Richard Spencer has been trying to make the Alt Right a campus-based movement for a couple of years now. There are a number of reasons for this, one of which is that they have seen growth from white male Millenials at state colleges in groups like Identity Europa. Another is simply that state schools have a legal necessity to host people like Spencer, despite his ideology, as long as they can foot the bill. This is what happened at the disaster of an appearance of Spencer last year at Texas A&M, where the three simultaneous protests were so large that it was akin to a football event.
Now Spencer is planning on speaking at Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama, living up to the promise he made that he would start a “danger zone” campus tour. He had been raising money last year, but after he was attacked on the street several times, had his non-profit shut down by the IRS, and was roundly politically rejected, it seemed like this was a long-shot. While this singular appearance is nowhere near what he was hoping to plan in the way of a “nationwide campus tour,” it is still a shocking turn of events. As he announced it, Spencer said, “If this event is anything like my other ones, it is going to be wild. So, I hope to see you there.”
Spencer gave the university $700 for use of James E. Foy Hall for his Tuesday night speech, and the university was forced to give it over to him because of the statutes. There released a statement that read:
We strongly deplore his views, which run counter to those of this institution. While his event isn’t affiliated with the university, Auburn supports the Constitutional right to free speech. We encourage the campus community to respond to speech they find objectionable with their own views in civil discourse and to do so with respect and inclusion.
There were two protests immediately announced, including one starting at 6pm and ending at 9pm, coinciding with Spencer’s speech. The Facebook page for this has since been taken down. While liberal anti-fascist groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center have said that students should refrain from counter-protesting, large student blocks plan on confronting the event, as well as anti-fascist groups from the region, including Atlanta Antifa. There will also be an event called “Hashing it Out,” which will address the threat presented by Spencer and the Alt Right during the event, for those who wish not to protest.
This is an important event to oppose publicly because it is the continuation of the only avenue of actual organizing and recruitment the Alt Right really has: college campuses. This is not just an event for them to share their views, but an opportunity to organize and grow racialist organizations of the area, and for them to exploit the history of Jim Crow in the South. Expect to see not only Alt Right figures and organizations like Identity Europa, but allso KKK and neo-Nazi groups as well. Public opposition is the only thing that works, and that is why it will take a groundswell of numbers to cancel the event and set the standard that students will not allow their universities to be used to prop up white nationalism.