Op-Ed: Silencing bigoted voices

Tuesday, October 10, 2017 - 3:52pm

This Wednesday, the University of Michigan College Republicans and American Enterprise Institute are sponsoring Charles Murray, a white supremacist, to speak on campus and promote his new book. Murray, who is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, co-wrote the “The Bell Curve” in 1994. The publication of this book marked the 1990s re-emergence of racist eugenics and biological determinist theories using pseudo-science, linking IQ to race and claiming white intellectual superiority. He is considered a white nationalist by the Southern Poverty Law Center. He is an “alt-right” bigot who is emboldened by President Donald Trump. 

The sponsoring organizations have stated to The Michigan Daily that they want to distance themselves from the “alt-right” and white supremacist movement. If they are sincere, they should cancel this event. His upcoming event has already inspired another racist poster campaign on campus claiming white superiority, which threatens the safety and rights of the students and faculty at the University, especially immigrants, Muslims, trans people, women and other minority students who are most consistently targeted.

The event must be canceled or shut down. Murray’s speaking engagements have been canceled at colleges such as Assumption College, Azusa Pacific University and protested at Harvard University, Middlebury College and some other campuses and venues due to safety concerns. There is no reasonable debate to be had with white supremacists. Actions speak louder than words. Statements from the University logically refuting these theories, such as the University’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion plan last September, are important but insufficient. If the University means what it says about its commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, the safety of its students and requests to stop the spread of racist violence on our campus, they will cancel the event. 

The movement for immigrant rights and against Trump is gaining in strength, even forcing many leading Republicans to distance themselves from Trump. By sponsoring this event, the University College Republicans are not only supporting Trump’s attacks, but attempting to strengthen the most violent, racist and reactionary forces of the Trump movement.

This is not an event that any college campus should condone — it threatens the safety and well-being of students and faculty and threatens the academic mission to promote learning and leadership. The confrontations will not be confined to the time and place of the event; hate crimes will escalate, and innocent people will suffer verbal and physical abuses. If white supremacists are given a platform by the University, University administration will be directly responsible for aiding and allowing bigoted and racist attacks to endanger students.

Especially after the horrific murder of Heather Heyer by a white supremacist in Charlottesville, Va., the danger of “alt-right,” white supremacist and fascist organizing is clear to anyone who wants to see the truth. The “alt-right” and fascists are emboldened by Trump’s explicit backing of racist, anti-immigrant demagogy and attacks, such as his move to repeal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

As long as Donald Trump is president, the “alt-right” and fascists will be emboldened and will continue to organize and make attacks. If we continue to organize independently and fight in the streets, in our schools and in workplaces, the resistance movement against Trump can force him to resign or be removed.

By taking matters into our own hands and mobilizing our own community defense, we have the power to stop racist and fascist attacks, to defend DACA and win the Dream Act, restore affirmative action and make all our campuses, cities and communities sanctuaries for immigrants. Only then will our University be truly equal, diverse, integrated and inclusive.

A protest is planned to begin at the Diag at 4 p.m. Wednesday and we are marching to the Charles Murray event at Palmer Commons. Join us Wednesday to protest and defend our campus community against racism and immigrant-bashing!

Kate Stenvig is a class of 2004 alum.