Why is Netflix working with a store that sells racist t-shirts?

Content warning: racist and bigoted imagery

The petition about Wulflund, the store that works with Netflix

By now, I think a lot of us have seen this image of a man dressed like a “Viking” at the US Capitol riots on January 6. And I’ve seen lots of pagan and heathen groups denouncing this man as “not one of them.” This guy with the mjolnir tattoo and Viking horns, Jake Angeli, has been spotted in the same costume at other pro-Trump rallies in 2020. He’s known as the “QAnon Shaman,” because of course he is, and was photographed many times during the riot on Capitol Hill.

Well, you know what? The Viking guy may be racist and extremist, but he’s not alone. There’s a lot of other racists and white supremacists using pagan and Norse imagery. There’s an unfortunately long history of this, going back to WWII. 

Unfortunately, these racist pagans pop up everywhere— from online groups to real life events. Maybe you’ve seen people with suspicious-looking tattoos and shirts at metal or industrial concerts. And if you’re like me, you just learn to avoid them.

But that’s not enough anymore. If we’re going to deal with racism & white supremacy in pagan and heathen communities, we need to take real action.

Recently I noticed that the large pagan shop Wulflund is selling a lot of shirts with slogans used by white supremacists. This really upset me, as I’ve bought jewelry from them before— some Slavic pendants.

Before I start, I want to make a few things clear: one, racists don’t usually wear shirts that say “I’m a racist.” No one wants to announce their bigotry, especially when, like Wulflund, they have a lot of high-profile clients, like the Witcher series on Netflix. This is why hate groups and racists like to adopt different symbols and slogans: they can be explained away by saying “I’m just interested in history!” or “It’s just a joke!”

These terms are called “dog whistles,” and they’re intended to say a specific message without attracting attention. Think of the phrase “international bankers” used by people who are anti-Semetic.

Two, there’s nothing inherently racist about Norse symbols. I consider myself pagan, and I’m not racist. It’s when those symbols are adopted by white supremacists that the problem begins. Three, I don’t want to just “cancel” Wulflund. I want to use this as a way to educate people— and hopefully have Wulflund’s owners do some self-reflection.

Last, I don’t think that Wulflund are Nazis. I do think that they’re making money off of selling shirts to hate groups, and they need to explain why.

Let’s take a look at what Wulflund sells, starting with the “Viking Lives Matter” shirt. They made public posts promoting the shirt on Facebook and Instagram in the autumn of 2020. Maybe it’s just a joke? Well… after the owner got called out on Facebook, the shop defended the shirt on Instagram and Facebook, and not as a joke. In fact, they had two similar shirts: Slavic Lives Matter and Gopnik Lives Matter. Gopnik is slang for someone poor and from a former Soviet Republic. It you want to read their explanation in full, click here— it’s their now-deleted Instagram comments.

Posted in fall 2020.

In February 2021, they took the shirts off their website and Instagram, and they also took down their Facebook posts about the shirt as well— perhaps due to the petition I started to bring awareness to this. But, Wulfund hasn’t publicly said why they did this yet.

Looking through their t-shirts, they are just full of right-wing dog whistles. Individually, they can all be explained away by an interest in history. But together, they point to what Wulflund stands for— especially as Nazi Germany used a number of symbols from the Roman Empire, and white supremacists continue to appropriate Norse symbols. Think of this othala rune seen at the Charlottesville “Unite the Right” rally in 2017.

 (Credit: Albin Lohr-Jones/Pacific Press) *** Please Use Credit from Credit Field ***(Sipa via AP Images)

They used to sell a shirt that said “Defend Europe,” a slogan used by nationalists during the recent Syrian refugee crisis. For example, in 2017, a group of extreme nationalists chartered a boat to keep Syrian refugees out of Europe, and named the boat “Defend Europe.”

The city and date on the shirt, Vienna 1683, refer to when the Ottoman Empire attacked Vienna. Is it just a coincidence that the shop chose a date when Muslims attacked Europe? Why not a shirt for Gdansk, Poland 1939? That’s a much more recent invasion, and considering that Czechia & Slovakia were occupied as well, it’s a bit more relevant. Wulflund pulled this shirt the same time they pulled their Viking Lives Matter shirt.

Their shirt with SPQR, a Roman saying now used by some white nationalists. They recently pulled this shirt from their Etsy shop, as well as from their website— though they still have merch up with this saying.

Still available on Wulflund’s website, as of 11 Feb 2021.

They sell a shirt that says “Molon Labe,” a phrase from the Spartans which means “come and take them.” and is an expression used by pro-gun activists… as well as the far-right, openly nationalist and racist neo-Nazi political party “Golden Dawn,” who are Greek.

If you’re thinking this phrase sounds vaguely familiar, that’s because  Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, who is a vocal Trump supporter and QAnon conspiracy theory believer, has recently worn a mask that says Molon Labe… in addition to her “free speech” mask. She’s currently in a lot of hot water over her past comments.

The last one is “Deus Vult”— I know, I know. You’re going to tell me this is just from a video game, about the Crusades. Which is true, that’s the historical origin of the phrase. But I don’t think that the person who spray-painted “Deus Vult” on this mosque was thinking about video games.

This saying, like the others I mentioned, has been co-opted by white supremacists.

