A rally at the Capitol in Austin last weekend raises anew the question, "When do demonstrations of racial and cultural heritage cross the line into racism?"
We commend state Rep. Matt Schaefer, a conservative Republican from Tyler, for understanding the difference between racism and celebration of heritage.
First, a little background: A coalition of organizations called Tomorrow Belongs to Texas asked Schaefer if he would sponsor a rally on the Capitol grounds to support Gov. Greg Abbott and President Donald Trump. The coalition's leader claimed to be a military veteran with family members living in Schaefer's East Texas district.
Turns out that Tomorrow Belongs to Texas were wolves in sheep's clothing. They used the event last Saturday "to demonstrate how white identity is necessary to continue as a people and preserve Western culture."
Members of American Vanguard, a white supremacist group, participated in the rally and called on white people to "fight off the diseased hordes of anti-white, anti-fascist, communist scum parasitizing and subverting the good citizens of Bat City [Austin]."
Schaefer, leader of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, withdrew his sponsorship of the rally when he found out its real goals and renounced anything that smelled like white supremacist activity or rhetoric.
White people stray into racism when they equate celebrations of ethnic and racial diversity with "white genocide." They play a zero sum game, meaning they consider anything that helps people of color simultaneously harms white people.
Why, they ask, is it OK for blacks to celebrate their African heritage and culture and it's not OK for whites to do the same?
The question is a straw man they set up in order to knock down.
White people whose ancestors hail from Ireland, Scotland, Britain and a host of Scandinavian countries all celebrate their heritage. Have you ever been to a Celtic festival chock full of bagpipe music, plaid clothing, whiskey and questionable cuisine? Greeks and Asians also celebrate their native cultures with festivals.
The difference is white supremacists explicitly denigrate people of color and encourage their followers to fear them based on the hue of their skin, their nationality or the religion they follow.
The difference between white racists and those who legitimately celebrate their Caucasian or Celtic heritage is the difference between hate and love.
It's OK to love your heritage. It's not OK to hate "the other." Thank goodness Rep. Matt Schaefer knows the difference and had the backbone to explicitly repudiate white supremacy.