Op-Ed: Charles Murray and the state of the Republican Party

Tuesday, October 24, 2017 - 3:36pm

As most of the University of Michigan is aware, Charles Murray came and spoke on our campus last week. While the many students felt like he was invading their space, it hit particularly at home with me as he spoke at Palmer Commons, where I’ve worked for almost a year and a half. 

The event caused a lot of controversy within our workplace atmosphere. The majority of my fellow student employees were upset that this outwardly racist individual was going to come speak at a place we come multiple times each week. My favorite part of working at Palmer Commons is the relaxed and friendly relationship between all of the staff, including both the student employees and our full-time supervisors.

Charles Murray speaking in our Great Lakes Room tested this relationship. At Palmer, we have a large number of employees who identify with minority groups, and Murray’s visit made them feel very uncomfortable. Most of our staff threatened to not come to work if they were scheduled during the day Murray was speaking, and some of them followed through with that threat.

We could have avoided the entire debacle if College Republicans had not invited Murray to come to campus. For an organization that says they reject racist views, they certainly don’t help themselves by hosting someone whose books outline why white males are intellectually superior to other human beings.

I keep hearing people say that we should look at both sides of the table, that extremists on the right should have just as much room to talk as extremists on the left. Events like this prove this shouldn’t be the case.

Part of President Donald Trump’s narrative of the events surrounding his taking office has been that the media doesn’t talk about the far left but only demeans the far right. There’s a reason the media does this. When a far-right spokesperson expresses their views, they often ostracize or attack specific groups of people in the United States.

On the other hand, a spokesperson on the far left often preaches acceptance, equality and wealth redistribution. A right-leaning individual has the right to disagree with their ideals, but I will never understand how one could equate the danger of their ideals to that of racists, misogynists and outright bigots.

Under Trump, Republicans have been forced to embrace their dark side. Less extreme members can shake their head all they want in disagreement, but the man they voted into office was openly embraced by white supremacistsNazis and other hate groups before all the terrible events that have happened since his inauguration. This embrace has led to it being more acceptable to host individuals like Charles Murray. College Republicans are only following the example of their national counterparts.

The ideas expressed in Murray’s books shouldn’t even be debated at an institution like the University. We should be past even considering those ideas and recognize them for how horrible and backward they are. Either College Republicans are extremely impressionable, or groups like them have harbored views like those of Charles Murray and only now feel comfortable to express them. What scares me is that it’s likely the latter.

I didn’t imagine it was even a possibility for someone like Charles Murray to come speak at the building where I work. Perhaps that is a result of living in the liberal bubble that is Ann Arbor. I often forget that people like him even exist, yet College Republicans reminded me of that this month.

One would think that they would realize the irony in having him speak only a week after painting the Rock with messages of acceptance, but perhaps it's lost on them. The hypocrisy of simultaneously denying and interacting with white supremacist views both at the national level and here at the University puzzles me.

Joseph Fraley is an LSA junior.