Letter: If National Policy Institute comes to MSU, hold the speakers responsible for ramifications
By Kyle C. Kerbawy Sr.
Editor's note: Kyle C. Kerbawy Sr. is a former editor of The State News.
Minor stylistic changes were made.
Nazis come and go at Michigan State, so let’s make sure the university focuses on the right issues.
I was editor-in-chief of The State News in 1967 when George Lincoln Rockwell, founder of the American Nazi Party, spoke on campus. As today, controversy swirled around his anticipated appearance. Many expressed outrage that he would be permitted to promote his vile philosophy at our university while others, without necessarily agreeing with Rockwell, defended the concept of free expression of thought and debate at a publicly financed university.
In the end, Rockwell spoke — clips can be found on YouTube, the storm surrounding the visit subsided and the university went about its business almost like it had never happened. The story resurfaced again a few months later when Rockwell was assassinated by a former associate.
Without social media and the deep social and political divisions that now exist, a visit by Richard Spencer likely would turn out the same. But times are different, and the need to plan for security and damages is great. As President Simon has been quoted, Michigan State has an obligation to accommodate a broad range of speech. However, the University, its students and the citizens of Michigan do not have an obligation to foot the costs that come with that accommodation.
If the National Policy Institute wants to bring Spencer’s message to mid-Michigan, let it put up a seven-figure bond to cover the costs for security and the potential losses from the violence that could result. We can and should defend free speech, but we also should hold the speakers responsible for the ramifications that result from that speech.