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The dilemma of protesting white supremacists

 
 
Reply Thu 19 Oct, 2017 10:17 am
White supremacist Richard Spencer is speaking at the University of Florida and its president put out a call to ignore him and not attend, protest and generally provide him attention.

Quote:
I urge our community to do two things:

First, do not provide Mr. Spencer and his followers the spotlight they are seeking. They are intending to attract crowds and provoke a reaction in order to draw the media. I urge everyone to stay away from Mr. Spencer and his followers and the Phillips Center where he will speak and the media will be assembled on October 19. By shunning him and his followers we will block his attempt for further visibility.

Second, although I urge you to avoid the Spencer event, I ask that you not let Mr. Spencer’s message of hate and racism go unchallenged. Speak up for your values and the values of our university. Make it clear that messages of hate on our campus are contrary to those values. Mr. Spencer’s message is disproportionately hurtful to members of our Gator community who are targets of hate and violence simply because of their skin color, religion, culture, sexual orientation or beliefs. Those of us in the majority must speak up for those in the minority and make our voice of love and support heard.


Aside from the obvious question of whether it is a stretch of the "free speech" argument to use it to give people access to platforms and attention (and the obvious answer: yes, their right to the speech does not give them any right to specific platforms or attention) what do you think about the question of whether or not to attend and protest or protest by ignoring it?
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Type: Discussion • Score: 10 • Views: 992 • Replies: 66

 
Region Philbis
 
  3  
Reply Thu 19 Oct, 2017 10:24 am
@Robert Gentel,

i think everyone has the right to peacefully protest anything they wish... or not.

what i don't understand about this story is why the university agreed to allow the event to happen
if they are so vehemently against the message of hate being conveyed...
Cycloptichorn
 
  3  
Reply Thu 19 Oct, 2017 10:27 am
@Robert Gentel,
It's indeed a very tough one, as simply 'ignoring it' gives rise to the idea that these are acceptable positions and that people can attend these events and celebrate these positions with no fear of repercussion to themselves. That's seen as dangerous, as it would essentially be our society accepting these things as 'normal' ideas when they are anything but; and what more, accepting the idea that these are not in fact scurrilous, anti-American and dangerous ideas.

So, do you push back against them with direct protest - giving a clear signal to all that these ideas are not acceptable ones to promulgate in our society - or ignore them? What does ignoring them do? Many would have us believe that people like Spencer would wither or go away if they just were ignored, but I think that's totally and completely ahistorical and wrong.

The right-wing is using assholes like Spencer to weaponize free speech, and turn it against the people of this country. I really don't know what the answer to it is, but I can't imagine ignoring it is the answer.

Cycloptichorn
Cycloptichorn
 
  2  
Reply Thu 19 Oct, 2017 10:29 am
@Region Philbis,
Region Philbis wrote:


i think everyone has the right to peacefully protest anything they wish... or not.

what i don't understand about this story is why the university agreed to allow the event to happen
if they are so vehemently against the message of hate being conveyed...


The right-wing is undertaking a specific strategy of attacking colleges by having their younger members hold these events. They cost tremendous amounts of money and invite violence, which they want. And, if the school blocks the event from occurring, they will sue the school for discrimination against their ideas. It's a win-win for them.

Cycloptichorn
0 Replies
 
Robert Gentel
 
  2  
Reply Thu 19 Oct, 2017 10:30 am
@Region Philbis,
I definitely agree about the right to and don't think reasonable people disagree, the harder question is about what is the appropriate strategy for particular cases. I think a lot of reasonable people can disagree on that.
0 Replies
 
Robert Gentel
 
  2  
Reply Thu 19 Oct, 2017 10:33 am
@Region Philbis,
Region Philbis wrote:
\what i don't understand about this story is why the university agreed to allow the event to happen
if they are so vehemently against the message of hate being conveyed...


I'm not clear on this part either, in the letter I linked they say they did not invite or sponsor the event but do not speak further about their role in it happening there and I'm now curious about who determines who is allowed to speak there.
0 Replies
 
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Thu 19 Oct, 2017 10:34 am
@Cycloptichorn,
Cycloptichorn wrote:
The right-wing is using assholes like Spencer to weaponize free speech, and turn it against the people of this country. I really don't know what the answer to it is, but I can't imagine ignoring it is the answer.


Right now I think that this letter actually has it right. Don't provide the event more attention, but speak out separately and don't ignore that it happened. Maybe make a separate rally on a separate day that is about tolerance, but don't feed his rally.
0 Replies
 
ehBeth
 
  3  
Reply Thu 19 Oct, 2017 10:38 am
@Robert Gentel,
I went to a 'counter'event to a white supremacists event locally. The white supremacists cancelled as they had only a dozen or so people coming out - and they couldn't find a space to host it - they'd originally said they were going to be on the university campus - the university said no to everyone . The counter event had a couple of thousand show up. Pretty mellow vibe.


http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/rally-against-white-supremacy-1.4355732
ehBeth
 
  2  
Reply Thu 19 Oct, 2017 10:42 am
@Cycloptichorn,
Cycloptichorn wrote:
Many would have us believe that people like Spencer would wither or go away if they just were ignored, but I think that's totally and completely ahistorical and wrong.


