18 September 2016

Examining Soldiers of Odin Claims to Have "Purged" Membership of Racists

The media attention focused on the Canadian branch of the Soldiers of Odin has grown increasingly intense the past couple of weeks and the leadership is starting to feel the heat:

The last article is of interest since it indicates that as the public has become more aware of the group, the less inclined the public is to support them despite their efforts to appear as a benevolent and charitable organization:
But because of the group's name, they're being forced to strike down misconceptions that they are a fringe group looking to keep Canada white. 
"That's just misinformation that's been brought over from other countries," Agnott said. "What they do over in Finland and in Europe, they have all sorts of different issues altogether. That's not really what we are. We're an independent charter of Soldiers of Odin; we're a community watch group." 
But this bit of information isn't widely known in Canada, and it's led to the Soldiers of Odin Canada to be shut down in one instance where they tried to hold a fundraiser.
On Aug. 27, the Saskatchewan chapter tried to hold a barbecue fundraiser for STARS Air Ambulance.
Mark Oddan, communications lead for STARS in Saskatchewan told the CBC, when the Soldiers of Odin approached the organization to see if they would attend the fundraiser, STARS declined to attend. 
"We didn't know who this group was and then did some research and thanked them for their interest and their support, but we declined their invite and said we cannot accept any funds from them as their values are not aligned with ours," Oddan said.
Of course the claim to being an independent chapter sort of flies in the face of statements by Canadian SOO leaders that chapters need the approval of the parent chapter in Finland that was founded by an avowed racist to operate.

ARC was interviewed by a number of the journalist who have written articles about the SOO and we hope that we have been able to provide some decent background on the group and the membership. One of these articles was published later this past week and contains some points that we would like to address:
The blog Anti-Racist Canada (ARC) — an anonymous group that says it is concerned by racist movements — has been tracking SOO Canada mostly via social media since at least March of this year. 
An ARC representative, who identified themselves only as ‘nos’, questions why public statements by people like Angott decrying racism don’t seem to match with the activity of its members in private and sometimes secret Facebook groups. 
ARC has also pointed to social media connections between SOO members and members of outlaw motorcycle gangs.
We've actually already written about the link between SOO members and supporters to the Hell's Angels in an earlier article, however we are currently collecting information for a follow-up article which we hope to publish some time this week.
Angott himself, ARC notes, was Facebook friends with Ingrid Rimland, wife of notorious Holocaust denier Ernst Zündel. 
When asked about this, Angott told SooToday he had received a Facebook request from a profile with that name but that he did not know who that person was, who Ernst Zündel was, or that holocaust denial “was a thing” and he has since unfriended the account.
While we can't categorically refute Angott's claim that it was Ingrid Rimland who added him as a friend that he didn't know who she was when he added her, we believe this claim could be questioned given:
  • Angott has been very careful about who he has added as a friend on his Facebook profile (believe us, we've tried to add him but he seems a bit skittish for some reason) so it doesn't seem realistic that he would add Rimland whom he claims not to have known.
  • Why would an 80 year old woman seemingly randomly add some guy as a friend who lived in Gimli, Manitoba?
  • As "Holocaust revisionist royalty" through her own efforts as well as her marriage to Ernst Zundel, people who are inclined to agree with her views would be more likely to request her friendship than the other way around, though we should hasten to add that there's nothing yet that indicates that SOO Canada founder and president Joel Angott has denied the reality of the Holocaust himself.
  • If Ingrid Rimland slipped through the cracks, that would be one thing. But how might he  then explain the others we've found who have ties to racist groups?
So either Angott is naive, or there might be something else to this. We should however note that he has indeed unfriended Ms. Rimland.
Angott said that over the summer Soldiers of Odin purged some of its Canadian members for having racist views, and has deliberately distanced itself from racist groups. 
“We’ve slowed down on accepting members until we’ve fully checked them out and fully vetted them. We did have some people with ulterior motives come into our organization. We weren’t as vigilant as we should have been with these types of people. We did some research, back checking on who they are and what they stand for and we have released people that didn’t have the values that our organization carried (because) they were racist,” said Angott.
This brings us to the crux of the issue. Angott claims to have purged their membership of individuals possessing racist views.
In a number of interviews, leaders in the Canadian branch of the Soldiers of Odin have claimed that the SOO is not a racist or anti-immigrant group, a claim hat flies in the face actual posts made by the membership and supporters of the SOO.

