In my previous post, I shared some comments about a post on the blog Gods & Radicals that has stirred up some controversy over the past few days. It has since been revealed that the post was written by Rhyd Wildermuth, the founder of Gods & Radicals, and this in turn has stirred up some even wilder reactions. For those of you who don’t know already, Wildermuth is a polytheist who worships Welsh Gods and who identifies politically as an anarchist. I’m not sure I agree with all of his political views, but he’s an interesting fellow and I’ve been a fan of his work for the past year or so.
Last week, Wildermuth published a post on his website called Confronting the New Right, in which he called for awareness of how right-wing political ideologies have (and continue) to intersect with the Pagan community in certain ways. This article has sent quite a few people into a tizzy; hell, it even irked me. But as I have already explained, my reasons for taking issue with the article are quite different from some of Wildermuth’s other critics. For one thing, I completely agree with the ultimate message of the post; but I’ll return to that point in just a moment. For another, I tried to keep my criticism of the article fair, constructive, and completely impersonal. I like to think I’ve succeeded in that regard, but I will allow others to judge my behavior in that respect. And finally, I really only had one criticism with the article: one paragraph containing a very unfortunate choice of words that was bound to be divisive (when the entire point of the article was to encourage unity against the evils in our midst). Aside from that one criticism, I thought the rest of the article was pretty good.
Some of Wildermuth’s other critics, however, have gone well beyond criticism and are engaging in something more akin to character assassination. Over the past 48 hours, I’ve seen tons of posts that accuse him of being some kind of cartoon villain who wants to burn down the world and who’s infiltrating the Pagan community to accomplish this goal. (This is ironic, given that Wildermuth’s article addresses right-wing fascists who’ve been doing exactly that.) Well I’ve never met Rhyd Wildermuth, and I can’t rightly say that I know his soul. But he’s entitled to be treated as “innocent until proven guilty” just as much as the next fellow. Also, I have to give him props because he has now addressed the problematic language he used in his article and corrected it. He mentions this in his most recent article, The Uncomfortable Mirror, which is dated from yesterday:
And that’s where I must admit my one error in writing that piece. There is currently a debate occurring on who is and who is not allowed to be a devotional polytheist. For some, devotional polytheism requires that “the gods are the final authority,” for others, human choice is crucial.
In stating that “Because Devotional Polytheism places final authority in ‘the gods’. . .,” I accepted a minority view of my own religion. So, I will restate that paragraph here, and make changes on the site as such:
“Because some Devotional Polytheists place final authority in ‘the gods’ and emphasize hierarchical relationships (between human and god, priest and devotee), ethical questions cannot be challenged by concerned people because ‘the gods will it.'”
In light of this statement, I would like to give Rhyd Wildermuth a great big heartfelt THANK YOU. I appreciate a person who is willing to take constructive criticism, who is willing to admit when they have made a mistake, and who is willing to correct that mistake in front of thousands of people. As far as I’m concerned, the issues I raised in my previous post are resolved and I have no reason to discuss them any further. I will leave the post up for posterity’s sake, but I will add a disclaimer and a link to this update. Thank you again, Mr. Wildermuth.
However, I would also like to give credit to Devo over at The Twisted Rope for making a most excellent point: that it is sad how so many of us have spent the past several days arguing over one problematic paragraph, when the rest of the article makes an extremely valid point. There are right-wing fascists infiltrating our beloved Pagan community and twisting our various traditions to suit their own nefarious ends. People like David Myatt, Varg Vikernes and Augustus Sol Invictus actually exist, and the things they say and do need to be addressed. I will need some time to gather my thoughts on this particular issue; but rest assured that I’ll be sharing those thoughts very soon.