I'm curious about that. Only a few dozen showed up at his last Charlottesville appearance.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/08/us/richard-spencer-charlottesville.html?_r=0

some photography buddies went to get photos - said there were more photographers than Spencer supporters so left even before the 10 minute rally ended. similar results in DC recently. 6 white supremacists, about a hundred photogs. they ended up taking photos of each other taking photos Cool
Robert Gentel
 
  3  
Reply Thu 19 Oct, 2017 11:19 am
@ehBeth,
I too don't think they can organically generate much attention on their own and and because of this dynamic I think avoiding their events can sometimes work, doesn't have to mean ignoring them entirely but just to consider the effect on their ability to shape narratives and get attention. The very best thing that can happen to them is for antifa-rebranded anarchists to physically attack them, that plays right into their hands.
ehBeth
 
  2  
Reply Thu 19 Oct, 2017 01:59 pm
@Robert Gentel,
there was huge discussion of this in planning the Toronto event

everyone was asked to promise that if they saw anyone physically assaulting someone id'd as a white supremacist they would let the group leaders and police know immediately and to let the police handle it. anti-fascist is not equivalent with antifa.
Robert Gentel
 
  2  
Reply Thu 19 Oct, 2017 02:18 pm
@ehBeth,
I think that kind of distinction is critical for real anti-fascism, and I think these were mostly anarchists who happen to disagree with fascism and found that by rebranding themselves against a common foe they got more sympathy for the same violent behavior. I'm glad that for the most part they are rejected but wish more in the "punch a nazi" debate realized how counterproductive it is.
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Thu 19 Oct, 2017 02:23 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Robert Gentel wrote:
they got more sympathy for the same violent behavior.


definitely not what I'm seeing from inside the anti-fascist protest groups locally

they/we are trying to maintain a really clear line between anti-fascist and antifa

it's one of the reasons I flip when I see people using antifa when talking about anti-fascist activity
Robert Gentel
 
  2  
Reply Thu 19 Oct, 2017 02:35 pm
@ehBeth,
Sure, and I'm glad the mainstream has not accepted them but they still are getting more sympathy in the balance than they did for just being anarchists. Despite us not wanting it to be so there are some who support punching Nazis but didn't support other violence and vandalism. That's precisely why we need to speak out against antifa now when a few years ago it was not an issue, because they have gained some amount of support. I'm glad it is a fringe and hope to keep it that way but even so they are a huge boon to the white supremacist trolls by playing foil to them.
0 Replies
 
chai2
 
  1  
Reply Thu 19 Oct, 2017 03:15 pm
@ehBeth,
ehBeth wrote:

I went to a 'counter'event to a white supremacists event locally.


Perhaps having a counter event where the main focus is displaying signs etc is enough attention to the WS that it makes them feel they've accomplished at least part of their mission.

Perhaps an event held at the same time and nearby like a blood drive or house raising? Sponsoring a campus/neighborhood/area wide Pot Luck meal with donations going to a good cause? While those guys are standing around hating, others can do something positive. No mention of the WS need be made. They are just that unimportant.

Something positive is better than fighting fire with fire. It's quenching their flames.
edgarblythe
 
  2  
Reply Thu 19 Oct, 2017 03:17 pm
If they tried ignoring a couple to gage the results, it could help them decide how to proceed next.
0 Replies
 
Robert Gentel
 
  2  
Reply Thu 19 Oct, 2017 03:22 pm
@chai2,
You would probably love the Alligator Brewing Company's reaction then:

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DMZPJpfWAAAhynn.jpg:large
maxdancona
 
  2  
Reply Thu 19 Oct, 2017 03:23 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Free speech is free speech. If you deny someone Free Speech because you find it offensive, then there is no free speech. Particularly on a college campus free speech should be respected no matter who is speaking. We should let it happen.

I don't believe that you can deny anyone "access to platforms" and make any claim that there is Free Speech. They tried to censor books. They tried to censor magazines. It not only didn't work, but it kind of sucks for both sides of the issue.

As far as counter-protesting, I am all for it. Free Speech provides an equal playing field and if you are right than you should be confident. But counter-protesting should not interfere with the rights of anyone.




maxdancona
 
  3  
Reply Thu 19 Oct, 2017 03:25 pm
@maxdancona,
For any liberals who don't believe in Free Speech; Just remember that what you are doing to the Alt-Right was once done to you. It wasn't that long ago that liberals were in favor of Free Speech. Alan Ginsberg was no less subversive than Richard Spencer.

When you weaken Free Speech in society at large, you will likely regret it when the pendulum swings. And it always swings.
0 Replies
 
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Thu 19 Oct, 2017 03:27 pm
@chai2,
chai2 wrote:
No mention of the WS need be made. They are just that unimportant.


I'll have to disagree on that.
 

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