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How Nazis are Being Mainstreamed on College Campuses

 

One of the biggest pseudo-arguments being put forward by the right wing is that college campuses are against freedom of speech when it is conservative speech. It’s one thing to hold a debate on the role of quantitative easing as a mechanism for government control of the economy, or other areas where there can be debate. This is nothing like that.

This is about the fact that literal white supremacists and Nazis are using “academic freedom” as a gateway to mainstreaming the same ideas that led to the Holocaust.

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In 2016 alt-right poster boy Milo Yiannopolous was invited to speak at a number of universities by the local conservative student groups. During his performance at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, he posted a picture of a transgender student on the big screen behind him, and singled her out to the hundreds of students in attendance for harassment stating:

“I’ll tell you one UW-Milwaukee student that does not need to man up, and that is Justine Kramer. Do you know about Justine Kramer? Have any of you come into contact with this person? This quote unquote non-binary trans woman forced his way into the women’s locker rooms this year. He got into the women’s room the way liberals always operate, using the government and the courts to weasel their way where they don’t belong [Equal rights law Title IX is being] used to put men in to women’s bathrooms. I have known some passing trannies in my life… which is to say transgender people who pass as the gender they would like to be considered. The way that you know he’s failing is I’d almost still bang him. It’s just…it’s just a man in a dress, isn’t it? I should reapply my lipstick.”

Milo’s remarks were met with jeers of derision directed at the transgender student, and howls of laughter at the punchline.

In the end, the student being singled out left the university because she no longer felt safe, and did not believe the university was interested in protecting her from crowd sourced violence and harassment.

Milo Yiannopolous was rewarded with a quarter-million dollar advance on a book promoting the same ideas he had been promoting on college campuses.


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In the wake of the passage of HB2 in North Carolina in 2016, calls for vigilante violence against transgender people intensified. The people calling for violence were national leaders, who have deep ins with the White House. Anita Staver, President of the Liberty Counsel, promised to shoot any transgender people she found in a bathroom with her. Jerry Boykin of the Family Research Council promised to personally castrate any transgender people he saw coming out of a women’s bathroom. James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council publicly implored “real men” to kill transgender people in bathrooms.

It might be easier to dismiss such individuals as crackpots with no real ability to influence public policy, but for the fact Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council has stated that he has never had this much access to a White House, and they have been very receptive to the FRC’s goals.

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I recently described Milo’s performance to a German graduate student getting his PhD here in the United States. I asked him if a German university would have allowed Milo to speak at a University, and say the same things about Jews as Milo was saying about transgender people.

“No,” he replied. “He would have been arrested and put in jail for a very long time. We’re not letting it happen again.”

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In the 1930’s, the Nazis introduced a series of laws designed to force Jews from public life. Foremost among them was no longer recognizing Jews as German citizens. Other laws included ones preventing Jews from obtaining ID, or making sure that such ID outed them as Jewish. They also kicked all the Jews out of the Wehrmacht (German military), and eliminated all the laws protecting Jews from discrimination in pretty much every facet of life, including schools, public facilities,. At the same time they took away legal protections, the Nazis demonized Jews and encouraged discrimination and violence them as a form of crowd sourced terror.

For the good of the Fatherland, of course.

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In 2015, the Family Research Council released its plan for the transgender community, called “Understanding and Responding to the Transgender Movement”. While demonizing transgender people as sexual deviants and mental defectives, it outlined a desired legal and policy end state for transgender people. Their goals include no legal recognition of transgender people by the government, preventing transgender people from getting government ID that matches their gender identity, no legal protections, banning transgender people from public facilities, and establishing a religious right to discriminate against transgender people.

In 2016, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council wrote the Republican Party Platform on LGBT issues. It was passed out of committee with only token dissent.



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Normally, people are steered away from comparing people and movements to Nazis as part of the corollary to Godwin’s law (whoever calls the other person a Nazi first loses the argument). The problem is, the “campus free speech movement” is part of a white nationalist movement funded by actual Nazis.

In October 2017 Buzzfeed unearthed a trove of documents and emails linked to Milo Yiannopolous. These documents revealed that Milo was coordinating his messaging with white nationalists and Neo-Nazi leaders, such as Andrew “Weev” Auernheimer, the system administrator of the neo-Nazi hub the Daily Stormer, and Richard Spencer. These leaks also revealed that Milo and his college campus tour were being bankrolled by the Mercer family, which has quietly funded a wide range of white nationalist movements.

Rebekah Mercer used her Stanford University account to correspond with Steve Bannon and Milo Yiannopolous to offer her services in championing “liberty”.

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One of the most common defenses of letting Nazis speak is that somehow the marketplace of ideas will winnow out the bad ones before they can do any real harm. The history of Hans F.K. Günther is instructive in this regard.