As a case study, we will examine the Southern British Columbia Soldiers of Odin chapter.

The Southern BC chapter certainly does attempt to distance itself from racist language. The leader of the Southern BC chapter posted a number of comments admonishing the membership for posts that he deemed to be over the top:

We're not sure is Erickson's comment that they are, "trying to make an image as a none [sic] racist group" is clumsy language or a Freudian slip, but at the very least it is evidence that a significant number of members and supporters are considered by their own leadership to be racist and they have a difficult time controlling the membership.

The membership itself is frustrated by the accusations of racism and anti-immigrant sentiments, however in expressing this frustration many can't help but make racist and anti-immigrant comments:

Other posts, all of which passed muster with the SOO Southern BC leadership who allowed them to be posted, are far more overt in their bigotry:

Sort of a smoking gun.

However what we found is that, in order to get around the whole racism charge, many members of the SOO (as well as other Islamophobic groups) justify their stance by the oft repeated statement that, Islam isn't a race."

While this might be true in the strictest sense, it is a bit of semantic gymnastics. If they don't like the word "racist" we could easily replace it with bigot without any significant change in the criticism leveled at a group expressing virulently anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant sentiments. There is also the inconvenient reality that for a number of the supporters Muslim = non-white person.

But let's leave all that for now.

If SOO Canada founder and president really wants to show that the SOO is not a racist.... er.... I mean bigoted organization, he might consider vetting the provincial leadership better:

We've already introduced our readers to Bill Daniels, the provincial leader of the BC chapter of the Soldiers of Odin. Daniels has made it clear who he believes the enemy really is and isn't as concerned with being as politically correct as Angott is:

By the way, one also can't help but notice the casual misogyny in addition to the religious and ethnic bigotry, as well as a fundamental lack of knowledge pertaining to laws related to free speech and expression. For example, there is no constitutional amendment that forbids a private business such as Facebook from moderating members who have a choice as to whether they wish to participate on the social networking site or not.

But back to SOO BC provincial leader Daniels.

The most disturbing series of posts made by Daniels quite literally support both cultural and religious genocide:

Though he takes credit, this piece of writing is actually plagiarized from the following website:

However, there is a bit tacked on at the end which is seems to be Daniel's own thoughts regarding the "war" with Islam. In the original text, Dr. Robert A. Morey ends with these words:

Bill Daniels, provincial leader of the BC SOO, suggests a more permanent and bloody solution:

A second article, also plagiarized, suggests kidnapping Muslim children, the implementation of re-education camps, and severe censorship as a means of controlling Muslims:

But in Daniels' view, it appears that the real problem is that the Crusades didn't the job done:

But don't think for a moment that Bill Daniels, who we stress once again is the leader of the BC Soldiers of Odin chapter, is in favor of restricting civil liberties for all or exterminating any other group from the face of the earth:

That's right. It's best not to get caught up in a romanticized version of the past.

So says a middle aged man living in the year 2016 who thinks he's a viking and who belongs to a group where the members have an idealized view of the viking age.


A final example, while perhaps less incendiary than the previous posts, also suggest a "us against them" mentality targeting both Muslims and immigrants that must inevitably lead to an armed conflict:

As a history geek, this writer can't also help but marvel at Daniels'
novel interpretation concerning the Troubles in Northern Ireland
At least this piece doesn't appear plagiarized. 

This is one chapter. We could look at more, but we think we've made the point.

It's hard to claim, as Joel Angott has, that the SOO isn't anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim when people he has hand picked to be in positions of leadership express toxic anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim sentiments.

So much for the purge.

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