Tensions are rising at Ole Miss this week as a neo-confederate rally approaches this weekend. It frustrates me even to write this because I am of the opinion that groups like this are given more attention than they deserve in the first place.
It is important to note that the group coming to protest is not affiliated with the University of Mississippi in any way. In fact, it is composed of two different groups that are based out of Tennessee and Arkansas.
Their main focus seems to be the Confederate memorial statue that sits in the circle near the middle of campus, one of the last bulwarks of a racist and discriminatory past that has so long plagued this university. The choice to hold this rally during Black History Month is particularly abhorrent.
Groups like this are fighting for a non-existent "heritage" that is rooted in racism and bigotry. They cling to straw man arguments and delusions that anyone with middle school education and understanding of the American Civil War can see through. This rally will hopefully be a small blip on the recent progress that the university has made in removing itself from a long, troubling past.
The university and campus police department have urged students to steer clear of the rally on Saturday, though there is a likely chance that the rally will be met with counter-protest. The only thing I ask is for everyone to remember to be safe. This group has made their intent to carry weapons clear. People on campus are understandably worried, and the best way to make sure that nothing terrible happens is to avoid confrontation.
Counter-protest is important but no matter how good the intention, counter-protest is something that groups like this thrive on. Safety is the most important thing for students on campus this weekend, so it's probably best to avoid the area altogether. The less power and attention we give them, the more their cause will continue to wither.