Günther was a Nazi academic who promoted racial theory in Germany. His books, including, “A Short Ethnography of the German People,” is considered the underpinning of Nazi arguments that their targeting of Jews had a basis in science and academia. In 1935 he was declared "pride of the NSDAP," and in 1940 received the Goethe Medal for arts and science from Hitler. In March 1941, he was an honored guest for the opening conference of Alfred Rosenberg's "Institute for the Study of the Jewish Question".

After the war, has was never charged with crimes against humanity. The reasoning of the allies was that because he wasn’t directly involved in the planning and execution of the Holocaust, he could not be legally be held accountable. Despite remaining a Holocaust denier until his death of natural causes in 1968, Günther was defended by his university.

Only a Nazi could look back at whether it was better to protect Günther’s academic freedom, or to do everything possible to prevent the Holocaust and side with Günther. If his ideas lost, it was only in the most technical of senses.

The vast majority of the people affected by his theories either perished in the Holocaust or fled Europe, leaving very few Jews left alive in his beloved Germany.

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In spring of 2018, Ryan T. Anderson will be publishing a book designed to provide an academic veneer and moral argument in favor of the anti-transgender policy goals of the Family Research Council and the Republican Party. The book is being paid for by the Heritage Foundation, and likely is being bought en masse to provide to conservatives. This can be surmised from the preorders, which briefly put the book at #1 on the Amazon list of books on LGBT History, until they removed it from this category and moved it to the religious “Natural Law” category.

The Heritage Foundation has $90 million in annual revenue, and is considered perhaps the most influential conservative think tank in the United States.


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At present, no mass market book meant to counter Ryan Anderson or Milo Yiannopolous has been published, despite their ideas being well outside the peer reviewed evidence on transgender people.

Which begs another question: why do their ideas need promotion when they already receive far more exposure than the academically based counter narrative?

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The idea that anti-transgender propaganda somehow needs protecting as freedom of speech is implausible. There is no shortage of money, outlets, or terrifying authoritarians willing to demonize transgender people and urge society to discriminate against them. There is no shortage of people willing to carry out these orders either.

For example, at Milo’s event at UW-Milwaukee event, approximately 350 people were in attendance, most of whom were presumably in agreement with the speaker. At

the same time, there were likely far fewer transgender people at the University, being only .7% of the general population. It is hard to make a coherent argument that a bigoted idea needs to be protected when the bigots vastly outnumber the people being targeted.

It’s even harder when the ideas themselves represent the positions of the party that controls almost all of the United States’ government, and are represented in that party’s platforms.

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Finding loopholes in US law in order to spread violent ideological messages is nothing new. In the 1969 case of Brandenburg v. Ohio, the Supreme Court decided that a Klan leader at a rally suggesting the audience should take "revengeance" against "n******", "Jews", and those who supported them was protected free speech. The court reasoned that since the threat didn’t precipitate “imminent lawless action,” it could not be punished by the government.

In other words, the campus free speech movement is stepping right up to the line that the Klan did.

It also suggests that the ideas being presented probably don’t have academic merit to begin with.

Which begs the question: why does an academic institution need to give violent, dangerous, non-academic ideas a platform when they already have a platform (and hundreds of millions of dollars behind them) at conservative think tanks, religious organizations, the RNC, and the White House?

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The idea that somehow denying a platform to Nazis, Dominionists, and totalitarians is an imposition on freedom of speech or academic freedom is not credible. People do not have a right to a platform. While the government cannot stop you from presenting your ideas alongside the street preacher in the park, it has no obligation to lend you an auditorium for the evening.

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Not all ideas are created equal. There are dumb ideas. There are dangerous ones. However, the dumb and dangerous ones are of negative utility to a society, particularly since we know that these can escape into the public, metastasize, and kill millions. A bio weapons laboratory that didn’t bother protecting the population against the diseases it developed there would be held accountable if one escaped and killed people.

So why does academia believe that it should be immune to responsibility for promulgating the next “Short Ethnography of the German People?” And why would the public think this is a good idea, when Germany has taken the time to look at where it failed, and draw a more conservative line to prevent cancerous ideas from spreading again?

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In the final analysis, we must recognize that the campus “free speech” movement pushed by the alt-right is a fifth-column attack on society. The end state goal of these organizations is white supremacy, and a society where transgender people have disappeared from public life. You cannot claim neutrality: a campus in Nazi rallies happen cannot feel safe to Jewish, black, or queer students. They cannot be safe when their names and pictures are put on display so they can be more effectively targeted.

Academia is falling into the trap that there are two sides to everything. In truth, certain ideas do not need promotion, do not deserve it, and doing so is actively harmful to society.

No one looks back on a genocide, and thinks, “at least we presented the viewpoints of both sides in the process.”


Written by:  Jessica Earhart - "Queer woman with a flamethrower." 

Posted:  17 February 2018

 

 



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