Racism, Odinism, and Custody Battles

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  June 11, 2008 — 13 Comments

The Winnipeg Free Press reports on a woman working to get custody of her two children back after her daughter arrived at school with a swastika drawn on her arm. The woman, an Odinist, claims to be “tolerant of all people” despite the fact that she is married to an admitted white supremacist, and admits to being a “white nationalist” who wears swastika-etched jewelry*.

“The day her seven-year-old daughter went to school in March with a swastika drawn on her arm, her mother said she tried to wash it off with nail polish remover but the marking stayed put. Her daughter forgot her sweater a mother gave her to cover her arm. When her mother arrived to collect her child from school, police were waiting for her. “The only thing that matters to me is my children. It’s not about politics, it’s not about anything else… it’s about what’s best for them … I’ve never forced my beliefs on my children.” The woman’s seven-year-old daughter and two-year-old son were seized by Manitoba Child and Family Services this spring due to concerns their father — an admitted white supremacist — was filling their minds with hate and marking one child’s body with racist graffiti. The children are now staying with relatives..”

One could reasonably argue that if her children have “pro-Hitler” markings on their bodies then she has done a poor job of “not forcing” the beliefs of the parents onto the children. Further, while the lines between being a merely “folkish” Germanic Heathen, and being a racist white supremacist Odinist may seem blurry and vague to some unfamiliar to the religious culture, it seems rather obvious that a line was crossed from mere Eurocentricity into neo-Nazi gutter-philosophy. Harboring a stay-at-home husband who she classifies as “flamboyantly bigoted”, and allowing Nazi-related markings to be made on her children (self-directed or not), speaks of a fundamental failure to insulate her children from toxic racism.

Now split from her husband after reading the Child and Family Service reports, the woman still entertains notions that the pro-Hitler markings were entirely self-directed, and refuses to admit any failings as a parent.

“The mother, who refused to comment on where the swastika marking came from, suggested her daughter may be responsible for other pro-Hitler markings CFS said they found on her body. “It’s entirely possible she could have drawn it on herself,” she said”

In this case, the references to “Odinism” by the mother and the press seem to be a red herring. This isn’t about religious discrimination, this is about her children being raised by a toxic racist with a criminal record who either drew or encouraged the children to draw pro-Hitler markings on their bodies. Removing them from his presence and placing them with relatives seems prudent. What do you think? Where is the line between intellectual freedom and abusive indoctrination drawn? What would you have done if you were CFS official responding to a concerned teacher’s report?

* I realize that there are some who want to reclaim the swastika from its racist/fascist connotations, but you can’t un-ring a bell. So long as the memory of Hitler, and idiots who seek to glorify him, persist, the immediate connotations of the symbol will be with racism and fascism.

Jason Pitzl-Waters