Posted on January 5, 2015

Could There Be a Benign ‘European American’ Group? No

Michael McGough, Los Angeles Times, January 1, 2015

One of the more interesting questions about House Majority Whip Steve Scalise’s speech to a group of “white nationalists” 12 years ago is whether the name of the organization should have given him pause. {snip}

The group, which the Louisiana Republican apparently addressed before its convention officially began, was called the European American Unity and Rights Organization–or EURO. {snip}

So what would the term “European American” suggest? The obvious interpretation is the correct one: It refers to Americans of European descent aka white people. But suppose such an organization had no animus against nonwhites and simply wanted to celebrate “white culture.” Would that be so wrong?

Last year students at Georgia State University started a White Student Union, which they insisted was not a racist organization. Here’s the report from the Atlanta-Journal Constitution:

Freshman Patrick Sharp said he started the club so that students of European and Euro-American descent can celebrate their shared history and culture and discuss issues that affect white people, such as immigration and affirmative action. . . .

‘If we are already minorities on campus and are soon to be minorities in this country why wouldn’t we have the right to advocate for ourselves and have a club just like every other minority?’ said Sharp, 18. ‘Why is it when a white person says he is proud to be white he’s shunned as a racist?’

In theory, it might be no more bizarre for white students to celebrate “white culture” than it is for black students to band together to celebrate “black culture.” White nationalists can argue that they’re simply lifting a page from the identity-politics playbook of other racial and ethnic groups.

Yet most people (I hope) would reject that symmetry. The problem is explaining why we accept some kinds of ethnic or racial self-consciousness and solidarity and reject others.

In its heyday the National Lampoon published a parody of the paeans to overlooked African Americans that newspapers publish during Black History Month. Except that its tribute was to the long-ignored contributions of whites to Western Civilization. “Our White Heritage” not only “revealed” that white men were behind many important inventions and discoveries; it also set out to debunk racial stereotypes such as the idea that whites have “natural reason.”

Deconstructing satire is always risky, but one takeaway from the spoof was that it was absurd for anyone–black or white–to be uplifted by the achievements of people who looked like them. Yet only a moral idiot would perceive an equivalence between “Black History Month” and an imaginary “White History Month.” Affirmation and uplift are more important to a group that has been oppressed and discriminated against than they are to the dominant majority.


In some parallel universe without America’s history of white supremacy, an organization dedicated to the celebration of “European American culture” might be a benign exercise in ethnic affirmation. In our world, it ought to be a red–or white–flag.