On Thursday, in the Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, Richard Spencer tried to speak.
And you told him, “No.”
There were 456 tickets distributed to protesters and supporters alike. For 1 1/2 hours, you denied him his platform and called him out on his racist bullshit. Spencer tried to spread his message of hate.
And you told him, “No.”
You shut him up and sent him on his way. We wouldn’t call that statement editorializing, because we saw it happen. We livestreamed every second of it for everyone to see, and we’re glad we did.
We read the comments, and a couple of people reacted negatively to the decision to make the speech public. Readers argued we shouldn’t be giving him a platform he doesn’t deserve or that leaving him alone would render him powerless. We disagree with both these sentiments, and we’d like to assure you, dear reader, our decision was not in the interest of likes and shares but of love and change.
We are a student newspaper. In the newsroom, the prospect of going viral or getting national attention doesn’t really cross our minds while we’re in the field trying to meet deadline (The most petty we get in that regard is comparing our Twitter follower counts). We are storytellers first and foremost; we will cover events as they happen. If we don’t inform, then we haven’t done our job. We will not ignore an event to make a point; to do so would be a disservice to our readers.
We do not believe ignoring Spencer and his band of racists will make them go away either. That is a dangerous, foolish assumption to make. They are not passive. They pose threats to people of color, the LBGTQ+ community and anyone who’s not a white male. To “not give them attention” is to turn a blind eye to the violence they incite — to accept it. That cannot happen. We must cover these kinds of events, even if they go unopposed.
So, if an event spreads hate, then that hate will carve our story.
But if you, dear readers, step up and challenge those events with protest and passion, that will carve our story instead. The community is what guides our stories, not an agenda or an obligation.
This is what happened Thursday.
As a result of nonviolent protest, about 152,000 people tuned into our livestream to see Spencer refuted and shut down by more than 200 people inside the center. That, to us, is not giving Spencer a platform. That is giving those who tuned in, especially those who felt too threatened to leave their homes, hope. The livestream, thanks to you, is irrefutable proof that love conquers all — it’s as simple as that. That is why we set up this livestream: because we trusted you to conquer him with love.
We did not want to write about bigotry Thursday, and your calls to action lifted that burden from us. For that, we thank you, because now our writers have written stories of love and union instead. That’s why we’re passionate about journalism: love. We implore you, dear readers, to continue spreading love, to continue protesting, to continue making your voices heard.
Whether you know it, you, the community, are leading us by the reins. And we will follow you; it’s what we love to do. So let us follow you to exciting and loving places. Let us hear what you have to say about brotherhood and speaking out against hatred. Give us the pleasure of telling your stories of revolution.
Just make sure we get your name, age and major before you go.