Op-Ed: I want Richard Spencer
Let him come. Bring it on. I want Richard Spencer.
I’m not the other that he fixates on. Sure, I’m one of the snowflakes who voted for Hillary Clinton and I’m Middle Eastern. But I’m not Muslim. I’m not Jewish, either, nor am I Black. All of this is to say I am not the one who deserves the final say in this matter. I am not explicitly threatened by his toxicity the way my friends and classmates are.
Still, I want him. I want his ignoble crusade to make a stop on our campus. Yes, his ideology is capable of inflicting great suffering, some of which we’ve already seen. But I’ve watched him take a punch; I’ve seen his followers try to peacock as something more menacing than the scared and threatened lot they are.
I’m not afraid of him.
I’m more afraid of not knowing his supporters, especially the ones so close to us. Come out. Own your violence and your hatred. I want to know who you are, even though you see a subhuman any time you don’t see a white human.
I don’t think Richard Spencer wants to speak here. It serves his purposes more to be blocked from speaking, so that he can cast himself as the victim of an unruly and restless liberal youth that needs to be disciplined and educated in the realm of what’s “mature.” What he doesn’t realize is that we are far more mature than what his corrupted, compromised, feeble brain is capable of.
At its best, this campus is not a safe haven for his ilk. At its worst, it has enough dynamics to elicit conflict from a controversy like this. There is racism on this campus because there are racists on this campus. As there have been. This is not news. Unfortunately we don’t know how many, but we know that they are currently the silent, scared minority.
Richard Spencer is more afraid of us than we are of him. At the end of the day, his fears of a more just, diverse and equitable world are coming true. Yes, this is delayed all the time, and in the news we see that it is possible not just to delay it but also to reverse it. But only in moments, not in totality.
It’s easy for me to feel like the world’s never been worse. I’ve only been alive for a moment, and in this moment there seems to be sexual violence everywhere, racial injustice everywhere, human rights abuses everywhere. It seems that way because it is so — this evil is here, in great force.
What I do well to remember is that this evil has been around since the beginning, in quantities far more overwhelming. Ask any marginalized person; they can point to a time when their people were more persecuted, more degraded, more threatened, more isolated than they are now. The difference is our awareness of such evil. While excruciatingly painful, we better address our worst demons when we can see them.
And so, we are at a junction. This is part of the fight for the direction of our country. We can shrink away from it and feel safer. We can drown out the voices we hate, block that Twitter account that causes us duress and turn off the channels that propagate lies and deception to our neighbors.
Or, we can listen. We can allow Richard Spencer to speak to those that are interested. Where they supply violence, we’ll provide self-defense. Wouldn’t it be nice to know your classmate thinks you’re inferior? Isn’t it better to know if that professor you might have next semester thinks you’re subhuman?
So, please, if an on-campus site doesn’t work out, stop by my apartment, Mr. Spencer, and bring your compatriots. I’ll make you some coffee, which you are free to throw out because it was made by somebody several skin tones darker than you. You can make your own cup after; I know you live a life of fear. I can’t relate.
Andrew Mekhail is an LSA sophomore.
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