An old and familiar poison is being spread on college campuses these days: the idea that America should be a country for white people.

Southern Poverty Law Center – August 10, 2017

Under the banner of the Alternative Right – or “alt-right” – extremist speakers are touring colleges and universities across the country to recruit students to their brand of bigotry, often igniting protests and making national headlines. Their appearances have inspired a fierce debate over free speech and the direction of the country.

Behind the provocative, youthful and sometimes entertaining facade of the alt-right is a scrum of white nationalists and white supremacists – mostly young men – who hate diversity and scorn democratic ideals. They claim that “white identity” is under attack by multicultural forces using “political correctness” and “social justice” to undermine white people and “their” civilization. Characterized by heavy use of social media and memes, they eschew establishment conservatism and promote the goal of a white ethnostate, or homeland.

As student activists, you can counter this movement.

The Southern Poverty Law Center examines the alt-right, profiles its key figures and exposes its underlying ideologies. We also recommend ways to deconstruct and counter its propaganda, mount peaceful protests, and create alternative events and forums when alt-right speakers are invited or come to your campus.

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WHY IS THE ALT-RIGHT TARGETING CAMPUSES?

College campuses are clearly on the frontline of the alt-right’s battle against multiculturalism. They are targeted for a simple reason: They embrace diversity, tolerance and social justice. They strive for equality and have created safe spaces for students of every gender and identity. College campuses are home to the highest ideals of human rights.

These values are soft targets for the alt-right. College students are curious and receptive to new, even radical, ideas. And universities, by definition, welcome free speech and philosophies of every stripe. Publicly funded schools, in fact, may not prohibit free speech.

It’s an opportunity the alt-right and other extremists are enthusiastically exploiting to attack egalitarian values and recruit students to their cause. Here are a few examples:

ON THE DAY DONALD TRUMP WAS ELECTED president, students at the University of Central Florida awoke to find posters of white men and women with the headline, “We Have a Right to Exist.” Distributed by Vanguard America, one of several new hate groups active on U.S. campuses, it claims nonwhite immigrants are causing “the genocide of our people.” Its posters read: “Imagine a Muslim Free America,” “Free Yourself from Cultural Marxism,” and “Protect the Family – Reject Degeneracy.”

WITHIN DAYS OF THE ELECTION, white nationalist leader Richard Spencer, who is often credited with coining the term alt-right, parlayed a raucous appearance at Texas A&M into a national audience.His theme: “America belongs to white men.” At a Washington rally that drew 300 white nationalists shortly after the presidential election, he led a chant of “Hail Trump! Hail our people! Hail victory,” as many in the audience sieg heiled.

TWO WEEKS AFTER TRUMP TOOK OFFICE, a tour stop by alt-right provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos was canceled at the University of California at Berke­ley because of violent, anti-fascist protests. Despite his bigoted views, the host Berkeley College Republicans had described Yiannopoulos as “a man who bathes in sheer and unmitigated awesomeness.” Within hours of the cancellation, Trump tweeted: “If U.C. Berkeley does not allow free speech and practices violence on innocent people with a different point of view – NO FEDERAL FUNDS?”

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