On Saturday, August 12, 2017, President Fuchs of the University of Florida, announced that alt-right proponent Richard Spencer may be speaking at the University in the near future. The notification was released via email to every UF student in which it proclaimed:
“This organization is unaffiliated with the university, and no student groups or other groups affiliated with the university are sponsoring this speech. This event is not finalized and it is still under discussion.”
The rest of the email acts as further clarification, stating the legal statutes in place, their effect on Spencer’s attendance, and other logistical details. Fuchs reinforces how this proposed event, as well as the recent events in Charlottesville, VA are meant to gather media attention and that by standing in unison, we as a campus can prevent such an outcome.
While that release was polished and successful at dismissing reality, here are the facts.
To have an informed opinion one must first be familiar with Richard Spencer.
Richard Spencer is one of the front men behind the ever-growing movement known as the “alt-right”, an ultra-nationalist party that dismisses traditional conservatism, and instead, roots their beliefs in white nationalism specifically.
In fact, Richard Spencer himself coined the term alt-right. The alt-right primarily exists in the United States and has been a political cover for blatant white supremacism in many cases. This often expands into Neo-Nazism, Islamophobia, Xenophobia and Homophobia.
Richard Spencer previously stated that “peaceful ethnic cleansing” was necessary to stop the erosion of white European culture.
Just let that statement sink in.
Now I by no means, want to infringe on anyone’s rights, specifically the First Amendment, which does cover hate speech as ruled by the Supreme Court.
However, the First Amendment does not protect individuals when they use words to incite violence. In light of the events in Charlottesville, as well as the political unrest our nation faces, we must concur that his attendance will most certainly result in some form of disturbance, whether that be from his fellow alt-right patrons, or from those who oppose them.
While I understand President Fuchs’ determination to uphold Mr. Spencer’s legal rights he must first uphold the promise he made to his students and their safety. Spencer’s proposed speaking date is Tuesday, September 12, 2017.
A date in which the majority of students would be active on campus. Such a large amount of foot traffic, combined with Spencer’s hateful rhetoric will most definitely result in a physical altercation, just like it did at UC Berkeley, just like it did at Auburn and just like it did at the University of Virginia.
While It would be in the correct legal standing to grant Richard Spencer his right to speak, it is not in the best interests of the student population. Allowing such an event to take place would jeopardize the overall well-being of our student body. The safety of students must always take priority over the concerns of others, no matter what the subject at hand is.
On August 16, 2017, Fuchs responded to the outcry, canceling the event. While this is a victory it isn't a complete success, as Richard Spencer can and most likely will sue the state of Florida. If he wins the demonstration is back on in full effect.