The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has released a publication titled, “The Alt-Right On Campus: What Students Need To Know.”
Its purpose is to coach student activists on what measures to take whenever speakers that associate with the alt-right appear on campus. The article mentions numerous individuals they cite as “extremist speakers” who are touring college campuses for speeches and debates.
The SPLC has a tremendous and valiant history; it was involved in ending Jim Crow segregation and granting civil rights to Black Americans. Today, however, the group is growing irrelevant as it has become more partisan.
According to them, Dr. Ben Carson, the soft-spoken, African American neurosurgeon who currently serves as the country’s Housing and Urban Development secretary, is a member of the group’s “Extremist Files.” They’ve also listed the Family Research Council as a hate group solely for being a Christian organization that hold subjective, religious views on homosexuality and gay rights.
The SPLC cites nine individuals, as well as two organizations, they state colleges and universities should be aware of: Richard Spencer, Milo Yiannopoulos, Steven Bannon, Jared Taylor, David Horowitz, Matthew Heimbach, Mike Enoch, Andrew Anglin, Nathan Damigo, Proud Boys (lead by Gavin McInnes), and the Fraternal Order of Alt-Knights.
Despite their opposition to individual speakers, the publication still embraces the ideals of free speech.
“While there’s nothing wrong with peaceful student protests against a hateful ideology, it’s best to draw attention to hope instead. Hold an alternative event – away from the alt-right event – to highlight your campus’ commitment to inclusion and our nation’s democratic value,” SPLC tells students.
SPLC reminds students that all views should be handed an equal platform despite how repugnant.
“…people have the right to express their views, even if those views are loathsome. No matter how repugnant one may find a speaker’s views, as long as the college has a policy of allowing student groups to invite people from outside their campus to speak, university administrators cannot pick and choose based on the views the speaker holds.”
The guide does include a fair share of poor guidance as well.
In the “What To Say, What To Do” section, the SPLC encourages students to request campus administrators to proclaim their campus a “hate-free zone.” The SPLC goes on to state that if retaliation were to transpire, a student should “declare it yourself, in the name of the community of concerned students you have assembled.”
In current political culture, the word “hate” and what actually constitutes as hate has become increasingly more and more subjective. Simply offering an opinion that contrasts from typical, left-wing campus thought may be perceived as hate. In addition, the SPLC failed to specify what specific form of hate they are referring to.
Physical violence and hate speech which incites violence, for instance, are very different than opposing ideologies. If the SPLC was referring to the latter, their guide contradicts themselves because at that point they wouldn’t be supporting freedom of expression on campus, they’d be doing their best to prevent it.
This guide was circulated less than a week before the violent protest that transpired at the University of Virginia Charlottesville led by alt-right figure Richard Spencer, which led to one individual’s death and nineteen injured after a car plowed into the rally.
The guide is is incorporated with SPLC on Campus, an initiative meant to increase grassroots activism at the university level and raise social justice awareness on colleges.
The Montgomery-based legal advocacy group divided the guide into eight categories:
Why is the Alt-Right Targeting Campuses?
The Rise of the Alt-Right
The Alt-Right and Freedom of Speech
What To Say, What To Do
Who is the Alt-Right: Headliners
Who is the Alt-Right: Brain Trust
Who is the Alt-Right: The Shock Troops
Who is the Alt-Right: The Fight Clubs