The Norse god makes a rare appearance at a neo-Nazi beer bash. His son, Thor, proves something of an embarrassment
On Sept. 1, the National Socialist Movement (NSM) held a neo-Nazi anti-immigration rally in Omaha, Neb. That night, about 60 NSM members and supporters, many of them racist skinheads, celebrated in a horse pasture. They guzzled beer, slam-danced to hate rock and cheered the torching of two gigantic wooden swastikas.
But the most highly anticipated entertainment at the NSM after-party was billed as "a visit from Odin," the ancient Norse god worshipped by neo-pagans, including a sizable number of white supremacists.
"Odin" took the stage with the embers of the swastikas smoldering dramatically in the background.
A bedazzling Celtic cross medallion was draped around his neck. He wore an eye patch and a hooded robe with sequined trim — think Obi-Wan Kenobi meets Liberace.
As the crowd of neo-Nazis hushed into respectful silence, Odin began to speak in a theatrical voice reminiscent of Sean Connery playing a pirate. "Kindred of mine, fair and beautiful children of the light," the venerable Norse deity intoned, gesticulating with Shakespearean aplomb. "You know me. I am known to you as all-father Odin. Lord of the wolves and of the ravens."
The actor hamming it up for the NSM was avid hate group thespian Jerry Harbin, who had traveled not from Asgard — the mythical home world of Norse warrior gods — but from Arizona to reprise his performance as Odin at National Vanguard's Winterfest in Phoenix in December 2006.
Harbin, who's in his 60s, has a long history in the performing arts. He graduated from the University of Alabama with a degree in music and then acted with several theater companies in Europe while stationed there in the Air Force. The former Phoenix unit coordinator for the neo-Nazi National Alliance, Harbin now serves as adjutant and choir director of the Phoenix camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, a Southern heritage group. He works as a respiratory therapist, and his passion for all things Odin is such that he hands out Thor's hammers to children in his care.
Keeping with the anti-immigration theme of the Omaha protest, Odin/Harbin sounded off against Mexicans: "My children, I did not teach you to give yourselves over to the propagation of alien strangers whose ancestors never lived with me in the old forest! Know ye not that these aliens hate you? Despise you for your charities? And envy your wealth?"
Odin reminded the besotted Aryans of their "heroic" past, when their ancestors mythically aided the Norse god in his battle against "the evil ones who dwell in darkness and use their gold and their deceit to corrupt you into their snares. When you lived in the old forest with me, we were always victorious against these enemies."
But the old forest is a long way from Omaha, and Odin scolded the skinheads for losing the way of the Viking warrior: "You recoil from two-legged beasts who merely snarl at you. You hide like frightened pups from mouthy wolves and slinking thieves, yet you cry for assurance. Hah! Assurance! You are Aryan men and women! All the assurance you could ever require flows in your blood."
There was a smattering of applause from the crowd and shouts of "White Power!"
Odin offered one last admonishment: "Drunkards and slackers make cumbersome baggage. Banish these pretenders from thy battlements."
As if on cue, a piece of cumbersome baggage in the form of a goateed skinhead playing Odin's son, Thor, joined Harbin on stage. "Thor" had obviously been chugging from a mead horn.
"Lo, there do I see my father! Lo, do I see my mother, and my sisters! And my brothers! Lo, do I see the line of my people!! Whoa! They talk to me!" Thor rambled, half-pacing, half-staggering across the stage. "They tell me to take my place amongst them in the hall of Val-a-halla where the brave! May live! Forever! Whoa! Sieg heil!"
The crowd dutifully saluted back as Thor continued to nonsensically ad lib: "All of you are just what Odin said. We, you, you! Are the warriors! Of our people! You must spread the word! White Power!"
"White Power!" the crowd responded.
"Alright," Thor concluded. "I gotta go."