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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


‘Alt-right’ groups have no place on our campus or in our country

Potential creation of ‘alt-right’ group on campus endangers marginalized students, fosters environment of hate
Riley Steinbrenner

This week, many of us learned an “alt-right” club is coming to our campus.

Framed as a “pro-white” organization, its organizer Daniel Dropik promises to alleviate racial tensions on campus, which he views as caused by the “legitimate racial grievance[s]” of white students.

He believes the University of Wisconsin is an anti-white environment with anti-white policies.


UW student wants to bring alt-right movement to campus

The evidence given in his recruitment video consists mostly of graffiti, the existence of anti-white racism (which he equates with the phrase “kill all white people”), the existence of hate and bias reporting and the invitation of activist Bree Newsome to speak about anti-racism work.

As a white student myself, I wonder if he understands what whiteness means.

It’s not a culture or an ethnicity, it’s a constructed group. Whiteness didn’t exist until someone needed a justification for imperialist colonization, slavery and genocide. Discussions of “white identity” or “white pride” ignore the facts and history of race and racism, instead choosing to imagine there has always been a proud, accomplished monolith of what “alt-right” leader Richard Spencer would call “children of the sun.”

This goal of eliminating racial violence seems great, but what we need isn’t pro-white advocacy

White students and white people in general are humans and therefore need a source of real, healthy confidence and community, but it has to be outside of whiteness.

Conservative, liberal student organizations denounce ‘alt-right’ movement

It’s not a matter of making ourselves feel good about belonging to a group that relies on violence for its existence, it’s a matter of getting over our fragile egos.

If we want solidarity and community, we need to get rid of racism and build something else. It is this lack of identity and self-worth outside of whiteness that causes these so-called “racial grievances.”

After being taught you are naturally better, whether you hold this belief consciously or unconsciously, equality often feels like an attack.

If you are forced to question that worth, what do you have left? If you are forced to consider your privilege helped your accomplishments instead of only your hard work, what do you have to be proud of?

I say this not to people of color (most of whom understand this out of necessity), but to my fellow white students who have yet to understand why anti-racism makes them uncomfortable.

It’s because whiteness is such a part of identity and self-worth that we automatically reject any erosion of that power. The easy solution to this discomfort is to prop up the crumbling edifice of whiteness — no threat to your power, no uneasiness.

Student-led petition calls for Young Americans for Freedom to be denounced as hate group

But this will never actually solve your problems and it actively harms many people.

Whiteness was, and is, constructed to justify and implement oppression and in any truly just and peaceful society, it cannot exist. There will always be a threat to your power and privilege because your power and privilege are wrong, even by the very values we claim. Until we all face that and let go, we will always feel defensive, we will always lash out again and we will never be able to have a healthy sense of self.

If you are a white student looking for a way to deal with guilt or questioning what you have been taught, there is a much better way.

Instead of retreating, doubling down and willfully ignoring the realities of the racist society we live in, you can move forward.

You can help repair all the damage racism causes. You can find something else to be proud of, something that doesn’t require elevating yourself by stepping on others. It won’t destroy you, I promise, and I think you’ll find it’s very healing, especially in the long run.

Conservative pundit Ben Shapiro lectures to turbulent crowd on safe spaces, freedom of speech

Beyond this misunderstanding, any presence of the “alt-right” on our campus is disturbing.

Dropik’s stated goal of respectful dialogue seems at odds with the actual positions of the “alt-right.”

Take Richard Spencer, for example. In the same speech where he used the phrase “children of the sun,” he questions if those who oppose the “alt-right” “are people at all, or instead soulless Golems, animated by some dark power.”

He thinks some people “make our lives worse just by the sheer fact of their existence,” that “[w]hites do, and other groups don’t,” that we are “uniquely, at the center of history” and we “conquer or die.” In fact, he views any dialogue or defense as “beg[ging] for moral validation from some of the most despicable creatures to pollute the soil of this planet.”

This horrific, blatantly white supremacist speech given at an “alt-right” conference was met with cheers and Nazi salutes.

While Dropik, without evidence, claims this organization can operate within the guidelines and rules of this university, it seems clear the leaders of this movement would disapprove of even trying.

How can this dangerously insidious notion some people should not exist ever foster dialogue? How can white supremacy ever ease racial tensions?

Most importantly, how can we let a movement neo-Nazis support and are in involved in anywhere near students of color and Jewish, Muslim, queer, transgender and disabled students on this campus?

The vague promise of intellectual pursuit and dialogue is nowhere near worth the risk of letting organized white supremacy find a home here.

Do you want to end racial violence? Me too. I believe there is an actual solution, but this is not it.

Go home, Daniel.

Gwynna Norton ([email protected]) is a senior majoring in mathematics.

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