LTTE: Campus extremism symptom of larger disease

Guest Author

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by the Collegian or its editorial board. Letters to the Editor reflect the view of a member of the campus community and are submitted to the publication for approval. 

Dear Editor,

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In response to the article “Campus denounces Identity Evropa, Organization says its not ‘extremist,’” published by the Collegian on March 9, we offer a critical analysis.

We as students would like to acknowledge that the land that we use as our campus, is occupied land, taken from Indigenous tribes. In this way, we contend with our settler colonial position and honor the Apache, Arapaho, Cheyenne, Pueblo, Kiowa, Shoshone, and Navajo Nations.  We write this response and release as a student collective under the banner Students Against White Supremacy at CSU (SAWS).

SAWS at CSU seeks to end hate crimes on our campus. Through the exposure of white supremacy in campus culture, our campaign will utilize the power of student voices and action united in non-hierarchical coalitions to liberate our campus from white supremacy.

The Collegian’s article “Campus denounces Identity Evropa, Organization says its not ‘extremist,’’ offered an “exploratory narrative” of reactions to the strategically named “bias related incidents” on campus without any in-depth analysis or investigation. In doing this, the article perpetuates the narrative that 1. White supremacist activity on campus is a peculiarity, 2. These instances are benign and 3.White supremacist ideology is only held by extremists. It is time to start calling “bias related incidents” what they are: acts of white supremacy.

Overt white supremacist actions are commonly treated as an aberration instead of what they really are: symptoms of a larger systemic disease.  We stand around and say “How is this happening?” while eagerly overlooking the reality that our campus is a predominantly white institution forged from white supremacist settler colonialism, that sets in the backdrop of a town that is 86 percent white, 20 percent more than the national average. To assume that this is some sort of accident is to ignore the sociohistorical and political forces that have created the space we call ‘campus.’

Hate Crime Scholar Barbara Perry asserts that hate crimes are not aberrant behavior but are a tool used to maintain power in a racialized, gendered and heteronormative social hierarchy. In this way, hate crimes assert dominance over women/non-binary gendered people, persons of color, homosexuals and ethno-religious minorities. Hate crimes are the most visible expressions of a culture deeply rooted in racism, sexism, xenophobia, and heteronormativity. It is typical for people who are responding to white supremacists acts to distance themselves, stating “this is not who we are” and placing blame on one person or a small group of “extremists.”

White supremacy is more than a few racists spreading flyers, it is an ideology that constructs hierarchical systems based in the dehumanization of people coded as “non-white others.” This self-sustaining ideology threatens the lives of marginalized people. Identity Evropa’s (I.E.) claim that their organization is “non-violent” is ridiculous. White supremacist goals are inherently violent. I.E. and other groups like them advocate for the removal of non-white people from the United States. Such an ethnic cleansing is clearly violent and genocidal. When outlets like the Collegian give white supremacists a platform without providing context or pushback they aren’t being objective, they’re advancing white supremacy.

White supremacists are emboldened to act when our society seems more friendly to their ideas. This is why the U.S. has seen hate crimes increase more than 12 percent since the election of Donald Trump, according to the FBI. Without significant pushback, these groups escalate their tactics. For example, after months of sustained I.E. action on San Diego State’s campus, white supremacists attempted to burn down a campus bookstore. This has been repeated across the nation.

The rhetoric of the current administration, echoed on campus by groups like Turning Point USA, makes white supremacist views more mainstream and invites violence against marginalized people. It’s no coincidence that TPUSA shares the beliefs of building a border wall and that white privilege is a myth with both I.E. and the TWP. Charlie Kirk’s argument for building the wall, that immigrants are “seeking welfare” and are “more likely to support liberal policies,” works in tandem with I.E.’s argument that immigration is part of a conspiracy to import people “who are seen as more politically malleable than Americans” to push an “anti-white” agenda. These arguments function well together because their foundation is white supremacy. The policies that TPUSA advocates make it easier for white supremacists to organize. When these groups use the same rhetoric, it becomes easier for white supremacists to seem respectable.

If our campus follows the national pattern, then targeted attacks by white supremacists are sure to follow. However, by acknowledging and fighting white supremacy on our campus and within ourselves we can make CSU a space that’s safe for all of us.

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