A far-right chapter of the anti-Islam group Soldiers of Odin has called for volunteers to join its street patrols.
The Facebook page Soldiers of Odin UK South Division wants to extend patrols this weekend. Cities earmarked for patrols include Bristol, Plymouth and South London.
Online posts promote community and loyalty. The group denies holding racist or white supremacist views. But these statements erode under scrutiny. Photos from the violent neo-Nazi protest in Dover appeared in their mobile uploads folder on January 30. One photo featured the flag of the national socialist group British Movement. They shared Channel 4’s coverage of the violence and the page admins had ‘liked‘ some of the violent comments.
On February 13 the group promoted the homophobic and racist propaganda of YouTube user whiteMedia4. In 2012, whiteMedia4 uploaded a video that attempted to expunge Hitler’s deep-rooted antisemitism. The idea that Hitler’s antisemitism was a response to ‘Jewish-led’ revolutions in 1919 is a dangerous falsehood. Hitler recalled buying his first antisemitic pamphlets in Vienna – a city he lived in until 1913. He credited Vienna’s mayor and leader of the Christian Social Party Karl Lueger with helping him develop his antisemitic views. Viewpoints popular among middle-class German nationalists.
A photo of a crude banner that read ‘Islam is the cancer. Patriotism is the answer’ appeared on their timeline on January 29. Their caption “Soldiers of odin active members doing what we do best. More to come very soon ns” invokes the language of the English Defence League and their mantra of ‘no surrender’.
Away from rhetoric and ideology, there is a heavy focus on body image and exercise. Vetted members have free access to a gym.
Other national socialist movements like National Action promote a similar message. National Action asks members to dress in a professional manner as ‘personal image is group image’. Nietzche’s Übermensch, the Superman underpins this drive for perfectibility and will to power. Members must improve their social skills, body confidence, and fitness or defence skills. National Action offers MMA classes and have sent members to Legion MMA camps.
The UK chapters of the Soldiers of Odin are less than forthcoming with their identities. Photos of street activities are stage-managed to promote group identity and protect individual identity.
— S.O.O. UK SOUTH (@SOOSDUK1) February 21, 2016
An online echo chamber promotes group identity as the solution to existential threats. Examples of this rhetoric include “Get back the British bulldog spirit and contact us to join up now!”
Merchandise remains a key component of group image. The broad appeal of this movement has resulted in chapters appearing in Canada, Ireland and Portugal. Social media allows members to remain interconnected and motivated beyond traditional borders. Pegida and the Misanthropic Division are other far-right groups which have inspired chapters abroad.
The Irish chapter of Soldiers of Odin also promotes white supremacist materials. Supporters of the far-right Ulster Awake have expressed support, according to the Irish Times.