|Robert Doyle and Ronald Chaney|
The Hampton Roads area of Southeast Virginia has its problems but compared to areas of the southern tier of the state to the west make Hampton Roads look like a center of the enlightened, rational, liberal universe. White supremacy is alive and well in many of these areas and homophobia and anti-gay bigotry is likewise off the charts. The Daily Beast looks at recent arrests that ought to send shivers down one's back. Not surprisingly, one of the white supremacy groups hails from near Lynchburg, Virginia, home of the always toxic and extreme Liberty University. While the group mentioned purports to subscribe to Nordic pagan traditions, its views on blacks and gays (and Jews) differ little from those held by the Liberty University crowd. Oh, and did I mention that these areas vote Republican? Here are article excerpts:
Viking-inspired white supremacists trying to terrorize black Christians in the South: not as rare as you think.
News broke yesterday that the FBI arrested two young men under the suspicion that they were planning to start a race war by bombing black churches in their home state of Virginia. The men, Robert Doyle and Ronald Chaney, allegedly ascribe to an Icelandic pagan faith called Asatru that has a disturbingly large following among white supremacists.
Its defenders say the religion itself isn’t inherently bigoted. But many white supremacists find it appealing because, unlike Christianity, it isn’t influenced by Judaism. If you think the KKK is soft on the Jews because it’s Christian-friendly, Asatru might be for you.
The SPLC [Southern Poverty Law Center] notes that Odinism, which has ties to Asatru, played an important role in some corners of Nazism.
“Its Nordic/Teutonic mythology was a bedrock belief for key Third Reich leaders,” the group noted in a 1998 write-up, “and it was an integral part of the initiation rites and cosmology of the elite Schutzstaffel, which supervised Adolf Hitler’s network of death camps.”
And they aren’t the only young white men to target black churches in Virginia.
In 2012, Maurice Thompson Michaely pleaded guilty to arson—specifically, to charges of Unlawfully Entering Property of Another with the Intent to Damage and Maliciously Destroying or Defacing Church Property, according to the Bristow Beat. Michaely tried to burn down a historic black church, the 135-year-old Mount Pleasant Baptist Church. The fire didn’t injure anyone since the building wasn’t occupied when he attempted to burn it down. However, the fire caused about $1 million of damage, according to ABC affiliate WJLA and he was sentenced to two and a half years in prison.
According to social media screenshots on the Fools of Vinland blog, Michaely goes by the name Hjalti and is part of a group based outside Lynchburg, Virginia., called Wolves of Vinland. . . . . Matthias Waggener, one prominent member of the group, described it as an “Odinic Wolfcult.” He also said the group practices animal sacrifice.
And at least one prominent white supremacist, Jack Donovan, is affiliated with their group. Donovan, who recently spoke at the white supremacist National Policy Institute’s event in Washington, D.C., instagrammed a picture of a dead sheep, tagged #wolvesofvinland. “Wolves and prospects preparing to butcher the sheep we sacrificed this afternoon at moot,” he wrote.
Animal sacrifice, Norse mythology, wolf-themed weekends—it all sounds like something out of a heavy metal music video or a Live Action Role Play convention. But as yesterday’s arrests evince, viking-inspired white supremacy is alive and well and weird in Southern Virginia.