“All manner of Viking symbols and misconceptions about a golden age of Nordic racial purity have been appropriated by racist extremists looking to justify their xenophobia and acts of violence, according to the University of Alberta researcher.
Van Deusen said the age of racial purity never existed and she is determined to debunk the corrosive myth at every turn, especially in the classroom.
Viking symbols are everywhere among the ultra-right. When the Unite the Right rally took place in Charlottesville in 2017, some protesters carried banners featuring the Norse god Thor’s hammer, popular among the Nazis and neo-Nazi groups.
The perpetrator of New Zealand’s Christchurch massacre last year wrote, “See you in Valhalla”-referring to the great hall where heroes of Norse mythology go after they die-at the end of his manifesto.
Closer to home, the Soldiers of Odin-a Finnish white supremacist movement named after another Norse god in 2015-have recently emerged in Alberta and throughout Canada.
“The precedent was set with the Nazis,” said Van Deusen. “National Socialism and Hitler idealized the Norse people-those who lived in the Nordic areas. Even the swastika is based in part on a symbol based on Viking artifacts.”