All of these examples *could* be explained away by historical references, I guess, if we overlook the fact that these phrases are used by a number of hate groups.

So let’s take a closer look at one of the shop owner’s, Krak Mrak, real name Miroslav Dobrý, and his Facebook account. His friends and his interests were public, until recently, which is how I found this info. 

He’s friends with Daniel Landa, a Czech singer widely criticized for racism and homophobia. Wulflund also makes merchandise for Landa. Wulflund took down their page about who they work with, though it’s available on the WayBack Machine. This is what the page currently looks like, as of 11 Feb 2021. This is what that webpage looks like now:

He’s friends with Igor Górewicz, an important figure in Poland’s Native Faith movement, a pagan group that is anti-semetic and nationalistic. Górewicz, who used to have neo-Nazi beliefs, likes to rant on Facebook about “lefties” hijacking the pro-choice protests in Poland in the fall of 2020.

Headline translation: “Director Smarzowski, pagan conspiracy theorists, and the shadow of the swastika” That’s Górewicz on the left

Well, let’s not judge Krak Mrak by the company he keeps! Let’s look at the things he likes. This anti-EU, anti-immigrant, anti-LGBT political group,  for example.

The European Defence League, which is explicitly anti-Muslim.

Expose your local racist – Urban Edition, a group that says that violence against police is worse than violence against Blacks.

This page, Живела Србија, which translates to “Long Live Serbia,” which is anti-Muslim.

Also, I have to point out that Wuflund used to have a lot of products with swastikas or kolovrats on them. The jewelry with swastikas have been removed from their website at the same time as the shirts I mentioned, though this statue with swastikas is still up on their Etsy page as of this blog.

The kolovrat has been co-opted by hate groups, and is an ancient Slavic symbol. Did the kolovrat stand for racism originally? No. Do nationalists and white supremacists like to wear it now? Yes. To me, it’s a lot more important to tell hate groups they can’t have this symbol than it is to tell people of color that “this symbol is just about history!”

Same with the things with kolovrats, I can’t find any on their website— though I still have the domovoi pendant I bought from Wulflund in 2019.

The pendant I bought from Wulflund in 2019.

For example, here’s the Christchurch shooter, the New Zealand man who shot up two  mosques during Friday prayer in 2019, with a kolovrat on his backpack: 

Is it worth mentioning that the Christchurch shooter also brought up Vienna and a certain year in the 1600s? I don’t think these things are all just a bunch of coincidences— that a shop owner who is public about his extremist beliefs sells shirts with right-wing dog whistles to a community that has issues with white nationalism.

Honestly, I don’t know a lot of people who insist on wearing swastikas— and defending them— aside from people who want to be edgy and Very Smart, or… racists. 

When we make excuses for people like this, we make our communities welcoming to them— and we make it clear to people of color that they aren’t welcome. And that’s awful, because I love all this stuff: pagan and Viking imagery, swords and historical clothing, metal and industrial music festivals. I want everyone to be able to enjoy this stuff, because it’s awesome.

That’s where I really started thinking about these issues, actually— at an industrial music festival in Germany. Two years ago, one of the largest industrial festivals, Wave Gotik Treffen, hosted a series of talks focused on race and identity within the gothic community. These talks were well worth going to, even when I hadn’t got a lot of sleep and had to get up before noon— and they also changed how I thought about racism.

From Wave Gotik Treffen in 2019, Leipzig, Germany.

Before, I just figured that as long as I wasn’t actively racist, that was enough. But when the Black women there started talking about looking carefully at the patches and pins people were wearing at shows, and being careful to stay away from anyone who was wearing symbols used by white supremacists, I realized… I had been overlooking racism in my own communities. And I knew I had to be active.

This isn’t just being paranoid, or stalking someone’s Facebook.. A Celtic cross, a symbol used by hate groups, and anti-LGBT grafitti were spray painted on my building in 2019. There are reasons to keep your eyes open for these symbols.

It’s also worth mentioning that, like other central European countries, Czechia has issues with nationalism. I’ve discussed the rise in popularity of nationalism in Poland on this channel, and Hungary has similar issues as well. Czechia’s current president, Milos Zeman, has called Muslim immigrants “an invasion” and made keeping Muslim immigrants out a theme of his presidential campaign.

I do wonder if this political climate has made views like Wulflund’s less noticeable.

All this upsets me because I take these things seriously. The necklaces I bought from Wulflund? A Lunala and a Mokosz pendant, two Slavic symbols. And I do NOT want a store that profits from hatred making objects that are sacred to me. These are symbols of deities, and I don’t want places like Wulflund coming anywhere near them.

So what should we take away from all of this? If you believe that Thor hates racists, there’s no Nazis in Valhalla, and Marzanna will come for bigots, then you need to take action with me. Ask Netflix why Wulflund makes the swords for the Witcher— especially when Netflix has Black Lives Matter in their Twitter bio. Ask Sons of Vikings why they say they’re anti-racist, but then carry Wulflund’s products on their website. Ask Etsy if they’re ok with these items on their website. Let’s speak up and speak out.

Sign the petition: https://www.change.org/StopRacistWulflund

Research help: Piotr Człuchowski

Wulflund’s comments about their “Viking Lives Matter” shirt on Instagram, now deleted: https://imgur.com/a/4A9RqmB

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: