Letter to the Editor: Stop Spencer at MSU
By Stop Spencer MSU
Stop Spencer MSU is "a coalition dedicated to resisting Richard Spencer's visit to MSU as well as confronting oppression in all of its forms," according to its Facebook page.
The crisis of the university continues: neo-Nazi Richard Spencer will be speaking on campus on March 5.
After being sued by Spencer’s legal team, on Jan. 18, ex-MSU President Simon agreed to settle under the following terms: Spencer will speak on March 5, the first Monday of spring break, from 4:30 to 6:30 at the MSU Pavilion. Spencer will pay $1,650 to rent the space, and MSU will pay for security at the event, spending thousands of dollars’ worth of the General Fund that includes taxpayer money and student tuition. In addition, MSU will pay $27,400 to Cameron Padgett's attorney Kyle Bristow.
Many are wondering how MSU students, staff, faculty and the greater Lansing community members should respond. The Stop Spencer at MSU coalition seeks to answer that question. Obviously Spartans know better than to legitimize fascists by allowing them to “meaningfully participate in the marketplace of ideas.”
And at this point, we know for sure that we cannot rely on the administration to protect us or respect our demands. But we as students, faculty, staff and community members have the power to resist Spencer and his genocidal movement.
The Stop Spencer at MSU coalition operate according to four points of unity. All who are willing to operate under those points of unity are welcome to work with us.
1. "We do not work with or rely on the cops. The police defend fascists and are the foot soldiers of a white supremacist system."
We do not trust the police to be on our side in the fight against white supremacy because they perpetuate that very system every day by racially profiling, beating and caging our friends of color. We know that on March 5 police are going to be militarized and armed to the teeth in order to permit the fascists to gather and organize their movement. If the police allow the fascists to organize, they are no allies of ours. One recent example is prescient: the police in California explicitly worked with fascists to target anti-racist protesters, while seeking to protect the identity of the Nazis.
2. "We go where they go. Wherever Spencer speaks, we will go there. We can not ignore them or stay away. Never let the Nazis have the streets!"
The Stop Spencer at MSU coalition believes that fascism will not wither away by being ignored. Today the far-right is growing in strength. In order to defeat their movement of hate, we need to mobilize thousands of people in the street and let them know that Nazis are not welcome at MSU. We cannot let fascist organizing become normalized.
One local example is worth remembering: In April 2006 in Lansing, Michigan, a huge number of community members mobilized against a gathering of the National Socialist Movement on the Capitol steps. The anti-racists massively outnumbered the fascists.
At the end of the Nazi rally, the fascist supporters were humiliated and chased out of downtown. After a series of similar confrontations in the early 2000s, that particular Nazi movement essentially ceased to exist in Michigan. But now, with slicked hair and designer clothes, they are trying to organize again in the Mitten state.
3. "We've got each other's backs. Groups will have a variety of tactics and while we may not always agree, we have to stand behind each other to defeat the fascists. We will not undermine the efforts of other groups by publicly denouncing the efforts of fellow organizers or groups while the coalition is active."
Even though coalition members come from a variety of backgrounds, we are united in our opposition to white supremacy.
Our vision for March 5 is to have thousands of people in the streets showing Spencer he is not welcome in our community, or anywhere. But this is hopefully just one vision among many. The Stop Spencer at MSU coalition supports using a many different kinds of tactics in order to stop the fascists.
4. "We do not work with politicians. Elections and laws don't prevent fascists from organizing and attacking us. Folks can do what they want on their own time, but this coalition is focused on shutting down the fascists and defending our communities."
We fight and win against fascism by building popular power and through a commitment to community self-defense. A society that is anti-fascist will reject fascism regardless of what politicians do or do not do.
A society that is sympathetic to fascism will allow fascism to grow, regardless of what the law says. Germany has the strongest restrictions on Nazi imagery and rhetoric in the world, yet their far-right “Alternative for Germany” party has grown dramatically over the past five years, and explicit neo-Nazi organizing continues to occur underground.
By out-organizing the far-right, by fighting the fascists — and winning — we can realize our collective power and organize to build a world beyond white supremacy, domination and the agitators like Richard Spencer that spread these lies.