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Head to Head: Don’t protest at ‘Culture War’

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. 

Next Tuesday, some arguably terrible people are coming to talk on campus — Charlie Kirk and Donald Trump Jr. Already, there are plans in motion for a protest at this event: a protest, that I believe, will lead to more harm than good.

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I write this article with more trepidation than usual because of the immediacy and importance of its outcome. I write this to ask that no protest be done at this event. I believe, instead, that people should go to a counter event. 

A fair question to ask is “Who is this guy to tell me how to or how not to protest something I disagree with?” I am truly no one in particular, other than someone who has watched these protests go awry before.

The narrative that people like Kirk push is that left-leaning groups are ones of violence, ones of anger and ones who can’t keep things civil. Almost every clash between the alt-right and the left has benefitted the alt-right.

Look at what happened when Andy Ngo was hurt in a fight between Antifa and some white supremacists. It was immediately spun that he was attacked, unprompted, and that Antifa is the true threat in America, not white nationalism. The Antifa members in that fight are also at fault, but the story that this violence was unprompted is a lie. Antifa are no angels, but the view of them as equal to white supremacists is not one that is earned. This perspective didn’t come about on accident.

The people who are coming to our campus are good at spinning situations to their benefit.

At their own events, they get to write the rules for what success looks like. They get to say that people standing up for good morals are special snowflakes and naïve. They get to show all of our outrage while framing themselves as cool, calm and collected. They get to dilute and twist any message from counter-protests.

The way to push back against them without defeating ourselves is to not show up or give them more ammo. It’s to create our own event promoting the ideals that we value. It’s to give an equal platform to speakers we think actually represent us.

Here is where I must directly look to the Associated Students of Colorado State University and any other student organization on campus to organize such events. One event that is happening at the same time as the Turning Point speech is “Reclaiming Democracy,” hosted by the communications department, held in Clark. More events need to be created going forward to stand for our collective ideals.

My colleague, Abby Vander Graaff, argues that our best recourse against their hatred is to stand up for what we believe in and go and protest these speeches. I agree that the message that Turning Point USA spreads is reprehensible and that it can’t go unchallenged. But at their own event, they have the control, and it’s not a battlefield we are likely to win on.

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It may be hokey and less than Oscar-worthy, but in “The Last Jedi,” they say, “That’s how we’re gonna win. Not by fighting what we hate, but by saving what we love.” Even bad movies can make good points.

I understand wanting to be there and fight. I get not wanting to let them think they can just get away with hate. It is tempting to believe that movie moment will come where we will get to chant them down, get the final word and banish them from our home. But they have the microphones, they have the platform and they have the power to make sure that moment can never come.

I know that there are already protest plans to go to the event in all black and sit in silence. Non-violent protests are wonderful tools to fight against events like this, and it could work. However, it would only take one person getting frustrated and yelling for this protest to be used against us.

If we rise to their call for conflict, then they will win every time. Hate and conflict is their bread and butter. Those of us with sound morality and clear conscience must build a better college community, not fight over an awful one.

Fynn Bailey can be reached at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @FynnBailey.

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