themselves pagans.” In her book, she notes that some groups are “clearly using Odinist symbols and mythologies as a front for right-wing and even Nazi activities.”

As opposed to Wiccans who are in reality a hippy sex cult who have been totally taken over by anti-Semites, sorry I mean anti-Zionists, like Starhawk who give support to groups like Hamas that would kill her if she tried to practice her “faith” in Gaza. It’s funny that Adler claims Heathens don’t consider themselves pagans when in fact she’s a member of a liberal Christian church. But I guess we non-Wiccans just don’t get it.

But the most honest Wiccan quote about Heathens comes from “Star Ravenhawk” of NYC Pagan Pride:

In New York City, there’s an organization whose goal, in part, is to unite local pagans of all types. And according to the Queens Tribune, the New York City Pagan Pride Project’s legal counsel and incorporating attorney just happens to be Dan Halloran.

But when the Voice called the Project to ask about Halloran running for office, spokeswoman Star Ravenhawk (a witch), says she had never heard of him. And she added: “I don’t necessarily consider heathens to be pagans.

Wiccan tolerance at its best! And the unprofessionalism of having a spokesperson who doesn’t know that the first open pagan to run for the Queens City Council just happens to be your lawyer has teen Wiccan written all over it. “Star” then doubles down on her bigotry:

Ravenhawk was also surprised to hear that Halloran is a Republican. “Most of us are Democrats,” she said, adding that “To be a pagan, you have to have faith in a higher power.” She doubted that heathens shared that sentiment.

Yes, of course Heathens (especially Republican ones) don’t believe in a “higher power” like those spiritual Wiccans. I assume Thrasher put this bigot in the article because the one “quote” he used from an interview with me was this:

Rob Taylor, who calls himself “the web’s most popular Bi-racial Republican pagan,” says that the connection between heathenism and racism has been overblown. “It’s an urban myth among pagans that all Odinists are white nationalists,” he says. And who started the myth? Taylor says it’s the Wiccans.

“Wiccans and re-constructionist pagan religions engage in infighting,” he says, charging “Wicca is just smearing the competition.” Taylor initially came to paganism as a teenager via Wicca, but the young Reaganite soon turned to Odinism. Odinism’s rules and order appealed to his conservative nature, while Wicca he now describes as a “fraud” and “a leftist thing — not just Democrat, but far left politically. Theodism and heathenism are more conservative.”

I use the term quote loosely since in actuality Thrasher condensed a forty minute or so conversation into four sentences. I am a Polytheist who worships Odin (as one of many gods I do in fact worship) but I made it clear (I thought) thatI am no longer affiliated with any Pagan group aside from Pagans Against Child Abuse. I spoke at length about the worship of Odin and truthfully reported that I have simply never had an encounter with a racist Odinist and in fact my blog has been linked by some Odinist forums. Thrasher seemed surprised by this and frankly spent a while fishing for stories of pagan racism.

Which was the point all along, I suppose. I knew this would be a hit piece, but to the pagan community’s credit, Thrasher had to pull out some very old saws to build this house of hatred. As usual, the unctuous Wiccans, treading metaphysical water since sometime in high school, can be counted on to help any critic of a righty spread a slander, but by and large, Thrasher had to dig deep for mud to throw on Halloran.

Unfortunately he was able to do quite well. Thrasher’s piece is a masterful piece of character assassination using insinuations and innuendo to tarnish Halloran’s character, while stoking religious bigotry by presenting the inner workings of Theodism in a sensational and unnecessary way. Thrasher was able to slap just enough mud on Halloran to turn off voters, all without ever having to point to something Halloran himself is responsible for.

I guess the Democrats can thank Thrasher come election time.

4 thoughts on “Village Voice Posts Anti-Pagan Hit Piece about Republican Dan Halloran

  1. Maybe it’s just me, but I didn’t see the article as being anti-Pagan at all. Perhaps this is merely a case of seeing what one wishes to see.

    I do know that I thought the article was much better than the usual half-truths about Paganism you see in the media these days–right up until I read about the alleged Wiccan smear campaign against Asatru.

    Funny–I am a Wiccan, I was introduced to Paganism by an Asatruar friend, I read Pagan news articles quite frequently–but this is the first I’ve heard about Wiccans bashing reconstructionists. The worst I’ve heard from any Wiccan was, “Hey, we can’t be 100% sure of the exact makeup of an ancient ritual that hasn’t been practiced in centuries.” Hardly a scathing condemnation of reconstructive Paganism, unless one also considers it a condemnation of ALL forms of historical reenactment (which is just plain silly).

    So where are all these Heathen-bashers? Why haven’t I heard of it? And why are you calling my religion a fraud, just because a few people in it happen to disagree with you? Two wrongs don’t make a right, you know.

  2. Rob Taylor

    I still find it odd that people like Starhawk would be helping people who would just love to kill them for what they claim to be. You pointed out several cases of modern day persecution of witches by Muslims. You would think that if Starhawk really saw herself as a witch she would show a bit more concern, especially since it has been proven that terrorists stealth Jihadists are trying to turn the world into an Islamic Caliphate, complete with Sharia law, and no tolerance for Pagans what soever.

    It must be kind of hard on you as a pagan to see your fellow pagans bashed in this way, and unjustly labeled racists because they have beliefs that most people do not understand.

  3. So Laura the Wiccan spokeswoman for Pagan Pride claiming Heathens don’t believe in a higher power and weren’t pagans isn’t heathen bashing? Really?

    And Wicca is a fraud because it claims to be something it isn’t. There was a time when Wiccans actually practiced Witchcraft now we have fairy Wicca, and worse Christian Wicca and 100 other “traditions” made up by people who watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer and decided to be a Wiccan. You claim I’m bashing your religion, what religion is that? The last ten Wiccans I met didn’t practice witchcraft, didn’t believe in the gods and never were initiated into a coven or tradition. We’re now at a point where becoming a Wiccan is easier than becoming a Christian.

    Where’s the learning? Where’s the practice? Wicca is a sub-culture not a religion, one that allows people like yourself to slap on a pentagram, shop at Hot Topic then pretend to be wise while throwing around Christian moral platitudes like “two wrongs don’t make a right” which is simply an co-opting by you of the worst aspect of Christian pacifist morality.

  4. Damien-it’s more irritating. It’s typical of NYC though, even though Halloran has Black members of his group he’s smeared as a racist. Like I said I knew this would be a hit piece when Thrasher called.

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