The administration of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill just announced that it has denied the National Policy Institute’s request for a speaking event for known neo-Nazi Richard Spencer. Rather than cite any kind of principled opposition to using campus funds and venues for a known white supremacist organizer, who recently organized an event at which one of the participants murdered a counter-protester, in a mass email to students and faculty UNC’s Chancellor Carol Folt instead cites a bland and de-politicized concern for “campus safety,” expressing sadness that the “virulent rhetoric of extremist groups” should result in the absence of “robust dialogue and debate about important issues.”
Folt expresses no explicit opposition to Spencer or the NPI’s fascist organizing, takes the same position as Trump’s now well-worn “many sides” rhetoric in applying an apolitical “extremists” discourse, and seems more concerned about the lack of “robust dialogue” with Nazis than the prospect of white supremacists carrying out attacks on her own students. The UNC administration took a similar position in 2009 when students and non-students successfully fought to shut down the Youth for White Civilization, an early alt-right group. In that struggle, the administration refused to acknowledge the white supremacist background of the organization, prevented the campus newspaper from printing any information that would expose those details, characterized student organizing against the group as an assault on the sacred “marketplace of ideas,” and ultimately intervened (to little effect) to give private, Chancellor-directed funds to the group to try to keep it alive.
All of this now occurs as hundreds of students continue to march, sit-in, and protest on a daily basis against the presence of the Confederate Silent Sam monument on campus. The fear of broad-based social conflict around Spencer’s event, in the context of student organizing against that monument and the recently successful street conflicts led by anti-fascists from Charlottesville and Durham to the Bay Area, have accomplished what the spineless vapidity of campus bureaucrats could not: yet another alt-right organizing event shut down before it has even begun.
Let us be clear: we are not asking for a speaker ban or state-directed censorship, which would undoubtedly be used with double strength against anti-racist organizers themselves. Rather, we are declaring explicitly that we will directly intervene if fascists attempt to organize at our workplaces, in our neighborhoods, or on our campuses. Chancellor Folt made the right decision for the wrong reasons.
#AntiFascistMeansAntiState #NoNewKKK #DefendDurham #SilenceSam #HurstonHall