On Saturday, the New York Times ran a profile of an Ohio Nazi. “Weddings are hard enough to plan for when your fiancé is not an avowed white nationalist,” reads one much-mocked sentence. The backlash to what some readers saw as an overly sympathetic portrait of an avatar of hate was so large and immediate that the Times had to add an editor’s note to the story, and the writer found it necessary to explain himself in an aside.
The Nazi in question is one of the founders of the Traditionalist Workers Party, whose mission statement reads, in part, “Immigration into the White ethno-state shall be limited to members of the White European Race, which is defined as White Caucasians who are the descendants of indigenous Europeans.”
One thing about Nazis: they’re always talking out of their asses. “White European Race” isn’t a static category of people. Its meaning is always shifting depending on the needs of those who want “whiteness” to retain power. The quest for a racially pure homeland is toxic, violent, ahistorical and deeply stupid.
The Times’ Ohio fascist espouses a fantasy version of white racial purity. But what about white people who celebrate a culture tied to an actual heritage? We can’t think of anything whiter than a Nordic Happy Hour, co-sponsored by the local Finlandia Foundation, at a locavore restaurant in Montana, for instance. When this Finnish/Norwegian/Swedish dinner took place at the Burns St. Bistro a few Fridays ago, the line was out the door and diners were turned away.
What kind of stuff are these folks into?
“We hope to enrich our community by promoting diversity, acceptance, and equality on the local level, something we firmly see as core Nordic values,” reads the Finlandia Foundation website. They’re pushing inclusivity, saunas, Swedish meatballs, butter cookies, Marimekko and baby boxes—the egalitarian Finnish practice of giving each and every expecting mother in the country, regardless of income, infant supplies in a box that doubles as a safe crib.
Everyone who benefits from whiteness is a participant in the same racist power structures that help Nazis nurture their batshit ideas. But the fictions they peddle as some sort of natural order are flat inaccurate. The “white European race” has no basis in history or fact. Scandinavia is as full of indigenous peoples as Montana—a couple of super-white places that were never homogenous after all.