Editor’s note: Colorado State University President Dr. Tony Frank sent the following message to the entire CSU campus community on Feb. 1, 2018.
In recent days, a batch of anti-immigration flyers were posted around our campus, attributed to the Traditionalist Worker Party, a white nationalist organizing group that is attempting to actively recruit on college campuses across the country.
This university strongly respects the Constitution and the First Amendment, and the right of even repugnant viewpoints to be spoken and debated in the public space. But Colorado State University also has the right to publicly assert what it values and stands for – so I’d like to take this opportunity to do that here.
The TWP goes by various names online, but let me keep this simple: a Nazi is a Nazi is a Nazi. And the members of the Traditionalist Worker Party are unapologetic Nazis who advocate murdering all those who don’t align with their worldview. They don’t even pretend to keep this a secret. They put it out there unashamedly for anyone who wants to read it.
It’s easy, for those of us from a certain privileged vantage point, to dismiss this sort of extremist rhetoric as pathetic, ignorant, unworthy of our attention. But historical precedent is clear as to why that’s a mistake.
Such groups are insidious. They generally hide and grow in the dark, avoiding the direct light of day. When they emerge, they frequently align themselves with groups who hold more mainstream views, as was the case with the anti-immigration flyer scattered on our campus. Their ideas then play into the prejudices and fears of people who would never intentionally align themselves with someone who openly identified as a Nazi – even people whose grandparents or great-grandparents fought and died to stop the Nazis in World War II. When these groups edge in and gain a foothold wherever there’s one to be gained, the erosion of human decency quickly follows.
So let’s stop this here. Let’s shine a bright light on this and call it for what it is. Colorado State University denounces the racist, homophobic rants of this and any other white nationalist organization that attempts to gain inroads on our campus or in our community. We denounce the sexist, rape-supportive culture they idealize. We denounce their stigmatizing of religions they do not share – and their attempts to claim our national identity as exclusively their own.
And we vehemently reject their claim to the values of America, patriotism, courage, conservatism, character – and the Christian faith. Their base and immoral ideology, is, indeed, unwelcome and repudiated at Colorado State University. And even as we honor the sacrifice of those who fought to assure we all have a voice by allowing even this voice of evil to be expressed, we stand together so that no member of our community hears this voice alone and fears that they need face it alone.
Let me also make a firm distinction here. This coming Friday night, a group of our students has invited a speaker to campus to speak about his views against socialism. These students have followed all appropriate steps to bring a speaker to campus who has no track record of causing disturbances on college campuses. Nevertheless, the recent appearance of white nationalist rhetoric on campus has been conflated with this speaker and caused concerns about the safety and security of religious groups, people of color, and other targeted populations relative to protestors and counter-protestors that may show up on campus Friday evening. In that regard, we have a security plan in place for the event and surrounding areas, and our priority will be to protect the public safety while also allowing people to exercise their constitutional rights to peaceful protest and assembly. I also want to remind our entire community that we have trustworthy, confidential resources here on campus to support your personal security and well-being. If anyone experiences direct harassment or threats to their personal safety, please contact CSUPD, Tell Someone, or the new bias reporting hotline so that we can respond effectively.
I believe in the humanity and justice of our community, and I believe that we cannot be diminished when we stand firmly in solidarity against hate, oppression, and those who view genocide as a viable political option. As much as our views and beliefs as members of the CSU community may differ on any number of topics, I am confident we are united on this front. Our Principles of Community are unwavering: There is no place for such hate at Colorado State.
Let’s take care of each other,
Dr. Tony Frank