Far-right Viking medievalism is not about historical accuracy. Rather, it’s used to create narratives. So, to resist the medieval narratives that activate violent hate, we must create counternarratives — and to do that, we must understand the real Viking past and how it has been weaponized.
I am no fan of white nationalism, but I am chary of Prof. Kim’s prescriptive “counternarrative,” on the principle that it sure looks like she is holding history hostage to her own present-day concerns. Apparently, the far right looks back on the Vikings with admiration, since they were bad-ass white people. Well, we can’t have that, so we’ll imagine that they were “multicultural and multiracial.”
But is this actually true?
I repeat my idea that academics should seek the truth as much as possible. If people want to idealize a historical era for their own reasons, that has nothing to do with us. Or rather, we should keep on doing what we’re doing, gently correcting any misconceptions out there as we discover them. Constructing noble-lie “counternarratives” is just as bad! If it’s bad, say, to elevate the Greeks as the fountainhead of all that is good about Western Civilization, then accusing them of stealing everything from the Egyptians isn’t any better.
Here is a proper use of the Viking past, snapped at a local Dollar General.