Last week headlines rocked around the Internet with an amazing discovery by Annika Larsson of Uppsala University. Apparently in a Viking-era grave, there was Islamic writing showing the name of Allah in gold thread. The Independent wrote a very lengthy article describing the news. Even the Drudge Report linked to the story. It was a Big Deal – there were Muslims in Viking-era Scandinavia, and that meant their views of the afterlife – their very religious and cultural identity – was influenced by, and beholden to, Muslims:
“It is a staggering thought that the bands, just like the costumes, [were] made west of the Muslim heartland. Presumably, Viking Age burial customs were influenced by Islam and the idea of an eternal life in paradise after death.”
Needless to say, there was a certain crowd of the regressive left that absofuckinglutely loved this news. Enter the Pathetic Nonreligious channel, with the blaring clickbaity headline, Some Vikings Were Likely Muslims, and White Supremacists Hate It:
This is welcome news to historians and people who enjoy learning new things. But white supremacists — who have leached on to Vikings and their symbols as representative of pure white power — are not happy.
If learning new information offends you so much that you have to write off archaeological evidence as fake news, you might have a problem.
This isn’t a cut-and-dry declaration that all Vikings were actually Muslims, but it is evidence that some likely were. At the very least, it’s proof that these Vikings appreciated the culture of Islam, and did their best to imitate it and incorporate Islamic beliefs into their own. They shared ideas, instead of blindly hating Muslims. And that’s something white supremacists just can’t handle.
Wow, an atheist putting up a straw man argument? Who’dathunkit? Well here we have two, plus an enormous leap of illogic that would make Benny Hinn blush.
First, the idea that the only people who met this news with skepticism are “white supremacists.” As if it were not possible to be a perfectly mainstream academic and find the evidence and/or reasoning questionable.
Second, the idea that those who find fault with the theory think that it means “all Vikings were actually Muslims…”. Nobody said that. That’s not at all the point of the criticisms. It’s a meaningless straw man, and a channel that prides itself on its logic and reasoning should be ashamed to have included that.
Third, and most damning (if I can be permitted to apply that word to an atheist), we have this gem:
“…it’s proof that these Vikings appreciated the culture of Islam, and did their best to imitate it and incorporate Islamic beliefs into their own.”
Really? A single scrap of tunic-trim that one person (who has been known to make unwarranted and discredited claims in the past) says something, so that counts as “proof”? The Vikings did their best to imitate … Islam???
Are you out of your mind?
Now, I’m no expert on medieval Islamic burial customs. But I do claim some familiarity with Norse concepts of the afterlife. I’m trying to think of this “eternal paradise” of which she speaks. It’s not Hel, which is more of a quiet, misty resting place. It’s not Valhalla, since entry is extremely limited (and has a very different set of criteria), and while it possibly comports to a Viking warrior’s view of paradise, with the fighting and the feasting, it doesn’t seem very much like the Muslim Jannah:
“… They will be adorned therein with bracelets of gold, and they will wear green garments of fine silk and heavy brocade. They will recline therein on raised thrones. How good [is] the recompense! How beautiful a couch [is there] to recline on!” (Quran 18:31)
But most of all, because it’s not eternal. Even the afterlife in the Germanic conception has an end. At Ragnarok. Nothing remotely like the Muslim idea.
Nobody is saying the Vikings didn’t have contact with the Muslim world. Of course they did, for centuries, as traders, raiders, and explorers, in both directions. But that’s a far cry from the claim that one scrap of cloth is, in this jackass’s mind, “proof that these Vikings… did their best to imitate [the culture of Islam] and incorporate Islamic beliefs into their own.”
Which beliefs are those, exactly?
The Islamic paranoia about idolatry? That would be odd, considering the Viking penchant for carved idols, graven images, runestones, representational art, and all the rest.
It would also be odd considering the Vikings’ polytheism. (Hint for the moron: Islam tends to frown on that.) The Muslims freaked out at the Christians’ concept of the Trinity. You think that having dozens of gods, and landwights, and giants, and all the rest, counts as “doing their best to imitate the culture of Islam”?
Are you really that stupid, or just so blinded by your reflexive “white supremacists oppose it, so I have to support it” ideology?
Which is especially dunderheaded, considering that the people who have come out to criticize this theory aren’t white supremacists at all. They’re experts and mainstream academics.
First we have A String Geek’s Stash, whose author knows a lot more about the technical aspects of weaving than I do, apparently from personal experience. This is what we call experimental archaeology, and she completely destroys the notion that this is what Larsson claims it is:
Larsson’s “discovery” is predicated on unfounded extensions of pattern, not on existing pattern.