Richard Spencer, the leader of the neo-white-supremacist movement, will speak Thursday at the University of Florida, which has prompted the state’s governor to declare a state of emergency.
Locally, fliers promoting a “white identity” group that Spencer leads have been posted inside buildings on the Northern Illinois University campus, according to a statement from NIU acting President Lisa Freeman.
The “alt-right” propaganda push taking place on campuses around the country is cause for alarm. College campuses are supposed to provide a light of knowledge that shines for all, regardless of their race, religion or nationality.
These are battles that have already been fought, and those in the right eventually prevailed.
It’s an unnerving experience to discover racist literature, whether you’re on a college campus or just walking around town. The urge to fight back in some way is powerful.
The best way to fight these people may be to ignore them. Deny them the attention they crave. Stay away from events meant to provoke, and tear down symbols and posters that glorify “white identity” and other racist dog-whistles.
We hope that Thursday, Spencer will speak to an empty room in Florida, and others will gather elsewhere to make it known they oppose him and his foolish devotees.
We also hope that NIU has seen the last hate poster appear, or that whoever tries to put up the next one will be caught, and if possible, disciplined.
Spencer and his followers have taken white supremacy out of the white robe and hood and dressed it in fancy suits. They’ve called their movement the “alt-right” and appeal to people’s “European identity” as they seek converts to their cause.
But we are not fooled; others should not be either. Today’s white supremacists have the same goals as their forebears.
They were bad then, they’re bad now, and we should all work to foil them through speaking out against them and not letting them delight in causing riots and chaos.